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Wingman Wednesday

Giles Panton

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Photo By: Liz Rosa

Giles Panton is perched higher than a stone tower after joining up with Season 3 of “The Man in the High Castle,” which premiered on Amazon Prime earlier this month. Portraying Billy Turner, the newly-appointed minister of Propaganda for the American Reich, the Vancouver native reveled in the multi-layered role and is prepared for Billy’s journey to turn heads.

Well, our heads are turned.

We recently sat down with Panton to discuss his “Supernatural” roots, Bronies, and the totally “freaking” awesome things he has tucked away in his closet.

TrunkSpace: First we have to clear the air. We’re big “Supernatural” fans around here, and being a Vancouver native, naturally you have appeared on the long-running series. Is it a bit of a rite of passage for Vancouver-based actors to make a stop in the “Supernatural” universe?
Panton: Absolutely. It’s like “The X-Files” of this generation. It totally felt like a stamp of approval.

TrunkSpace: “Supernatural” has a massive fan base, one that has kept it chugging for well over a decade. Another brand you’ve worked on that has a big fan base, one that still surprises us to this day, is “My Little Pony.” Having worked on the series as a voice actor, do you have any inside insight into the world of the Bronies? What has made that world and its characters build a fan base that no one anticipated?
Panton: It truly is such a unique phenomenon. I don’t know if anyone predicted that “My Little Pony” would pop like that – anyone who could make those predictions would have the golden ticket in this industry! It was a bit surprising that so many adults connected with the show, but at the same time it makes sense. Everyone is looking for a community, and the world can be a pretty mean place – just look at how people interact online sometimes. At its core, “My Little Pony” is just a wholesome and fun show with a message about acceptance and friendship that is surely needed in today’s age. I think a lot of people resonated with that and came together. My not-so-secret goal is to get myself into a “My Little Pony” convention as a guest so that I can see it all firsthand. I think the whole thing is pretty amazing!

TrunkSpace: We mentioned your voiceover work, but “My Little Pony” only scratches the surface. Was voice acting always part of the plan or has it become a pleasant surprise of your performance career?
Panton: It was 100 percent a pleasant surprise. But looking back it’s a perfect fit. I’ve always been quite hyper in general and have been making crazy voices for years. So now instead of intentionally annoying my friends or making them laugh… I get to do the same thing to a group of strangers and call it a job!

TrunkSpace: As an actor, when inhabiting a character, do you approach the process the same in animation as you do with on-screen work? If not, where do the differences lie?
Panton: There are a lot of similarities, and I’m realizing that more and more as I continue to grow as an actor. Both on-screen and animation work require the same ability to accept an imagined world as being real. I tend to use a lot more body work in animation as I’m discovering a character, but that is mainly because playing animals or monsters can be so wildly different than playing a person! But on the same note, there are similarities. I mean, the movements of people can tell you a lot about their character or personality, and this is just the same as an animal or cartoon character. Overall I’d say that doing voice acting and film acting complement each other and have helped me improve in both fields.

TrunkSpace: Joining this newest season of “The Man in the High Castle,” your role is certain to turn some heads. Is it hard not to view this particular job as a possible career game changer?
Panton: I am very excited about High Castle. It is such an amazing project to be a part of. It is definitely impacting my career positively, and the feedback I’ve received so far has been fantastic. When it comes to the idea of being a ‘game changer’… I have a very good feeling about it but this industry is unpredictable, so it’s hard to say anything definitively. At the end of the day a person’s drive, determination and attitude is what plays the biggest part in their career path, and every new role is a step forward. But this job will absolutely turn heads, and I’m grateful for that.

TrunkSpace: In the series you’re playing Billy Turner, the newly-appointed minister of Propaganda for the American Reich. Just in description alone it sounds like a meaty, multi-layered part to play. What were you most excited about when you first learned you were cast as Billy, and what did you go on to love about him the further into his development that you traveled?
Panton: I was excited about being on High Castle. I was creating so many waves and it meant so much to be a part of a project that is tackling such heavy subjects. And Billy was a great surprise. He is very multi-layered and complex, but simple at the same time. He’s a career-focused guy who wants to climb as high as he can while still keeping his head on his shoulders… literally. High Castle is a very cut-throat world. I guess, in a weird way, what I loved most about him was how much of a mirror he is to how complacent we can be as a society… his character has highlighted how easy it is for people to turn a blind eye to things so long as they don’t feel they’re directly affected. In a lot of ways, Billy represents one of the worst tendencies that people have… out of sight, out of mind.

TrunkSpace: What sort of emotions were you juggling in the weeks prior to the premiere of this new season of “The Man in the High Castle?”
Panton: I was nervous and excited. Mainly excited. I knew the show was something special, and I was hoping to add to that. You never know how things will turn out but now that it’s premiered I’m really proud of what we made.

TrunkSpace: As you look back over your career, what job do you think you learned the most from – the one you’ve applied continuously to your career moving forward?
Panton: “Flash Gordon” was my first big job. It was a Syfy show. I learned so much on that set by studying the leads, producers… everyone really. What really stuck with me was how much work this takes – the dedication, the insane hours. At the end of the day everyone is working together to build the best project they can. I was so honored by that and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

TrunkSpace: You’ve played a LEGO character, a character who has been forever preserved in plastic glory as a toy. Be honest with us… is there anything greater than holding a plastic poseable version of yourself?
Panton: I have a closet filled with my different LEGO characters’ toys. And I will admit… nothing has felt quite like being immortalized in plastic toy form. It’s freaking awesome.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. Here goes. If you had a chance to jump ahead 20 years and see exactly how your career played out, would you take that opportunity, and if not, why?
Panton: Nope. That would take the fun out of it. I think life is more exciting when you don’t know what is going to happen next.

The Man in the High Castle” is available on Amazon Prime.

Tarzan and Jane” is available on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Troy Doherty

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Brett Erickson/GROOMING: Helen Robertson

Landing a role on a television series is a major achievement, even when you join the cast in its fifth and final season. For Troy Doherty, who boarded TNT’s “The Last Ship” as the scrappy Clayton Swain, a cadet in the U.S. Naval Academy, he’s savoring every second of his voyage, even while casually suggesting “spin-off” to the universe. (So what say you, Universe?)

We recently sat down with Doherty to discuss the last days of “The Last Ship,” talking trains, and why music and acting go hand in hand.

TrunkSpace: You’ve joined the fifth and final season of “The Last Ship” as Clayton Swain. Do you think there was less pressure coming into a project in its fifth year knowing that it was also taking its final bow? Was there something kind of freeing about not having to worry if it will or won’t continue forward?
Doherty: Whether it’s the first season or the fifth season, I feel like there is always pressure when it comes to filming a worldwide show like “The Last Ship.” With that said, I wish it could’ve lived on past five seasons. It’s such a great show and I’m just so happy to have been a part of it.

TrunkSpace: Is there a level of what “could have been” had Clayton’s story continued beyond Season 5?
Doherty: With such an incredible writing staff, we can only imagine the possibilities. I know the fans and I would love to see where his adventure could have taken him. Spin-off?

TrunkSpace: There’s only a handful of episodes left, but what emotions do you juggle as you gear up for a new project to be released, particularly when it comes to something like “The Last Ship,” a series with a very loyal fan base?
Doherty: I’m beyond excited. We finished filming “The Last Ship” just about a year ago, so I’ve been looking forward to this for a while! My emotions at the moment are a giant amalgamation of excitement, gratefulness, honor, confidence, and happiness.

TrunkSpace: As far as his personality, what elements of Clayton were you the most interested to tap into? What is it about him as a character that made the job itself so interesting?
Doherty: Clayton isn’t your run-of-the-mill Naval Cadet. When both of his parents died from the plague, he needed to fend for himself. He isn’t afraid of the fight, whether it’s physically or mentally. He isn’t afraid to stand up and ask the hard questions. I really liked that about Clayton. He isn’t doing this for personal gain – he is doing it for the greater good. Clayton to his core is a good person and really cares. As an actor, that really resonated with me.

TrunkSpace: In terms of on-screen work, 10 episodes is the longest you have ever spent with a character on the episodic side of things, which is what you will be doing as Clayton. What was that experience like for you, getting to spend an extended period of time with one character?
Doherty: I really loved being able to dive into a character. It’s not every day as actors we get to really develop a character over time. Being able to play Clayton for four months was a great experience for me. Being able to see the character grow into something new over time was fascinating. I think the fans are really going to love how Clayton develops.

TrunkSpace: In the world of voice acting, you’ve quadrupled that amount of work, appearing as Emery in over 50 episodes of “Chuggington,” a series that those of us here with young children know all too well. From what we could tell, that was something like eight years of your life. What is that like, committing yourself to something for such a large period of time, and at the same time, getting to do so with a level of anonymity?
Doherty: “Chuggington” was so much fun. It was originally a British kids’ show that was brought over to the United States. All of the animation had already been completed. When it came to recording my character of Emery, I needed to match the mouth movement of the British voice actor. It was such a different experience than just being able to record it on my own. Timing and inflection of each word needed to be precise. At the time, I never really thought about the anonymity of it. I was just having fun!

TrunkSpace: Was voice over work always part of the plan or did it become a pleasant surprise of your career trajectory?
Doherty: It was always part of the plan. I love performing. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a worldwide show like “The Last Ship” or if I’m in my sweatpants behind a microphone. I love it. Being able to walk into a booth and do all of the crazy voices I do at home really makes me happy about what I do.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Brett Erickson/GROOMING: Helen Robertson

TrunkSpace: Do you approach inhabiting a character in animation the same way that you do with on-screen work? Where are the similarities and where are the differences?
Doherty: I think so. If my character is chasing after someone, I need to be able to sell it with just my voice. So, what easier way to sell it than running in place? To be the character isn’t just in the voice, it’s in your posture, the way you move your hands, everything. It’s the same as if I was doing it on set. Except on set, you actually get to see me.

TrunkSpace: “The Last Ship” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. If you knew things were coming to an end for our big ball of blue known as Earth, how would you spend your time? What would be on your end of days bucket list?
Doherty: Well, I’d love to spend it with my family. I came into this world with them, so I guess it would be poetic to go out with them. Plus, my family knows how to have a good time, so I know we would go out with a bang! As for my bucket list? I’ve always wanted to go skydiving. To be falling through the air having a catch with a tennis ball would be pretty great.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a musician with an EP, “Citizen’s Arrest,” out now. Do you view your musical career separate from your acting career or do they all fall under one creative umbrella?
Doherty: I think they go hand in hand. I’m an artist, whether it’s singing, acting, or cooking. From a practical sense, there have been numerous times I’ve had to sing or play an instrument for an audition. So yes, they fall under a creative umbrella! I consciously choose to follow my creativity, wherever it takes me.

The Last Ship” airs Sundays on TNT.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jordan Hinson

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We were familiar with Jordan Hinson’s earlier work from her time on the series “Eureka,” but we had not seen a recent performance until about two weeks ago when we stumbled into an unexpected double feature of “Beyond The Sky” and “Breaking & Exiting,” which she also wrote and produced. The concept for “Beyond The Sky” intrigued us, especially with our Halloween antennae at full alert, so we gave it a watch.

While the film entertained us, it was Hinson’s performance and her way of commanding a scene that drew us in, so much so that we instantly tracked down “Breaking & Exiting.” She has since skyrocketed to the top of our “Favorite Actresses” list and with her fresh creative point of view working tirelessly behind the scenes as well, we are eagerly awaiting her next multi-hyphenated project.

We recently sat down with Hinson to discuss the current state of independent film, why this was such an important year in her journey as an artist, and how she’d go about spending a really big cardboard check.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that drew us to “Beyond The Sky” was that it was original, which seems to becoming increasingly more rare these days.
Hinson: I agree.

TrunkSpace: Is that part of the appeal for you, as a performer as well as a writer/producer, with going the more independent route? Is it exciting given that everything we’re seeing in theaters seems to be based on something, a remake of something, or a superhero something?
Hinson: Yeah, it definitely excited me more. I think that we’re so used to seeing alien-based films or science fiction movies where you’re waiting for this ultimate demise, like the ship comes down, but we see it through this girls’ eyes. She’s been abducted multiple times and it’s something she’s already experienced. That alone to me was really interesting. I also love that they brought in these Native American aspects to it, too – these ancient people who have this deal with others. They’ve been here before. I thought that was really intriguing, to me at least.

TrunkSpace: So many alien/UFO movies are about the aliens, but really, this is about the humans and human emotions like empathy.
Hinson: Yeah, I’ve been saying from the beginning, to me, this movie has always been about empathy and sympathizing with someone who is going through something that maybe you cannot understand. I think it is about humans and what they’re dealing with here because ultimately, it’s such a big topic that isn’t really talked about and I thought that it was really interesting that people will replace these terrible memories with something as out there as being abducted by aliens.

I like the whole movie. You don’t really know where it’s going to go and you don’t know if she’s suffering from false memory syndrome, if the people around her are, but they have this support group and it’s really interesting.

TrunkSpace: I read that you actually attended an alien abduction convention. How important was that to understanding Emily?
Hinson: It was really interesting for me. You want to go into these things being as open minded as you possibly can, even something with such strange subject matter, so we went in and it was this alien convention in New Mexico and there were a lot of people that had claimed they’d been abducted over the years. I talked to a lot of people and I know all of us – most of the cast did – and it’s easy to just put these people off like they’re crazy or that they want attention, but who am I to say what’s happened in someone else’s life? For me, it was a big lesson in empathy and understanding others, that’s for sure.

TrunkSpace: The material seemed like it could have been emotionally draining for you. Was Emily a difficult character to inhabit in terms of that heaviness?
Hinson: Yes and no. I think what I was feeling in the moment I put into her and I think that she was someone from the beginning who I just immediately understood and I wanted to understand on a deeper level. When I read her, she reads as this really strong, independent woman. She’s not this damsel in distress. She’s not looking for help. She’s looking for support from her friends and the people around her, but she’s not looking for someone to save her… like a man. I thought that that was just a really interesting approach.

Hinson with Ryan Carnes in “Beyond The Sky.”

TrunkSpace: In terms of your career as a whole, was this an important year for you with “Breaking & Exiting” and getting involved more on the producing and writing side?
Hinson: Yeah, it was. It’s strange, because I’ve been so busy doing all of these things and trying to have all my irons in the fire that once everything came out, I was just overwhelmed. I executive produced another movie that’s coming out this year as well and so that one was being edited for so long and then reedited and then when I wrote “Breaking & Exiting.” I wanted to make it – just shoot it, almost gorilla style, almost for nothing and just get a bunch of people together, and there was all this interest in it. We made this real movie, with real distribution, and then all of a sudden, “Beyond The Sky” is coming out and another film I did, “Higher Power.” It’s been a whirlwind of a year. It started off, like in January, as, “What do I do with myself?” Two months later, it’s like, “I just wish I didn’t ask that.” It’s been an awesome experience. You never know what the end product is going to be and you never know how long these things are going to take to come out. With independent film it’s just so difficult to get a movie made. It really is.

TrunkSpace: Is it a bit of a leap of faith to work on an independent film not knowing when or if a project will see the light of day?
Hinson: It is. I think it’s even more nerve wracking to have written something and be producing it and have everything be riding on you and you’re there from the inception to the moment that it’s done in the editing room and to distributing. You never think about those things as an actor because you show up and do your job and you do it the best you possibly can and you leave with these little pieces of every character that you’ve played, but you try to move on to the next one. But when you’re producing and you’re such a part of it, it takes a while to get it out of your system and you just hope that people respond well to it. Either way, it’s a different experience. I think at least so far.

TrunkSpace: It’s got to be one of those things where you’re in the moment and you’re going, “Oh my God. I can’t sleep. This is so crazy.” And then you call wrap and you’re like, “I want to do that again!”
Hinson: Yeah. I’m exhausted, but I don’t want to just sit still. I’m just always writing. I’m constantly trying to find different facets for myself. I want to direct one day and push myself to wherever I possibly can with this crazy industry.

TrunkSpace: Is there a bit more of being able to control your own destiny when you’re also serving on the creative side and have the power to shape what you want to do next?
Hinson: Absolutely. I think that I’m such a specific type to play and I always have been. When I was 11, I was auditioning and people were telling me I was too old for things that were for a 13 year old. I have this old soul and a deep, raspy voice and now, I’m in my 20s and I have tattoos and my hair is purple. It’s a hard market to find something that specific, but I think that writing, for me, has always been a way to create my own content and when I’m auditioning, it seems like this endless pool of characters I’m never going to book. It’s a way for me to escape. What do I want to play? What’s something I’m good at? What’s my strong suit? What can I offer? I think that writing really helps you create something that you never would be able to find just in your day-to-day auditioning routine.

TrunkSpace: In that process, do your various brains ever come to blows? Does Producer Jordan ever butt heads with Writer Jordan about what is and isn’t possible to pull off?
Hinson: Well, you go through these things in your head before you make a movie. “I’ve seen someone do that, so I’m never going to do that,” and then you start realizing that you do have to save money sometimes or you do have to offer the role to someone who has a name that people recognize and then you realize that it’s not as easy as you thought it was. There is a game that has to be played in order to market a movie. With that said, I always try and stay incredibly true to myself and the film, especially, because to me, it always comes down to the script and the story of the character and if you have enough people who believe in it, you can probably take that paper and turn it to something on screen that is at least similar to what you wanted people to leave the theater with, or watch on iTunes, and leave them feeling a certain way.

TrunkSpace: Do you think the current climate, because there are so many different distribution platforms available, is a good moment for an artist like yourself who wants to be creating original content?
Hinson: I think so. I don’t think 10 years ago I could have made “Breaking & Exiting,” but I think that independent films are so important to so many people throughout the world and it’s just becoming that a lot more people want to make movies and they want to make TV shows and they’re finding other ways to do it. They go to a film studio who says, “I don’t want to make this,” and they’re like, “Great, I’m going to make it and put it out online.” I think it’s a great platform for people like me or anyone who wants to get into it because there’s people who are filming movies on their iPhones and putting them out there and they’re winning awards. I think it should always happen like this. I think that art is whatever you want to make it.

TrunkSpace: So if somebody came to you tomorrow and said, “Jordan, here’s a blank check. Go develop whatever project you want for yourself,” what type of project would you greenlight? Would you wear all of the hats – producing, writing, acting, etc.?
Hinson: I have a script right now that I wrote that I’m really excited about. It’s a dark comedy. It’s a higher budget then “Breaking & Exiting.” I’m in the process of getting it off the ground right now. It’s a character that I wrote for myself once again, but it’s something that I’m really excited to play. It would be really different for me and I would pursue the hell out of that. And I would love to eventually act in something where I could have a co-director and work with someone in that way, so when I’m working, I could have someone helping to direct my acting as well. I think first and foremost, I would go and find a lead actor that I want, a director that I want, and… if you have a blank check, the possibilities are limitless. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And it’s one of those giant Publisher’s Clearing House-style checks too!
Hinson: (Laughter) Yeah, that’s the one I want, the cardboard one.

Breaking & Exiting” is available on Digital HD, including iTunes.

Beyond The Sky” is available on Digital HD, including iTunes.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sheaun McKinney

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Photo By: Gerard Sandoval

There’s no denying that we live in divided times. Regardless of the subject – politics, social injustices, judicial appointments – we all could use a moment away from the noise, a reprieve from the back-and-forth to smile and escape. That’s where a show like “The Neighborhood” comes into play according to series star Sheaun McKinney. The CBS sitcom, which also features Cedric the Entertainer, Max Greenfield, Beth Behrs and Tichina Arnold, is tackling hot button talking points, but doing so in a disarming way.

There’s a sickness in this country that we’re all sharing in, and perhaps in the end, laughter will prove to be the best medicine. (Take a dose of “The Neighborhood” tonight and feel better in the morning!)

We recently sat down with McKinney to discuss the Miami Dolphins, the silver lining we should look to, and the reason those things that make us laugh are the steps we need to take to enter a bigger conversation.

TrunkSpace: We know you’re a Miami Dolphins fan, so for full disclosure, we thought it would be a good idea to let you know we’re a stones throw away from Gillette Stadium and Tom Brady.
McKinney: This is no longer off to a good start. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: The Dolphins haven’t had a terrible start this year.
McKinney: It’s fool’s gold with the Dolphins, because this is what we do. I’m going to play out the rest of the Dolphins season, ’cause this happened for the last 35 years that I’ve been on the earth. This is what’s going to happen. We are going to lose four of the next five games. Then, they’re gonna make a valiant effort to possibly make the playoffs so we can get a middle-of-the-round draft pick that won’t pan out, à la DeVante Parker, and we’ll be stuck in this scenario until the curse of Dan Marino beats us.

TrunkSpace: So wash and repeat?
McKinney: Yes. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Well, like in the NFL, this industry has no guarantees and yet something like “The Neighborhood” seemed like it was put on a path to find success. Did the popularity of the premiere take you by surprise at all or did you see it coming?
McKinney: That’s a good question. I’m a person who tries to stay out of what the ratings are, what reviews are, what people say. I try to treat every project just like it’s theater… I go and do a play and I leave it. I think what we all felt was that we were sitting on something really cool because everybody really gets along so well, and every script that we’ve had, we’ve all come together. The way that we communicate with each other… it doesn’t happen like that all the time. The things that we discover about each other on and off set have been really cool and enlightening. The show is naturally topical with everything that’s going on in our country and certain topics naturally come up. I think we all just thought, like, “Man, there’s something really cool happening here,” and I think we’re lucky because our show is able to deal with these things through humor, and humor is very disarming. So we’re able to approach certain topics without being in your face and also without being too over-the-edge… without trying to be forceful. I think a lot of things that are out right now… we push the bar so far, and I think our show sits in this very unique pocket where we’re able to deal with these things in a funny and a somewhat non-aggressive way.

I heard that the show did great, obviously, and I think that’s just people responding to needing something to go and watch when they don’t have to either think so much or when we can let our guards down a little bit and laugh.

TrunkSpace: We live in such divisive times, but especially with comedy, it’s a way to bridge the gap, to tear down those figurative walls and bring people together without them even realizing it.
McKinney: Absolutely, and if you approach somebody with humor, you can get into a conversation about anything before you know it, and our walls come down. Everybody has an opinion today. Nobody can tell you what anybody else’s opinion really is because you’re just worried about getting your own out or defending whatever your own is, and rightfully so – whatever it is you’re passionate about or whatever it is you may be defending. We’re only gonna get somewhere if we start listening. I think that’s the key point of our show… it’s communication.

TrunkSpace: Is it a scary time for somebody like yourself who is in the public spotlight to put yourself and your opinions out there, especially in social media where things can turn so quickly?
McKinney: I think it’s a double-edged sword in that I’ve had to realize that the one thing with, whatever celebrity truly is, is that you don’t really get a chance to make a mistake in the moment, if that makes sense. What you say, people are gonna take that, harp on it, pounce on it, and, in our country, people will forget three years later or whenever they feel like you’ve suffered your penance. Depending on what you’ve done, people will forgive you. The silver lining, I think, about the climate that’s going on right now is that nobody should be silent. Nobody should be afraid to speak. The fact that a lot of people who are speaking out against people that are speaking out… those points are played, because all the bullshit they’ve gotten away with for years is coming to light.

I’m 6’1 and I’m dark. I’m African American, so I deal with a lot of stuff on a daily basis, and I’ve had to deal with racism in this climate. That’s gone on for years. Even I had to take a step back with the issues that are going on with women in this country. I have to take a step back and be like, “Holy shit.” I was enlightened. Of course I was aware of gender equality, but when you really looked at it and started listening to women and what they had to go through, it boggled my mind. As it pertains to that, I can only listen before I have any type of opinion on that. I think the silver lining about this climate… it’s recognizing that we need to speak up. We need to address these issues, but we also have to be cognizant of the fact that we’re speaking up to find the solution. We’re not speaking up to create walls and divisiveness, and I think that’s where we are in the country right now. It’s like, “What do we do now? What do we do with all these issues?” We have to find that solution.

TrunkSpace: That silver lining makes a lot of sense and it’s one that musicians – artists – seem to be jumping on. There’s a sense that people are saying something, not just saying anything.
McKinney: Exactly. Yeah and, as African Americans, most of our exemplars are people who were prominent in the arts and sports because that’s all we had. So just getting back to that mindset, when you look at Kaepernick and you look at LeBron, and you look at all these people who are using their platforms to effect change, it’s the one thing about this whole time that’s going on… we should all pay attention to the people who have spoken up on certain sides of the arguments. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about how you feel, but whatever your stance is on anything, if that, in any way, has an infringement upon the mass populace, that’s wrong. We need to find a way, I think, to have some type of solution. Obviously, you can’t please everybody, but what can we do that’s gonna please most of the people or get equality started for now?

Photo By: Gerard Sandoval

TrunkSpace: And that’s the beauty of something like, “The Neighborhood,” which is streaming into all of these different homes, and there are all of these people from different walks of life, different points of view, watching it, finding common ground in it and not even realizing it.
McKinney: Absolutely. 100 percent! And I’ve had people, already, that have texted me about just little cultural differences that have… like in the second episode where they’re discussing white people not using washcloths and black people using washcloths. We laugh at little things like that, but those little things are the steps into a bigger conversation. That, to me, is what’s important.

TrunkSpace: We spoke about the divisiveness in the country right now, but sometimes comedy can be divisive, too. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure in terms of comedic tone. You come from “Vice Principals,” and that’s, obviously, a much different type of humor than “The Neighborhood.” As an actor, how do you adjust performance and delivery in comedy for tone?
McKinney: I was telling somebody the other day, when I came off “Vice Principals,” obviously, being on cable, being on HBO, I was able to improv and you’re able to curse and you’re able to use different language. Actors, we love cursing. We love to do it. But I remembered when I left “Vice Principals,” and I came back to LA, I had an audition, like a network show, and I went in and I was like, “Oh, I’m a pro now. I got this.” I started improving and ad-libbing and cursing, and they looked at me like I had choked someone. I was like, “Oh, okay. Lesson learned. I can’t do that.” (Laughter) I had to realize with network, I have to trust the writers a little more and the overall point of what they’re trying to articulate.

I have young family members, young cousins and nephews, that can’t watch “Vice Principals” because of the language, but I can sit them down in front of “The Neighborhood,” and they can watch it and it can resonate with them. I think, as the actor, that the learning curve is trusting a little more the words that are coming from the writers, trusting your scene partners more, and trusting the overall point of what you’re trying to say within a sitcom.

TrunkSpace: Well, from a career standpoint, too, it must be so nice not to get pigeon-holed into one particular type of comedy because it certainly has happened to people in the past. To be to able to branch out and try all of these different avenues opens up the career in ways you can’t plan for.
McKinney: Absolutely. It’s funny because when I first came here… I’m a part of a theater company back home in Miami, and all we do is intense, dramatic work. I had an improv background, doing improv and guerrilla theater, and just whatever, so I was used to comedy, but my intent was always to come to LA and be, like, this serious actor first. Then comedy took off first and, for a second, I would tell my reps, “I don’t know, man. I don’t know if I wanna go through a sitcom. I don’t know if I wanna do this because I want to get into Art House, indie films.” I had to realize, it’s much easier for an actor to segue from comedy to drama because when people identify you with dramatic work, and they see you do comedy, it’s like, “Oh wait. I don’t know…” Whereas, they may see you be funny and then be dramatic, and they’re impressed by it.

TrunkSpace: Your career as a whole is a great example about how people can never really plan for things in this business, because from what we understand, you were heading back to Florida to pursue an entirely different career when “Vice Principals” happened, correct?
McKinney: That’s life in general, and me being a person of faith, I have to trust my faith. Yeah, I had moved back to Miami for about a year and half. I was gonna be a police officer, and I had taken all the preliminary tests so that you can get into an academy and I was just working at some law office and waiting to see if I could get into an academy. I came back to LA for what I thought was gonna be a weekend and things, sort of, unfolded. Within two months “Vice Principals” happened and I’m still here.

TrunkSpace: Which is a great lesson for people, to never turn your back on an opportunity or find an excuse not to do something that has the potential to change your life.
McKinney: 100 percent, brother. I would not be sitting here right now. I wouldn’t, and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I just trusted my faith and sometimes, you gotta get out of your own way and let these things unfold, and really just dive into ’em. I was listening to a pastor the other day, and he kept saying, “Just do something. Just do something. Just dive in and don’t give up. Just dive into it and you might be able to just figure it out as you go.”

I actually would’ve been content back in Miami, but I definitely wouldn’t have been as happy as I am now and as excited as I am now about the future.

The Neighborhood” airs Mondays on CBS.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jeremy Ray Taylor

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Culver City, CA – October 7, 2018: Jeremy Ray Taylor attends a special screening of Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN on the Sony Pictures Studio Lot.

As the star of the hit horror film “It” and the new “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,” Jeremy Ray Taylor is striking franchise gold, and he’s doing it in monster-sized fashion with plenty of monsters in tow. Next up, he will be getting his sequel on in “It: Chapter Two,” due September 2019.

We recently sat down with the young actor to discuss the “A Ben to a Beverly” effect, why it required more imagination working on “Goosebumps 2,” and the reason he’s about to become a warlock.

TrunkSpace: You crushed it (no pun intended) in “It.” We related to you. We felt for you. We rooted for you. How much has that project changed your life and career?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Thank you! I am definitely glad to hear you were pulling for me! Ben Hanscom is one of those guys that everyone can relate to for sure! My dad said that every boy in high school was a “Ben to a Beverly” at some point.

This film has changed my life in more ways than I can count! My career is moving ahead full speed and meeting fans is amazing. It is because of the fans that the movie has done so well!

TrunkSpace: From “It” to another huge franchise, you’re starring in “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,” which opened on Friday. We would imagine a project like this is going to open you up to an entirely new audience because now a younger generation is going to get to see your work. Our kids couldn’t see “It,” but they are clamoring to see “Goosebumps 2.” Is that exciting, getting to connect with new viewers project-to-project?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: It is so exciting to be able to go see this movie with my friends! I wasn’t able to promote “It” to kids my age. (Laughter) I am most excited about a film the whole family can watch together.

TrunkSpace: There’s a ton of SFX involved in a movie like “Goosebumps 2.” Did that require you to take a different approach to your acting, when you’re having to imagine a monster that isn’t actually there?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: It is harder to act to something invisible, that’s for sure. Punching stuff that isn’t there and running from nothing takes imagination! What was really exciting about this movie is that a LOT of the monsters are actually real and in wardrobe! They are really cool and you are going to love them.

TrunkSpace: What did you enjoy most about getting to play Sonny? Was there an aspect of his personality that you have yet to tackle on-screen before?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Sonny is a fun, lighthearted character. He was similar to Ben Hanscom in that he was nerdy and bullied. (Laughter) There was a lot more “playing to things that weren’t there” in this movie. It took some getting used to.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the work you did in the film?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: I am proud of the relationships I made with the cast and crew as well as the long hours and hard work we put into the movie. Those are the things I can take with me throughout my life. As an actor, I am still learning and growing and I am really proud of the way the movie turned out.

TrunkSpace: Ventriloquist dummies are creepy. They just are. Did Slappy ever make you feel uneasy, because we’ll be honest, he makes us uneasy and we don’t even have to be in the same room with him!
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Oh boy, did he creep me out! There is one scene in the movie where I am holding him and he “comes to life.” Before the scene started, I was talking to the director and Slappy reached up and touched my face and scared me to death! We never knew if he was going to move or start talking at any time. And believe me, the puppeteers enjoyed joking around.

TrunkSpace: What’s been the most exciting thing to happen to you in your career thus far – the moment or experience that you still need to pinch yourself in order to believe?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Meeting and working with Harrison Ford on the set of “42” was unbelievable. I also met Chadwick Boseman that day. So cool!

TrunkSpace: “Goosebumps 2” takes place on Halloween. Are you a fan of the holiday yourself, and if so, do you have big costume plans for this year?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: I LOVE Halloween! We always carve pumpkins and dress up every year. Last year, my brother and I dressed up as Russell and the old man from “Up.” This year, I would like to dress up like a really cool warlock. I haven’t completely solidified my plan yet.

TrunkSpace: Next up you’re back in the “It” universe for the sequel. We know you can’t say much, but what can you tell us about the scare factors going into the follow-up installment? Do we need to prepare ourselves now for more creepy visuals and disturbing clown-related horrors?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: As the director Andy Muschietti put it, you need to bring your adult diapers! I’m pretty sure everyone should heed his warnings. (Laughter)

It will have flashbacks of the losers as kids, but mainly focus on the adults encountering Pennywise in new and disturbing ways.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Jeremy, you’ve faced two formidable foes in your cinematic career thus far, but what if they went head to head? Who would win a battle between Pennywise and Slappy?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Oh my… that’s a really good question. Maybe they will have to make a movie about that! “Slappy vs Pennywise!”

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” is in theaters now!

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Wingman Wednesday

Randy Gonzalez

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Photo By: Morgan Newton

From the Florida-based punk band Thick As Blood to trading punches with Jennifer Garner, musician-turned-actor Randy Gonzalez is riding an incredible wave, a wave that is expected to surge even higher heading into 2019. His latest project, the revenge thriller “Peppermint,” arrives on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on November 23. (Blu-ray and DVD will follow in December.)

We recently sat down with Gonzalez to discuss the parallels between music and acting, the reason he was paying close attention to how certain scenes were shot during production of “Peppermint,” and why he never gets bored working in such a creative medium.

TrunkSpace: Chicken or the egg question. Which creative love came first, music or acting?
Gonzalez: Music came first. I started playing music when I was a teenager. I picked up the guitar and just fell in love with it. Watching punk rock videos on MTV2 and then eventually, with just a bunch of friends, we started a band and then somehow we got legitimate and we ended up getting signed and going on tour and went around the world, which is crazy to think.

TrunkSpace: Have you discovered any parallels between creating in a band and creating in front of the camera?
Gonzalez: Yeah, they’re pretty similar. It’s really the creative freedom of just going for it. Just having no fear, not holding back and just going for whatever it is. And I’ve also noticed a lot of parallels in the industry side of it – not being afraid to reach out to people or to email people.

TrunkSpace: Are you somebody who, in terms of your film and television career, sees yourself taking on more of a content creator role and controlling your own destiny, like you have in music?
Gonzalez: Yeah, definitely. That’s already starting to pan out. I actually wrote and directed a short film and it just got accepted into its first film festival, which is the Official Latino Short Film Festival at Coachella. There will be a lot more projects. I’m excited for that.

TrunkSpace: Between your recent film “Peppermint,” the short you directed, and all of the various projects you have due up next year – it has to be a crazy exciting time right now.
Gonzalez: Yeah, totally, which is cool. It comes in waves. I feel like, what I’ve learned, whenever you get a wave, you just run with it. Just ride it until it dies down.

TrunkSpace: Are you somebody who tries not to attach any kind of expectations to a particular project?
Gonzalez: Yeah, I try not to because you never know how a job is really going to pan out. Sometimes you work on something and you think it’s going to be huge and then once it’s released it ends up going a different direction. You just try to do your best when you’re on the set – give your best work.

TrunkSpace: And when it comes to the most recent work, in “Peppermint” you play a hitman, correct?
Gonzalez: Yeah. He’s an evil character without a doubt. One of those dudes that has no remorse – a young hitman for a gang. There’s no remorse on the page, it’s just very violent and brutal and that’s definitely what transferred over onto the screen. I looked even way crazier than I normally do ’cause they covered me in tattoos – like full on face tattoos, chest, arm, everything. My hands! It was a cool little transformation.

TrunkSpace: Being a director and content creator yourself, what did you take from the experience of shooting “Peppermint” that you’ll apply to the rest of your career moving forward?
Gonzalez: There’s definitely a lot. I learned a lot about shooting fight scenes ’cause I have a pretty intense fight scene with Jennifer Garner in it, her character, Riley North. I had never really been in that intense of a fight scene, so you learn the different set ups you have to do in a fight. A fight scene could only be one minute on screen, but literally, it will be a 10 hour shoot just for that little fight scene. So just how many camera set ups, how, if you’re shooting in a car they have to remove doors, they have to remove windows just to be able to get certain shots – little insert shots of the punch landing. So I was learning all of that.

And then I did learn a good amount of things from the director, Pierre Morel. He does some cool things. He mixes film format with digital formats, so he’ll do a few shots with a really old camera – a film camera, and I’m talking really old. He literally had to hand crank it. He was like, “This will add a different effect where it makes it look like she’s kind of losing her mind and that transfers over with the flickering of the film.” I definitely did learn a few interesting things that I think I’ll pick up and be able to use throughout my career.

Photo By: Morgan Newton

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the fight scene aspect, and really, action is one of the more technical film genres to shoot. Like you said, it takes so much to sometimes get so little.
Gonzalez: Yeah. It’s insane because there has to be so many departments coordinating. That fight scene was being worked on before I was even hired. The stunt coordinators were already doing previews of it, where they shoot it, they rehearse it with just stunt performers and then they send that to the director, and then he sends it to the studio and then once they approve that, then it moves on to choreographing with the actual people involved… Jen, myself, or the stunt doubles and what not. Something that is a minute could have been worked on months ahead of time, just a little chase scene or a shoot out scene, things like that.

TrunkSpace: You’re working on a new television series that’s due out next year. I’m curious what you can tell us about that and what your experience has been like thus far with television as it compares to film. Is it more fun as an actor to do the long play with a character?
Gonzalez: Yeah, it’s cool. It’s definitely cool to be able to visit a character throughout a few years. On “Bloodline” I was able to do three seasons, so that spanned over three years, so it’s cool to be able to come back with the same character every once in a while. The new series I’m in, it’s called “David Makes Man.” It’s created by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who was one of the writers on “Moonlight” and he also won an Oscar for that. He’s an extremely talented writer. It’s kind of a coming of age story with this character named David, the central character, and I play a math teacher, which is very cool. It’s very different from my character in “Peppermint.”

TrunkSpace: That’s the beauty of the industry, right? Each job – each day – is different.
Gonzalez: Exactly, yeah, it’s beautiful. You don’t really ever get bored of it. That’s when you fall out of love, when you become bored of whatever job you’re in.

TrunkSpace: Is music still something you love? Does it remain a part of your life?
Gonzalez: It kind of fell out for a little bit, but just earlier this year, I bought a little home studio so I’ve started messing around with that aspect of my life again. It’s cool. It’s rekindling an old love. I’ve got a little bit of keyboard set up, set up my guitars and everything, so who knows… I might be releasing stuff in the future.

Peppermint” arrives on Digital HD November 23.

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Wingman Wednesday

Harley Graham

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The eerie new series “Light as a Feather,” which premieres Friday on Hulu, has more going for it than your average, run-of-the-mill episodic horror story. According to star Harley Graham, who plays little sister Lena, the 10-episode first season has struck the perfect balance between jump scares and that squirm-in-your-seat uneasiness that makes a thriller so thrilling.

It is refreshing to see a production that falls into the thriller genre not fall into the trap of relying totally on jump scares because there can be so much more to a show/movie,” she says, eager for audiences of all ages to discover the series.

We recently sat down with Graham to discuss her own love for the genre, why her character is going to put viewers on edge, and the reason she is living the spookiest of all seasons right now.

TrunkSpace: Your new project “Light as a Feather” centers on some mysterious happenings that occur after a group of teenagers play a seemingly innocent game of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. That’s a great concept because it’s a game kids have been playing for generations at parties and sleepovers, so it’s relatable to multiple audiences. Based on what you know of the project having been involved in it, is the series one that teens and older generations will both enjoy, and if so, why?
Graham: Obviously, the show is centered more towards a younger audience, but I think it is something that adults can enjoy as well. There are so many factors that go into making a show great. Teens and young adults are going to gravitate towards the characters and the plot more so than their parents while adults are going to be able to appreciate the cinematography and the natural, professional acting that is a center-point in the creation of this production.

TrunkSpace: People will turn out for horror because they’re fans of the genre itself, and because of that, it seems like audiences are more willing to try something new from that world than say comedy or drama. Do you feel a series like “Light as a Feather” has a bit of a built-in audience, especially in the month of October where people are looking for seasonal scares?
Graham: I think that this is going to be a great show all year round, but I think that premiering around this spooky season does add to the experience of watching. People are just naturally more inclined to seek out a good scare this time of year. There is so much more to the horror genre than the scares. Our show in particular has so many other elements and we cover so many topics in this show that anyone can find something that they like.

TrunkSpace: Are you personally a fan of the horror genre, and if so, what are some of your favorites?
Graham: Oh I am the absolute BIGGEST fan of thriller/horror movies. My mom and I love watching the newest spooky shows and movies really late at night so it’s extra scary. My personal favorites are old, cheesy horror films like “The Blob,” “Mars Attacks!,” and “The Birds.” When it comes to shows, there are so many great ones out right now like “American Horror Story” and “Castle Rock,” which was also created by Hulu, but I tend to gravitate towards the old ’90s shows. “The X-files” is one of my all-time favorites. Spooky Mulder and Agent Scully are I C O N I C. I could go on forever.

TrunkSpace: Circling back to “Light as a Feather,” what can you tell us about your character Lena and where she falls into the overall story?
Graham: Lena is a character much younger than her counterparts. She is the typical, eavesdropping little sister, which I have totally mastered being a younger sister myself. She joins the series fairly late and is the sort of “messenger” that brings information that is helpful to the protagonists. The creep factor that comes with her really adds something to the character that isn’t seen with the others. The way that she presents herself gives the viewer an uneasy feeling, maybe that she knows something we do not.

TrunkSpace: Having shot the series and been involved in the process of seeing it all come into fruition, what are you most looking forward to for audiences to see and experience when they sit down and watch it October 12? Is it filled with jump scares or more uneasy scares?
Graham: I think that “Light as a Feather” has struck a perfect balance between your basic jump scares and the creep factor of the whole show. It is refreshing to see a production that falls into the thriller genre not fall into the trap of relying totally on jump scares because there can be so much more to a show/movie. The editors really utilized all that they had to create an environment in the show where you are immersed in the experience of it all so the spook is really genuine. (Personally, I jumped a few times during the premiere and I am not one who is easily scared.) What I am most excited for people to find watching this show is the relationship between the viewer and the characters. We have such diversity among the characters it is easy to fall in love with one, if not all of them.

TrunkSpace: The series will stream on Hulu. As an actress, how exciting of a time is it given the current television landscape and not only the quality of content being produced, but the quantity as well? Are there more jobs available now than when you started your career?
Graham: The “new media” world has really expanded what an actor can do as well as the experience of shows to viewers. I often fall victim to the “binge watch and eat everything in my house” shenanigans when a new show drops. I think that this new form of enjoying television allows viewers to connect with characters and form relationships with the shows that they may not have been able to watching a show from week to week, maybe missing some episodes here and there. I think that this change makes an actor’s job a little more important because now their purpose is not just to be a character, but be a character that other people find themselves in.

TrunkSpace: We know you spent some time working on soap operas in the early days of your career, including “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Given the breakneck pace at which those series shoot, did those early jobs serve as a boot camp for what to expect on set?
Graham: Being on a large, multifaceted, professional set for the first years of my career really gave me the experience that I am able to take onto any set I go on. Being a part of such a large production while I was just starting out as a young child gave me professional tools that it takes other actors years to develop. Learning how filming works at such a young age gives me an advantage because I now have a better understanding of how to be a fundamental part of a set dynamic.

TrunkSpace: What job have you learned the most from, the one that you find yourself still applying the lessons from, even with the jobs you tackle today?
Graham: Working with amazing directors is one of the best learning experiences an actor can have. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with not one, but two directors whose reputations precede them. On the set of “Chasing Mavericks” I worked with both Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted. Working with Curtis was so wonderful because he is a director that works very closely with the actors and knows what he wants. Working with him specifically taught me about how creating relationships between a director and actor can bring a film to the next level. After Curtis suffered from medical issues during filming, Michael had to take over. What I remember most about him is that he had a strong presence on set and knew what he wanted which made for a seamless transition from director to director. It is so easy for things to get hung up when there is a big change like that, but he was very professional coming into the middle of all the madness.

TrunkSpace: You also do voice over work, giving life to Princess Clio on the series “Sofia the First.” Was voice work always in the plan or did it come about more as a happy accident?
Graham: Voice over was not something I anticipated of my career, but I was never opposed. Voice over is really an awesome job to have because what you look like does not limit your opportunities, it is just how you sound and, how you guys so wonderfully put, “give life” to a character. Sometimes, voice over can be even more challenging than on-screen acting because you cannot rely on your facial expressions to help convey emotion, all the nuance and feeling must come from your voice. “Sofia the First” has become an especially meaningful project recently as we were just awarded a Sentinel Award for diversity in our cast. I was asked to present the award to our writer and story editor Matt Hoverman and Michael Stern. They made an amazing speech about how our work can have an impact on our viewers and the world around us. I hope that I will continue working with people who understand the importance of our work. “Sofia the First” was not my first job with voice over work and definitely will not be my last.

TrunkSpace: You’re still at such an early stage in your career and have already accomplished so much. Where do you hope to see your career go in the next five years? What would you like to accomplish next?
Graham: Currently, we are in the spookiest season of all… college app season. The goal I am focusing on most is getting into a college with a good drama program. I would love to utilize the experience of a college campus to further my education in my profession. Of course, I would love to work through my semesters and I am applying to colleges that will work with me so that I can continue my career while I am studying. When it comes to professional goals, I just want to continue to work with casts and crews that love what they do, because one of the best parts of the business is the people you connect with on set and off.

Light as a Feather” premieres Friday on Hulu.

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Wingman Wednesday

Evan Roderick

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Photo By: Carly Dame

While his first dream was to play professional hockey, Evan Roderick, who portrays Nick Anastas on the superhero series “Arrow,” found himself being drawn to a more creative career. As an actor, the Vancouver native relished the expressiveness that the medium offered, and while he ultimately hung up the skates, he credits hockey for preparing him mentally for a life of performing.

We recently sat down with Roderick to discuss where “Arrow” has impacted his life the most, front flips off two-story buildings, and what he thinks about sandals with jeans.

TrunkSpace: “Arrow” is a fan favorite show with a loyal following. How much has the series changed your life since you stepped into the role of Nick Anastas?
Roderick: Well, I think more than anything this role has given me an eye into the industry. I finally feel like I’m inside this machine that IS “Arrow.” And to have people reach out through social media and tell me how much the show means to them has been incredibly meaningful.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the work itself, what has been the most rewarding part of this journey for you thus far?
Roderick: Other than the work, I’ve really treasured the lessons I have learned from the other actors on the show. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by a cast that has so much experience, and they have shared a lot of stories and advice about the industry. They have taught me so much.

TrunkSpace: Right and wrong is pretty black and white to Officer Anastas, at least when we first meet him. As his own views and positioning on things like vigilantism changed, what was that character adjustment like for you? It definitely feels like he’s in a place now that is much different from when you started your journey with him.
Roderick: For sure. I think a lot of the progression you see is a combination of me (the actor) growing more comfortable on the show, as well as the writers giving me more responsibility and featuring my character more.

TrunkSpace: Being on a series with cowls and capes must offer some surreal run-ins behind the scenes. What has been the most “pinch me” moment for you throughout your time on “Arrow” thus far?
Roderick: The stunt guys. They are incredible. I’ve watched them do full front flips off two-story buildings, get hit by cars… it’s hard to believe they are all trained to do this stuff!

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Evan think about his future self getting to step into the DC universe and play alongside of super heroes in Star City?
Roderick: He’d be proud. I always really wanted to play a cop, plus the opportunity to play one in the DC Universe is a huge bonus.

TrunkSpace: Prior to acting you were pursuing hockey. Was that your first dream and what lead you away from the sport and into acting?
Roderick: It was my first dream. But the truth is, in the end I just wasn’t satisfied with playing hockey. At one point I was scheduled to play in the NCAA for UMASS-LOWELL, but the feeling wasn’t going away. I knew for a long time deep down that I was going to pursue acting instead. There is just something creative and expressive about acting that hockey doesn’t offer. Ultimately, that’s why I made the decision.

TrunkSpace: Are there any parallels between hockey and acting? Is the focus and training similar? The pursuit of an end goal? Where do the two intersect?
Roderick: Totally. Funnily enough, I approach acting in a very similar way as I did hockey. For example, when I am preparing for an audition or a scene, I have to psyche myself up and talk myself through my preparation. I envy actors that can just dive into their character with the snap of a finger – I’m just not like that. I’m grateful I had a sport like hockey to help me find a process to perform.

Photo By: Carly Dame

TrunkSpace: You’re also a songwriter. Do you hope to expand your love for music into a separate career avenue or is writing and recording more of a hobby?
Roderick: I absolutely want to have some kind of a career in music as well. I think I work and stress too much over my music to call it a hobby! To play a musician in a film and/or write songs for a project would be an ideal situation in my mind.

TrunkSpace: We read that you have no problem wearing boots with shorts, BUT, what about sandals with jeans?
Roderick: You’ve just described by quintessential summer wardrobe. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Finally, Evan, you’re still at such an early point in your career with so many future roles still ahead of you. Are you someone who wonders what lies ahead or is important for you stay focused on the present. When it comes to your career, do you plan for the future or is it too difficult in an industry where so much is out of your control?
Roderick: I do think about the future, a lot. Hopefully not to the extent that it pulls me out of the present, but I think it’s important to work towards something. It’s true, sometimes the future of an actor is unpredictable, but you can still control how you want to brand yourself and what parts you decide to go out for.

Arrow” returns October 15 on The CW.

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Wingman Wednesday

Trevor Long

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PHOTOGRAPHY: James Lee Wall/GROOMING: Faye Lauren

There’s so much to love about the Netflix series “Ozark,” and like a gift that just keeps on giving, Season 2 saw Trevor Long’s role in the captivating storyline expanded. That was great news for the Rhode Island native who plays Langmore crime family patriarch Cade, but it was even better news for the viewers because everything he brought to the screen was 100 percent binge-worthy gold.

We recently sat down with Long to discuss the many “Ozark” surprises, how he breathed life into Cade, and why you won’t find him sitting down with a psychic for career advice.

TrunkSpace: “Ozark” took a lot of people by surprise and had them binging like they’ve never binged before. Was the success of the series a surprise for you or did you know that you were involved in something special even in the early going?
Long: It was definitely a surprise. That said, in the back of my mind there was this feeling that this could be great. Just knowing how good the writing was and, of course, the talent they had lined up, but I was pleasantly surprised how it took off.

TrunkSpace: What about in terms of your character Cade – did you know his role within the story would be expanded heading into Season 2 or did that come as a pleasant surprise?
Long: I really didn’t know too much. However, Jason Bateman graciously hinted at it when I saw him at the premiere after Season 1. He basically said, “Get ready to work, you’re getting out of prison.” So, from that I knew I would be at least in it a bit more than Season 1, but I had no idea that I would be in it to the extent I was until about a month out from shooting.

TrunkSpace: As Cade’s story has expanded, what have you been enjoying most about his path and how that has impacted your day to day on set?
Long: I really enjoyed the colors they brought in his story out of prison. It was a lot of fun to explore this sort of wildness and unpredictability that Cade expressed. The writers gave me a lot to play with for sure. Being on set was like being with family. It was always a lot of fun, even if the material was really dark. We just had to have that lightness when sitting around and waiting. It was a lot of heavy material to live out.

TrunkSpace: We read that you did a lot of research to bring Cade that “Ozark” authenticity that seeps throughout the entirety of the series. What was it about him that you felt needed the research to get right, and what was the most difficult aspect of that journey?
Long: I knew Cade was so different than who I am on so many levels – someone who was so destructive and abusive to his daughter was something I certainly had to face inwardly in my imagination and interior emotions. But the outward physical aspects of Cade were what really propelled me to research. His accent, for instance, and even how he moved physically. I knew I had to have his rhythms right, so I tackled this by watching a lot of documentaries and even movies such as “Winter’s Bone.” I also read a lot of books by southern writers that depicted low lives in order to catch their essence and to color my imagination. I love doing this kind of stuff as long as I don’t become too lost in it. I take what’s essential. I guess the difficult part was to truly embody Cade in a very truthful and honest way that brought me alive.

TrunkSpace: Many of the scenes in “Ozark” are very heavy, and we would assume, could be emotionally draining for the performers involved. Did you have days where you felt like you needed to do an emotional download after a particularly rough day of shooting?
Long: Oh, of course. I did that by hanging out with the Langmore’s off set. We were like a very happy, funny, and dysfunctional family. We became very close. Laughter was essential to keep from burning out.

TrunkSpace: What’s great about the series – and Cade in particular – is that there is a lot of gray area with the character for the audience to fill the gaps on backstory and internal motivations. Was that a conscious decision, to leave bread crumbs for the viewers to follow on their own?
Long: To be honest, yes, but that credit really goes toward the writers. They beautifully kept the audience guessing, and myself as well. It’s such a privilege when the writing is that good to just let it take you where it wants to. I just got to keep it as simple as possible and stay out of the way.

PHOTOGRAPHY: James Lee Wall/GROOMING: Faye Lauren

TrunkSpace: What can you tell us about your new film “Seeds,” which if we understand it, you also produced? There’s some freaky imagery in the trailer!
Long: I can say it seems to be a pretty uncomfortable film to watch, and that is something we tried to achieve. I did help produce, but that really entailed bringing together a lot of elements that I had access to from many years in the business, such as people I could call on and bring in to help the process.

TrunkSpace: Seeing you in “Seeds” reminded us of our own high school wrestling days. Did you have to suck some weight to play Marcus in the film? Was that something that the script called for or was it a physical trait that you brought to the character through your own journey of discovery?
Long: (Laughter) That’s funny. Yeah, I felt I had to lose some weight. It was not indicated in the script, but I instinctively came to know that Marcus should not look like this healthy, fairly strong guy. So, I dropped down to about 155 pounds. Normally, I am about 185 pounds, so the weight loss was pretty significant for me. I felt that this guy had to look and feel weak from his emotional decay and the actual physical anguish he inhabited. All of these things affect me as an actor in how I express another’s life. It can be as subtle as just a very different pair of shoes. I live for that kind of stuff.

TrunkSpace: The film takes place on the New England coast. We know you’re a New England boy. What is it about New England that makes such a great setting for horror films/thrillers? It just seems like a regional staple for genre projects.
Long: That’s an interesting question. I’ve never really thought about that, but now that you mention it I will start to. Maybe it’s that it has all those puritan roots, and there are certainly a lot of woods, and New England, as you know, in the winter can look and feel pretty downright depressing… spooky even.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years to see what your future/career held, would you take the trip, and if not, why?
Long: Really? That’s tough. I would have to say no. I’m very impressionable. If a psychic tells me I won’t work as an actor for the next three years, I would spiral into depression. I’m also a firm believer that everything unfolds in the only way it can at that particular moment, no matter how much we think we are steering the ship. It will be whatever so-called destiny has mapped out for my career 10 years down the road. I’m always in favor of being surprised.

Seasons 1 and 2 of “Ozark” are available for streaming on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kenny Ridwan

KennyRidwanFeatured
Photo By: Shanna Fisher

The loveable character Dave Kim may have started out as a singular guest spot on the popular ABC series “The Goldbergs,” but like much of what happens in the world of Hollywood, there’s a surprise around every corner. For Kenny Ridwan, who dreamed of becoming a working actor while in high school, that surprise has lasted six seasons and more brightly-colored turtlenecks than any one neck has the capacity to handle.

We recently sat down with Ridwan to discuss G.I. Joe aircraft carriers, how the series has impacted his life, and why he’s absorbing as much of what goes on behind the scenes as he can.

TrunkSpace: The sixth season of “The Goldbergs” just premiered last week. Do you still get excited as you lead up to a new season?

Ridwan
: Yeah. It’s always exciting. There’s so much for people to see.

TrunkSpace: We saw that you have the original Freddy Kruger, Robert Englund, stopping by this year. Were you on set for that?
Ridwan: I was not on set. I actually read that. I don’t get all the scripts, but I actually read that on Sean’s (Giambrone) social media. I was like, “Wow!” I really wish I was there.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that there’s so much to see in the show. We grew up in the ’80s, so for us it’s fun to watch and absorb the set pieces and what’s going on in the background of scenes. From wardrobe to set design, is it a fun show to be on, given the environment that you’re in?
Ridwan: Oh, 100 percent. Well, you’ve seen my character. I have a bowl cut. I have a turtleneck on. I feel like I’m very indicative of a certain style in the ’80s.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of those turtlenecks, no neck has been more abused in the history of television.
Ridwan: (Laughter) That’s super funny. I agree actually. (Laughter) I remember in the very beginning I was like, “I don’t really like turtlenecks, they feel constricting.” But now I’m like, “Wow!” I actually look forward to putting on the turtleneck and putting on all my too-big khakis and my Champion shoes, just trying to get into the ’80s mood.

TrunkSpace: And they’re not just turtlenecks, they’re brightly-colored turtlenecks!
Ridwan: Always a pastel color. My favorite one is the light blue one, not going to lie, but the rest of them are pretty good too. It’s to the point now where every time I’m not in a turtleneck, it’s weird.

TrunkSpace: And again, being in that wardrobe, on that set, it mustn’t be difficult to sort of get lost in the character and be whisked away to a different time period.
Ridwan: It’s a lovely environment to work in. Everybody’s super nice. It’s one of those sets and one of those work environments where you feel like everybody’s really working toward a common goal of making the show better. Also, I’d really liken it to a family-like situation. But in terms of us really recreating what was before, that’s also fun too because often Sean and I, we’re ’90s kids. We were born in ’99. We don’t really know much of what came before, but it’s just really fun to put ourselves in a situation where we almost have to reenact something exactly as it was.

TrunkSpace: We personally get pretty excited every time we see the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier in the background of the Goldberg’s basement. In our day, that was THE toy every kid wanted.
Ridwan: (Laughter) We play with it between takes sometimes. It’s really fun.

TrunkSpace: You started on the show in 2014. Where has the job impacted your life the most?
Ridwan: That’s a really interesting question, actually. In high school when I was working – and I was working for a whole week and I was out of school – I’d say it really affected my high school experience really, because I was invited to be in a more mature setting than a lot of my classmates. I think that really affected me in a way where I ended up reaching a certain level of maturation before other people. I just remember being in high school and really wanting to be an actor. The show really let me realize that dream of mine, that passion of mine.

TrunkSpace: When you first read for Dave Kim, was he always meant to be a reoccurring character?
Ridwan: No. He was actually supposed to be a one episode guest star. I had three scenes in the first episode, maybe four. Just two days of work. I really never expected it to go any further than that. But, it did. Now, going into our sixth year of production, looking back, it’s really ridiculous for me, because it’s like, “Wow, look how far we’ve come.”

Ridwan as Dave Kim in “The Goldberg.” Photo by Ron Tom/ABC – © 2016 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

TrunkSpace: You’re currently studying creative writing at Columbia. Do you see yourself staying in the industry but working more behind the scenes in the future?
Ridwan: Well, I’ve always really been interested in screenwriting, and I’ve always really wanted to be a screenwriter, a producer, or a director. But really for me, it’s really wherever my career takes me, because they’re such parallel fields, acting and what’s behind the camera. Honestly, I’d be very happy if I was an actor for the rest of my life. I’d be very happy if I’d be an actor/director. But my major now is creative writing. I’m really trying to pursue that in a way where I could become someone behind the camera later on.

TrunkSpace: Do you find yourself absorbing more while on “The Goldbergs” set now that you’re at Columbia studying creative writing?
Ridwan: Yeah. It’s a single camera show – well, it’s not technically a single camera show, but it’s shot in a very similar way to some single camera shows. There’s sometimes when I’m not on camera and I’m able to be behind the camera and look at what the camera operators are doing, and look at what our DP is doing, and really study from them and shadow them in a way, while I’m on set and acting, which has been a really, really, really informative experience for me. It has molded my decision in terms of, “Okay, this is something I really think I could do, or think I should pursue.”

TrunkSpace: How do you juggle your career and school at the same time? How do you find a balance?
Ridwan: Well, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t include just a lot of time in the library, just working on schoolwork. But, I think that now that it’s my second year doing this – it’s my sophomore year of college, and my second year flying back and forth, and shooting the show – something I really learned throughout the first year is just, if you really want it, you have to work to get it. For me it really materialized and became, “Okay, if I really want to do well in school, if I really want to be an actor, I just have to put in the work.” That’s just what I’ve been doing.

The Goldbergs” airs Wednesdays on ABC.

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