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July 2017

Opening Act

That One Eyed Kid

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Artist/Band: That One Eyed Kid

Members: Josh Friedman (Keys/Vocals)/ Live band: Kyle Harris (Drums), Andrew Davis (Bass guitar/synth bass), Peter Danilchuk (synthesizers)

Website: www.thatoneeyedkid.com

Hometown: St. Louis

Latest Album/Release: Crash & Burn (May 2017)

Influences: Miike Snow, MGMT, Passion Pit, M83, Bon Iver, James Blake

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Friedman: Synth pop meets indie rock with a touch of motown and soul.

TrunkSpace: We always seem to be discovering great new music from the Boston area. What is it about the city that sparks so many creative people?
Friedman: I think Boston has such a high concentration of brilliant people because of all the colleges in the city. Harvard, Berklee, BU, NEC… there are so many talented people that those schools attract. I think any urban city is a hotbed for art, but Boston’s has this intellectualism that really makes it stand out.

TrunkSpace: Musicians want listeners to connect with their music. What is it that you hope draws people to what you create? What do you want them to discover within the songs?
Friedman: Sonically I just hope people dig it and it makes them feel good. On a deeper level, everything I make is autobiographical and more often than not an excavation of experiences and thoughts that I struggle with. I’d hope that my honesty and candor with my insecurities helps people resonate with what I’ve gone through and hopefully be inspired to face their struggles as well.

TrunkSpace: You have been involved in many different genres and endeavors as part of your musical journey thus far. Does diversity in music, at least in the way that you personally absorb it, inspire you from a creative perspective?
Friedman: Absolutely. Working on different projects in different genres means working with other artists who will inspire you. Boston has so many great artists and getting to play keyboards or produce for them is a lot of where I get my inspiration and push myself to make better work.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest lesson youve learned throughout the course of that journey that you apply to what youre doing on the creative side of things?
Friedman: The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that talent is innate but hard work pays off. I would never consider myself the most talented songwriter or producer, but I’ve been working my ass off lately and I’ve started noticing giant leaps in the quality of my material. The most talented people I know are usually the people who put in the most effort, I’m really inspired by that.

TrunkSpace: Like many young artists starting out in the social media age, you began posting YouTube videos of your performances. What did that process teach you, not only about how to reach an audience, but how to deal with the love and hate that can stream in via social media platforms when youre putting so much of yourself out there?
Friedman: I consider myself really lucky in that I’ve gotten almost entirely positive feedback from my early YouTube videos. I think it mainly taught me that you can get a lot of exposure through the internet, but if it’s not for what you want to be known for, it’s a little empty. I like seeing that one of my videos is close to a million views, but if I could trade that for 10K views on an original piece that resonates with me, I would. I’m incredibly grateful for the audience I’ve reached through those videos but I’m a perfectionist by nature. I don’t think I’ll feel truly satisfied until I can get my original music the same kind of exposure as the piano covers.

TrunkSpace: Youre also a producer. Is wearing your producer hat a difficult thing to don when youre working with your own material? How do you find the balance between artist and producer?
Friedman: Absolutely. It’s really hard to produce your own stuff, the role of producing and the role of the artist occupy totally different areas in my experience. When I’m working on my own stuff I end up outsourcing a lot of the producer role I’m used to having, mainly engineering and relying on other peoples’ ears for listening for strong performances. I like getting to ask other artists for feedback though, I do it more when I’m working on my own stuff… so in that sense self-producing forces me to get out of my way a bit. But it’s a challenge.

TrunkSpace: “Crash and Burnwas released in May of this year. What did you hope to accomplish with the EP and do you feel like you achieved those goals?
Friedman: At the simplest level I wanted to share some stories about what I’ve been experiencing and work my ass off on making it sound as good as possible. On that alone I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal. I definitely have loftier aspirations, like getting it on some big Spotify playlist or getting a couple of the songs licensed in a commercial. (I’m not a sell out I promise! But this record wasn’t cheap and that’s the only way I know of that artists still get paid for their music) Personally I’d just like to know that my experiences resonate with people, that’s the real reason I make anything at all.

TrunkSpace: The EP is a great blend of genres and musical stylingsa sort of pop potpourri. How does that play out in a live setting?
Friedman: I’m stealing pop potpourri, I love that. Live we do a lot of tricks, we recreate a lot of the record between the four of us in the live band, but we trigger some of the samples from the record to make it sound more authentic. Kyle (drums) takes a big piece of that. He and I can make things sound really full even just the two of us.

TrunkSpace: Why did you choose to perform under the name That One Eyed Kid as opposed to under your own name?
Friedman: Josh Friedman is like ninety people. I remember googling my name in 2007 and there are just a ton of dudes who are named that, so I felt like I had to make myself stand out a bit more online. I also wear an eye patch all the time and kind of stand out in real life already, so it felt natural to make my online presence reflect that.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of That One Eyed Kid look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Friedman: We’ve got some great live in-studio videos coming out soon and I’m already hard at work on the next batch of tunes.

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Next Up

Megan Duquette

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Name: Megan Duquette

Hometown: Moline, Illinois

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Duquette: There’s definitely a big difference between when I knew I wanted to act (as soon as I first started being aware of my own thoughts!) and when I knew I wanted to go after acting for a living. I have been doing school plays and community theater since I was a kid. I would also force my friends and/or siblings into putting on productions together in our backyards and then have our parents video tape it. (On a camcorder that would then become a VHS, thank you very much!)

I knew I wanted to act for a living in 2015 when I was doing a musical. It was my first time onstage in 4 years. I had set my dream aside and pursued a corporate career, which was completely draining for me, and being back onstage was when I realized it was something I needed to give my all to.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Duquette: I wish I could cite some critically-acclaimed and profoundly inspiring piece of cinema, but truthfully, romantic comedies first piqued my love of acting. It was Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and especially Robin Wright in “The Princess Bride” whom I idolized. “The Princess Bride” is a film that I revere as one of the greatest films ever made, and I can recite it front title to credits. (“Anybody want a peanut?” EPIC!) And, of course, I grew up during the Golden Age of Disney animated films, so I was also inspired by Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas and Megara. (Megara is vastly underrated but she had a kick-ass solo, and her name was the closest to mine.) It’s a dream of mine to voice a Disney princess some day!

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Duquette: As I was starting my career as an actor while ending my career in Human Resources, I did what any good corporate person would do: I made a PowerPoint presentation where I outlined my goals and timelines. I did as much research as I could—online forums and in-person informational interviews with every friend-of-a-friend actor on how they got started, where they took classes, how they got an agent, etc. I based my plan on that information. After six months, I reviewed and revised the plan. After three iterations of the PowerPoint, I have almost entirely abandoned it, and I’m just winging it now! This is definitely a career where you have to constantly reassess your strategy and your goals. I started out thinking that I was going to be a comedic actress and that I wanted to book a lot of commercials. Now I want to do small indie dramas. You grow and change as an actor and as a person through all that you learn and experience in classes, in life, etc. It has been incredibly interesting to see how things have shifted for me over time, and I have no idea where my ambitions and interests will wander next.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Duquette: I decided to move away from home when my car did a nice 360-degree spin on a layer of ice and snow in Iowa. I had this epiphany that snow is optional and that I could choose to live somewhere without it. At the time, I was working as an editor at the local news station in my hometown with a shift from 2 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. I realized that I was not in the epicenter of the entertainment industry and that I should relocate to somewhere with more opportunities—and less snow. I was 22 years old when I loaded up my car and drove across the country in the tiny Ford Focus I still drive today (and sincerely hope will continue functioning for a few more years). When I arrived in LA, however, I sort of chickened out of the actual acting pursuit, and was here for a solid three years before I even started auditioning for community theater! But I stayed! That is the most important thing—I never left LA once I got here. I just needed some time before I was ready to start my acting career.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Duquette: I am so proud of and impressed by the young actors who move here at 18, 20, 23, etc. and just jump right in. I have seen it many times in classes I have taken, and I am always shocked at how bold and brave that is—to not only be going after such an incredibly scary and volatile career, but also to be taking on such a crazy city all while going through the madness that is your early twenties! Me? I got here and took my sweet time. I mentioned that I did not start auditioning for three years; well, I did not leave my corporate job for five years! I ended up in an entry-level position at a world-leading entertainment company—in HR—and then sort of just kept getting promoted around the company. It was incredible, and I have zero regrets about the time I spent getting to know myself, paying off my student loans, learning the city and getting settled. I met my soon-to-be husband and found a really solid group of friends. I honestly think there is no way I would have been brave enough or prepared enough to take the risk of launching an acting career without having so much stability in my personal life. Your early 20s are tumultuous enough without throwing in an acting career—but I guess those in their early 20s also have more energy than those of us in the next decade—so there are advantages and disadvantages to both!

TrunkSpace: What has been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Duquette: I was a small spec in the corner for about three seconds in “Kong: Skull Island.” Does that count?! I would have to say my biggest break and one of my early victories was getting to be featured in a scene with Rosie O’Donnell in NBC’s production of “Hairspray Live!” My Midwestern family was so wonderful, and they all watched it and acted like I was so famous for being on TV. It was also really exciting because practically every online publication that recapped the broadcast used a photo of Rosie that included me standing next to her. Sure, no one in the UK knew who that random girl was, but people in the UK saw my picture! I was pretty tickled by that one. Another exciting break was booking an MLB commercial. Granted, I did not make the final edit, but hey—you celebrate the wins you get in this business. (Laughter) I tell people I am in the “Garage Phase” of my acting career—I have been happy to take on roles in student films and in unpaid theater productions. I have loved being in shows at the Hollywood Fringe Festival for the past two years. What I love the most about acting is the connections you make with the other actors, and there is not much more of a rush than doing that onstage in front of a live audience.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Duquette: I primarily get cast in comedies. I think it’s my face. I just look funny. In my heart, I am this Carey Mulligan-type: a soulful, dramatic indie actress, but the industry does not see that yet. So I definitely have a ways to go. I have done some Meisner training, and it has brought out such a different side of me. I have always been told that I am going to be a character actress and comedy will be my wheelhouse, so it is a pleasure when I get to take on dramatic scenes. I dream of someday doing small indie family dramas. I am really interested in stories about mental health and the complexities of our inner emotional lives, especially as it affects families. I have a degree in anthropology with a focus on socio-cultural anthropology—the study of people and behavior in cultures. That is what my favorite kind of storytelling these days explores: Why do we behave the way we behave? What past pain has carried into today and prevents us from living as a happy, peaceful society at the macro level or even as a couple or family unit on the micro level? And how can we be better?

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Duquette: The importance of financial savvy cannot be ignored: managing your money well and knowing how to make money outside of acting are huge strengths for an actor. Another area I am working on is my ability to not take it so personally when I face rejection, because my disappointment tends to carry over into my home life—and that is not fair to my partner. It is crucial to have the ability to separate your work life from your personal life. You need to have a happy, full life that does not depend on your acting career, because it will frequently not make you happy. I was literally wallowing in self-pity for a dramatic theater role I did not get when my phone dinged with the request to do this interview profile. Your mood could change on a second-to-second basis if you choose to let your acting career highs and lows dictate your mood. Resist that urge! Also, on a practical note: To my fellow glasses-wearers, please punch out your lenses and wear contacts under the frames. You might be asked to take off your glasses for an entire audition, and if you are blind without them (like me) and they were your real glasses on which you depended for vision (like me,) you may end up doing an audition blind (like me). Needless to say, I bombed.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Duquette: I have a dog. He is amazing. He is this fluffy ball of love and joy that we rescued at the end of last year, and he wakes up every day so full of optimism that today will be a day of nothing but chasing after his tennis ball. My ultimate dream when it comes to my acting career is to work consistently enough that I can support my dog. My goal is to get him a house with a yard, so that there can be epic-ball-throwing and running around to his pure heart’s content. I am also not far from the stage in life where I may have human children, as well. My ultimate dream would be doing what I love and still supporting my family. Oh, and an Oscar would be nice, too.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Duquette: Oh man. I have 10,000 clichés on the tip of my tongue trying to respond to this, but, the truth is, none of it will resonate or make sense until the person has been through the experience themselves and has the hindsight to understand how good the advice was. That is 100 percent what happened to me. People gave me great advice that I proceeded to ignore, and then months or years later, I realized what they were talking about. I guess the advice I would give them is to breathe. Sometimes I feel like everything around me is racing at 1,000 miles per hour, and then you go weeks without an audition. Breathe and pace yourself and know that you are running a marathon, not a sprint. Also, know that sometimes (frequently, in fact) you will be the only person who believes that you can do this. Keep believing, and keep focused on your goals. Celebrate the small wins, because for a long time, the wins will be small. But progress is progress, even if it is just an inch. And that is something to be proud of.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Duquette: My website is www.meganduquette.com. I am on IMDB, Megan Duquette (II) IMDB, as well. If you want to see pictures of the dog for whom I dream of a yard, you can follow me (him, really) on Instagram: I am simply “meganduquette.” I do not really use the Snappy Chatty thing that the kids are on these days, and I think I tweeted twice before promptly forgetting my password. If anyone else knows it, kindly inform me and I will happily add dog photos to Twitter as well.

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Between The Sheets

Erin McCahan

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In our new feature, Between the Sheets, TrunkSpace picks the imaginative brains of authors to break down what it takes to create the various worlds and characters they breathe life into via the tools of their trade… sheets of paper. While technology continues to advance and change the pop culture landscape, the written word has remained one of the most consistent and imaginative art forms.

This time out we’re chatting with Erin McCahan to discuss her new novel “The Lake Effect,” why she didn’t want to be forced out of her shell as a child, and how she’d edit her own dreams if she could.

TrunkSpace: Your new book “The Lake Effect” was released on July 11. What emotions do you experience as you gear up to the release of new material?
McCahan: I try not to gear up for the release. I’m serious. Between my expectations and anxiety, it’s too nerve-racking to think about.

TrunkSpace: As you look back over previous releases, where do you think you have grown the most as a writer with this latest offering?
McCahan: In not gearing up for the release.

TrunkSpace: YA is a term that is thrown around quite a bit these days and it seems the actual definition of it blurs based on who you ask. In your opinion, what does YA mean and who is the audience? (Not necessarily age demographic, but the profile of the reader.)
McCahan: It is a little blurry, isn’t it? At its most basic level, I suppose YA is defined by the age of the protagonist. Teen protagonist, in general, equals YA. But the audience for YA is broad. It encompasses everyone from middle schoolers to grandparents, and I think that’s because, over the last 15 years or so, the quality of YA books has improved and the diversity has broadened.

TrunkSpace: It seems that more than anything, one area that is a major turn off for young adults is when they feel like they’re being talked down to and not treated as the young adults that they truly are. How important is honesty (and particularly emotional honesty) when writing in the genre?
McCahan: It’s paramount. I was repeatedly told, as a teenager in the midst of some crisis or restlessness or even happiness, “That will change when you get older.” What I heard was, “Your feelings don’t count right now.” In my work with teenagers – for 10 years as a youth minister and now as a young adult author – I diligently try to honor teenagers’ feelings and experiences.

TrunkSpace: We read that you were very shy growing up. As a shy child, how important did losing yourself in literary worlds become during those years?
McCahan: Reading was a breather. Only other shy people will understand this – it’s hard to be shy. Add to this that parents and teachers – at least my parents and teachers – treated shyness like a disease that they were going to cure by “bringing Erin out of her shell.” So in addition to living in an extroverted world, I felt further burdened by the belief that there was something wrong with me. It was a relief to be home, alone, after school, in my room reading – or listening to music – and not having to think about my own horrendous failings as a shy person for a while.

TrunkSpace: For those young adults of today who are also experiencing similar feelings, what advice would you give them?
McCahan: Shyness is a temperament, not a character flaw. You’re allowed to be shy.

TrunkSpace: You were born in Michigan and were raised in Ohio. In your opinion, how much of where a writer comes from influences their literary voice? How did Ohio shape your writing?
McCahan: I think it’s more family dynamic and social environment that shape not just a writer but everyone. And a huge chunk of my family is – uh – I’ll say difficult. Dysfunctional is the polite term. In need of a map, a compass and a Sherpa to lead them back to normal. They would have been that in any state.

TrunkSpace: Regarding the process, is writing a labor of love for you or does it feel more like labor? Do you enjoy the process?
McCahan: It is absolutely a labor of love. I cannot imagine doing anything else, and if for some reason I never have another novel published, I’ll still write every single day.

TrunkSpace: And what does that process look like? What are the ideal conditions for putting in a good day of writing?
McCahan: A good day is a productive day, and not every day is productive. Some days, I sit at my desk and write, delete, write, delete with very little worth saving. Other days, I write pages and pages and hate to quit in the evening. The only part of the process that is consistent is that I am at my desk, from 9 to 5, 5 to 6 days a week, with breaks for working out or running errands or playing with my cats, of course.

TrunkSpace: Do you self-edit as you write?
McCahan: As I write, as I think, as I speak. If I could do it as I dream, I would.

TrunkSpace: Where are you the hardest on yourself as a writer?
McCahan: I struggle with the belief that I’ll just never be good enough. And since I haven’t actually defined ‘good enough,’ I worry it’s an unknowable and unattainable standard.

TrunkSpace: What are you working on now and what will people be able to read next?
McCahan: I’m working on a couple things, and I would love to tell you about them, but I haven’t run either of them past my editor yet. She’s on maternity leave, and I think I need to discuss them with her first.

“The Lake Effect” is available now from Dial Books.

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Wingman Wednesday

Noel Johansen

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Photo By: Farrah Aviva

With the new drama “Somewhere Between” set to premiere tonight on ABC, series star Noel Johansen is prepared for how viewers will respond, good or bad, to his portrayal of Danny, a young father navigating life with deletion syndrome. Deletion syndrome, also known as DiGeorge syndrome, is a disorder that affects both the mind and the body with symptoms ranging from developmental delay to congenital heart problems.

We recently sat down with Johansen to discuss if he had reservations taking on the role, how he fully inhabited Danny even when the cameras weren’t rolling, and why the “Supernatural” fandom can’t forget about that one time he was beheaded.

TrunkSpace: In “Somewhere Between” you play a mentally challenged character named Danny. How did you approach the role?
Johansen: In terms of preparation, the audition process was pretty rigorous, but I felt like he had kind of inhabited me as soon as I read the sides. Initially, once I got the sides for the audition, my immediate reaction was, “I’m not sure I can play this role,” because I hadn’t done something like that before. But as soon as I read him, he kind of inhabited me. I did some research online and I got a feel of physically what he was like and what degree of disability he may or may not have. To be honest, in a strange way, and I haven’t had this happen to me too many times as an actor, but I felt like he really tapped into something. It was really an emotional thing. That helped me navigate everything else about his character. As soon as I went into the audition and as soon as I got on set, he was strongly in me.

So I worked on my own initially with the audition and my first couple of scenes and then I worked with my costar, Imogen, who plays the role of my daughter, Ruby. We worked together with an acting coach who was pretty familiar with Danny’s disability. In that, we kind of came up with some things that were consistent with us, because it is a hereditary disease.

TrunkSpace: In this day and social media age, everyone has an opinion. Did any part of you worry about taking on a character with a disability, knowing that people will dissect it and your choices online?
Johansen: I understand that and I respect that. Lots of folks face this when playing characters with disabilities. Deletion syndrome… there’s varying degrees of it. It affects people quite severely and then quite minimally, to the point almost imperceptibly. The level that we chose, I felt, was consistent with his storyline and his ability to have a daughter and to communicate and to make the decisions that he makes in the series. And he has an emotional life that was quite accessible. Unlike folks with autism, those with deletion syndrome have a lot of emotional access and, probably, vulnerability as a result. That’s what Danny really had. He has a lot of emotional vulnerability.

I did a lot of research on it and I hope people will be constructively critical, but I understand if they feel like there’s something missing. It might be somebody with a disability that might point to that and I understand that.

TrunkSpace: The concept of “Somewhere Between” is pretty heavy. Does the material itself, episode to episode, echo that same sort of heaviness?
Johansen: Yes, even in Danny. Danny takes on a lot. There’s a lot going on for him. Often he’s put in an emotional crisis. Danny’s one of the major emotional outlets in that way because he’s vulnerable.

Not to belabor the disability point, but I’m hoping that folks who have a disability find the truth in it and that encourages them and that those who don’t have that will appreciate the ability of people who have a disability to do some amazing things.

TrunkSpace: When you’re playing in such an emotionally heavy sandbox, can you leave that on set or does it come home with you?
Johansen: That’s a great question. I’ve done some really heavy stuff in my time, especially in theater. I’ve done Neil LaBute’s plays. I’ve played, “In a Dark Dark House,” a character who was a pedophile. I’ve played some heavy characters who have a lot of drama. I guess in that way, I’m an emotional veteran. Fortunately, with Danny, I was able to leave him on set, but as soon as I got to set… as soon as I got to my trailer… he kind of took over. And I wasn’t trying to be at all coming from a place of ego. I explained it to folks who were trying to talk to me on set sometimes that this character was very vulnerable and I kind of just needed to stay in him. There were 10 hour days where I was deeply in him and I never really went out. I don’t really ever go out of him when I’m on set.

TrunkSpace: And at 10 hours, that’s most of your conscious day.
Johansen: It is.

Photo By: Brandon Hart

TrunkSpace: You’re spending more time with Danny than yourself on those days.
Johansen: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean even on a lunch break, I was pretty quiet and kept to myself. As a person, I’m fairly gregarious, but I think that in this part, I respected where Danny was and I kept him close. I’m here to serve the character and the story. I can tell you, there were some exhausting days, but it’s a very rewarding exhausting. Not exhausting like, “Wow, I regret that.” More exhausting like, “Wow, I ran an Olympic marathon and I didn’t think I could do it.”

TrunkSpace: When you’re able to accomplish something that you didn’t think you could pull off, that makes it all the more rewarding, right?
Johansen: Yeah. Exactly. I can tell you, it was probably one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an actor. On the last day of the last scene, it was very, very touching what people had to say. I was extremely emotional after the last shot. Yeah… it was hard to let him go in a way.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of things, you’re also going to be appearing in “Loudermilk” from the mind of Peter Farrelly. From a performance standpoint, is there pressure working on a comedy for the guy who is responsible for classics like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber?”
Johansen: I was slightly intimidated, although for me, I grew up in an acting family with my mom. I fortunately never really got too sussed by fame and all that stuff. For me, it’s really about the work and it’s really about telling the story. In that way, it helped me. But yeah, it was intimidating.

TrunkSpace: We have an unnatural love for “Supernatural” here at TrunkSpace and we know that you appeared in two episodes as two different characters. That’s a show that has such a massive fandom. Have you been approached by fans for the work that you did on the series?
Johansen: Not online, but I’ve met folks on the street who have said, “Oh yeah, you were that…” because I was in one of the earlier episodes where I played a sheriff and then later on as a vampire. People are like, “Yeah, you were that vampire who got his head chopped off!” (Laughter)

Featured Image By: Shimon

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Musical Mondaze

The Yawpers

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Photo By: George Blosser

Critics and fans alike are in love with The Yawpers. Often described as having a sound that is exclusive to the band, the Denver-born trio has been taking an honest and forthright approach to their music since they came together in 2011. That honesty and forthrightness doesn’t just exist within their lyrics either. Frontman Nate Cook is frank when responding to questions, both professional and personal, and is not afraid to offer as much of himself as possible for his fans to soak up and absorb.

We recently sat down with Cook to discuss the band’s new album “Boy in a Well,” how he works through a bout of writer’s block, and how he manages the praise for The Yawpers.

TrunkSpace: The band has been together since 2011. So much can change in six years, and at the same time, so much can (and usually does) stay the same. How much have you changed personally in that time and how has that impacted your songwriting?
Cook: I guess a lot does change in six years for a person. I’ve been married and divorced, moved around a lot, that sort of stuff. I guess I’m just in my 30s now so… my mid-20s were a different time all together for me. In some ways I take my writing a lot more seriously than I used to, and it has taken a little bit more of a personal flair, because I’m not as flippant as I was in my 20s.

TrunkSpace: A person’s point of view tends to change between that period of 20s to 30s transition.
Cook: Yeah, I can see that. It’s odd how inevitable the change is. One day you just wake up and you’re a different person without ever actually having done anything to change yourself.

TrunkSpace: Which must be difficult in a band setting because, so often, fans want their favorite artists to stay the same.
Cook: Yeah, I agree. I think that what people really expect, and we’ve been lucky is that our fans mostly just expect us to be authentic, and I think that that can read regardless of how stylistically we change.

TrunkSpace: Life is filled with so many ups and downs. You mentioned going through a divorce and moving around a lot. Are those ups and downs magnified when your career is all about being in front of people, either emotionally in your songwriting, or even physically when you are in front of people in a live setting?
Cook: Well, I think there’s a kind of a loneliness to this lifestyle. Just a lot of moving around and you’ve got the type of life that, by virtue, is kind of nomadic. So, I guess in some ways that becomes my personal life, it’s what I share with people on stage or through my music. My personal life just really doesn’t exist, because I’m not around to have it. And in that way I suppose it is kind of an emotional release, or at least an extension of my personal life.

TrunkSpace: Does it feel like as an artist… as somebody who creates… does it feel like fans want to see that personal side of you more given the social media age? Do they want more of you than just the music?
Cook: Oh yeah. For years people have always wanted that, but now the availability of it is… people expect it, I guess. That’s kind of a hard question to answer, though, because I feel like since the dawn of artists people have wanted to know about the people that make it. It’s just now that it’s easy to find out. Your life is a lot more on display than it used to be, even if the desire hasn’t actually necessarily increased.

TrunkSpace: “Boy in a Well” has a story theme that runs throughout it. When you focus on a story concept does that put limitations on you from a songwriting perspective?
Cook: Yeah, I don’t want to sound too up my own ass on this one, but I think a lot of times… limiting yourself allows you to maintain focus on what you’re really trying to say. So in some ways it does both simultaneously. Obviously, staying focused on the subject limits what you can talk about, but it allows you to talk about what you’re writing about more fluently.

TrunkSpace: If you’re writing tunes for that concept and you hit a block, do you start writing in an unrelated way for just yourself to put some distance between you and the focus of the block?
Cook: No, usually what I’ll do is I’ll write a lot of garbage until something works. But I usually try to stay within the confines of the concept otherwise I would lose it. I wrote probably 35 songs for the record and it has only 12 on it. A lot of times just writing garbage helps the good stuff come out.

Photo By: Demi Demitro

TrunkSpace: Of those 35 songs that didn’t make the record, does that mean you’ll never want to revisit them or the same theme again?
Cook: Yeah, that’s correct. Once something’s kind of done, and you’ve kind of passed judgment on it, it feels kind of dirty to go back and do it again. I don’t even like playing songs from old records live anymore. You just kind of move on.

TrunkSpace: You guys got a lot of praise over the years, both critical and from the casual listener. Does that put pressure on you as a songwriter and as a band to deliver each time out?
Cook: Yeah, I would say so. I think that any artist who tells you that they don’t crave validation is a fucking liar. I mean, it matters. You can’t think about it too much during the process, but one always hopes that people will accept it with an open mind and enjoy it. I wouldn’t say it’s so much a part of the writing process, but definitely it’s part of sweating through your mattress at night while you’re waiting for it to come out.

TrunkSpace: You have done a slew of interviews since The Yawpers came together. What’s something you wish you were asked over that time, or an area of yourself or the band that you’d like to share that people don’t normally ask?
Cook: Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that question. We’ve been asked pretty much every question that there is under the sun, and I always do my best to answer them honestly. I feel like whatever people want to know they can know, but I don’t have anything specifically that I’ve been itching to share.

TrunkSpace: Do you wish people would focus on a particular area of the band more?
Cook: I think people have focused a lot on my writing, which is what I’m most proud of. I feel like that’s already kind of happened for us, so I’m pretty happy with where and how the attention’s been spent on us.

TrunkSpace: Tommy Stinson of The Replacements contributed to “Boy in a Well” on the production side of things. What was that experience like?
Cook: Tommy’s a cool guy. We actually got to go on tour with him after the album as well. He’s a great dude. Obviously I’ve been a Replacements fan since I could listen to music. Working with someone like that, just the league and… he was fucking awesome and really into the project. Yeah, I couldn’t have been happier with it, to be honest.

TrunkSpace: Did he offer any advice or did you absorb anything via osmosis in terms of career longevity?
Cook: I wish I could say we had the prescience to ask any of those questions, but we didn’t. I would say that just, osmosis is probably a good word for it, there’s kind of a collected-ness to an artist that’s been doing it that long that rubs off. I hope that we’ve somehow managed to glean some of that knowledge.

TrunkSpace: Everybody has bad days. As much as you love music, writing and recording is still work. When you’re having those bad days, is it easier to get over it when you’re like, “Tommy Stinson’s in the room!”?
Cook: Yeah. If Tommy Stinson and a bottle of whiskey are in the room, it’s usually gonna be okay.

TrunkSpace: Do you see yourself on a similar path as Tommy in terms of having a career as long and as fruitful he has had?
Cook: I would like to think so, as long as I don’t drink myself to death.

“Boy in a Well” is available August 18 on Bloodshot Records.

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Wingman Wednesday

Darren Kent

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Photo By: Samantha Dodd

The SyFy series “Blood Drive” takes place in a fictional universe where social commentary is disguised beneath a layer of gore and sexual debauchery. Show creator James Roland has designed a post-apocalyptic painting with our own non-fictional world serving as his model. Each character is a different hyper color crafted by his brushstroke and they pop from the canvass as if they exist on a black and white landscape. One of the more dynamic characters born from the series is The Scholar, a lonely genius who wants nothing more than to be loved and accepted, played brilliantly by UK-born actor Darren Kent.

We recently sat down with Kent to discuss The Scholar’s backstory, his complicated relationship with The Gentleman, and whether or not the “Blood Drive” cars could survive a dragon onslaught.

TrunkSpace: We have been asking this of every “Blood Drive” cast member we speak with because, well, it just seems like an obvious first question. (Laughter) Did you ever wonder if the material you were working on in “Blood Drive” would ever make it to air?
Kent: My hobbies are reading and editing scripts and over the years I have read some pretty cool stuff, however, from the first few pages of episode 1 of “Blood Drive,” I knew that this was going to be right up my street! It’s beyond madness but so descriptive and gruesome I just have to turn the page and read on. It’s full of excitement and in a weird way, the characters are all relatable. Okay, most of them are killers. (Laughter) But this shows how brilliantly written “Blood Drive” is! I would always back a script and TV show like this to air. It’s a no brainer for me.

TrunkSpace: What is so great about the show is that there are so many layers beneath the surface of the insanity. Your character The Scholar seems to be particularly layered and complicated. How did you view him when you first read for him and how has that view changed since inhabiting him throughout the course of season 1?
Kent: “Blood Drive” gives you people being fed into engines, unconventional relationships, and a story so crazy you are mesmerized into knowing how it’s going to pan out. The Scholar is withdrawn and lost in society and struggles with all people in general. For an actor, many would see this as a nightmare because eye contact rarely exists with The Scholar, unless he feels comfortable with the character he talks to. So you have no one to bounce off of and most of the time you have to go into a deep thought (your own world) and concentrate on your problem alone! When I first read him, he was insecure, a social wreck, and weak as a person. As the show develops, he becomes braver and gains a few friends, which is a turning point for him and his self-belief.

TrunkSpace: In the show The Scholar is a mechanical mastermind, but to date, we haven’t really learned much of who he was before the race. Will we get to see that as the series plays out, and if not, how did (or how do you think) The Scholar became so knowledgeable about these particular blood-hungry cars?
Kent: This series doesn’t really delve into the Scholar’s past, but you certainly learn more about him and watch him blossom. At the moment, the audience has seen a delicate, soft man who is very sensitive, but do not be fooled, The Scholar is extremely clever and always has a plan B. He may appear soft, but if he needs to, he will do whatever it takes to keep himself safe! All racers have an agenda, but you may have to wait until the final episode to find out what they all are. The Scholar is incredibly detailed with his engines, which I would say was handed down by other family members in the past. I imagine him to be an only child who would channel all of his attention into his first love…CARS! He loves gadgets and computers and with his knowledge and with barely any effort, he could build almost anything.

TrunkSpace: We get the impression that there’s more humanity to The Scholar than there is in lot of the characters who inhabit the fictional world. Does The Scholar feel remorse for the act of feeding humans into the cars? In a lot of ways, it feels like he’s participating only to win the heart of The Gentleman.
Kent: The Scholar in my opinion has had a hard life… more than likely abused mentally and physically. This would explain the sensitive side to him and the want to be liked and accepted. He would much rather the race be a race and not a suicide mission! He would also prefer the cars to run on fuel as blood doesn’t increase power or speed. He hates it when The Gentleman hurts or even kills a human, but he doesn’t dare question it. He loves The Gentleman and can’t seem to see what he is doing wrong to win him over. One moment it is love, the next it is hatred.

TrunkSpace: We have seen The Scholar help Grace and Arthur. Is that in direct defiance of The Gentleman or is he doing it because he genuinely is a good person?
Kent: The Scholar will never forget Arthur Bailey sitting with him in the diner, nor will he forget Grace untying him from the cling film in the meat truck! So in The Scholar’s head, they are now “Besties.” (Laughter) He doesn’t want to upset his partner (The Gentleman), but at the same time, feels he owes Arthur and Grace for the help. He is a simple person who just wants to be loved, liked, and acknowledged. It’s always the little things that count for The Scholar. This isn’t why he is with The Gentleman. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You had this great, emotionally-driven moment in episode 2, “Welcome to Pixie Swallow,” where you spilled your guts (figuratively, which we feel like we have to say because a lot of literal guts get spilled in this series) to Arthur. It was one of the few moments where we have seen a “Blood Drive” character let his emotional guard down. Do you think that makes The Scholar a unique character to the series?
Kent: Most of the characters are crazy, psychotic killers, but The Scholar joined the race because The Gentleman insisted. The Gentleman needs a mechanic who can outsmart anyone in the race and The Scholar is happy for the attention and loves feeling needed. In his head, it’s a win/win situation!

TrunkSpace: The show has yet to screen in the UK. Do you feel like you’ve been a bit removed from things because of that or has social media and the internet allowed you to enjoy the US release in the same way that you would back at home?
Kent: I’m all over social media and even during filming, I would do daily video blogs and share them online. When I first started out as an actor, I remember seeing a post of another actor’s blog and it made me want to be that guy and inspired me to work my butt off and make it happen. I have made myself fully involved by plugging the show and keeping in contact with everyone. I’m off to New York this week to meet Colin Cunningham (Slink) as episode 7 will be screened on the big screen and I’ll be joining him for a mid series party! I’m super excited about that and seeing my wingman again will be awesome!

TrunkSpace: The passionate fanbase of the series continues to grow. Has the arrival of The Bleeders, as they have come to be called, been a surprise to you or did you expect the show to find a loyal group of viewers?
Kent: There was always going to be a cult for “Blood Drive” because this show has bags of potential and brilliant writers and crew behind it all! The same happened with “Game of Thrones” and I believe soon, it will have a huge following. Grindhouse isn’t my cup of tea, but “Blood Drive” is different and I’m hooked! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What has been the most challenging aspect of playing The Scholar from a performance standpoint?
Kent: I know this will sound ridiculous but, talking to my car in episode 1 was my most feared scene. (Laughter) We started on my close-up and after two takes they were happy, but I wasn’t! I asked for another take because some scenes take actors a few takes to settle into the scene and this was certainly one of them scenes. Unfortunately cars don’t react, so I spoke to it like a little baby and the extra take made a difference. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: In a show with so much craziness, butchery, and a sexual humor… how did you present the series and your involvement in it to your family and friends? (Laughter)
Kent: I always phone my parents straight away when I land a role and they love to hear all about my characters’ antics! “Blood Drive” is by far the hardest character I’ve had to explain to them about, especially when explaining some scenes from episode 2. (Laughter) All I was thinking was, my mum and nan are going to watch me in a sex scene! (Laughter) Also, my uncle helps me learn the script and when he read this episode he said, “We won’t get this scene up on its feet.” (Laughter) But this comes with the job and I’m an actor, so whatever is needed of me I’ll do. Long as I make everything believable and with the correct emotion, I’ve done my job!

TrunkSpace: “Blood Drive” is so very unlike anything else on television. That statement is said a lot about a great number of shows, but usually it’s just said for the sake of saying it. It truly is the case with your show. Does that make being involved with it feel all the more special?
Kent: When you are given a new script it’s always exciting and occasionally you are blessed with an outstanding script and then you’re ecstatic. (Laughter) So absolutely, it feels super special to be involved and a part of the “Blood Drive” family. I really hope there will be many more seasons in the future because I believe the world is ready to take it to the next level and this show does just that!

TrunkSpace: You worked on “Game of Thrones” in the past. Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen versus Christina Ochoa’s Grace? Who wins?
Kent: (Laughter) Love this! Okay… Grace d’Argento would completely smash Daenerys. Grace is feisty and ballsy, so my money would be on her.

TrunkSpace: And to follow up on that… Daenerys’ dragons versus the “Blood Drive” cars? As someone with such intimate knowledge of how the cars work, we figured you might know if they could go toe-to-toe with dragons.
Kent: I would love to say The Scholar would be able to make engines completely dragon proof, but even The Scholar wouldn’t be able to compete with dragons! We would all be a burnt carcass just like my daughter in my “Game of Thrones” episode! (Laughter)

“Blood Drive” airs Wednesdays on SyFy.

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Next Up

Christine Celozzi

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Name: Christine Celozzi

Hometown: Boston, MA

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Celozzi: I have glimpses of memories from before I was five years old when family members or friends of the family would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would always eagerly and confidently respond with, “An actress or a professional soccer player.” I can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t know I wanted to be an actress, but there were many times where I found myself attempting to do something else, something more “stable”, which ironically made me feel less and less sane the further I pursued. Eventually I gave up on stability and started focusing more on sanity, which was when I made the determining factor that there was absolutely nothing else I could see myself doing happily. Acting was the “thing”.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Celozzi: Truthfully, no judgment, I wanted so badly to meet and be one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid. I felt like if I worked hard enough to watch every single one of their cartoon episodes, memorized every line word for word, and diligently sat in front of the television repeating it, then some sort of magical laser would send out the red alert that the next April was ready. I know it’s not your typical inspiration, but that was mine. I thought I was a prodigy. You can imagine my disappointment when they never showed. It wasn’t all bad though. It did begin this wonderful ability to speed memorize lines, and I have a different kind of appreciation for TMNT in my adult years.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Celozzi: My approach/plan as an actor is to be an asset, not only in the realm of acting but also in the filmmaking community as a whole. I enjoy storytelling. I was born to be a storyteller. Whether I’m in front of the camera, behind the camera, or at home, every single day I make it a point to learn something new about the filmmaking process. Outside of acting I am also a writer and recently started venturing into directing and producing. The way I would like to be described is as a collaborator. I feel like when you’re following a passion through curiosity, through the eagerness to learn, you’re going to continue to meet the right people, you’re going to find places to apply your knowledge, you’re going to find people who want to work with you. Everything is a learning experience, so as long as I’m learning, I’ll consider my acting and film career successful.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Celozzi: I decided to move away from home and pursue acting as a career last August. I was 28 at the time, and I was ready to fully give myself to the process.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Celozzi: It was surprisingly an easy transition. I knew immediately as it was happening that I was making the right decision. I put a lot of trust into the unknown and believed that everything would happen as it was supposed to. The physical transition was quite a wonderful one. I knew I wanted to gain more life experience while venturing out here, so my boyfriend, who is also an actor, and I traveled across the southern half of the United States for 93 days from Boston to LA. Those 93 days consisted of a planned itinerary with around 300 items, including zip-lining over alligator pits in St. Augustine, riding in a hot air balloon in NM, and visiting my favorite place on earth, the Grand Canyon. Upon landing out here, I began taking classes immediately, completing a Meisner class with Anthony Montes, a former student of Sandy Meisner, the 8-Week Audition Masterclass with Risa Bramon Garcia, and Improv 1 & 2 with The Second City within 3 months of getting into the groove of acting again. Through classes it was really easy to quickly build an expanding support group with friends and peers and create a new home out here in California.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Celozzi: I think my biggest break thus far is something I can’t talk about just yet!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Celozzi: The specific types of projects I feel most at home in are character pieces, whether comedy or drama. I experience something amazing when given a character whose layers I have to sort through, when bringing them to life is an art form.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Celozzi: The ability to learn. The ability to see something for what it is. The ability to laugh at yourself. The ability to place your ego on the sidelines and lead with your soul. The ability to understand human beings, not only as a means to bring a character to life, but also in order to communicate with the people you are working with.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Celozzi: My ultimate dream is to be able to take my acting career to the furthest point I can and continue learning and moving people along the way. Again, if I am allowed the ability to continue to learn, that’s the most that I could ask for from any career.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Celozzi: If there is nothing else you want more than to act, then do it. Do it to your fullest potential, do it without fear, but be aware that it’s not something that will come and find you. It’s something you must be willing to seek, and it takes a lot of hard work.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Celozzi: I have a website: www.presskit.to/christinecelozzi, and my IG (@christinecelozzi).

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Opening Act

Two Inch Astronaut

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Artist/Band: Two Inch Astronaut

Members: Mate Gatewood, Sam Rosenberg, Andy Chervenak

Website: www.twoinchastronaut.bandcamp.com

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

Latest Album/Release: Can You Please Not Help

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Rosenberg: I like to keep it enigmatic and say “Rock and Roll.”

TrunkSpace: The band released “Can You Please Not Help” in June. What did you guys hope to do differently with the album that you hadn’t set out to do with previous efforts?
Rosenberg: Not a whole lot, really. We didn’t have any particular mission other than to hopefully make better songs and incorporate more three part harmonies.

TrunkSpace: Where has the band changed most from its first release to where it is today?
Rosenberg: Our very first EP from 2009 was just guitar, cello, vocals, and percussion. Not a lot of people have heard that record, but it’s certainly a lot quieter and more eerie than our later “Rock and Roll” material.

TrunkSpace: As a band, Two Inch Astronaut is a record releasing machine. Does the prolific nature of your songwriting happen organically or do you set out to write a certain number of songs in a set amount of time?
Rosenberg: I honestly didn’t realize it was so uncommon to release two albums over the course of two years! It was really more like a year and a half between albums, I think that’s not so unusual. Ludacris drops albums once a year for his fans’ sake, why can’t Two Inch? We all just enjoy writing a lot, and are very into the recording process.

TrunkSpace: Does that prolific songwriting put the band in a position of always feeling two steps ahead of the music you’re releasing? In other words, have you already moved on creatively from where you were with “Can You Please Not Help”?
Rosenberg: Not always, but after four records, working in our particular style has gotten to be a little claustrophobic. It’s not that we haven’t tried new things and evolved during our time as a band, but it’s all been pretty squarely within the framework of something identifiable as Two Inch Astronaut. I feel like whatever we do next has got to be different.

TrunkSpace: You guys are friends who play music together. Do you think that is a better band recipe than musicians who come together as a means to a creative end?
Rosenberg: It certainly makes touring easier. I’m actually lucky enough that my bandmates’ tastes align with mine and that they’re also freakishly talented and easy to get along with, so it’s hard for me to say.

TrunkSpace: Outside of the songwriting itself, what do you think is the most important part about being in a band and building a fanbase?
Rosenberg: I dunno, I suppose it’d be different for different people. I think it’s important to be humble and to make yourself vulnerable in a way that’s inclusive, both in terms of playing and relating to the people involved in what you’re doing. Not sure that makes any kind of sense.

TrunkSpace: What has Two Inch Astronaut found to be the best way to spread the word and continue to build the fanbase?
Rosenberg: Hoo boy, I would ask a band with a fanbase.

TrunkSpace: What does Two Inch Astronaut do better than other bands?
Rosenberg: We’re very good at alienating people with our impression of the fictional character, ‘The Pre-Cum Skunk.’

TrunkSpace: As far as the mainstream is concerned, rock seems to be missing in action. Is rock as a genre dead on a mainstream level and if so, do you think it will ever see a revival?
Rosenberg: I have absolutely no idea on either count.

TrunkSpace: What do you hope people take from your music?
Rosenberg: My pain.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of Two Inch Astronaut look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Rosenberg: Continued Pre-Cum Skunk impressions.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kimmy Gatewood & Rebekka Johnson

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Photo By: Mandee Johnson

The new Netflix series “GLOW” may have thrust the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling into the spotlight, but the female-driven ensemble is stacked with members of a group we just now invented called GLOC, or as costars Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekka Johnson are proof to, the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy.

We recently sat down with the hilariously infectious Gatewood and Johnson to discuss the importance of women working behind the scenes in Hollywood, riffing as The Beatdown Biddies, and how having the other person’s back means never being afraid to pull the Spandex out of their butt.

TrunkSpace: You are both content creators. How important is it that more women pursue creating content?
Gatewood: I think it’s really important. I think it’s important for women to be learning how to direct and edit, in addition to writing and producing. Our show was very proactive. It was probably 80 percent women writers and the creators were women.
Johnson: So were the directors.
Gatewood: Six out of the nine directors were women and there were 14 women in the cast. It’s all about storytelling. You need the storytellers, which are the writers and the directors, to be a part of that.
And also something we noticed, all 14 of our characters were these layered, amazing women and they felt
like real people on the page.

TrunkSpace: Absolutely. Each of the “GLOW” characters were interesting, dynamic, and as you said, layered.
Johnson: I had an audition for something after “GLOW” and the women were main characters in this show but didn’t have any character description. The only characters that had the character descriptions were the men.
Gatewood: The character descriptions were their age and that they’re “beautiful.” So it’s nice when you can be in a show where the descriptions are within the dialogue or it actually explains what kind of person they are and not just how they look.
Johnson: Yeah, in fact that, for “GLOW” there was nothing about our physical appearance at all in the breakdown. It was just such a cool thing to be a part of. I hope it inspires and encourages more women to tell female-driven stories and to tell their own stories.
Gatewood: When Rebekka and I first started comedy, we were the only women on the improv teams and you can imagine how daunting that was.

TrunkSpace: That’s a lot of pressure.
Gatewood: And it was almost an unwritten rule that there was one woman allowed on the team. It’s so weird. I am very happy to see that these days at the UCB, at The PIT, and everywhere else, that there are definitely a lot more women. And now it’s time to push even further and get them inside the writers’ room. We take particular care to encourage young women to be writing for themselves.
Johnson: Yeah, and we’ve been writing for ourselves and trying to create stuff for us. We’ve been working in comedy with our comedy group The Apple Sisters, which is three gals. You know, we’re just three gals, trying to make it in Hollywood.
Gatewood: We’re so progressive.
Johnson: Yeah. (Laughter)
Gatewood: Ahead of our time! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Who better to know your voice than yourself, right?
Gatewood: Yeah, in fact, for the show, when we were doing The Beatdown Biddies, the writer looked at us and said, “This is why we hired you guys, so you don’t have to stick to what’s on the page at all.” And that was just such a vote of confidence. Obviously we’ve been working together for so long and we know each other’s voices, so we know what will make each other look the funniest.
Johnson: Yeah, and when you come from an improv and sketch background, you end up doing everything for yourself.
Gatewood: From writing to producing…
Johnson: To cleaning up. (Laughter)
Gatewood: Yeah.

Photo By: Mandee Johnson

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult at times to turn off the improv switch and just focus on the story as presented in the script?
Gatewood: Sometimes, yes. (Laughter) We’re always thinking about what’s not on the page and oftentimes that helps you as an actor… to kind of know what’s happening before or after. That’s a pretty common thing, I guess, in acting school. It is hard to turn off our brains because we pitch jokes constantly. And it was only when they were like, “Yeah, yeah, we don’t have time…” (Laughter)
Johnson: Yeah, like in episode 5 when we did the prank calling scene. That was all totally scripted. Everything we said was scripted.
Gatewood: But episode 10…
Johnson: We are able to do it. (Laughter)
Gatewood: In episode 10 as The Beatdown Biddies, they just let us go hog wild.
Johnson: Yeah, and we will not stop talking unless you make us. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Getting to improv in “GLOW” is kind of perfect for that world because so much of professional wrestling, at least in terms of character work, is unscripted.
Gatewood: I have to say, I was very surprised how much sketch comedy was a like wrestling. You’re doing a lot of improv, a lot of comedy, and wearing stupid costumes most of the time. (Laughter)
Johnson: You’re committing really hard to a character and that’s what makes the best kind of sketch comedy, when you’re really committed to whatever it is that you’re doing character-wise.
Gatewood: And trying to make each other look good. The cool thing about wrestling, which I think I learned over time, is that it’s unlike regular sports where you don’t know what’s going on. With wrestling, it’s always guaranteed to be an awesome match because they’re going to hit certain beats and I think that’s the same thing with sketch comedy.
Johnson: Yeah.
Gatewood: If you don’t get a laugh per minute, you’re not doing your job. And I think if you’re not wowing the audience per minute with wrestling, you’re not doing your job.
Johnson: It’s another art form for storytelling. It’s a cool, athletic art form and a way to tell stories in this physical way, which is just so fun. I could wrestle right now if you’d let me.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) One of the cool things for you two must have been the idea that you were actually getting to play multiple characters in “GLOW.” You were your real-life series personas Dawn and Stacey, but then also your wrestling personas.
Johnson: Yeah, I feel really lucky that we got to do that because we do come from this sketch background and we love playing all different kinds of characters. Even in episode 3 when we had to do the Kuntar play, it was just so much fun to stretch and do all different kinds of voices.
Gatewood: To play good guys and bad guys.
Johnson: Yeah.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of bad guys, at one point your characters are tasked with wrestling under the guise of a couple of members of the KKK. From what we read, you had no idea that was going to happen, right?
Johnson: Yeah, it was just for that one episode. We go back to the Biddies too. (Laughter)
Gatewood: We were really nervous. When we saw that, we had no idea what we were doing. They held that information from us until the last minute when the scripts came out.
Johnson: We started working on the match and we thought we were gonna be the Biddies. It’s just like what happened in the show.
Gatewood: (Laugher)
Johnson: We were like, “So we’re gonna be the Biddies,” and then they were like, “Well, actually you’re the bad guys.”
Gatewood: “You’re gonna be wearing, you know, some things that might make your wrestling weird.”

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Surprise!
Johnson: Yeah, and Kimmy looked over the shoulder of our wrestling coach and read his script. Her face turned white and she was like, “Um… it’s the KKK.” And we were both freaking out.
Gatewood: “We’re bad. We’re bad guys. We’re really bad guys.”
Johnson: Yeah, we didn’t know how it was gonna be handled, but it ended up being such an important and cool thing to do.
Gatewood: And surprisingly funny too.
Johnson: Yeah.

TrunkSpace: Do you each have your own favorite moment from a performance standpoint?
Johnson: Well, I’ll say it was when I saw episode 3, at the end when we first play The Beatdown Biddies, and we’re doing the promo for it. Kim and I had crafted those jokes and when I saw they were in, honestly, I cried so hard. And it’s so ridiculous, because I say, “I’m like a good fiber cereal, I’ll make you shit your pants!”
Gatewood: (Laughter)
Johnson: And I cried. I was like, “It’s in, man! That made it in there!” Which is a ridiculous thing to cry about, but I’ve been doing comedy for so long that it just meant so much to me. (Laughter)
Gatewood: I think the scene in episode 7, right before we put on our hoods, was a really awesome moment. It was the first scene where you saw Dawn and Stacey by themselves and you got to see just a little glimpse of them not being total clowns.
Johnson: Right. They were not “on.” We weren’t putting on a show for anybody.

TrunkSpace: We get the impression that you guys really have each other to rely on, not only in performance but in life.
Johnson: Yeah, we have each other. That’s been really lucky.
Gatewood: It is the benefit of being in a duo that you can constantly watch each other’s back, whether it’s finding a good joke or if it’s that your spandex is caught up in your butt.
Johnson: Yeah, she had to button my jeans for me one day because I couldn’t button them. I had to lay down flat and she had to button them. We had each other’s back. (Laughter)

Season 1 of “GLOW” is available now on Netflix.
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Wingman Wednesday

Christopher Stein

ChristopherStein_Wingman_wednesday

When you’re starring in a particularly insane episode of a particularly insane series, you have to embrace the insanity every insane step of the way. South Africa native turned Los Angeles transplant Christopher Stein did just that when he served as the kissing catalyst for a sex plague in the “Blood Drive” episode, “The Fucking Dead.”

Yes, you read all of that right. And yes, the show is that awesome.

We recently sat down with Stein to discuss how the Suck Bus does on mileage, working with barrels and barrels of goo, and what his parents thought of his “Blood Drive” debut.

TrunkSpace: The burning question on all of our minds here at TrunkSpace is just what kind of gas mileage does the Suck Bus get?
Stein: (Laughter) When we were filming that, it was a really busy bus. I think most people on set got into that bus, including all of the crew. So I would say it gets a couple of gallons a mile, definitely.

TrunkSpace: Paint the picture for us. You see the project you’re out for is NBC/Universal, which is obviously a legitimate, super successful company. And yet at the same time, the episode is called “The Fucking Dead.” Do you question the sanity of things in that moment? (Laughter)
Stein: (Laughter) Well coming into it, reading the script and trying to describe it to my friends and agent, it was obviously a little perturbing. But the moment we got into the costume fitting and met the director, we realized that it was going to be all tongue-in-cheek. I felt like if they were going to take it seriously, this could have been problematic, but the fact that they kind of knew it was fun and everyone on set had fun with it, it just completely took on a whole spirit of itself. It was hilarious because nobody was taking it too seriously. And when you’re throwing barrels and barrels of goo on unsuspecting people on set, I suppose you have to have a sense of humor about that.

TrunkSpace: And that’s the beauty of the series is that it could have gone in a completely different direction in terms of the tone and the delivery of that tone, but the fact that everybody is in on the joke, including the viewer, it just works on multiple levels.
Stein: Completely. Yeah. It was incredibly fun. And just in terms of the acting for it, we had a lot of discussions with the director, Jay (Anstey) and I, and we had to kind of leave that brother and sister thing at the door. If you were playing that, obviously it’s got to be completely just about this romance… the star-crossed lovers. Only instead of Romeo and Juliet where it is two families, you’ve got A family. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: The acting is another aspect of the show that just ties it all together and makes it work. While the premise is so insane, the acting is grounded and real.
Stein: Yeah. I love science fiction and I love fantasy, but it’s got to be grounded in something otherwise you can’t relate to it as an audience member. I feel like that world is going to be taken care of, so long as you ground it in something believable and realistic… and the rest will kind of take care of itself.

TrunkSpace: So when your character is essentially responsible for spreading a deadly sex disease, how do you explain that one to your family?
Stein: (Laughter) That is true. I think, yeah, I guess the juice is worth the squeeze there. (Laughter)

I actually watched it with my mom and dad last week and they laughed their asses off.

TrunkSpace: Nice!
Stein: Which was great. I was really wondering what was going to happen when they saw it. And just to watch it with them, we were all absolutely in tears laughing.

TrunkSpace: Has this been your biggest part to date in terms of meat on the bone of a role?
Stein: Certainly as far as television goes, yeah. I’ve done a lot of short films from a protagonist’s role, but as far as television… I shot with “Black Sails” and “Dominion” when they came over to South Africa, but those were smallish parts. So this has definitely been the meatiest for television that I’ve done. And it was so much fun. And to have a costar like Jay where we just immediately clicked… we never met during the audition process, so we met a day or two before set for costume fittings. And just having that chemistry from the beginning, I’ve just got to credit Roel, the director, for that because he really put the two of us together.

TrunkSpace: And you guys were both in this together, new on set and new to the “Blood Drive” world. It must have been nice to have not only a scene partner that you clicked with, but someone who you could go through the full experience with?
Stein: Oh, definitely, but I mean as far as the mood and the energy established on set… Alan and Christina were fantastic. And also Colin, who plays Slink, is just a fantastic human being. Just such a generous actor. I felt like we really got embraced with open arms on the set and we just had so much fun shooting that episode.

TrunkSpace: Your characters, Jack and Diane, exist in this world where everybody’s wardrobe is so crazy and yet, you guy stand out in your everyday suburban garb. Did that wardrobe help you to find your character?
Stein: Yeah, definitely. Once you’ve got that cookie cutter outfit on… and then I watched a lot of movies based in the 50s. I watched the original “Back to the Future,” which is fantastic. That Crispin Glover character and those original Coca-Cola commercials… those are really fun because you’ve got these mmm bop kind of characters that were great to draw from.

TrunkSpace: It is pretty amazing that part of your job is watching “Back to the Future!”
Stein: I know! How great is that? I was actually watching it and thinking, “This is work? What’s going on?” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Another cool aspect of your involvement in “Blood Drive” is that you actually made it on the mock VHS cover for that particular episode.
Stein: I know, right? That was a surprise to me. I didn’t realize that until I watched episode 4 and saw the cover for it.

I saw that shot when the trailer came out and I thought it was great. It kind of set the whole tone for the episode.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like your turn in “Blood Drive” presents you in a different way that perhaps casting directors and producers haven’t seen you as before, and in doing so, will open up additional doors?
Stein: I don’t think I’ve been presented as a sex zombie before the show. That’s definitely a new avenue that I can capitalize on. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: It doesn’t feel like that’s a category actors often find themselves typecast in.
Stein: That VCR shot… I’m probably going to use it as my headshot from now on. I figure it’ll get me a “The Walking Dead” part. (Laughter) Zombie Number 3

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