close

October 2018

Wingman Wednesday

Lucie Pohl

LuciePohlFeatured
Photo By: Hannes Caspar

Early in her career, Lucie Pohl never considered lending her voice talents to video games, but after recording an audition under a big blanket to soundproof herself, she eventually landed the part of Mercy in the international smash hit “Overwatch” and has since brought the character to life for more than 40 millions players worldwide.

We recently sat down with the actress and comedian to discuss the art of timing, finding a character through internal creativity, and why she’s glad she didn’t curse out a waiter.

TrunkSpace: So far, has your career gone to plan? Is this the path that you originally intended for yourself?
Pohl: Well, I think that’s hard to say. I don’t think anybody’s career goes the way that they think it’ll go. I don’t know that I had a set image of how I thought my career was going to go, but if you mean did I expect for a character on a video game that I would voice to be so good, and give me such a big platform, and introduce me to so many people all over the world, then no. Definitely not. I’m really glad I didn’t expect or know that it could be such a big project to be working on because I think I would’ve totally psyched myself out in the audition and in its first recording. So, I’m happy that I was naïve and just thought, “Oh, this is a fun gig, and let’s see where it goes.” But no, I didn’t think that I would land a big role in a video game at some point in my life. I’ve never thought about that ever.

TrunkSpace: What about in terms of voice acting in general? Was that something that was always in the cards?
Pohl: No. I didn’t really think a lot about voice acting. I’m an actor, so after a comedian, that’s what I’ve always been doing. I didn’t know much about voice acting in the sense of really pursuing it and having a place in that part of the industry, but I did start doing voice acting work pretty early on in my acting career. I knew that I liked doing it, and I knew that it was something I wanted to continue doing, and that I enjoy it, but I never thought about really pursuing it as the only way to be an actor.

There aren’t many voice actors who are purely voice actors. I never thought about limiting myself to that or really pursuing it with a lot of effort, but then as I started doing more and more voice work. I did start to realize that it’s something that I’m able to do, and I always got really good feedback on my voice. So, I did start to pursue it a bit more. I started out doing a lot of German stuff, and when I went back to Germany to study there, I did some animation there too. Then when I came back, I started out doing a lot of German language learning programs where you just have to say vocabulary words with no information on them for like five hours straight. So, not very glamorous stuff, but I did put in the time and paid my dues, I think.

TrunkSpace: Does one scratch the other’s back? Does success in onscreen work lead to more work in voice over, and vice versa?
Pohl: Yes and no. I think that the voice acting world is a pretty tough world to get into. Of course, if you have on-camera credit, that always helps, but I think it is a bit of a different skill set, a bit of a different way to be working. Just because you’re an on-camera actor doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to do the voice acting stuff, and the other way around, of course.

TrunkSpace: Did being a comedian and having a comfort on stage help? We would imagine things like timing – the emphasis of it – would carry over?
Pohl: I think so. I think what you touched on it in terms of timing being really important… I think timing is really important for actors in general, and obviously comedy is, I don’t know, 99 percent or 100 percent timing. Who knows, but a lot of it is timing! Maybe in life in general, everything is timing. But I think the comedy definitely helped. I think improv skills help with voice acting, and character skills help, obviously – being able to do different voices, and find different characters.

Darin De Paul, who voices Reinhardt and a million other characters, gave me some really good advice once. He said, “You know, for animation for example, it’s very important to really think about the big switches. What really works in animation is a character that is really dreamy, and then all of sudden he’s really angry.” That’s obviously because animation a lot of times is so exaggerated. When you do comedy, you’ve explored that a lot because comedy is about surprise – the surprise element, catching people off guard. You’ve experimented with that as a comedian, so I think that helps, and you also know what to do to defy someone’s expectation, which I think is important in voice work a lot of times.

So yes, I think it helps, but I think any sort of life experience helps in acting. I know a lot of voice actors who are very serious, and not comedic, and they are amazing. You’d be surprised. Sometimes the quietest, most serious people are the ones that have the deepest well of imagination inside them, hidden inside them somewhere.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, a lot of times in animation you aren’t given a lot of visuals to connect your character to because so much of that is still in production. Is it the same way in the video game world, are you working without a lot of visuals?
Pohl: Yes. I just did this smaller character on “World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth” called Rixxa Fluxflame, and they show you a visual of the character in the first recording session, if you’re lucky, and then you go off of that. But I think that especially with Blizzard – and I’ve worked for other companies as well and this was the case there too – but with Blizzard especially, the directors and writers that you work with in your session are so incredible that you really have a sense of trust, which is the most important thing – working with people that you trust to be guiding you in the right way, and to be encouraging you in the right direction.

So, no, you don’t get a lot of visuals, but you spend a little bit of time finding the character, and finding the tone, and the intensity of whatever accent, or texture you’re giving the character. You have to be able to trust the directors you’re working with and take inspiration from that one still image that you’ve gotten. Sometimes you get moving images too, but usually it’s just an image of the character, and then you just have to let your imagination do the rest of the work, and trust the team that you’re working with to be telling you if you’re not hitting the mark.

TrunkSpace: Which in a way must be a benefit, because like you said earlier, you could psych yourself out if you know too much, right?
Pohl: Absolutely, and I think voice work, when you’re doing animation or video games, it’s about bringing characters to life. If you’re too limited and given too many confines, then it’ll be hard to bring your soul into it, and bring a character to life. There has to be a little bit of room for you to bring something to it that nobody else can bring to it – something inexplicable, something you can’t put your finger on. It’s just something that comes out of you. In general with actors, it’s important not to limit them too much because they have to be able to bring themselves to whatever character they’re playing… video games, animation, on-camera, or onstage.

TrunkSpace: With something like “Overwatch,” which is a huge, international phenomenon… in many ways, a game like that has more eyes on it than a big Hollywood blockbuster. Is it a pinch-me moment to think just how many people are out there interacting with your character?
Pohl: Oh my God, totally. Now, since I’ve done so many conventions and I’ve met so many fans, I have accepted it and realized it is as big as it is, but I remember about, maybe about a year, I was in a café and I had a meeting with someone. She got up and went to the bathroom, and the waiter came over, and he said, “Excuse me. This is very unprofessional, but…”

Photo By: Hannes Caspar

In my head, I immediately went into this New Yorker defensive monologue of, “Oh, this guy is going to tell me I can’t be sitting here because I’m only ordering coffee, and I’m not eating. You know what? F this guy. I’m going to tell him I used to wait tables. I know how this thing works. That’s not fair. There’s no sign that says I can’t.” I was like bellowing on a rampage in my head, preparing myself to totally yell at this guy. Then I start listening to what he’s actually saying, and he’s like, “I’m just a huge fan, and I love your work on Mercy, and could I please just get a picture.” I was like, “Oh. Wow. I was about to curse you out.” I didn’t even think that would be possible, that somebody would recognize me because of the game. And that’s happened a lot since then, actually, surprisingly, but that was the first moment where I was like, “Wow, this is so huge, and so many people will play it.”

So many people are affected by it, and it’s an obviously amazing project to be a part of.

TrunkSpace: We ask this question a lot of people because the answers are always so fascinating, so here goes. If there was a time machine, and you could jump ahead 10 years to get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take it, and if not, why?
Pohl: Oh, great question! I don’t think I would take it, no, because I think the thing that I love most about life is how unpredictable and unexpected it is. I love that you can wake up, and not feel good, and be disappointed in things that didn’t work out, and then walk out the door, and somebody walks up to you and hands you a flower. That happens in New York – the most unexpected thing where you go, “Oh my God. I love life. I love this world. I’m not down anymore.” Or, just something simple like you see a bird outside of your window. “That’s a beautiful bird and I love life now again.”

Just taking “Overwatch” for example, when I got the audition I was in between apartments, and I was staying at my mom’s house, and I was not in a really great place in my life. My comedy stuff was going really well, and I had a lot of success with my shows that year, but on a personal level I was not in a great place. I had a big breakup of a long relationship I had been in, and I was in between apartments, and I got under a big blanket and recorded this audition to soundproof myself. I sent it off, and I didn’t hear anything, and then I got a call back. I was like, “Wow. Awesome.” I went in for the callback, and then I left thinking, “I don’t know. I don’t think I nailed that.” And then I got the part, and that was really fun, and they said, “This was going to be really big!” And again, I didn’t really believe it. I just thought, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” And then it’s changed my life in so many ways. If I would have known all of this was going to happen, God, it would have been so boring.

For upcoming stand-up dates, click here.

read more
Opening Act

Grave Danger

GraveDangerFeatured

Artist/Band: Grave Danger

Members: Dave Schwantes (guitars, bass, keys, tenor sax, bari sax, backing vocals), Dane Erbach (drums), Alan Erbach (lead vocals), Margret Miller (trombone), Andy Miller (trumpet), Emily Erbach (synth), Chris Marcanti (backing vocals), Josh Marcanti (backing vocals), Elliot Schwantes (backing vocals), Eileen Hays-Schwantes (backing vocals)

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: Berkeley, California

Latest Album/Release: Let ‘er Rip

TrunkSpace: Though Grave Danger has a lighthearted, macabre persona of a “Skath” band, it’s clear that underneath that mask is a group of extremely talented musicians. How did this idea take hold and manifest from a daydream into a reality?
Schwantes: Dane and I have known each other since high school and one of our favorite pastimes was making up fake bands (when we weren’t playing together in real bands). Our shared love of wordplay led us to the idea of “skath” a few years ago, but it never amounted to anything. Then sometime last year Dane texted me, “Ok, dude. Let’s do it: Let’s write a couple of skath songs.” (Dane is very good with punctuation, even in his texts.) We started coming up with song names and I wrote most of the lyrics to “Grave Danger” that afternoon. It was a lot of fun so we brought in other people to flesh out the band and decided to see this thing through.

TrunkSpace: Which came first? The Ska or the Goth? And what other musical entities influenced your sound that you were looking to achieve?
Schwantes: I think it’s safe to say, the ska came first for us. Several of us were in a ska band called Captain Supreme back in college. Ska is such a light-hearted genre that it was a lot of fun to mix in an element of macabre.

One of the first artists we thought about when finding a sound and style was Oingo Boingo. Danny Elfman is obviously a brilliant composer and musician and Oingo Boingo’s stuff just has a great reckless weirdness to it. Reel Big Fish was certainly a big influence for the type of goofy ska we wanted to write and I was listening to a lot of Streetlight Manifesto when writing horn parts. They were a big reason why I was insistent on having a four-piece horn section.

TrunkSpace: What blew our minds like a zombie on the receiving end of a head shot was that Grave Danger is comprised of a group of family and friends. This isn’t your Branson family band, but how is it that you all are so musically inclined? Does the musical vein run deep in the family? Or did you simply make a deal with a cloven-hoofed figure on a dark road in the middle of the night?
Schwantes: It turns out that you can get a much better deal with the devil if you’re willing to go in on a group rate, plus Satan spent most of the ‘90s following Less Than Jake around on tour so he has a soft spot for ska.

TrunkSpace: When we were digging up info on how Grave Danger came to be, we couldn’t help but identify with the story of using gym class to come up with creative endeavors instead of taking a dodge ball to the face. Do you feel that those early creative endeavors laid the ground work for what would later become Grave Danger?
Schwantes: Sure. Grave Danger came into existence because some old friends wanted to keep making fun music together and the kind of music we made was really shaped by our shared appreciation for well-executed preposterousness. Back in high school, our fake death metal band, Throbbing Reaper, actually played a few shows. An impressive feat, considering we never practiced or wrote any songs.

It takes a lifelong commitment to ridiculousness to put in the time and energy needed to make a skath band a reality.

TrunkSpace: Another interesting morsel to us was that Grave Danger came together only after founding members David Schwantes and Dane Erbach moved apart from one another. What was it about being cleaved apart that made you guys come together to form Grave Danger? And what was that long-distance creative partnership like?
Schwantes: I think that living a few thousand miles away from each other made us really miss making music together in the way we were able to in the past.

The collaboration involved a lot of emails, phone calls, and texting. I’d record demos and send them to Dane for feedback. We’d have long email and text threads about potential band names and song ideas.

As we started doing the final recordings, we worked in a similarly distributed way, sending isolated tracks and mixes back and forth.

It was actually a pretty weird way to make a record. In the past we were always in the same room while playing or recording songs so working like this resulted in a much longer feedback loop. It was an interesting way to work but there were certainly times where it would have been nice to just sit down and work through an idea together.

TrunkSpace: Dave, you played guitars, bass, keys, tenor sax, bari sax and backing vocals for “Let ‘er Rip!”. We picture you looking like the guy in the Hormel Pepperoni commercials playing six instruments at once and singing, which is beyond impressive! How did you come to be so well-versed in so many instruments? And do you have a favorite that you enjoy the most?
Schwantes: I had a TON of fun playing lots of instruments on this record. I’ve always enjoyed learning new instruments and a ska band is a great place to use a lot of them. I probably had the most fun with the bass and saxophone parts.

Ska bass is always fun to play and with the style of this band I was able to build some cool little lines around simple minor scale ideas.

The saxophone work was great because I had been away from the instrument for a long time and I really enjoyed getting back into it. I spent a lot of time hanging out in my garage getting my saxophone chops back up to snuff and just getting reacquainted with the instrument. Doing the bari parts was particularly rad just because I really enjoy blatting out those loud low notes. I actually had a hard time tracking down a bari for this record and ended up having to drive about an hour out of Berkeley to rent one.

TrunkSpace: What has been most rewarding about putting together not only your EP but the creation of Grave Danger in and of itself?
Schwantes: It’s been fantastic to get to make music with old friends again. We went out of our way to involve lots of people. (My 1 1/2 year old son does some vocals in one of the songs!) Working together and hearing these songs come together has been really rewarding. We all have kids and jobs and lots of other things in life that require our attention and I love that we were able to take the time to try something crazy and weird and made it a reality.

TrunkSpace: Halloween is nearly upon us! What sort of frightful festivities will fans find Grave Danger doing on this night?
Schwantes: On Halloween night I’ll probably be eating all the Twix that I should be handing out to neighborhood kids and then I’ll be hosting a record release/late Halloween party this weekend.

TrunkSpace: What’s next for Grave Danger now that you’ve released your EP into the dark of the night? Are there more new songs or a tour in store for all the ghastly boils and ghouls out there that dig your groovy Ska and Goth brew?
Schwantes: I really want to just enjoy the release of this EP. We all put a lot of work into making it happen and it’s fun to get it out into the world. That said, I’ve started laying down the bones for some new songs. I’d love to do a full length record. I think now, more than ever, the world could use more skath.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Hartley Sawyer

HartleySawyerFeatured
Photo By: Storm Santos

It’s been one year since Hartley Sawyer joined the cast of “The Flash,” and what a year it’s been.

Taking on the over-the-top personality of Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, would stretch any performer, but for this lifelong comic book reader, settling into the part meant showing the iconic DC character’s heart, and judging by the fandom’s response, he’s bending him in the right direction.

We recently sat down with Sawyer to discuss humanizing Ralph, the joy he gets in interacting with the fans, and why a Gingold on the rocks is in order this Halloween.

TrunkSpace: “The Flash” has a passionate and very loyal fandom. How soon after signing on to play Ralph Dibny did you feel the reach of that fandom and in what ways has it touched your life?
Sawyer: It was almost immediately. In the weeks leading up to the airing of Ralph’s debut episode, I remember the shoots around the city of Vancouver. These were often at night, many times into the wee hours of the morning. Will never forget the first time I saw the crowd of fans behind police barricades, cheering and calling out whenever they got a glimpse of one of the cast. The fandom is a wonderful group of people, and my interaction with them has been an honor and a joy.

TrunkSpace: Ralph is a very popular character in the DC Universe. Did you feel any pressure stepping into his stretchy shoes and how long was it before you felt ownership in him, at least as far as the series is concerned?
Sawyer: I felt the pressure to do Ralph justice, and to bring him to life in live action. I’m a lifelong comic book fan. I know what it’s like to have extremely strong opinions on an actor being cast as a particular character. I was aware of that pressure, but it didn’t overtake me in any way. The writers, as usual, did a brilliant job with Ralph’s first episode. And with Tom Cavanagh at the helm, by the end of Day 1 I felt like I had an understanding of Ralph that was deeper than I expected. This only progressed as we worked our way through Ralph’s arc in season four.

TrunkSpace: Throughout your journey in discovering who Ralph is, did you tap into any of the vast source material that exists in the comic books?
Sawyer: I didn’t get into it too much. I didn’t want to fixate on anything and feel like I had to play something a certain way, or avoid something because it had been on the comic book pages. I was aware of “Identity Crisis” and had read that some time ago. That was helpful to me in the sense that from the first moment I knew the depth of caring and emotion that Ralph as a character is capable of. It’s shrouded in his sarcasm and his sense of humor, but that is always there.

TrunkSpace: What has the long-term character journey been like for you, getting to see him grow and develop between Season 4 and Season 5?
Sawyer: It’s been great. One of my goals was always to humanize him whenever possible. He’s always going to be a bit of a walking Tex Avery cartoon, but when that “mask” is taken away, we get the Ralph he really is – the one that Sue comes to know and love in the comics. Barry Allen was Ralph’s mirror in Season 4, reminding him of who he really is. He’s all heart.

TrunkSpace: We get to see a lot more of the detective side of Ralph this season, which is a part of his persona that the readers of the comic always enjoyed. How has it been exploring that side of things and having a different focus this year?
Sawyer: We’ve done some of it, and there is a lot more to come. Tom’s new Wells, Sherloque, plays into that quite a bit. The detective side of Ralph is easily one of the parts of him I enjoy the most.

TrunkSpace: How has appearing on the show impacted your career the most? Has getting the opportunity to play Elongated Man opened up new doors that weren’t available prior to slipping into his elongated skin?
Sawyer: It’s a great role on a great show. It’s sheer joy for me and I’m very lucky. It’s rare in acting to get a great role on a show that has fans this passionate and this wonderful. I’m loving the ride.

Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Hartley Sawyer as Dibney and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

TrunkSpace: Your first episode premiered on Halloween night of last year. Any plans to celebrate your first Flasherversary this October 31?
Sawyer: I haven’t thought about it much. But now that you mention it, a Gingold on the rocks might be in order…

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Hartley say if he was told he’d be playing a superhero some day?
Sawyer: “Is it Batman?”

TrunkSpace: We’re Boston based, and we know you spent some time in Beantown while at Emerson College. How did the city help shape your artistic focus and game plan? Did it influence you at all?
Sawyer: In hindsight, Boston was really my warm up for Los Angeles. It was the first time I was away from home and “on my own.” I found many things in that city. I met some of my closest friends during my time in Boston.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a writer. With your current focus on “The Flash,” are you able to pursue that side of yourself right now, and ultimately, do you hope that the two avenues converge more in the future so that you’re balancing both sides of your industry interests?
Sawyer: I’m working on some things I’m really excited about. It is a goal of mine to have those two avenues converge more in the future. But I’m in no rush.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why? (And a bonus question, how would Ralph Dibny answer that?)
Sawyer: I would not take that journey. I don’t even watch movie trailers anymore – too much is given away. Ralph wouldn’t take that journey either. Time travel is a very delicate and dangerous thing. Just ask Barry Allen.

The Flash” airs Tuesdays on The CW.

read more
Musical Mondaze

98°

98DegreesFeatured

Throughout their career, 98° has been labeled and marketed as a “boy band,” but their creative roots stretch much deeper than that. Inspired by R&B acts like Boyz II Men, the Four Tops and Stevie Wonder, the vocally-driven quartet began their musical journey as an a capella group before becoming international pop stars thanks to hits like “Because of You” and “I Do.”

Currently returning to their vocal influences, 98° is kicking off a 36-date tour of holiday music on Thursday November 1, highlighting songs from their 2017 Christmas album, “Let It Snow.”

We recently sat down with Jeff Timmons to discuss how life on the road has changed for the group, why an 11-year hiatus was necessary to refuel the creative tank, and how performing the Christmas classics has opened them up to an entirely new audience.

TrunkSpace: You’re kicking off a 36-date tour in just a couple of days. Do you enjoy touring as much today as you did when you guys first broke and everything still had that new car scent?
Timmons: That’s a really great question. I think that when we were younger, the tour was 98°. That’s all we had. We were young guys who didn’t have families. It was a lot of traveling, certainly – we toured for about five years straight, consecutively on the road, worldwide, and we never had a break and it became arduous and certainly stressful. We were blessed and fortunate and had exciting, great times and got to share experiences that not a lot of people get to go through in their lives, but it was really hard being a young person and sort of thrown into the fire… into that mix.

I think as we get older, all we do is have fun. We all have different areas in our careers that we pursue outside of this. We all have great, wonderful families and wives… except for Justin, he’s still single. (Laugh) But you know, we’re enjoying it more than ever. I think the fans, they’re still turning out for us and they’re having more fun than ever. A lot of them, they’re not young, little kids anymore. They’re adults. They go out and party and have a good time with us and we live as a sort of nostalgic part of their lives and it just makes us feel better. We’re having a lot more fun with each other as well. It’s sort of a renaissance for us.

TrunkSpace: In terms of experiences, are there still firsts for you guys out there on the highways and byways?
Timmons: Look, you’ve been through so many things, but you’re never surprised by anything, if that makes any sense. We’ve been through it all. We’ve been though the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. You’re in entertainment yourself, a journalist, so you understand how competitive it is and how hard and how cyclical everything is and how technology is always changing. It’s stressful. We’ve experienced huge crowds and great turn outs and we’ve experienced no crowd and low turn outs and everything in between, but for us, it does still feel fresh.

It was new coming back after being on an 11-year hiatus and immediately going on a major arena tour with New Kids and Boyz II Men for 20,000 fans a night. That felt new and fresh, although we had experienced that before. And then us headlining our own summer tour was like, “Okay, can we still do this? Are they gonna come out?” They came out. And now with this Christmas tour and us doing a more intimate thing, a more specialized theatrical side in a more family-friendly kind of show, that’s fresh and new for us.

TrunkSpace: Do you think that it was necessary to have that 11-year hiatus in order to keep it feeling fresh and new? Did you need the time to refuel the creative tank?
Timmons: Yes, I think we were just burned out. When you’re a young guy in college you’re thinking, “Oh, I wanna be a rock star.” And most guys think that for various reasons, and not necessarily business reasons. You want to start a group so you can get the girls or be famous or get rich. You don’t necessarily think, “Oh, this is a business. This is a business and we’ve got to put our business man hats on as young men and put the right team around us and write current tracks and make sure we don’t find this and make sure we do this sort of promotion…” And so all of those things can be really, really stressful and I think that when you’re able to do this business and you kind of get an idea of what it is and it becomes fresh and exciting for you and more of an experiential kind of thing rather than a business, it’s always more fun in that respect.

TrunkSpace: We know that your passion is being behind the scenes in the studio. Does being out on the road take away from that part of your life?
Timmons: That’s a good question. I’m glad you know that because a lot of people don’t know that, so I appreciate you knowing.

That’s my favorite thing to do. I’d rather be in the studio. I love performing and all that, but I feel… it doesn’t matter, I can get in front of 12 people or 1 million people on TV and I get nervous every time. It’s something that happens to me. It’s a process I go through. I feel like a fight or flight kind of thing and then once I get on stage it’s cool. But I love being in the studio. I love cultivating other artists. I love creating and tweaking knobs and pressing keys and playing music and putting samples together.

Fortunately now, you can do that with a laptop. I used to lug around a big suitcase worth of equipment, set it up in my room and it would take me 15 minutes to put all of the hardware together in my hotel or in the bunk. I’ve always been able to bring that with me, but nowadays technology affords you the ability to bring a small laptop, a small keyboard, and a small interface and you can create records in your bunk on a tour bus or in a hotel room, so I always make sure that I have that outlet with me whether people hear it or not. It’s something that I have to do. Whether it’s 3 in the morning on a tour bus or in a hotel, or in between shows, I always bring that with me. It’s something that’s part of my being and again, fortunately now, you have the technology that it’s not that imposing and it doesn’t take up too much space and you’re able to be more creative than ever.

TrunkSpace: Has that love for tweaking knobs and pressing buttons changed the way you approach your own role in 98°?
Timmons: Yeah, I think so. You just learn more. I love the internet and I love YouTube. I used to have to sit in the studio with these amazing producers… and 98° was very fortunate to work with some of the best, so I used to just study them and watch what they did and take mental notes in my mind or write things down. Now you have the ability to go on the internet and watch tutorials of some of the best people and what they do and their tricks of the trade and I think it just makes you better. And certainly nowadays the resolution of the sound is better and the sonics are better. You become faster at what you do and you don’t have to spend time literally cutting tape. You can edit in certain ways. I think all of those things have helped me in a way to develop our sound or work in conjunction with the producers in the studio. We all do that. We all just use our ear to arrange and put our two cents in or go tweak a knob. You learn in the studio just by watching great talents – and sometimes emerging young guys that are just brilliant. I think all of those help to get you a little bit better – hone your craft a bit.

TrunkSpace: In terms of the holiday songs, from a production standpoint, does holiday music lend itself to what you guys do best, which is the four part harmonies, or did the songs themselves take some tweaking and massaging to get right for your particular sound?
Timmons: Well, I think it’s both. You answered your own question. We modeled ourselves after the R&B groups like Boyz II Men, which had sometimes eight part harmonies in their music. Certainly music has become a lot more simple. And I’m not downplaying it – I love current pop music, so I’m not saying it’s not as good, I’m just saying it’s not as complicated. They’ve made the songs a lot less complicated – a lot more music-driven than vocal-driven. It’s a lot less complicated in regards to harmony, so modern day music and mainstream music today, in regards to pop and crossover, it doesn’t stimulate us as much as some of the older R&B with saturated harmonies, thick vocal production and stacking vocals… and Christmas music does just that. It’s more choral and it’s more complicated with the progressions and the changes, and lyrically sometimes it’s cool, and not necessarily for the religious aspects but just the overall design of the songs. I think that’s one of the main reasons we decided to do another Christmas album.

TrunkSpace: As an artist, there’s got to be something exciting about doing a take on a song that so many other iconic artists have worked on over the years – Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra. The list goes on and on.
Timmons: Oh yeah, and for us, we were always influenced by all of those guys. I know we ended up being considered a boy band, but we loved the vocal groups. We loved the Four Tops. We started off a capella doing ’50s and ’60s doo wop stuff. And Stevie Wonder was a huge influence. And then we did the Beach Boys stuff. And then you have the classics like you said, renditions that have been done by Johnny Mathis, who is just an amazing vocalist. It’s given us a chance… not to show off, but to show off how much we were influenced by all of these people. It’s hard to match legendary productions of those songs but you can certainly pay tribute and homage by putting your own twist and spin on it with your own talents and resources that you have creatively and with your skill set.

TrunkSpace: Has this recent Christmas album and these tours, which you also did last year, opened you up to a new audience?
Timmons: I think it has and I think it’s for a variety of reasons. One, a lot of folks don’t know that we have a much younger fan base than is expected. We’re all in our 40s, but our fan base… we were doing so many things with Nickelodeon and Disney, sometimes playing for really young kids in the audience. We had one with the Nickelodeon tour where sometimes there would be 7 or 8 year old kids in the audience. And we were like, “Wow! This is cool, but what are we doing here?” Well, now those fans are in their late 20s and 30s. Also, by doing performing arts centers, we have exposed ourselves to an older audience, people who are seasoned ticket holders for some of these places that might not be familiar with 98° because they were in their 20s and 30s and they liked older music like I did like the Guns N’ Roses of the world or The Bangals and all of these ’80s acts that were out. It was the generation before us. So I think that holiday music gives you that flexibility and that most people enjoy holiday music, can relate to it, regardless of their religion. It’s a time of year when a lot of people come together, celebrate their lives together, families, and sort of relate to that music. I definitely think that we’ve grown the fan base with this tour.

TrunkSpace: Do you see the holiday tour becoming an annual tradition?
Timmons: Well, it’s our second year. Last year we were like, “Okay, let’s see if it works. If it works, we’ll do it again next year.” And it did work, so we’re doing it again this year. We all have kids – except for Justin – and we like to be with our families quite a bit. The tours before, when we were younger, took us away from our families for a long time and so we care so much about our families. Christmas, that holiday, it’s tough to be away, but again, we’ve had success with it, we’ve had fun with it, it’s something different, so I can see it happening again, but I can also see us, maybe next year, foregoing the Christmas tour and maybe doing another summer tour, a national tour. Maybe a more mainstream event that allows us to bring our families with us like when we got back together and did the package tour with New Kids and Boyz II Men.

So, it’s something we’re trying to take day by day and just kind of see if we want to do it. As long as the fans want us to do it, I think we’ll do it, but we want to keep all of our options open. We’re fortunate enough to have options.

For a full list of tour dates, click here.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Andrea Drepaul

AndreaDrepaulFeatured

Andrea Drepaul joined the “Supernatural” universe this season as the sharp-toothed werewolf Melanie. As part of the archangel Michael’s fiendish (and still secretive) plan to destroy the Winchester’s reality, she appears to be involved in the bigger apocalyptic picture, though she’s not giving us any clues as to how the writers will use the character in the future. Thankfully, we’re a patient faction of the SPN Family and will be tuning in each week until we find out.

We recently sat down with Drepaul to discuss werewolf geek outs, the loyal fandom, and why our Jensen Ackles man crush is fully justified.

TrunkSpace: You recently made your “Supernatural” debut as the werewolf Melanie. Did getting to play a classic movie monster fulfill any long-percolating childhood dreams? You’re in great on-screen lycanthropic company now!
Drepaul: You know… I’ve always wanted to play a werewolf. This stems from (along with the other millions of people) I was obsessed with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” I remember watching it as a kid and was so terrified and yet enthralled with this notion of monsters and werewolves. So my inner geek, really geeked out.

TrunkSpace: The series is continuing to excite its fandom in Season 14, which is hard to even fathom given how short-lived even successful series are these days. We hear it is one of the most welcoming sets to step onto in the business, but is it difficult to go into something that is such a well-oiled machine and not feel like the new kid at school? Were there nerves?
Drepaul: No, not at all. There is zero tension on this set. Everyone is so friendly and lovely. A great deal of fun happens – the cast and crew are infamously known to gag the actors on set. There are lots of jokes and shenanigans, it’s a wonder how they get anything done. But they do and they do it so well. I was confident I had done my work and I knew Melanie inside and out.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine it is very helpful debuting in an episode that was directed by long-time “Supernatural” actor and director Richard Speight Jr. Beyond what he brings to his role as director, were you able to tap into him as an overall “Supernatural” resource as well?
Drepaul: Richard is amazing! We hit it off right from the audition. He loves actors and you can tell by the way he directs you and his insightful motivations for character. He has quite an infectious energy on set, which also makes you feel comfortable and lifts the energy of the set as well. We didn’t talk much about “Supernatural,” more about the motivation for the scenes.

TrunkSpace: Have you had the opportunity to feel the reach of the passionate fandom – the SPN Family – since your episode premiered last week? Has any of it come as a surprise or did you have a sense of how big the fan base was before being cast?
Drepaul: Wow, I’m absolutely blown away by the fandom. Truly, I have received only praise and welcome from the SPN Family. I knew the fan base was big, but you don’t really have a sense of it until you are on the other side. It’s so wonderful.

TrunkSpace: It seems like Melanie is part of a larger story arc that will creep back into play later in the season. Can you tell us about what we can see from her down the line? Is she going full, angel-powered super wolf?
Drepaul: I’d like to think anything is possible on “Supernatural,” but I feel that this would be a question only the writers could answer.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in a small farming town in Ontario. When did the acting bug first bite you and was pursuing it always the only path you considered traveling?
Drepaul: I’ve actually had a very unconventional path to this career. I was a model when I was 15. But I was raised that you had to go to college and get a “real” job. My parents were immigrants to Canada. I love them for that, for teaching me the value of education. I became the first woman in my family to complete college and graduated with an Honors degree in Business Administration. But afterwards I still felt the calling to be a performer. I moved to New York for a bit, but that didn’t feel right so I landed back in Toronto. Toronto gave me my start. My first job was with Taye Diggs! This career continues to be an evolving journey for me but I know that it is my journey.

TrunkSpace: What job has been the most important to your personal journey thus far? What role and project taught you the most about your craft and profession?
Drepaul: Great question! I’ve had the opportunity to be on amazing sets and work with incredible actors, but the job that taught me the most was my role as Rubina Jafari on “Covert Affairs.” I was working with Sendhil Ramamurthy, who was fresh off of “Heroes.” He was so generous with not only his performance but he really took the time to guide me through how to have a longstanding career. He was the first person to encourage me to get my working papers to the USA and offered to help me through that process. He also was my first on-screen kiss, which I was incredibly nervous about! He walked me through it and really respected my space. He taught me that being a lead wasn’t just about the performance you bring, but also about how you conduct yourself on set – the energy you bring to the table. I never had a chance to properly thank him. Sooooo, if somewhere in the internet ethers he reads this… THANK YOU!!!

TrunkSpace: As you look forward, what type of career do you hope to have when all is said and done? If you could pave your exact path the rest of the way, what would that path look like?
Drepaul: Another great question. I think immediately in the vision of my mind I would be working on a Netflix, Hulu, Apple or Amazon series that is a mystery, thriller or fantasy. I’ve always had a pull to the mysteries of this universe as a person, so naturally I think that a show in this genre would be wonderful for me. Personally I have a heart for the underdog, and always willing to lend a hand to help others see their light. Currently I have started posting my own quotes (on my Instagram) called “Driven” and started to work on a way to launch a platform for young people to help them achieve success in a meaningful, lasting way. Long term I would be working on a cool mystery, thriller show, become an author of a book and have a platform for the youth.

TrunkSpace: That being said, if we had a time machine and gave you the keys to take it for a spin, would you take the journey ahead 10 years to see what your career would look like a decade from now, and if not, why?
Drepaul: (Laughter) If you had asked me this question six months ago, I would say yes. But now… no. I want to be surprised by all the twists and turns. I want to learn the lessons, experience the highs and lows. There is magic in not knowing what lies ahead. But I do know with certainty that the future is very bright

TrunkSpace: Finally, Andrea, our wives give us a difficult time because they say our Jensen Ackles man crush is not normal. Having now worked with Jensen yourself, come to our rescue here… he’s worth every ounce of our unbridled bromancing attention, right?
Drepaul: (Laughter) Yes, he is. He’s actually more handsome in real life.

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

read more
Between The Sheets

Brooke Lewis

BrookeLewisFeatured
Photographer: Birdie Thompson (@birds_eye_photo)/Hair & Makeup: Allison Noelle (@allisonnoellemakeup)

In our ongoing 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 author, actress, producer and life coach Brooke Lewis about paving her own career path, her unexpected Scream Queen status, and why she tells people to do as she says, not as she does.

TrunkSpace: You have so many different career paths, and yet they all intersect in a way. Do you juggle them separate of each other, or do you view them as all falling under one a larger umbrella?
Lewis: That’s a very profound question and I will answer it as simply as possible. Thank you for asking that by the way!

Everything I do in some way, shape or form is to support my love – my passion – which is acting. I fancy myself an actress first and foremost, from childhood on. However, I always say this, whatever we believe, whatever the readers believe – higher power, God, energy… “God laughs when we’re making plans.”

Never in my wildest dreams did I think one day I would become a writer, and an author, and even a producer, per se, but I’ve done everything that I can, and navigated my path, my career path, from Philadelphia, to New York, to Hollywood now, over many years, all in support of my acting career. I have embraced whatever other opportunities have come to me. It’s really interesting. We’d spend seven hours together if we started putting the puzzle pieces together, but to answer your question simply, everything I do is to support my acting career. Everything I also do, to share with the readers, is something that inspires me. All of my peripheral careers have in some way, inspired me or have become a secondary passion, including life coaching, dating coaching, relationship coaching, all of that, and writing – all my books.

TrunkSpace: How important has it been to your career to sort of steer it in the direction that you’ve wanted? You seem to have taken matters into your own hands, by becoming a writer and a producer, and in many ways, have controlled your own destiny.
Lewis: It’s been one big fat challenge. For anyone who thinks it hasn’t, you are mistaken. What really ended up happening, and I hope I’m answering this properly, is that I had been a working actress right out of college in New York. I started my career off-Broadway in “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” the mobster comedy wedding. I did the show for three years, seven shows a week… equity contract, was signed with Paradigm. When we are young, we don’t realize how much easier it is in some ways to navigate through the Hollywood or New York entertainment industry. I’m very grateful and blessed, and worked very hard even then. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how challenging it would become as I got older and as I moved to Hollywood, which I still feel, has always really been the TV capital of the world.

When I moved here and have been a working actress consistently for all those years, for four years in New York, it was like a different world for me. Really, after doing Broadway and indie films, everyone in Hollywood was much more concerned about my television credits, which there were a lack thereof, let’s just say. I chose to fight the system. I chose then to buck up and I started a small production company, Philly Chick Pictures, in 2002. I said, “That’s it. I’m not going to let the ‘no’s get in my way.” I took my power.

TrunkSpace: And that’s a big undertaking.
Lewis: Let me tell everyone, it was never easy – from going out and raising financing for films, investors for my production company, finding the right partners, both here and in New York, and working other jobs to sustain financially. And I own that, and I am proud of that. I was a career woman, and still am. That was my focus. I did everything I could to make sure that I was able to act, by producing. I hate producing, yet I’m an incredible producer. I say that humbly, but I’m a badass little producer. But I hate it. I hate it. But I did it so I could act.

TrunkSpace: When the opportunities aren’t there, you have to create them for yourself.
Lewis: Hollywood was not giving me the opportunities that I had hoped. Hollywood wasn’t saying, “Okay Brooke, you’re new to Hollywood, you’re young – even though you’re trained in New York – you’ve done a million indie films in New York.” They were saying. “You’ve got to work the business. You’ve got to earn your keep here.” It wasn’t the magic that I had expected. I wasn’t getting offered new lead roles on TV series or lead roles in mainstream movies in Hollywood, so I created that. I was like, “That’s it. I’m going to show the world that I do have potential, that I do have some talent, that I am a trained actress.” And so I produced.

TrunkSpace: Did taking on the system also put you further on the outskirts though, especially in those early days? Did people say, “Well, if she isn’t willing to play the game, we won’t let her through the door.”?
Lewis: That’s a brilliant question. I’m going to say 50/50. Now in hindsight, and hindsight’s 20/20, I think that 50 percent of – I’ll start with the negative – 50 percent, absolutely what you said. With kind of me going against the system and the grain, it sort of affected me in a negative way. Then the other 50 percent, I think that real artists here, and real agents and managers, really got me and respected my hustle and said, “Wow, this girl is a force to be reckoned with.”

I think the former 50 percent… and I can really attest to this with what I have learned from becoming a “horror star.” I was a horror fan/junkie since childhood. I own it. I was an ’80s horror fan, like a crazy person. I loved horror movies. I had friends who starred in horror movies back in New York, but never did I wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be a famous scream queen.” However, you get to a certain point where you’ve worked so hard, nobody knows who you are no matter what sitcoms you’ve done, no matter what Broadway shows you’ve done… and then the horror community sort of embraced me as a thriller scream queen with the film “Polycarp.” All of the sudden I’m getting direct offers in the horror genre, sci-fi genre, thriller genre. I’m like, “Wow, this is kind of amazing, and I’ve sort of paid my dues at this point.” So once I became sort of a genre star – I say that humbly again – a genre star in horror, I embraced it.

TrunkSpace: So do you think that helped or hurt your career?
Lewis: It pigeonholed me a bit, and I’m learning that later, 10 years later. Sometimes Hollywood can be small-minded. The executives say, “Well, she’s famous in horror. She’s a famous scream queen. We’re not convinced she can do anything else.” I’m always one, again, to go against the grain and to try to prove myself, as I have continued to do that.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how the horror world was never part of the plan, but for you personally, what’s been the biggest surprise of your career thus far – the thing that 18 year-old you back in New York never would have seen coming?
Lewis: Wow, I mean, so many! For one, what we just addressed. I’m so grateful for it, of so many over the years – more so 10 years ago when I was super relevant in horror and stuff – being a Top 10 Scream Queens of all time with Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau – some of my icons and idols, so that’s been mind blowing. I guess I never imagined I’d be on the cover of horror magazines all over the world, in Gorezone in the UK in 2010. It’s just bananas. But I would also have to say, I never imagined I would become a board certified life coach either, and a writer for all these publications, and an author of two books now. Never did I imagine that.

TrunkSpace: We get this vibe from you that you are a nurturer, and because you are a life coach, do you ever have to step back and say to yourself, “Oh my God, I have been spending all of this time focusing on other people… it’s time to maybe focus on me a little bit.”?
Lewis: Are you psychic? I’m not kidding. Welcome to my life. Am I being Punk’d? Hold on? Is there a reality show camera in my home right now? (Laughter)

That’s my life. You just described my life. You described my life, to the point where I forget to check myself. Gratefully I have a wonderful fiance who check me. I have great reps who check me. You nailed it. You already get my personality.

I’m such a philanthropist at heart. That’s just really who I am. I believe so much in giving back, and I’m so in gratitude. And I’m, as my book will tell you, a hot mess. I own it. That’s part of my hot mess, is my anxiety. I suffer from a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress. It affects me mentally. It affects me physically. I have some chronic health issues because of it. I share that very openly, because I hope something I say helps others. So I do forget, and I have to have my stable of people around me. I have a life coach. Thank you Lori for saving my life many times, my own life coach. I have Michelle who is my actress empowerment shine coach, who has to remind me it’s okay to be selfish. I have these amazing people around me that I need to stay afloat. I think, in my humble opinion, that everyone needs a support system. Everyone should have a support system, especially in this industry, because it can be so stressful. It ebbs and flows. So I do, I forget. I give too much a lot of times. I’m well aware of it, but it’s tough to stop myself.

I always tell my clients that I’m coaching, and my friends, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I’m not a parent. I chose to focus on my career and not having children, but I really have to have that old parent cliché, “Do as I say, not as I do,” because I’m a hot mess.

Lewis will appear in the film “1/2 New Year” due early 2019.

Her book, “Coaching from a Professed Hot Mess,” is available here.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Ryan Potter

RyanPotterFeatured

Landing a role in the live action adaptation of a major, long-standing comic book franchise is no easy feat, but when that role is also based on a character who helped you cope with adolescence, it’s downright full-circle remarkable.

Ryan Potter was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Tokyo, Japan. When he returned to the United States at seven years old, he didn’t speak English and used pop culture to connect with the students at his new school, much like the teen hero Garfield “Beast Boy” Logan does in the various DC Comics he has starred in since first being introduced in 1965. Years after emulating the character he had such a personal connection to as a child, Potter, who also voiced Hiro in the immensely popular animated film “Big Hero 6,” is now portraying Gar in the new live action series “Titans,” which airs Fridays on the DC Universe streaming service.

We recently sat down with Potter to discuss his personal connection to the franchise, beasting out on camera, and why a movie like “Big Hero 6” and its ethnic diversity can positively impact society.

TrunkSpace: Gar has been a fan favorite character for comic readers for decades. Did that put any pressure on you to deliver in a way that not only makes a television audience excited, but the core comic fans proud as well?
Potter: Of course. There’s always the pressure, I think, with comic book characters, and unfortunately, in this day and age, there are just an insane amount of internet trolls, so regardless of how good of a job anybody does, there’s always gonna be haters. But bottom line, I know this character. I grew up with this character, and I’d say that my interpretation is an honest portrayal of every version of Gar, kind of an amalgamated mix, whether it’s the animated series or the comic books – “Teen Titans” 52, or the “New Teen Titans,” or “Titans.” It doesn’t matter what iteration. I pulled from every version of Garfield to create this new… not an iteration, but this new version of him. I don’t want the live action version to be too reminiscent of anything we’ve seen, ’cause it needs to be new to take liberties of its own, but it’s grounded in familiarity that people can recognize from their childhoods.

TrunkSpace: That’s what’s so interesting, because as a performer, you probably want to find a balance between the history that surrounds the character and bringing yourself into it at the same time?
Potter: Yeah. It’s interesting, ’cause the character was definitely one that helped to shape how I… not how I fit in, but I guess that’s the layman’s term for it. When I moved to America, this character was introduced to me at a time when I didn’t speak English, and I didn’t necessarily have friends, so him being green and using pop culture as his way of getting along and making friends, I used that as a model for when I didn’t speak English. I’d use pop culture, whether it was TV shows or music or toys, to try and make friends with kids at school. When I say I relate to this character, I relate to the character because this character actually helped shape a part of my childhood. I identify with him in many ways. There are other aspects that I had to kind of create as a performer in terms of him being a teenager and him being older, but the youthful aspect of the character – kind of the lighthearted curiosity of Gar – is unchanged. That’s something that I always related with and was almost introduced to because of him, so that remains.

TrunkSpace: That must really cool, too,  to be able to create this character that you have a personal connection with, and then, as it airs, there might be kids out there who are feeling the same way you were when you came to America, and now they’re finding a connection to him through you. That’s full circle!
Potter: Yeah, at this point in the script, he’s still very much just kind of a regular teenager. There’s rumors online of, “Ryan Potter confirms Beast Boy will be green by the end of the season!” That’s actually not what I had said. These characters are in an intermittent stage. They’re in a place where they’re not the characters from the animated series. They’re not the characters from the comic books. They’re not the solo iterations of themselves, but they’re also not the “Teen Titans” iterations of themselves, so they’re in this gray area where every character is learning to harness their powers, accept who they are, and there will be changes along the way for each of the characters. But yeah, as it stands, Garfield is very much a new representation, so it’s nice to have that freedom. It’s nice to be able to pull away from source material as of now, but the source material is so interwoven with the script that when anybody watches the show, they’ll be able to recognize it, whether it’s costume details or plot details or character details. They remain, and it’s reassuring to see that the writers took that much care in portraying these characters on the silver screen.

TrunkSpace: And really, because this is a television series, the long play is so important. You want it to go multiple seasons, and if you give it all away in the first season, there’s no story left to tell.
Potter: Exactly. Thank you. I’m glad someone understands television. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We were always worried that, for logistic reasons – budget and scheduling – we wouldn’t get to see Beast Boy beast out, but that is not the case. In fact we get to see quite a bit, which is exciting.
Potter: Yeah, I think that was something that was really important to Geoff Johns, that Beast Boy didn’t become a secondary or tertiary character, that he was still a primary character, and one of the ways that you see that is if you put the budget into Robin’s costume and Robin’s bike, then you do it for Starfire visual effects and her storyline, etc. He wanted to make sure that everybody has equal representation in terms of the amount of care that the writers or the producers put behind each one. It’s definitely not cheap by any means, but the way they kind of show Beast Boy that love is to make sure that he’s not always doing some kind of changing behind something or an off-camera type of deal. You actually do get to see him mid-transformation, post-transformation, and beginning of transformation, or sometimes the entire transformation. It’s interesting to be able to see every stage of the transformation, in my opinion, because we’re used to seeing Beast Boy kind of Beast Boy, and then gelatinous blob – animated gelatinous blob – and then the animal. To be able to see the anatomical change from human to tiger, and then potentially human to something else… it’s not that we haven’t seen that on television before, but we definitely haven’t seen it shot in this way, and I think produced this well.

TrunkSpace: Has it sunk in yet that in 20 years, you’re going to be part of the source material when people look at Beast Boy in the future?
Potter: Well, man, I’m just thinking about what’s on the schedule for tomorrow. (Laughter) Now that you bring that up, that’s an interesting thought. I would hope that the character of Beast Boy, that the general public will begin to be able to see him as different, maybe as different races and different iterations each time. I mean, the kid’s green. I don’t think it really matters who is playing him in terms of their race. Ultimately, as long as the heart is preserved and the humor is preserved, and his outlook on life is preserved, I don’t think it really matters, whether it’s a guy or it’s girl. I think there’s a certain level of size that has to be maintained. Like, you can’t have a 6’10 Beast Boy, or like a 4’10 Beast Boy, but why not? I don’t know. It’d be interesting to see these characters potentially live on in different iterations and to see someone, whether they’re full Asian or a different ethnicity, take on the character. It’d be cool. Considering the character has roots in Africa, I think it’s not a far stretch to say that the character could have African origin, as well.

TrunkSpace: A lot of us here have kids so we’re used to watching movies over and over again, which is usually torture, but we have to say… we put down the phone and watch with full attention when “Big Hero 6” is on. Was that a once in a lifetime project?
Potter: No. It was to the 15-year-old version of myself, and like, the 17-year-old version of myself, but I wouldn’t say it was once in a lifetime because that is a project very similar to “Crazy Rich Asians” that made waves in the entertainment industry, and big production companies started looking at a different market, and they started to realize that the overseas markets in Asia are just as profitable as the markets at home, and also, the markets at home respond to content with Asian characters and Asian storylines and artwork inspired by Asia, so I don’t think it’s a once in a lifetime. I think it’s a launching point and I think it’s kind of the beginning of a new interest, and a push for more Asian American content like “Big Hero 6.”

But in defense of it being once in a lifetime… it is one of the most ethnically diverse casts and most colorblind projects that I’ve ever seen, so maybe as it stands, now, in terms of ethnic diversity, it’s not once in a lifetime, but it’s definitely a little further away from seeing a project that is that inclusive. It depicts and represents culture and society to a T, but in terms of the Asian American aspect, I think it’s just the beginning, so we’ll see.

TrunkSpace: As an actor, is it difficult to come across a project like that film where you have both an interesting character and an interesting storyline?
Potter: Yeah. It’s not often that good characters and good scripts come around for Asian American performers. Regardless of race, I think that was just a pretty exceptional project, and good characters and good scripts don’t come around that often, period. It definitely gave me new eyes in terms of reading scripts and reading auditions and thinking of the impact of the character that I play would potentially have. And the importance of the project in not necessarily popularity standing, but societal standing and how that project can help change and affect the society that I live in, but also the society that my kids will live in.

New episodes of “Titans” debut every Friday on the DC Universe streaming service.

read more
Sit and Spin

Grave Danger’s Let ‘er Rip!

GraveDanger_SitandSpin

Artist: Grave Danger

Album: “Let ‘er Rip!”

Label: Self-Released

Reason We’re Cranking It: It’s that dark and haunting time of year when you want some good tunes with Halloween vibes, but you’re not looking for “Monster Mash.” You want something with bone-shaking rhythm, meaty hooks and hair-raising lyrics. Grave Danger has got you covered with their mix of Ska and Goth music that you’re going to want to play loud enough to wake the dead!

What The Album Tells Us About Them: This EP gives you a glimpse at the style and sound Grave Danger is going after, and they definitely nail it down like a coffin lid! Though they have a fun and gothic persona, you can tell right away that you are listening to some of the most talented musicians this side of the Upside Down. Every song carries a beat and melody that will have you singing along to the morose lyrics while rocking air drums like nobody’s business!

Track Stuck On Repeat: “Grave Danger” is a painting, a masterpiece of a haunted portrait, with eyes that follow you everywhere you go because you won’t be able to get this song out of your head. It’s just too groovy!

Coming To A City Near You: Like that haunted portrait, you can keep eye out for future Grave Danger concert dates here: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

And that means…

 

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Jess Gabor

JessGaborFeatured

Hollywood loves a “fresh face,” someone the industry can count on to draw eyeballs to future film and television projects, and when those perceived overnight successes also bring their acting A game, it’s hard for an audience not to pay attention. One of our newest on-screen obsessions is Jess Gabor, who joined the cast of Showtime’s “Shameless” this year as Kelly Keefe. The future is bright for the California native, and unlike the sun, which we’re told we should never look directly at, we don’t seem to want to look away from this particular star.

We recently sat down with Gabor to discuss big news in bathroom stalls, why working on “Shameless” is like being in a master class, and the YA property she would love to bring to the big screen.

TrunkSpace: What emotions were you juggling when you found out you were going to be working on such a critically-acclaimed show like “Shameless?” We have to imagine there’s a mixture of excitement and nerves in something like that?
Gabor: It’s funny, the week I had auditioned for “Shameless,” I was also testing for a new pilot. The “Shameless” audition came during such a weird and stressful week that I didn’t think much of it. The following Monday, my manager broke the news that I did not book the pilot but that I had booked “Shameless.” This all happened on a whispered phone call from a handicap stall I was hiding in during my shift at my restaurant! I don’t think I processed how cool it was until I was shooting in the famous Gallagher house. And that’s when the nerves had finally caught up to me!

TrunkSpace: We’re living in the present, sure, but it’s hard not to look into the future sometimes. With that said, how important is a job like this to your long-term career journey?
Gabor: Isn’t that the challenge! I think it’s always an actor’s dream to hit a big break on their first try. But speaking long-term, working as a guest on “Shameless” is a perfect beginning for me. The show has an incredible reputation because it is so real and natural. And that reputation has helped me continue to work through the end of the year.

TrunkSpace: With “Shameless” being your first major role, are you looking at it just as much as a learning experience as you are a job, especially with the amazing cast that surrounds you?
Gabor: It is hard to even think of it as a job. “Shameless” is like being in a master class with all the best actors and scripts and, oddly enough, I am getting paid for it! I am inspired each day by the talent and work ethic each actor brings. It has changed my view immensely on how a cast member should act on set.

TrunkSpace: What are you enjoying most about getting to inhabit Kelly Keefe?
Gabor: Honestly? The stunts. I love the stunts. Kelly Keefe is this very athletic and strong woman who pushes Carl Gallagher around, both physically and mentally. Ethan (Cutkosky) and I are constantly having to do these crazy fight scenes with a stunt coordinator and stunt doubles. I love it!

TrunkSpace: When a series is successful, it can go on for years and years. Would you be comfortable playing one character for five, six, or even seven seasons?
Gabor: I don’t know if comfortable is the right word… I think I would be pretty terrified. (In a good way!) Merely because if the series is successful, it means the audience cares a lot about your character. So as the actor, I wouldn’t want to let the audience down. Managing that pressure while also continuing to find new and exciting choices would be a huge challenge. But I am definitely up for it.

TrunkSpace: Is there a series or fictional world that you’re a fan of that you’d love to sink your teeth into? If given the opportunity, what show would you jump on tomorrow?
Gabor: There is this incredible YA novel called “Starters” by Lissa Price. It has yet to be made into a series or film, but if it does, I would walk on fire to play the lead character, Callie. It is a riveting story about a post-apocalyptic world in which young people rent out their bodies for money. I won’t say any more spoilers, but yes I would jump on that opportunity.

Gabor in SHAMELESS (Season 9, Episode 07, “Down Like the Titanic”). – Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/SHOWTIME

TrunkSpace: Was acting always the only path that you intended to travel or did you have a plan B at any point? Is this just as much your destiny as it is your passion?
Gabor: Unfortunately for my parents, there has never been a plan B for me. Before booking “Shameless,” I was set on working at a restaurant my whole life if it meant the possibility of working as an actor. I have never felt so pulled to something as I have been to storytelling.

TrunkSpace: What is your favorite thing about acting beyond the work itself? What keeps you excited to wake up every morning and pursue this as your career?
Gabor: I really enjoy connecting with people. Each set experience brings new and interesting people from all walks of life. I love getting to meet them and hear their stories.

TrunkSpace: You just wrote and produced your own film, “Her Story.” Is that an aspect of your career that you hope to continue to pursue, creating and producing your own content?
Gabor: 100 percent yes! I truly never thought I would have a desire for producing or writing until making “Her Story.” I learned that I take great delight in being part of the whole movie-making process, not just the on-screen time. Especially when you get to see the film transform from script to the big screen.

TrunkSpace: We started out our chat mentioning the future, so, time machine question! If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Gabor: That is tempting… but no. What would be the point of the journey if I already knew the destination? I have had all these weird, ironic things happen to me in my career so far and looking back, each of those things that did or didn’t happen led me here. Being able to know the future would drive me crazy ‘cause I would wind up second-guessing all my choices.

Shameless” returns to Showtime in January.

read more
Chilling Out

Danielle Burgess

DanielleBurgessFeatured
Photo By: Travis Emery Hackett

Chilling Out is where TrunkSpace talks all things horror and genre with those who work in the projects that give us the thrills and chills to keep coming back for more. This time out we’re chatting with Danielle Burgess, star of the new film “Killer Kate!,” which arrives in select theaters and on Digital HD today.

We recently sat down with Burgess to discuss the risk/reward of independent film, the ebb and flow of creativity, and why she was so happy that “Killer Kate!” was the first project she shot upon arriving in Los Angeles.

TrunkSpace: “Killer Kate!” is not the first independent film you’ve worked on. As an actor, is there a bit of a leap of faith involved with signing on to work on an indie, not knowing when (or even if) a particular film will see the light of day?
Burgess: Absolutely. One of the first feature films I was involved in had that exact fate. Everyone worked really hard on it, poured everything into it, and in the end it wasn’t finished, and no one ever saw it. That can be heartbreaking of course. So I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have been part of “Killer Kate!”, something that is actually being seen, and received so well.

TrunkSpace: What was it about “Killer Kate!” and the team behind it that gave you the confidence to jump into the work and take on the character Angie?
Burgess: Everyone involved with “Killer Kate!” is a genuinely good person. I feel like I’ve made lifelong friends. That was apparent to me right away, that these were good people, and people who knew what they were doing, so I had a lot of faith in it from the get go. It was the first thing I ever shot in LA, which felt very fortuitous. It has given me a lot of confidence in the people who are out here making things happen.

TrunkSpace: The thing that interests us most about the world of independent cinema right now is that it seems like the only place where original stories are being told in the medium. Mainstream films are all “Based on…” or “A remake of…” and that is leaving very little room for new POVs. As an actor, is that part of the draw in working on a film like “Killer Kate!”?
Burgess: Absolutely. And the fact that it was a horror film that is female led, and that has a very different depiction of female characters than the genre is stereotypically known for – that was exciting to me. Independent cinema has always been a passion of mine, and there is incredible work being made right now. I love what A24 and Annapurna are doing, and the fact that those movies are being so recognized – it does feel like independent cinema is having this massive comeback.

For the first time, there is the space being made for so many different voices and so many stories that were unspoken or hidden before, so it is really an exciting time to be a part of this industry.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most enjoyable part of a movie is the movie itself, but for those involved in the project, we would imagine it is the experience. For you, what will you take away from the production that will stay with you?
Burgess: The relationships. I really made great friends on this set, and that is a special thing.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the work you did in the film?
Burgess: I think it was something very different for me. I hadn’t played a character like this on screen before, and that’s always what I’m looking for – the opportunity for newness.

TrunkSpace: As far as productions go, horror is a genre that, from an outsider’s perspective, seems like it would be a lot of fun on the day-to-day stuff. That said, all of the blood must become a continuity nightmare! For the horror fandom out there, what for you is the most enjoyable aspect of getting to work in the genre?
Burgess: The horror movie scream, hands down!

Danielle Burgess as Angie in the horror film “KILLER KATE!,” a Freestyle Digital Media release. Photo courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on some big projects the last couple of years, including “The Deuce” and “The Sinner.” Do you feel like your path has been leading you to this moment – a point where the roles and characters keep getting bigger and meatier?
Burgess: That is definitely the hope. Henry Winkler said it beautifully during his acceptance speech this year at the Emmys.

If you stay at it long enough, the chips come to you.”

I believe that’s true. If you are persistent enough – and even say, stubborn enough – and you have the grit and the grace, a path that’s very non-linear starts to open up.

TrunkSpace: That being said, what do you ultimately hope to accomplish in your career? In the best case scenario of your personal dreams, what does that outcome look like?
Burgess: Consistency and freedom of choice I think are the greatest things you can ask for as an actor. If I am able to choose the roles and projects that I want, and I can be at it for as long as I want, I will be a happy woman.

TrunkSpace: You have other passions, including music and dance. Do you view them all as separate parts of the creative you, or do they all fall under one larger umbrella?
Burgess: I don’t necessarily think of them are separate parts. Humans are just inherently creative beings, and that manifests in so many ways. I used to be hard on myself if I hadn’t written a poem or taken a photo or played my guitar in a while, but it really is an ebb and flow and different mediums come to you when it’s appropriate. But I do feel happier and more myself when I’m singing and dancing. Doing a movie musical would be my dream come true.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Burgess: No way! The mystery and the adventure is what keeps me coming back for more.

Killer Kate!” arrives in select theaters and on Digital HD today!

read more