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October 2019

Trunk Bubbles

Sergio Ríos

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Name: Sergio Ríos

Website: sergioriosart.deviantart.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Batman/Spider-Man

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Invincible

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Ríos: I like to mix some manga style with the classic American comic book art and add some cartoony stuff onto it.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Ríos: I’ve loved comic books since I was a kid. Thanks to them, I started drawing and reading.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Ríos: I loved (and still do) Bruce Timm’s style. So simple, and at the same time, very cool and unique.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Ríos: When I’m doing sketches and warm-ups, I like to revisit some of my childhood cartoon characters like He-Man, Spider-Man, Batman, the Fantastic Four, etc.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Ríos: I’d love to work on cool characters that broke with the regular comic book standards like Squirrel Girl, Gwenpool, Invincible, Judge Dredd, etc.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Ríos: I think that I’m fast and that I have a good storytelling.

TrunkSpace: You’re tackling a series that stars a character based on the likeness of international soccer star Neymar Jr. Did you feel pressure in having to deliver artistically on something where the lead character was an actual person?
Ríos: Well, not really. I studied a lot of Neymar Jr. pictures and interviews, so I try to put his personal mannerisms and likeness into the character.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the series? What did you want to achieve?
Ríos: Well, it’s really cool stuff. I love to work on comics that the whole family can enjoy.

TrunkSpace: There are some great monsters in the series, all based on items of historical significance. How much fun was it to get to draw something that is so outside of reality, but at the same time, founded in these sort of snippets from the past?
Ríos: It is really very fun because I can play with those historical characters and give them a cool spin, turning them into big, giant monsters.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Ríos: That it’s something that my children can actually read, and enjoy. Sometimes I work with violent characters or things that they can’t see, but with “Social Monsters,” it’s very safe and cool that they can read it.

Social Monsters premieres today at www.neymarjrcomics.com.

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The Featured Presentation

Brendon Zub

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Photo By: Noah Asanias

Growing up with a passion for baseball, aspiring Major Leaguer-turned-actor Brendon Zub envisioned a day where he’d be running base paths professionally. But like life tends to do, it zigs when you anticipate the zag, and now the Vancouver native is sharing screen time with caped crusaders in The CW’s “Batwoman.”

I remember getting chills the first time I came to set and saw the Batcave rebuilt with Easter eggs to all previous Batman shows hidden about,” Zub said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “It was jaw dropping.”

We recently sat down with Zub to discuss script reveals, cast whale watches, and why streaming platforms help to keep his family informed on his career.

TrunkSpace: With the premiere of “Batwoman” behind you, does it feel like you’re now able to share your experience on the series with the world? Does it feel more real when it is out there and is being enjoyed?
Zub: Definitely! We shot the pilot back in March, so it was a challenge to stay quiet about it with all the excitement surrounding it until the show got picked up. Now that it’s aired, it definitely feels more real since we can talk more about the show, engage with fans, and share some of our behind the scenes pics and experiences from set.

TrunkSpace: Did you find yourself scouring the socials to see what the first impressions of the series were to long-time fans of the characters and how those characters were handled in a cinematic sense?
Zub: I see what comes my way, but honestly I didn’t go out and search social media myself. I still consider myself a newbie in the social media world. I’m not on Twitter and find managing my Instagram account challenging enough. (Laughter) I get tips and advice from my castmates on “Batwoman.” Camrus (Johnson), who plays Luke Fox on the show, is a good friend and tends to send me articles and help me when I have questions. That guy is a wizard on Insta and Twitter.

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Brendon think about his future self getting to play in the DC Universe? Would it seem unfathomable to him at the time?
Zub: Yes, 10-year-old Brendon would have been completely shocked and probably even more confused. You see at that age, despite being a bit of a class clown in school, I was crazy into baseball. I lived and breathed that sport and all I could dream of at the time was growing up and playing in the Major Leagues one day.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a project like “Batwoman” where, although grounded in reality, anything is possible… do you have those pinch me moments on set where you look around at the costumes and set pieces and go, “How is this my life?”
Zub: For sure, you can’t help but have those moments when you get to work with such a stellar cast and play around in such a legendary location as Gotham. I remember getting chills the first time I came to set and saw the Batcave rebuilt with Easter eggs to all previous Batman shows hidden about. It was jaw dropping. It wasn’t till Ruby Rose donned the Batsuit and we got to do our first scene together that the reality of it all truly sunk in… I was now apart of the DC Universe.

TrunkSpace: Your character Chuck seems to be carrying a few secrets with him. How much of his journey did you know going into your first day of shooting, and has that journey surprised even you in places as you have gotten further into production on Season 1?
Zub: I knew nothing day 1 except that Chuck Dodgson betrayed the Crows and was Alice’s lover. How that all played out, and his and Alice’s backstory, was a complete mystery to me. I had my theories but the writers kept their cards close and didn’t reveal much of anything early on. Over the course of the season, however, more of Alice’s and Dodgson’s relationship and backstory is revealed and fans will learn more behind their motivations.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine it’s fun to play a character where “not all is what it seems” because you’re getting to peel back those layers for the audience week after week. As a performer, does that episodic reveal make it just as interesting for you to shoot a project as it is for the viewers to watch it all unfold?
Zub: Yes, in fact, we feel much like the viewers ourselves week to week. Only difference is that we’ve just experienced things a few months earlier. Every time we got a new episode sent to us we’d all talk about it and share the same shocked reactions and theories that fans do now.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “Batwoman” thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Zub: For me, it’s the friendships I’ve made on this show. Since most of the cast were new to Vancouver, I had the unique opportunity to show them around town and introduce them to all the fun and unique activities that Vancouver, BC has to offer. As a result, I grew pretty close to many of them on and off set. There’s been cast BBQs, and even a whale watching tour we all did together… memories I won’t soon forget. I will cherish the friendships made on “Batwoman” for a lifetime.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the weekly premieres, “Batwoman” will live on in streaming platforms where people can catch up or watch again as many times as they’d like. As an actor, do platforms like Netflix enhance the experience for you in bringing a character to life, knowing that they’ll live on for people in however they wish to consume the content down the line?
Zub: Yes. It’s especially important to me since many of my family and friends are scattered around the world in different countries and can’t watch it on TV. It’s been nice to just tell my brother, who’s halfway around the world and my biggest supporter, to just turn on Netflix and watch my show. Makes things easier.


TrunkSpace
: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Zub: Well… a few months ago I’d probably say my Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas lead romance roles but now I’d have to say “Batwoman.” It’s quickly overshadowing my previous roles now… especially as the season progresses.

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?
Zub: Oh, that would be hard to turn down… but I kind of like not knowing what is around the corner for me though. It keeps me motivated to work hard for each and every thing in life and to seize every opportunity. It’s been an exciting roller coaster ride so far and not knowing what tomorrow brings is the fun part. Having said that… I may just take a quick peek.

Batwoman” airs Sundays on The CW.

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Sit and Spin

Holy Pinto’s Acquaintances, Friends – Love Ends

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Song Title: Acquaintances, Friends – Love Ends

Single Sentence Singles Review: From Milwaukee by way of the UK, Aymen Saleh delivers a unique musical perspective to your speakers that is a mix of introspective life journey and fun-filled drinking anthem.

Beyond The Track: The first of three singles set for release in 2019, Acquaintances, Friends – Love Ends” doesn’t have an album to call home, but you should still invite this one to live under your own digital roof. It is available for purchase here.

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Sit and Spin

Ghost’s Kiss the Go-Goat

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Song Title: “Kiss the Go-Goat”

From The Album: Seven Inches of Satanic Panic (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: “Kiss the Go-Goat” embodies all of the things you love about Ghost wrapped up into one song, including haunting vocals, pop-rock riffs and a hook that snags you and won’t let you go until the Great Pumpkin has risen!

Beyond The Track: Get all the ghoulish details on Ghost’s latest album, “Prequelle,” as well as touring info on their official website, here.

 

 

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Listen Up

Kelly Hoppenjans

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Photo By: Bridgette Aikens

Had it not been for an unfortunate rollerskating accident that left Kelly Hoppenjans with a broken arm, her latest album, OK, I Feel Better Now, may have been a different record when all was said and done.

I discovered that my health – physical, mental, and emotional – is crucial to my ability to make music, and that my goal isn’t to hit these deadlines I set for myself, but to reach people with my music, make them feel something,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

That connection she was hoping to build with audiences is apparent upon first listen to OK, I Feel Better Now, which was released on October 18.

We recently sat down with Hoppenjans to discuss owning who she is, exposing her negative self-talk, and why the Nashville scene continues to influence her songwriting.

TrunkSpace: Your debut album, OK, I Feel Better Now, is officially out into the world. Does being able to say “I have an album…” check off one of your creative bucket list items? Is this the dream or is it part of the dream?
Hoppenjans: It’s a big bucket list item! I’ve released a few singles and two EPs prior to this, but creating a full length album that was a cohesive work has been a major goal of mine. It’s the dream, but it’s only the beginning!

TrunkSpace: There’s a great genre blend on the album, and really, today it seems like musical labels are as meaningless as ever. That being said, when someone you meet asks, “What kind of music do you write?” what do you say? What is your definition of who Kelly Hoppenjans is as an artist?
Hoppenjans: I’d say, in terms of genre, that my music is a blend of riot grrrl rock and introspective singer-songwriter. But I agree that labels don’t mean a lot to me as an artist – I strive to make my music empowering, raw, innovative and true to me. Whatever that ends up being, that’s my genre.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you as both an artist and a person in sitting down to listen to OK, I Feel Better Now, front to back?
Hoppenjans: They could learn that I’ve been on quite the journey to come into my own, as both an artist and a person! It’s taken me a long time fully own who I am, be comfortable with raising my voice and taking up space, and these songs were written at various stages through that journey.

TrunkSpace: Could this album have existed, say, even five years ago, or is the you represented on the 10 tracks an ever-changing Kelly who would not have been present in herself – creatively and personally – five years ago?
Hoppenjans: This album couldn’t have existed even two years ago! I’ve always been a type A, perfectionist, goal-oriented person who puts a lot of pressure on herself – I had a timeline for this album and how I wanted it to unfold. And then I broke my arm rollerskating and had to push everything back, and through that I had this perspective shift. I discovered that my health – physical, mental, and emotional – is crucial to my ability to make music, and that my goal isn’t to hit these deadlines I set for myself, but to reach people with my music, make them feel something. As long as I’m doing that, there’s no need to put pressure on myself to stick to deadlines I’ve set myself.

TrunkSpace: In writing the songs for the album, did you pull any punches when it came to how much of yourself you put into them from storytelling standpoint? Did anything in the lyrics leave you feeling exposed and wondering how an audience would interpret what you were trying to say?
Hoppenjans: “Band-Aid Girl” is the song that I felt most vulnerable sharing, because it’s a window into some of my most negative self-talk. I always assume things that happen in my life are my fault, even when they’re definitely not, and berate myself in my head for making those “mistakes.” So every time I sing the line, “and if you burn me, it’s a little bit my fault for thinking I could touch a glowing ember” I’m right back in that space where I’m feeling that shame, and I’ve always wondered how audiences feel about that line.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Hoppenjans: I’m easily the most proud of “Band-Aid Girl.” It’s the song where I feel the most immediate connection with audiences when I sing it, where I know I’m tapping in to something universal. It’s likely because of the vulnerability I was talking about earlier, and I’m gearing my songwriting towards accepting no less than that level of vulnerability.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist and did that manifest during the creation and recording of this album?
Hoppenjans: I think I struggle most with how to represent empowerment when I don’t always feel powerful. I knew I wanted to write songs that make people feel seen and encourage them to be their best, confident, powerful selves, but empowerment is more than just kick-ass anthems. It’s a complex, daily effort, and I resisted the nuance and the vulnerability of it at first. Finding strength in that has been really revelatory to me.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in Nashville. Does the creative energy in that city inspire you to be a better artist? With so many songwriters around you at any given time, does it force you to continuously up your game?
Hoppenjans: How could it not! I’m so inspired by the artists around me. I don’t necessarily think of it as upping my game, and I’m loath to compare myself to other artists, tempting as it is. The way I see it, no one else can tell my story as well as I can, and when I see other artists telling their own stories well, I soak it up and learn from it, and I’m inspired to tell my own story in a new, different way.

TrunkSpace: If you sat down with your 10-year-old self and gave her a glimpse of her future, would she be surprised by where her musical journey has taken her thus far?
Hoppenjans: My 10-year-old self had just gotten her first guitar for Christmas and was attempting to teach herself “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” so I’d say she’d be pretty shocked! If I could go back, I’d tell her to listen to some Hole, Bikini Kill, and PJ Harvey, and to stop caring whether other people had even heard of their music or not.

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?
Hoppenjans: Ooh, that’s tough. Not to get too sci-fi, but couldn’t I potentially mess with my own future by knowing what happens, like in Back to the Future II? How horrible would it be to know what your future could have been and miss out on it because you knew it was going to happen! I’ll stick with not knowing.

OK, I Feel Better Now is available now.

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Trunk Gaming

RAD

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RAD

Initial Release Date: August 20, 2019

Developer: Double Fine

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Genre: Action-Adventure, Arcade

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

Why We’re Playing It: It’s no secret that the TrunkSpace team are fans of the ‘80s, and this game exudes totally tubular nostalgia. Even the actual gameplay harkens back to the old-school, arcade-style games that were top down action/adventure romps. So put on your jean jacket, hairspray that hair and wear your sunglasses at night while we dive into this session of Trunk Gaming!

What It’s All About?: You choose your teenage adventurer protagonist, grab your baseball bat and head into a post-apocalyptic world that has become a barren wasteland full of gnarly creatures that are hungry for flesh. The fate of humanity depends on you to traverse the radioactive landscape and spread life and heal the environment through the use of machines. This comes at a cost though, and your body mutates as you play, giving you either unexpected power or hindering side effects.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: We’re a sucker for visually-striking and stylistic games, and “RAD” delivers on this front. From the retro electronic riffs to the gorgeous wasteland of a landscape, this game is a treat for your ears and eyeballs. Oh, and the random voiceover guy that proclaims your achievements with ‘80s buzz words will have you laughing as you smash those radioactive mutants to bits.

Bonus Level: At first play through it seems sort of like one dimensional gaming, and you’re not sure if there is much replay value. Once you clear the first few levels, you realize you’re just scratching the surface, and when you start teleporting from caves to different levels, things get wild. The game also has a random level generator, so you are literally never playing the same level twice. All we can say is clear your schedule, because once you download “RAD” you are going to be hooked!

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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Marinho

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Photo By: Marta Olive

Artist: Marinho

Latest Album: ~ (Stream/Purchase Here!)

Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal

TrunkSpace: Your debut album drops on October 18. What kind of emotions are you juggling with as you gear up to release new material into the world? Is it difficult letting something go that you’ve spent so much time and energy on?
Marinho: Not difficult at all, in fact, it’s a relief to finally share it with the world! It’s another completed chapter and that feels great. I’m very proud of what I have to present.

TrunkSpace: Your music is very personal and you reveal a lot about yourself and your journey through your lyrics. As an artist, do you ever worry about giving too much of yourself to your music and in the process, revealing too much to the world?
Marinho: That’s funny, ’cause here I was thinking I was actually being cryptic on my lyrics. I guess not! And that’s a good thing because I believe candour is an essential ingredient in music.

Not necessarily having very explicit lyrics but the message should be genuine – from the heart. My favorite artists are the ones that aren’t afraid to show their true colors and don’t make music to please anyone but themselves — because there will always be someone somewhere who has felt the same way they have and will connect to the music because of that.

So no, I try not to worry about giving too much of myself.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you as both an artist and a person in sitting down to listen to the album front to back?
Marinho: They’d learn that I like to question everything, even myself, in order to make sense of life and always evolve into something better.

TrunkSpace: When you dreamed of one day putting out an album, is this the album you envisioned? Are you the same artist today as you always intended to be or did it take you some time to find your creative POV?
Marinho: The decision to go to the studio came without expectations. I took a few songs, some unfinished riffs, and a loose idea of what each could sound like. But I remember saying, “If I come out of this with one good single, I’ll be happy.” And before I knew it, I was making an album. It wasn’t the goal and I didn’t envision it per se, but I’m proud of how it happened.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, many of the songs that make up “~” have been with you for a while now. As you went into the studio to record the album, did some of those songs take on different creative directions than you originally intended, and if so, can you share an instance with us?
Marinho: For sure, and that’s the beauty of going into the studio. Tracks like “I Give Up and It’s Ok” were creatively carved in the studio. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but while recording it took a life of its own, like the bpm increasing and such.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Marinho: I’m proud of having made something that people resonate with, knowing it was born out of a new found confidence in myself. It feels like I’m on the right track.

TrunkSpace: We’re big fans of great, memorable lyrical snippets here, so we have to ask, what is your favorite piece of writing off of the album and why?
Marinho: I can’t pick a favorite per se… I guess the lyrics on “Freckles” are the most vulnerable on the record – and I love it for that.

TrunkSpace: Born in Portugal, we read that you were raised on American cartoons and films, which impacted your views on a great many things, but did that exposure to States-based pop culture directly impact your future art?
Marinho: Most definitely. In many ways, American TV and music are responsible for how my brain processes emotions since a very young age. And I’m sure that is felt in all my creative output.

TrunkSpace: If you sat down with your 10-year-old self and gave her a glimpse of her future, would she be surprised by where her musical journey has taken her thus far?
Marinho: I love this question. I think 10-year-old Marinho would’ve appreciated a bit more Spice Girls-like tunes, but would’ve still shared the excitement for having walked down the creative path instead of just sitting behind a desk for the rest of her life. She would’ve enjoyed meeting her interesting older self, as much as she enjoyed meeting and talking to other older interesting artists back then.

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?
Marinho: I’m sure whatever glimpse I’d get now would eventually change because life is full of unforeseen events. So I don’t see the point of predicting the future. I’d rather imagine one and work towards it.

~” is available today.

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The Featured Presentation

Anand Desai-Barochia

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For Anand Desai-Barochia, the journey to landing a role of substance – in this case, Janzo in “The Outpost” – was a long and winding road, but like so many things in life, the good always comes to those who wait.

Being an impatient creative, you always hope it happened faster – quicker,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “I wont lie, I’m glad it didn’t happen straight away. Now I genuinely appreciate the work I have because it wasn’t handed on a silver plate.”

We recently sat down with Desai-Barochia to discuss post-production llamas, growing with a character, and the joy of eating affordable truffle gnocchi.

TrunkSpace: We previously spoke with your “The Outpost” costars Jessica Green and Jake Stormeon during the series’ Season 1 run. Now that you’ve wrapped up Season 2, what can you tell us about how this show has impacted your life and career the most? Has it brought substantial change to your door?
Desai-Barochia: Firstly (is firstly a word?) I’d like to apologize for your interaction with my cast mates. I know how tedious they can be. Now to the question at hand. “The Outpost” has allowed me the fortunate privilege to now only spend my time on material and projects that truly interest me. Like most actors, before landing something of substance, I had to audition for anything and everything, even if the casting breakdown said “60-year-old Chinese man with a pet llama.” Because, you never know. I’m brown – they could always FX in a llama.

TrunkSpace: Playing Janzo is the longest time you have ever spent with one character on screen. What is that extended journey inhabiting one character like? Has who you understood Janzo to be changed from that moment you first signed on to play him to where he is today throughout the course of Season 2?
Desai-Barochia: Before “The Outpost,” I always thought that I preferred film over TV – purely for the fact I could see a character through from beginning to end. Now in our second season, my thoughts on this are definitely changing. I’m incredibly protective of Janzo – he is a character that has grown as I have. He started off as a shy, intimidating wee soul… just like me.

I could be wrong, but I do believe our shows’ creators have adapted our roles to the actors that play them. That being said, the more you know your character, the bolder you can be in your choices. The beauty we have as a show is that it is completely original material. The show isn’t based on any film or book series. All of the characters have changed and grown since Season 1.

TrunkSpace: You have said that the writers of “The Outpost” have given you the freedom to help sculpt Janzo and make him your own. What is an element of him that you knew you wanted to bring to life, and that perhaps was not initially intended for the character?
Desai-Barochia: It might have to do with having a British sense of humor – and maybe something our writers at first didn’t intend on, however, the second I read Janzo’s lines in the pilot, I immediately read them as him being extremely dry and blunt. I’ve always seen him like that – now it might not have been how the writers initially saw him but I’m glad they’ve allowed me to run with it.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine it can be both exciting and (possibly) nerve-racking to receive new scripts, not knowing ultimately where your character will go on both his personal journey and the narrative journey within the series. Does a moment come to mind where you were reading a new script and got so excited by what you read that you couldn’t wait to get to set and shoot it?
Desai-Barochia: The scene where I killed Garrett was particularly exciting to shoot.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “The Outpost” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Desai-Barochia: It sounds corny but its true; my relationships I’ve built with cast and crew. It happens with every job I’m on – whether it’s being a receptionist behind a desk, or having a show shooting in Serbia, the people are what I value the most. To this date, some of my closest friends are from work.

TrunkSpace: You had previously worked on “Day of our Lives” for a few episodes. Soap operas are known for their breakneck shooting schedules, so we’re curious if getting to spend some time on an established one like Days served as a bit of a boot camp of what was to come for you later in your career?
Desai-Barochia: Days is a beast I’ve never been part of before. Marnie Saitta watched/read an interview of mine that I tagged her friend in on social media so more eyes would see the piece. She requested I come in to meet her, so I guess it kinda worked. I wouldn’t have the balls to do such a thing now. I guess when you’re eager for work, unemployed, you’ll try anything. I ended up playing a one liner for a few episodes after.

I remember walking onto the NBC lot just grinning from ear to ear. My first gig in the States. Walked onto set – director showed me my movements, rehearsed it. “OK! Thanks for your work today!” That’s how quick it was. I thought the take was the rehearsal. After pumping myself up for the last two days for this “big break” it was over in five seconds. I didn’t even have a TV at the time it aired. I went to the gym and watched my one line on the treadmill, grinning like an old lady with no teeth.

TrunkSpace: You fell in love with acting when you were 10 years old. What would 10-year-old Anand think of his journey as a professional actor thus far?
Desai-Barochia: He’d be pretty chuffed. However, it’s actually the opposite for me – I look back on some of the things I did before getting steady work and wish I was more like that guy. He was fearless. I’m still pretty spontaneous in life; I’ll always have my passport in my back pocket just in case an adventure pops up.

Professionally, it took a lot longer than I thought/hoped it would. Folks always say it takes 10 years after you have graduated theater school to start getting the real work. I graduated in ‘07. I booked my first series regular in ‘17… so they weren’t wrong. Being an impatient creative, you always hope it happened faster – quicker. I wont lie, I’m glad it didn’t happen straight away. Now I genuinely appreciate the work I have because it wasn’t handed on a silver plate.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Desai-Barochia: Eating truffle gnocchi twice a week for $7.00 in Serbia.

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?
Desai-Barochia: I wouldn’t. Nerves/apprehension/flutter in your stomach/not knowing if it’s going to work out. That’s what keeps me on my toes. I think it’s always good to not be so sure of yourself.

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Deep Focus

Lauren LeFranc

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In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Lauren LeFranc, showrunner of the science fiction series “Impulse,” about job descriptions, creating television in a short attention span society, and finding inspiration in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

TrunkSpace: Formal definitions aside, what does the job of a showrunner entail for those who are not familiar with the term?
LeFranc: Well, I guess, you’re first a writer and then second to that, you’re the CEO of your television show, essentially. You’re in charge of running the writers’ room. You are technically in charge of everything to do with set and production and post production. You touch everything. There are certain department heads who are specialized in those particulars, but you have your hands in everything.

TrunkSpace: And does that change series to series or platform to platform?
LeFranc: No, it’s pretty much that. That’s the general job description. Everybody does it a little differently, but that’s the job.

TrunkSpace: Would 12-year-old Lauren be surprised that she would one day be serving in that role?
LeFranc: I think she’d be pretty stoked. I grew up on TV. I was, really, partially raised by books and movies. And so 12-year-old me would probably freak out a little bit if she knew that she could go to set and write stories – like a heightened level of playing make believe. And honestly, part of why I write and what I think about a lot is my younger self and just trying to think about what impact TV had on me and really wanting to put that forward for other people.

TrunkSpace: You grew up on television, but “Impulse” is on YouTube Premium, so you’re paying it forward, but in an entirely new way, which is pretty wild.
LeFranc: Yeah. I mean, my God, TV has changed so much. Our industry has changed within the last couple of years – even the last couple of months – so dramatically. I never would have anticipated watching the Internet or walking around with an iPad and watching all these different streaming platforms. And that’s how people often view content now. So, yeah, it’s really crazy.

TrunkSpace: So as a showrunner, do you think about that – the way people are watching – and does it ever impact the creative?
LeFranc: Our goal is always to visually make it look as beautiful and amazing as possible, assuming and hoping that people are watching it on a bigger screen, truthfully. Because, I think, we try to be a very cinematic show. That doesn’t mean that I’m not aware that some people are going to watch it on their iPads or their phones, but the goal is not to cater to that particularly, but to maybe inspire people to want to see it on a bigger screen and to try to get more out of it. Especially, because we have a lot of visual effects, and our directors are so excellent. You really want to offer that on a bigger screen if you can. I’m aware of the different options people have – the lack of attention span sometimes people have. I don’t creatively think on that level in terms of how we break story and the stories that we come up with, but I’m very aware of it.

TrunkSpace: That lack of attention span that you speak of can also be seen as a blessing for your series because, if people are watching and are invested in this day and age, you know you’re doing something right.
LeFranc: Absolutely. Everyone has a lot of options. I think the thing that I really love about being on YouTube Premium is that we can be any length. So, we don’t have to hit a certain length for every episode. I try to keep it in a certain window that I think is reasonable, perhaps because of the lack of attention span that I personally have. So, if it’s something 60 minutes, to me, it better be really fantastic and worth those 60 minutes. It’s a matter of minutes and it matters a lot, but we also can create whatever kind of content we want. We don’t have similar restrictions to broadcast networks or even some pay cable. So in that regard, it’s really freeing creatively.

TrunkSpace: With that said, could “Impulse” exist on another network in its current form or is it unique to YouTube Premium?
LeFranc: No, I definitely think it could. Because streaming platforms… if they’re willing to take risks and play in different genres, absolutely. The comparable networks to YouTube, I think, like Netflix and Amazon quickly come to mind. YouTube has given us such creative freedom. That’s been really a lovely experience, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t play elsewhere. I mean, we do curse a lot. (Laughter) We probably would need to censor ourselves a little bit.

I think a lot of TV and streaming cable services right now want to offer creativity to showrunners and to writers. And that’s really amazing to be a part of right now.

Missi Pyle and Sarah Desjardins in Season 2 of “Impulse”

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, is there a feeling inside the TV community that it won’t always be this good and that perhaps this level of content creation won’t be able to sustain itself?
LeFranc: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if people could have predicted where we’d be exactly right now. And again, it’s ever-changing. I think there’s a huge potential that this is a bubble that’s going to burst at some point, but from my perspective, it’s like, let’s play in that bubble for as long as they let us. Because I think the thing that I love about it is that now, you can tell unique stories. We’re dealing with trauma, but there’s genre elements. We’re focusing on a complicated young woman and we’re not trying to cater to a particular broad audience in such a way to make that character super likable instead of just about making her more real and honest. And I don’t know if I could have told a story like this even five years ago, honestly. And that’s just a product of having so many different opportunities.

TrunkSpace: Five years ago, “Impulse” would have been a story about teleportation first, and the character stuff would have all played in the background.
LeFranc: Exactly. And that has been the greatest gift is that I get to tell a story that is not leading with some sort of snazzy element like teleportation. It’s leading with character and it’s leading with trying to create a grounded character drama and focus on a young woman, but focus on the people around her and equally focused on the people in this town who are struggling financially. No one is super pretty. No one is glamorized. No one is overly sexualized. That has been YA badly up until this point for whatever reason in TV, I think, with a couple exceptions. But really, it’s been, for me as a young woman growing up, a little disheartening and confusing because I’m like, “I’ve never experienced high school like this.” “My So Called Life” I think was a show for a time that really revolutionized how you think about young people. And that’s something that I hold onto a lot. And I was a big fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I really wanted to write TV largely because of Buffy, because she was this complicated woman with burden, and she was strong, and powerful. And I hadn’t really seen a lot of those depictions before. So, I’m trying to lead in my generation with “Impulse” in that regard.

Season 2 of “Impulse” is available today on YouTube Premium.

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The Featured Presentation

Natalie Malaika

NatalieMalaikaFeatured
Photo By: Rashelle Campbell

In an industry where so much is out of your control, you can easily be let down when things don’t go according to plan. Thankfully for actress Natalie Malaika, who can be seen appearing in the new Netflix thriller “Fractured,” planning has never been a part of her plan, which keeps her future flexible.

I find extreme bliss in doing what I love as a career because it doesn’t feel like work,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “And as time goes by, if that continues to be true, I would absolutely continue on this journey.”

We recently sat down with Malaika to discuss working on a Netflix project, learning on set, and what kind of on-screen badass she wants to play.

TrunkSpace: Your journey in the arts began as a dancer and musician. What made you transition from those first loves into acting, and ultimately, was it a leap that you were hesitant to make because of how difficult it can be to break in?
Malaika: When my interest in the performing arts as a whole first began, my mom enrolled me in all sorts of classes, including acting. She wanted me to find what I loved most, and somewhere along the way dance and music became the forefront of my focus and acting got placed on the back burner. I think that happened for a few different reasons. The precarity of the industry definitely created some hesitation, but more than that, my lack of knowledge on what to look for when navigating through the sea of contacts and representatives. It wasn’t until I attended an arts high school, as a dance major, that I started to dabble in acting again — we were encouraged to explore art forms outside of our major. I now had access to the guidance I needed earlier on to navigate the acting industry. So with that, I found an amazing talent agent by my senior year and began to take acting seriously.

TrunkSpace: When you decided to pursue acting professionally, did you put a plan in place – short or long term? What kind of path were you hoping to pave for yourself and do you feel like you’re on it now?
Malaika: Not right at the onset. I more so started to plan while I was in my final year of university. To be honest, I’m not much of a planner, though I do understand the importance of setting some semblance of a layout in order to establish direction. My path is still a work in progress – I’m still a work in progress – but when I took a leap of faith and moved to Vancouver from Toronto that was the first part of the plan. Now I’m slowly seeing the pieces fall into place.

TrunkSpace: Netflix is the pinnacle of original programming these days. What is it like being a part of a project for a platform that seems to literally be in every home and on every device? Is it exciting beyond the work itself given the size and scope of where “Fractured” will live?
Malaika: It’s so crazy. There are other productions I’ve been in that are also on Netflix and I’ll randomly have people who I haven’t spoken to in years messaging me on Instagram with a screenshot of me! It’s so weird but awesome all at once. I can’t tell you one person I know who doesn’t have Netflix, so the exposure is great for sure.

TrunkSpace: Did you view your time on “Fractured” as just as much of an education as you did a job, because there are some heavy hitters involved in the project both on screen and behind the camera that we would imagine you could absorb a great amount of knowledge from?
Malaika: Totally! Any set that I step on I consider it an educational experience. I’m always striving to be better at my craft everyday; whether I’m reading scripts, attending classes, watching films and television shows with a critical eye, it’s important to me. I learned so much from observing Sam Worthington and his work ethic and his engagement on set. Brad Anderson, the director, was also such a joy to work with, and was a great source of knowledge. His vision and the way he invites you into his vision is wonderful.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “Fractured” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Malaika: How important it is that everyone has the same vision in order to successfully execute the mission, which is to create great content. Brad and the producers did exactly that.

TrunkSpace: We started our chat talking about your earliest entertainment industry roots. Is dance and music still a part of your life, and if so, how much creative energy do you put into them these days?
Malaika: I consider myself an actor who also dances and plays piano. A few years ago I would’ve said the opposite. Although dance and music are still very big passions of mine, my focus is primarily on acting right now and working on that craft. So, for now, I’ve placed dance and music on the back burner this time.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Natalie, here is a blank check, go greenlight whatever you want for yourself to star in.” What kind of project would you put into development?
Malaika: If you know the movie “Colombiana” with Zoe Saldana, it would be that! That was a great movie! I want to play a badass assassin role. Use my dance background and perform my own stunts.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Malaika: That feeling of being a working actor. Does that count? I think every actor can relate to going through a lull in their career, especially in the beginning stages. Since graduating from university, I’ve been able to zero my focus in on acting and developing my craft. As a result I notice a positive response to that. You really do get out what you put in.

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?
Malaika: That’s a tough question! As I mentioned before I’m not really much of a long term planner. What I know right now is that I love acting and the performing arts. I find extreme bliss in doing what I love as a career because it doesn’t feel like work. And as time goes by, if that continues to be true, I would absolutely continue on this journey.

Fractured” is available now on Netflix.

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