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The Featured Presentation

Daya Vaidya

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Photo By: Morgan Pansing

Playing a conniving and dangerous “bad ass” did not come naturally for Daya Vaidya. In order to understand the character Jen Kowski from the series Bosch, the Oakland-raised actress spent a week preparing for the audition that ultimately led to her being cast, proving once again that preparation pays off.

So by the time I finally got the role, I feel like I already had her in my body… then it was just about putting myself into the circumstances of what was happening in the story,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

Season 6 of Bosch is currently available on Amazon Prime Video.

We recently sat down with Vaidya* to discuss the diverse Bosch fandom, the bittersweet goodbye on the horizon, and the Lance Reddick effect.

*Due to our own complications during the pandemic, this interview was originally conducted in May and is just now being posted as we return from hiatus.

TrunkSpace: Season 6 of Bosch recently premiered. From our count, that brings you to about 20 episodes of playing Jen Kowski. What is it like getting to spend that much time with a singular character? At what point do you start to know her in a way that makes understanding her motives and actions as seamless as you do your own?
Vaidya: I needed to know what motivated Jen before I even auditioned for the part. When I first read the script I didn’t understand her – she was conniving, manipulative, dangerous and an overall bad ass! The character really intrigued me, but I didn’t know how to play that. I didn’t want to play a stereotype or play her one note. I spent about a week preparing for the audition, trying to get into the headspace of that kind of woman. So by the time I finally got the role, I feel like I already had her in my body… then it was just about putting myself into the circumstances of what was happening in the story. It’s only grown since then.

TrunkSpace: With Bosch, the entire season is dropped on a single day. How soon after that do you start to feel the ripple effect of the latest arc within the fandom? Is it almost instantaneous?
Vaidya: Totally! About a week before Bosch drops, I start hearing from the fans almost every hour on Twitter and Instagram. Everyone is getting excited, they want to know or hear some hints on what’s going to happen in the upcoming season. The thing I love the most about Bosch fans is that they represent a huge cross section of our country and world. I’ve noticed that Bosch fans come from many different demographics, varying wildly politically and socially, but they share one thing in common: they love the authenticity and mood of the show. I also would say, most fans tell me they binge the show in a few days!

TrunkSpace: Without new projects actively in production right now, the latest season of Bosch may be one of the last new offerings people see for awhile. Has the current state of the world changed this experience for you – waiting for and promoting the latest installment of the series – while in the middle of all of this uncertainty?
Vaidya: It’s been crazy! Trying to publicize a show while stuck in the house, unable to go out, do in-person press, or just talk to people has been challenging. Yet on the other hand it’s forced me to spend more time connecting with people online and in different spaces, getting creative with how to engage with fans. I’ve had more time to answer questions and interact one-on-one with people I may have never previously connected with. I’ve also enjoyed spending time with my family. I am enjoying what’s happening, versus being on this crazy whirlwind, which is how it usually is. This whole pandemic has forced me to slow down and take stuff in and just appreciate the ride.

TrunkSpace: The series has already been renewed for a seventh and final season. What emotions do you juggle with knowing that this project – something you were actively involved in since Season 2 – will be coming to an end?
Vaidya: I am honestly pretty sad, I feel like Bosch has been a part of my life for so long and I don’t want to let it go. It has been one of the best acting and set experiences of my entire career. But at the same time I’m excited about what’s on the horizon and what other projects I get to be a part of and discover; as well as, which new characters I get to play. So it’s a bittersweet moment. I’m also going to miss playing Jen! She’s my alter ego and helps me be more savvy in business. I learn from her.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product is always the most memorable, but for those involved in the project it must go much further than that. What’s the most memorable aspect of getting to work on Bosch that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Vaidya: I would say working with Lance Reddick, definitely! He’s a rare gem of an actor and most of my scenes are with him. He’s one of the most gracious, professional, and talented actors I’ve ever worked with. He’s a great partner on set because everything he does is about the story and not ego. He acts from a similar place as me and we had so much fun playing and discovering how these two connected, past what was written on the page. He’s also hilarious and tells the best Hollywood stories! He’ll have me cracking up many days, telling me stories about the crazy films he’s done. He sure has a resume and so much wisdom!

TrunkSpace: What has been an unexpected bonus or reward – something you could have never anticipated when you first started your journey as an actress – to a career in the arts? What is an aspect of your life that you wouldn’t have now had you not taken this path, but at the same time, one that you can’t imagine your life without now?
Vaidya: Freedom. When you first start out as a young actor it’s such a deep grind that you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy the moment. But after putting in years and years of work, one of the best things that happens is that your career starts to go and you get a certain level of freedom in your life. Freedom to discover how I want my day to go, how I want my life to be and what I want to say as an artist. I didn’t realize I would love and need that so much. You need a steel stomach for this business. Usually money is tight and sometimes things aren’t happening, but I learned not to equate my self worth with my booking ratio. It’s gotten sweet in the last 10 years because I’m not trying to ‘get a job.’ I’m just trying to express and deepen my experience in whatever character I’m playing. I have a framed quote from Philip Seymour Hoffman that I read every day:

If you get a chance to act in a room that someone else has paid rent for, then you’re given a free chance to practice your craft. And in that moment, you should act as well as you can, because if you leave the room and you’ve acted as well as you can, there’s no way that people who have watched you will forget it.”

TrunkSpace: There are ups and downs in any career, but certainly the entertainment industry is known for delivering peaks and valleys. Was there ever a moment where you considered walking away from acting, and if so, what kept you on your path and looking forward?
Vaidya: I knew I never wanted to do anything else in my life. There were times I got frustrated and wanted to give up; and of course questioned my path. But I never had a Plan B and I never looked elsewhere for another career. What I did instead, was work on strengthening my center so that I wouldn’t be as affected by the ups and downs of the business. I stopped getting hurt by the rejection and took it more as a lesson in growth. That allowed me to work from a place of truth and joy, not just getting a job. That’s what’s allowed me to survive in this business and most importantly, love it.

TrunkSpace: You’ve appeared in a number of memorable series and projects over the years. We’re curious… what is a character that you wished you had more time to spend with and why?
Vaidya: Sophia Del Cordova. (Laughter) This was a Colombian telenovela star I played in one episode of the show Castle. She was one of the most fun and hilarious characters I’ve ever played. And I had to learn two pages of Spanish in four days! I would’ve loved to bring her back and keep tightening up my Spanish. I want to be fluent!

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Vaidya: Tough question, I have so many! But I would say the moment I found out I’d booked the series Unforgettable on CBS. I’ll never forget because my husband and I were bathing our infant daughter. I hadn’t worked in a while and after having a baby, an agent told me my momentum was gone and I thought my career was over. It was a Friday night, late and I didn’t expect a call. My agent called me out the blue and said I got the job and would be moving to New York. I cried happy tears with my husband, as my daughter laughed and splashed us with bubbles. We all hugged. My whole life changed in that moment.

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?
Vaidya: I take that journey a lot in my mind. I think of it more like a visualization or something that I’m creating. I don’t know the details or the specifics, but what I do see is happiness, freedom and the ability to create art. I see myself traveling with my family and working on films and TV shows all over the world. I want to continue to produce projects that push boundaries and break stereotypes of what it means to be urban, a woman of color and intellectual. Those aren’t mutually exclusive things and those are the stories my husband (producing partner) and I like to tell. Most of all I’m excited to see my kids grow and I’m curious for what the future will reveal!

Season 6 of Bosch is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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The Featured Presentation

Joshua Bitton

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Joe DeAngelis/STYLING: Nic Adedokun/GROOMING: Andrea DiSabatino

Long before the acting bug sunk its fangs into him, baseball was Joshua Bitton’s first love. A lifelong New York Yankees fan, he’s seen plenty of championships for his hometown team in his lifetime, but inhabiting a ballplayer on-screen – the perfect combination of his two favorite pasttimes – has eluded him. Currently the Queens, NY native can be seen hitting weekly homeruns as police officer Chewy on the compelling CBS All Access thriller “One Dollar.”

We recently sat down with Bitton to discuss friendly rivalries, the authenticity of “One Dollar,” and why Jon Bernthal should be cautiously looking over his shoulder.

TrunkSpace: First off, we’re Red Sox fans, so we just thought we’d lay it all on the table and clear the air. Love the game, not the team! That being said, have any early post season predictions?
Bitton: Wow! You guys took it right there! Yeah, I’m a big Yankee fan, so we’re instantly in a fight. (Laughter) This is VERY DIFFICULT for me to say, but that Sox team you guys have is stacked. You have the two most dangerous hitters in the league, a remarkable starting rotation, and a really good closer. Middle relief might be an issue, but I think, as a baseball fan, I’d have to say the Red Sox are the clear favorite. Don’t sleep on the Astro’s pitching. That team can shut anyone down.

I think my Yanks are a year away. We need another top-notch starter. As we saw last year, these guys can surprise you, but the way the Yanks played last year is how I see your boys playing this year. With that fun, free, reckless abandon.

So… my head says Red Sox, my heart dreams Yanks.

TrunkSpace: As far as concepts go, “One Dollar” is a great one. What we also love is that it is an original idea in a world that is getting increasingly more and more “Based On.” What did you love about the project when you first read for it, and more specifically, what drew you to Chewy?
Bitton: “One Dollar” has a lot of things going for it. I’d have to start with Craig Zobel, our director. Craig is so collaborative and playful on set. He really allows us to have input, discover and create. On top of that, he’s just a remarkable filmmaker.

Another element that drew me to the story is what feels like a real look at the working man and woman in this country. The show looks at, under, and through this town that was once a thriving steel mill town, but now is just holding on. We have a central plot point of a possible seven-person murder, but Craig and the writers don’t simply stick to that. They allow us to see the world through the eyes of the various “dollar holders.” Some are connected to the crime, some give us a different perspective of the town we’re in, and some do both. All add to what we hope is a deeper understanding of the plight of people in these types of life situations.

Chewy is a ball-buster. He’s a guy who sees the world simply, and straight forward. At times, it’s so straight forward, he may have blinders on. I think representing guys like Chewy is important. At heart, he’s a good guy, but his perspective is so limited. I love that. I love that he’s challenged by this rookie cop, who takes his shit, but is smarter, and eventually unafraid to challenge him. Chewy is a guy who just might learn something.

TrunkSpace: The series runs on CBS All Access. With an increasing number of interesting projects appearing on platforms every day, how does a show like “One Dollar” rise to the top? What is the key to finding a dedicated audience when audiences in general seem to be getting more and more segmented?
Bitton: I think “One Dollar” speaks to a lot of the issues that are happening in our country. The slow erosion of the middle class, the change from industry to technology… it’s what drew me to it, and what I think will eventually bring audiences in. All of that is encompassed around the murder of seven people. The cast is remarkable, which always helps. And it’s funny – it’s quirky. It’s told with a real point of view, which I think is what is its biggest draw.

CBS All Access is a remarkable place to work. CBS has some of the most successful procedural shows, and sitcoms, but this platform is more akin to the kind of shows Netflix is putting up. CBS All Access has been putting together quite a collection of shows that are different than what they carry on the network platform. As people discover that, I think they’ll get hooked by the wide array of shows the platform hosts.

TrunkSpace: Unlike a lot of streaming shows these days, “One Dollar” is being released weekly like most network shows. Given the genre it plays in, giving the audiences small pieces of information at a time, do you think the old roll out method works for the way the story is unfolding? Does it suit the show?
Bitton: That’s a great question. I think the weekly element really works. It builds tension and it leaves time for the viewer to process the details and nuances of the show. And if you’re a binger, you can wait a few weeks and let them pile up, then have at it!

TrunkSpace: Chewy is a Pittsburgh police officer. What did you want to bring to the character that was wholly and uniquely Pittsburgh, because it is a city that has its own vibe and persona?
Bitton: The blue-collar, hard hat and lunch pail mentality that really permeates this city, and… the dialect! I’ve done a lot of accent and dialect work in my career, but da ‘Burgh has one unlike any I’d ever heard. Speaking Yinzer, as it’s called, has been such a challenge and so fun. Words like “yinz” which is the Pittsburgh version of you, or as New Yorkers say, “youse.” They say words like down and south as “dahn” and “sahth.” It’s unique to this region. Most people have never heard it. Some will probably think it’s just bad accent work – (laughter) – but to create a world around here and not do it would be a disservice to what being here and living here has been like.

TrunkSpace: The series speaks to the various divides that we’re facing as a country, both political and cultural. Was it meant to hold up a mirror and say something beyond the narrative, or was part of that just world-building that seems more magnified given the period we’re all living in?
Bitton: I think it’s really been a focus of our director, writers and production team, and one that we as a cast have wholeheartedly embraced. To do a show about a town outside of Pittsburgh in these times without those issues being present would just be false. I’m sure the times have magnified it, but there has been awareness, and care, I think, to be as honest as possible about it.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Joe DeAngelis/STYLING: Nic Adedokun/GROOMING: Andrea DiSabatino

TrunkSpace: You have appeared in so many great shows over the years, from “Justified, to “The Night Of” to “Castle.” Is there a character that you enjoyed so much that you wished you had more time to explore?
Bitton: Yeah, absolutely. Rory from “Daredevil.” Since you never saw him die, technically, I always thought it would be fun to come back a cyborg and kick The Punisher’s ass. (It doesn’t hurt that Jon Bernthal is one of my best friends, so I owe him one.)

Sully from “Castle” would’ve been fun to live in for a little while longer. He was funny, and sweet, and a slob… and those people were very fun to be on set with.

Last would be what happened to the actual Sgt. J.P. Morgan from “The Pacific.” They couldn’t corroborate it, but rumor was he won thousands of dollars while in the Corp and sent it all home to his wife. When he got back from the war, supposedly his wife had left him for another man, and stole all the money he had sent home. He set out to find them and kill them but died in a motorcycle accident while hunting them down. I always wanted to live that out!

TrunkSpace: Is it ever difficult to say goodbye to a character, not because the project itself was so rewarding, but because the person you were inhabiting was so interesting?
Bitton: Oh God, yeah. They become part of you. Parts of you get highlighted through characters, and when you live in them for a while, they feel like home. The process is so rewarding, but it is also painful… at least for me. It’s the guys I’ve lived in the longest that hurt the most to leave. When I came back from Australia, after shooting “The Pacific,” I was sitting with my great friend, Tom Budge, and we were just so depressed. We couldn’t put our finger on why, and it hit me – “I have to say goodbye to J.P.” Then Tom said, “Ah, fuck… yeah, I have to say goodbye to Gibson,” and we just sat there silently as that realization landed.

TrunkSpace: Jumping back to baseball, you played in both high school and college. Was there a time when professional ball was your path? Was that your earliest dream?
Bitton: Hell yes! My first dream. My first love. I love the game. I’m DYING to do a baseball movie. Dying! When I played in college, I dreamed about driving my car down south and just going from small minor league team to small minor league team and finagling a tryout. Then I found acting, and got so bit by the bug, that it felt just as right as playing ball. And, to be honest, I didn’t really have the stick to go to the next level. I could field, turn two like nobody’s business, but I was an okay hitter at best. I realized I didn’t really have it. Here’s to hoping both of my life dreams come together, and I get to play a ball player. (By the way, you guys will get particular joy out of a Chewy line I have in Episode 4, I promise!)

TrunkSpace: You’re also extremely active in theater. Is there something uniquely rewarding to performing on stage that you can’t achieve on-camera? Is it a different kind of love?
Bitton: Yeah. Theatre is so immediate. The reciprocal relationship you have with the audience as well as the actors on stage. It’s all happening right in that moment. On stage, I’ve been able to play roles that are sometimes not how the film and TV world has seen me, so that is another bonus. I also think it’s the best place to learn and grow as an actor.

New episodes of “One Dollar” air Wednesdays on CBS All Access.

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