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The Featured Presentation

The Featured Presentation

Alison Araya

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Photo By: Daniela Cuiffa

We have all found ways to occupy our time in 2020. For actress Alison Araya, that included reintroducing herself to her green thumb. When not talking to her plants and establishing a balcony garden, she can be seen starring as Aunt Victoria in the new Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms, a role she is quite literally kicking up her heels over.

Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with a great shoe and the costume designers and I had loads of fun creating Victoria’s look, which includes some killer shoes,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Araya to discuss finding comfort in the new, embracing cultural nuances, and why she takes time to BREATHE.

TrunkSpace: Your new project, Julie and the Phantoms is a musical. Music has always been a great escape for people, and an escape is what people need this year more than ever. Does it feel like this series could be hitting at the right time for people? Will the combination of storytelling and music be just what the doctor ordered for those looking to “check out” mentally for a few hours and be entertained again?
Araya: Julie and the Phantoms is a show with so much spirit and heart. It promises to be entertaining and the music is out of this world catchy and cool! At this uncertain time in our collective history, we have all turned to the arts for comfort. Many have discovered new shows, movies, books and music to help cope with the multitude of feelings we are all experiencing. Some stories help us escape and others help us connect. I believe JATP is a show that will connect audiences, through the family, music, the personal journeys of the characters. And it couldn’t come at a better time!

TrunkSpace: In the series you play Aunt Victoria. What was it about this character that offered you something new that you had yet to experience on camera before? What part of your journey with Victoria felt like the biggest “first”?
Araya: Aunt Victoria was a first in many ways. As a woman, Aunt Victoria is a little larger than life, a little flamboyant and extra! I tend to play professionals so it was so much fun to step into Victoria’s shoes. Literally! Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with a great shoe and the costume designers and I had loads of fun creating Victoria’s look, which includes some killer shoes! But most importantly, being a part of an onscreen LatinX family and having the opportunity to fully step into embracing the cultural nuances of representing a LatinX family, is something I am deeply proud of.

TrunkSpace: Julie and the Phantoms hit Netflix on September 10. As an actress, how does having a series premiere on a streaming platform all at once change the roll out experience? Does it make exploring audience feedback online more rewarding them they can binge through an entire season in one sitting and then give their opinion on it?
Araya: Media platforms have evolved and shifted so much in recent years, audiences have had to adapt. The beauty of online streaming is the convenience and the ability to watch at will. As an actress, one of the most exciting aspects of being involved in a Netflix show is that my friends and family all over the world can watch! JATP streamed to over 190 countries on September 10th, which is amazing! Fans will be able to decide whether to watch one at a time or all at once or many times over! I’m so proud of this show and excited to hear how audiences respond!

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 Julie and the Phantoms that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life?
Araya: JATP was an incredible experience for many reasons. Working with the legendary Kenny Ortega was awesome and a dream come true! Something I will always remember about my experience filming JATP was the first time I heard one of the songs recorded by Madison and Charlie. I had mentioned that I hadn’t heard any of the songs yet and Charlie let me listen to one of the songs, as I sat there waiting for the next set up, I was weeping. The music was so incredibly beautiful, I was literally moved to tears. I’ll always remember that moment.

TrunkSpace: We’re in a bit of a weird time for the entertainment industry right now. While many films have been pushed back and production delays are setting up a pretty quiet fall TV season, some big projects are going right into homes, like Mulan and Bill & Ted Face the Music. How do you think COVID-19 will impact your industry as a whole moving forward?
Araya: No doubt the world at large has been impacted by the challenges of 2020. The entertainment industry has certainly felt the blow, however, the ‘biz’ is made up of highly resilient and adaptable people. In BC alone the local industry has been impacted by tax cuts, US dollar, writers strike and a host of other challenges over the years but we have always come back and have come back stronger! I am of this mind that this moment in our collective history is an opportunity for us as storytellers to do better and represent a greater cross-section of humanity through our stories.

TrunkSpace: As an actress – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Araya: Quarantine definitely forced us to get creative! I went back to my old acting books and rewatched some of my favorite films. I watched a lot of actors roundtables to stay connected to my craft. Also, thanks to Zoom I was able to participate in play readings which fill the creative tank! But the greatest gift was the time to go within and the space to grow.

TrunkSpace: Outside of acting, how have you kept yourself busy during quarantine? We know you are a plant lover – has gardening been an outlet that you’ve turned to during this time?
Araya: My plant babies definitely got me through quarantine. I’m always on the go, so being home and talking (yes, I talk to my plants!) they did so well! I also grew a garden on my balcony. It was the first time I attempted it and I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I grew my garden from seeds and to watch the garden grow was so rewarding. Once my kale and chard came in, my morning routine consisted of harvesting my greens, making my smoothie and sitting out on the balcony watching the world and admiring my green thumb! It definitely helped keep the quarantine blues away.

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise to come out of a career as an actress that you could have never anticipated? What have you achieved/received by venturing down this path that otherwise you would have missed out on?
Araya: Being able to do what I love is such a gift. A career as an actor is not a linear path and I have been at this for a loooong time. Each year is different, some more rewarding than others, but along the way, I have met some of the most beautiful and inspiring people. Acting has also allowed me to investigate myself on a deeper level; I believe the better you know yourself the more you can give as an artist. That journey is a lifelong one and I’m grateful to continue it.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actress/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Araya: I like to hold myself to a high standard at work and in life. But we are human and fallible and we make mistakes. Any time I have come into an insecure moment on set, whether it’s flubbing a line or getting caught up in your head, I know, from years of doing this, the inner critic has no place in that moment. I’ve worked with actors as a coach and have seen actors shut down and I’ll talk them through it. I’ve learned to be that same voice for myself. Instead of allowing myself to spiral, I’ll acknowledge whatever is challenging me in the moment, remind myself that I got this and BREATHE.

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?
Araya: Tough question! I am so curious by nature and love to be two steps ahead of the game but if given the chance to travel forward and get a glimpse of my future, I’d pass. I know for me, had someone said “this is where you’d be 10 years from now” I couldn’t have imagined it. But I know that every experience big or small has shaped my present. So, I’ll keep on enjoying the moments and stay open to all the possibilities the future has!

Julie and the Phantoms is available now on Netflix.

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The Featured Presentation

Molly Evensen

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Photo By: Robyn Von Swank

Originally An American Pickle was destined for a theatrical release, but 2020 had other plans. When theaters closed due to COVID-19, the film’s star Molly Evensen wondered if people would ever see her hard work play out on screen, but thankfully it found a home beyond the megaplexes and premiered on HBO Max. In the end An American Pickle not only ensured its summer release, but it gave people self-quarantining at home a much needed escape.

I’m honored to have it come out during this time and grateful that people can watch it from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Hopefully it brings some joy and escapism in a time where both of those things are greatly needed.”

We recently sat down with Evensen to discuss managing expectations, taking leaps of faith, and her favorite literary escapes of 2020.

TrunkSpace: New England raised here. DunkinDonuts (aka, Dunks or Dunkies) is like the air we breathe here. And thenwe read that you were once IN a Dunkiesad? Youre blowing our minds! Tell us you got some wicked awesomefree munchkins out of the deal!?
Evensen: New England is beautiful and Dunkin’ Donuts is great! They were such a treat to work with. But alas, there were no munchkins.” It was still a very fun and silly day so I suppose I’ll let it slide.

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, the far more impressive project you are currently promoting is An American Pickle, which for us, arrived at the perfect time because we needed a mental escape from the realities of, well, reality. Did it feel kind of special to have this film come out at a time when there wasnt a lot of other new content circulating? In a way, it was just the check outpeople needed.
Evensen: It does feel very special to have it released during this strange time we’re living in. We shot the film almost two years ago and never did I ever think the world would look the way it does right now. The initial plan was for a theatrical release and when the theaters shut down and so many films were being pushed and rescheduled, I was a little worried that An American Pickle would be scrapped all together. I definitely sighed a huge sigh of relief when they made the HBO Max announcement. I’m honored to have it come out during this time and grateful that people can watch it from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Hopefully it brings some joy and escapism in a time where both of those things are greatly needed.

TrunkSpace: You worked alongside Seth Rogen in the project, which was the first HBO Max original release. Is it difficult to not assign expectations to a project of this size and how it could impact the rest of your career? How do you temper those what ifswith each project you take on?
Evensen: This is a great question. Id say yes and no. Is that a cop out to say both? Yes, because its such a huge and cool opportunity overall. But also no, because I learned pretty early on that nothing is a guarantee. I was edited out of my first big commercial after telling all of my friends and family to watch for itthat was a humbling experience. I also booked an episode on a new series last year and my character wound up being written out in script rewrites. Thats just business, its nothing personal. Having had those experiences, Id like to say Im cautiously optimistic about things, but also hesitant to assign too much expectation from the get go. I think its human nature to get excited and to daydream, but trying to approach it from a more businesslike mindset saves a lot of mental energy in the long run. I also find Im more productive when I focus on the present instead of daydreaming about the future.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine that a project of this size and scope would be just as much of a learning experience as it would be a job. What did you learn by observing or by osmosis on the An American Pickle set that youll apply to the rest of your career going forward?
Evensen: I think this is the first set where I really experienced what its like to have a scene partner who actually listens to you. And let me tell you, that is a game changer. So in that regard, I learned how to be an effective and giving scene partner.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your on-screen performance as Clara?
Evensen: Without giving too much away, there’s a crowd scene where I mouth the words, “I’m sorry.” I improvised that and have received a lot of great feedback about it, which is cool.

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. Whats the most memorable aspect of getting to work on An American Pickle that youll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Evensen: I’d say the moment I answered the phone and found out I booked the job was quite memorable. The film came at a very transitional time in life for me. I had just taken a leap of faith and quit my serving job a week before I booked the film. Now, Im not saying go out and quit your job, but I think this is a great example of trusting your gut and taking a leap.

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 wouldnt have now had you not taken this path, but at the same time, one that you cant imagine your life without now?
Evensen: I think as someone in the arts you have to have some degree of empathy in order to understand characters and to experience emotions. I think Ive always been fairly empathetic, but my empathy has grown over the years. And because of that I think my world view has grown and shifted so much by simply by being curious and listening to those around me. I love staring out at city lights and thinking about how there are millions of people living where those lights are who I will never meet, but they all have their own unique lives with people who love them and goals and dreams and things that are important to them. So Id say overall a deeper curiosity for othersexperiences and a desire to listen and to understand. I know this doesnt just apply to actors, but it has certainly been a bonus for me.\

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?
Evensen: I have never considered walking away from acting. Im a very stubborn person. The more I hear no, the harder I work to hear the word yes. No is not an option for me. I will say there have been some very discouraging times and times where my patience and determination have been greatly tested. Im fortunate to have a very large supportive immediate and extended family. They have pushed me forward on the days where Ive struggled.

TrunkSpace: We read that you enjoy reading. What good books have you dove into this year to escape?
Evensen: This list could go on for a while, so Ill keep it to the most recent. I just finished reading “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.” Wow, it was a beautiful book. Before that, I read the new Hunger Games prequel. I enjoyed it, but it also made me mad and that’s all I will say about that. Currently I’m reading a collection of short stories by Ted Chiang called “Stories of Your Life.” I’m a big fan of the film Arrival and it’s based on a short story in this book.

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?
Evensen: As tempting as it would be, I’d politely decline. I’ve had plans and ideas for how Id like things to go, but Im continuously surprised by how much better everything turns out when it just unfolds. Currently working on finding peace in going with the flow and allowing life to surprise me.

An American Pickle is available now on HBO Max.

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The Featured Presentation

Jun Yu

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Photo By: Brett Erickson

In a summer that has pretty much been film-free, the first true blockbuster is busting more than our block. Movies have always been an escape, but with the release of Mulan on Disney+ this past Friday, it is a reminder of what was and of what what will be again… normalcy.

For star Jun Yu, who plays Cricket in the film, Mulan is an experience that goes well beyond the official run time.

I learned so much and gained so many beautiful memories with everyone,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Yu to discuss who he is most excited to have see the film, his love for music, and why he has taken up ceramics.

TrunkSpace: As far as debuts go, you’re coming out firing on all cylinders! What does it feel like to be kicking your film career off with such a big, anticipated project?
Yu: I’m truly honored to be a part of such an important and special film. I am really excited to share all the work we’ve done with the world, but mostly I cannot wait for my mother to see what her love and support has created.

TrunkSpace: As mentioned, Mulan is your first project, but in addition to that, it was also your first audition. With so many firsts on one job, what is the biggest lesson/takeaway from your experience shooting the film that you’ll keep with you throughout your career moving forward?
Yu: I’d probably say that you can never be afraid to fail and to enjoy the journey.

TrunkSpace: In the film you place Cricket. Without giving away any spoilers, what do you think audiences are going to love most of all about the character when they sit down to watch the film?
Yu: I hope they enjoy the innocence Cricket helps bring to the world of Mulan. Cricket is shy and naive, but with a little luck, he finds a family.

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 Mulan that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life?
Yu: Mulan will forever be the starting pistol that kicked off my career. I learned so much and gained so many beautiful memories with everyone. I will always carry the love everyone on the project shared with me.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a musician and rapper. What does music offer you creatively that acting alone can’t achieve?
Yu: I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m a musician and rapper, but music is something I love to do. Music gives me just as much as acting does but just a little differently. Music gives me confidence in my voice as an artist. I need both in my life and sometimes lessons from one helps me reach higher levels in the other.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actor/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Yu: I’m a pretty big perfectionist, who tends to fixate on minute details. I’m trying to overcome the fear of failure. Because of this, I’ve actually taken up ceramics!

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?
Yu: No, I would not. To me, the fun part about life is the adventure off into the unknown. I’m going to want to enjoy this ride.

Mulan is available now on Disney+.

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The Featured Presentation

Jimmy Wong

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Photo By: Diana Ragland

Although Mulan was destined for a theatrical release, 2020 had other plans. With the arrival of COVID-19, many studios shelved their summer blockbusters, opting to wait out the storm, but Disney called an audible and the result was a massive tentpole movie premiering directly into our homes. This suits star Jimmy Wong just fine because  he believes it’s not where you see a film like Mulan that matters most, but who you see it with.

While people don’t get to enjoy it on that big screen, the more important part about theater, to me, has always been the uniting experience that comes from watching a movie together with your family or your friends,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Wong to discuss rays of hope, united New Zealanders , and why Mulan is so groundbreaking.

TrunkSpace: Does Mulan feel like a special release, because in a lot of ways, you’re giving people an escape at a time when they need it more than ever?
Wong: Yeah. I was talking about this the other day as well. In this current time period of the world, I think everyone is looking for a ray of hope. Quite insane in every part of the spectrum, it seems. And so I think having the ability to be able to watch this movie in an un-stressful way at home is going to be a really big part of what makes this whole release special. Even though it wasn’t as intended, and it wasn’t the idea, it’s still something that will be, I think, a wonderful escape for a lot of people.

TrunkSpace: And in terms of the industry, it could revolutionize the way things are done moving forward.
Wong: Yeah, exactly. And I think a big part of this as well was, this was a decision that was made out of necessity as much as it was out of convenience. And I think for a movie like this, that I’ve personally been waiting now almost five months to come out, I’m just so relieved that it finally is going to be able to be released in some way. And a big part of me is deeply sad that people won’t be able to enjoy it in the theater at the current moment, because it was a movie that was filmed with really big aspirations and with an amazing crew and a director of photography that is extremely talented, and has the ability and capability to make a movie that moves you. We even called one of the lenses that we used on the set the Lawrence of Arabia lens because it created such an epic shot. This is the kind of feel that we’re going for with this movie. While people don’t get to enjoy it on that big screen, the more important part about theater, to me, has always been the uniting experience that comes from watching a movie together with your family or your friends.

TrunkSpace: The beauty of it is, it can always be re-released into theaters when the dust settles on the pandemic, so in a way, we’ll be able to have our cake and eat it too!
Wong: Yeah. And I obviously can’t speak for any of the marketing or movie plans from the Disney side, but it would definitely make me very happy to be able to watch this in the theater when it is safe to do so. Maybe as early as, I don’t know, next summer or something? Because I think that would be a wonderful time to make sure that everyone around the world does get to see this movie because the story is so universal, and is going to be inspiring to so many people that that’s my main concern still.

TrunkSpace: We talked about it being the biggest movie to go this route in terms of distribution. How big of a movie was it to be on the set of? In terms of scope, was this the biggest project you’ve ever worked on?
Wong: It certainly was. And it was interesting because we did a lot of it not in the United States – not in Los Angeles. And so we got to work really closely with people that were deeply connected to our director, Niki Caro, because she is from New Zealand, and has a lot of the resources in that native country of hers to be able to make a movie like this possible. There was obviously a lot of times when they had to really be careful about how they spent the money, and how they budgeted it out, to just make it work because it’s such a huge project. So for me, it was really exciting to walk on set and see 300 people, all of them, for the most part, being native New Zealanders, and knowing that a lot of these people had history working on amazing projects, like The Lord of the Rings, and a whole list of other things.

So to me, it was great. We’re walking into this with the experience of all of these people that have this really deep, close, personal connection to each other because they’ve all worked in the same industry together, in New Zealand specifically. And in Hollywood, a lot of times you walk onto a set, and everyone has a ton of experience, but they all come from different places, different experiences. It was great to feel that unity that was just really prevalent on set. And you could feel it with the familiar nature of everyone there, that even though there were sometimes hundreds of people on set, it still felt like a very personal and intimate production.

TrunkSpace: And with so many people and moving parts, that commands a lot of direction to capture a scene or moment.
Wong: Yeah, absolutely. And big credit to Niki to find so many talented and badass women to take on all of these major roles as well. That, to me, is why this movie is groundbreaking in a lot of ways. It’s not only the first Hollywood movie to feature a full Asian cast at this budget level from a company this big, but it also features an incredible, incredible crew that is directed by a woman and crewed up by so many other amazing talented women as well. And I think, for being a story that, again, is all about a woman, it’s this wonderful confluence of a bunch of different things that I think will make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives when they watch it for the first time.

TrunkSpace: Obviously, it’s based on an immensely popular animated film. How does a movie like this stand on its own without getting comparisons to what came before?
Wong: I think being a Disney movie, and especially a Disney remake, no matter what, you’re going to open yourself up to those comparisons just because Disney is such a massive influence. So many people have seen and enjoyed the original movie. A big part of this that really rings to me as special, though, is that Niki is not just some director there to do a job. If you look over her prior movies – Whale Rider, McFarland, USA, North Country – so many of those movies have a strong, independent young woman at the center of them, prevailing against incredible odds, and becoming something even better and stronger at the end of it through the hero’s journey. And I think that’s what makes this version of the movie so special is that you get to have a director that is intimately connected to this kind of tale, and is able to tell it with such craft and accuracy that it stands on its own by itself.

At the same time, you have the entire backing of a studio like Disney, that is going to ensure that no matter what, when you watch this movie, you’re still going to be – if you are a fan of the original – you will be reminded of it, but not in a way that takes away from the vision of the director. So I think that’s all, again, a combination of a lot of factors that went into a project like this. And typically, the bigger the budget, the less control you feel that directors and the crew have. But in this case, Niki really had such a grand vision, and a specific way that she wanted to tell this story, and all the research that they put into it as well… the end product stands on its own as this incredible piece of just beautiful cinematography and beautiful storytelling, wonderful score, great sound design, incredible action. If you never saw the original, you wouldn’t be missing it.

TrunkSpace: And the original impacts a specific generation at the time, and now this version can impact a new generation in a completely different way.
Wong: Yeah. And something I like to keep reminding people about is, people have all sorts of opinions about this movie, about the franchise, about the companies that are involved, about the countries that are involved… and I like to remind people that at the end of the day, yes, your opinions, of course, they matter. I have opinions of my own. But so many people, especially the young kids who will watch this movie, will not ever hear a single one of those opinions when they put this on the screen and watch it for the first time. And it really does have the potential to be that incredible story, or inspiration, to so many of them. As much as we like to complain about the corporate nature of the world, and all these other things, we can’t discount that fact. And that fact that gives me hope that this movie can transcend all of the media around it.

TrunkSpace: It’s all relative, right? We grew up in the ‘80s, and movies like Back To The Future and Star Wars were incredible inspirations, which are movies that plenty of people also have opinions about. You can’t choose where you find your cinematic inspiration, regardless of who is backing a film.
Wong: Yeah, absolutely. And the fact that so many people will see this movie because Disney is, obviously, an ace with their marketing – and they’re going to do that to get it around to as many people as possible – it gives me a lot of happiness in my heart as well, just to know that I might not be the person that watches this and walks away from it going, “I can now do something I didn’t think I could do before,” but I know that’s going to be the case for a lot of people.

Mulan is available on Disney+ today.

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The Featured Presentation

Ashley Romans

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While pop culture has always been a great distraction, what little new content making it to screens these days feels like stepping into an oasis while trekking through a desert. NOS4A2 fans have surely gobbled up Season 2 – which culminates in its finale this Sunday – and for star Ashley Romans, being a part of that momentary escape for people is a rewarding experience.

For me, being on television and entering people’s homes, minds, and hearts feels like an honor and a responsibility now more than ever,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Romans to discuss changes in her character, baking a cake in the dark, and discovering her deeper self.

TrunkSpace: New series premieres/seasons seem few and far between these days due to the state of the pandemic. With Season 2 of NOS4A2, is it nice to be a part of people’s escape during these tumultuous times – to be their outlet to what was “normal” once?
Romans: For sure, during quarantine it felt like every time I started a new series, show, or some entertainment, those performing were providing a much needed emotional and spiritual service. For me, being on television and entering people’s homes, minds, and hearts feels like an honor and a responsibility now more than ever. I remember when I was younger, between grade school and middle school, the characters on some of the television shows I watched felt like my best friends and confidants. That said, simultaneously the social uprising and the pandemic have given me a gentle reminder of just how unimportant our individual aspirations are except in the context of how it is in service of others and oneself. This reminder is freeing because suddenly the baggage I carry doesn’t seem as heavy. With everything going on we can’t take ourselves as individuals so seriously.

TrunkSpace: In terms of plot, there’s an 8 year gap between Season 1 and Season 2. As an actress, how do you prepare for your character to make that kind of leap because a person can change a lot in nearly a decade? How did Detective Hutter change?
Romans: The big changes in her life are her relationship with Maggie Leigh, her promotion to the FBI, and her partnering with Maggie’s supernatural abilities to catch dangerous strong creatives. A lot of preparation was about personalizing Tabitha’s new priorities in life and her point of view on how her view of the world has changed. There is a certain amount of internal dissonance because although she believes in and wants to serve the FBI, she knows more about the world than her peers and still less about the world of thought than her partner Maggie and Vic. She’s been stuck in this in-between place for a while and this season she has to learn the limits of the bureaucracy she’s been serving.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, NOS4A2 is the longest time you have ever spent with one character. What is it like getting to have an extended stay with a character and building on what you’ve done week to week, episode to episode?
Romans: Challenging and rewarding because episode to episode you’re thrown into new circumstances that test your point of view and character’s outlook on things. Just as in all our lives there are situations this season that Tabitha has never imagined she’d find herself in and she has to decide who she wants to be and how she wants to behave in those situations. Very often we don’t act as our highest selves in challenging or new situations so I get to witness and participate in a lot of the times Tabitha gets it wrong and all the times she gets it right and it’s all new to me too.

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 NOS4A2 that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Romans: Getting to work with such an awesome cast, crew, and fans. In creating any kind of art at this scale it can feel a lot like baking a cake in the dark. You can have all the right ingredients but in the end you really don’t know how it will come out. But we were already steps ahead because we have such amazing leaders in production, cast and crew that set such an incredible tone at the top of the chain that trickled down to the product of the show and the quality and enthusiasm of the fans. Very grateful to witness formula pay off.

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?
Romans: Wow. Of all the interviews, this is one of the most original questions I’ve received. Well, one reward of acting is finding out different aspects about myself. The path to becoming a good actor is the similar path of knowing yourself deeper. It’s the path of growing in emotional and spiritual intelligence. I have found that success in one area of my life mirrors alignment in seemingly unrelated areas so I’m grateful for acting to exposing me to that. I definitely don’t think I would have moved from New York to Los Angeles if it wasn’t for acting and it’s hard to imagine my life without the family I’ve made here on this coast now.

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?
Romans: For sure. I think it’s possible we’re all smarter when we’re younger. I believe I knew my purpose in life and had a very clear vision for myself when I was a child. Through time and experience my vision gets blurry and I forget. The blurry vision comes and goes but when it’s around for a little longer the voice of self doubt creeps in and spreads. I often think about quitting all my artistic expressions and moving away somewhere remote. And there’s nothing wrong with that choice either. But I practice pausing and asking myself, “Well, who’s voice is that? Is that my voice? Is that what I want or is that the spirit of fear telling me to hide from the bigness of my purpose?” I recognize that voice that tells me to quit is resistance outside of myself and it becomes a little easier to stay focused on what I want.

In the beginning, when I first got to Los Angeles and I was waiting tables, had three different jobs, no car, and trying to make it across town to auditions, class, and rehearsals via public transit – I remember I hardly ever thought of quitting acting at that time because I had already silently accepted that would be my “normal” for a very long time.

Ashley Romans as Tabitha Hutter, Virginia Kull as Linda McQueen, Jonathan Langdon as Lou Carmody, Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen, Jason David as Wayne McQueen, Jahkara J. Smith as Maggie Leigh – NOS4A2 _ Season 2 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

TrunkSpace: As an actress – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Romans: Keeping up with a lot of self inventory and understanding my own behavior and thus better understanding human behavior. So a lot journaling, reading novels, watching great acting performances in moving storylines. Right now I love shows like Killing Eve, I May Destroy You, Ramy and others.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the pandemic and the social unrest, what will you remember most about 2020? For you, what has been the light in all of the darkness?
Romans: I will most remember the stillness and peace I found in the solitude of quarantine. It didn’t last long but there was a period of a week or so where I felt as though I was living moment to moment in hyper presence. It was hard to hold on to and the moment is also constantly changing and shifting.

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?
Romans: I would hope that I’d have the willpower and focus to decline a trip like that. Mainly because the answer, outcome, and destination is changing moment to moment. It’s my actions that determine my future and my thoughts that determine my actions. IF that glimpse is fixed and not possible to changing than there would be no point in seeing the place I’m going to end up at anyway. And if the possibilities are open to changing there is equally no point in seeing the place I might not end up at all. Ultimately it’s not about the destination but who I become along the way.

The season finale of NOS4A2 airs Sunday on AMC.

Featured image by: Eric Tronolone

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The Featured Presentation

Matthew Solomon

MatthewSolomonFeatured

When the horror film Followed was released in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, it served as an incredible escape for individuals in need of a sense of normalcy, including its own star, Matthew Solomon.

Having the movie come out during the quarantine has been really great for me too; it’s been a bit of an anchor amidst all the craziness,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Solomon to discuss his relationship with social media, the long road to the big screen, and keeping his internal dictator in check.

TrunkSpace: Your latest project Followed was released in the middle of a pretty tumultuous time for not only the country but the world as a whole. In a way, is it nice to be a part of people’s escape during all of this – to be their outlet to what was “normal” once?
Solomon: I love that you asked this. Yes, it absolutely has. People have messaged me on Instagram saying they loved the movie and enjoyed having a fun distraction. It’s awesome seeing a new love for drive-in theaters and being a part of that feels special! Having the movie come out during the quarantine has been really great for me too; it’s been a bit of an anchor amidst all the craziness.

TrunkSpace: Social media is given a horrific spin in Followed. For many people, social media can be a love/hate relationship with its own share of real-life scares. What’s your relationship with social media today in 2020?
Solomon: I have never been more addicted to it than now. (Thank you Covid.) It’s a double-edged sword. I find the activism, the more progressive influencers, the comedy, and the ability to connect from far away so rewarding. But I think there are certain aspects of beauty that can be damaging to people, myself included. If you understand that what you’re seeing from people is curated and not the whole picture, I think it’s a wonderful way to connect.

TrunkSpace: Walk us through what the experience was like to see Followed brought to fruition, because from what we understand, you originally worked on it back in 2016, correct? Was it a surprise to then see it released four years later and to ultimately find an audience?
Solomon: Not only did we work on it in 2016, I was cast for the project in 2015 before the script was finished, so I have had the unique experience of watching this project from the very beginning to the very end. I feel so attached to this team and this story, seeing it through, watching it get #1 in the box office, seeing how critics are receiving it – it’s the best feeling. But nothing about this is surprising because I know how hard this team works. Our director and producers are some of the most persistent people I’ve ever met so I knew no matter how long it took, that it would happen.

TrunkSpace: A person can change a ton in a four year span. What would the Matthew Solomon of 2020 have done differently with his performance in Followed? What choices did 2016 Matthew make that you wouldn’t make today?
Solomon: I believe if you talk to any creative about a project they made four years prior that they would have changes they want to make. Mike was such a fun role and considering who I was at the time, I’m very proud of the performance. I mostly wish I had the confidence back then that I have now. I would trust myself to carry the more emotional moments because it was all there, I just doubted myself. But also I wouldn’t be as confident now if I hadn’t played Mike in the first place. Getting to play the lead in my first feature film forced me out of a lot of that doubt because frankly, there’s no time for it.

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 Followed thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Solomon: I think what I just said about trusting myself is the biggest takeaway. There are maybe 10 minutes of that movie where I’m not on camera so I had to just go, go, go. The other big takeaway is my friendships with the cast, especially Sam Valentine and Kelsey Griswold. Any time I get to see them is a gift. When we get together it’s that feeling of returning to summer camp.

TrunkSpace: As an actor – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Solomon: It is so hard! I would love so much to be in a studio working with other actors. Fortunately, my acting teacher, Joe Anthony, has been doing zoom scene work with us. Strange? Yes, but honestly it’s great practice for auditioning, and there are so many projects these days with video chats. Followed had so many video calls in it! So it’s an opportunity to sharpen a very specific acting tool. But I really miss being in a studio shouting at another actor and wondering if the office next door thinks we’re actually fighting.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist and how do you overcome those self-critical insecurities?
Solomon: Oof. Where does the list begin? I come from a family of go-getters, I went to very competitive schools, so I’m sort of hard on myself about everything. What I try to do is check that voice. I refer to him as the dictator. Those ideas and criticisms I have for myself come from external negative messaging, so I remind myself that they aren’t reality. I look that dictator in the face, smile, and say, “I’m good for now but thanks for your thoughts!”

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 16-year-old self, would he be surprised by the trajectory of your career, and if so, why?
Solomon: He certainly would – firstly 16-year-old me wasn’t planning on a future as an actor. For most of my teen years I had given up on the idea and applying to theater school was an impulsive choice. I’m in the unique position where acting is my job, and nothing else is. I didn’t expect that to happen while I was in my 20s.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career as a whole thus far?
Solomon: I think this is the highlight right now; having my movie premiere during what could have been the slowest point for my career thanks to the pandemic, having the movie do well in the box office, and making Thrillist’s best horror movies of 2020. That’s all pretty cool! What’s so gratifying is that every step forward in my work has been a highlight, so I look forward to newer and bigger highlights in the future!

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?
Solomon: I want to be cool and say no, but I definitely would. Because there are small moves here and there that I can definitely go back and say, “You should have listened to your gut.” So yes I would like that glimpse, and hopefully I would be prepared for a few pivotal moments.

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The Featured Presentation

Jaime Ray Newman

JaimeRayNewmanFeatured
Photo By: Theo & Juliet Photography

Pop culture junkies will recognize actress Jaime Ray Newman from her incredible catalog of on-screen performances that span both film and television, and while she considers herself an actress first, it is her work as a producer that is enabling her to now control her own creative destiny.

If you want to be a storyteller, you have to take responsibility to tell stories that you feel passionate about also,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

After taking home the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film in 2019 for Skin, she and her producing partner Guy Nattiv, who is also her husband, have a packed slate of projects in development – 14 by the current count. On camera, Newman can be seen in the recently-released Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere opposite Reese Witherspoon and in the film Valley of the Gods, arriving on VOD August 11.

We recently sat down with Newman to discuss chasing down the producing bug, creating in the time of Covid, and why she loves playing baddies.

TrunkSpace: As a producer, you won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film alongside of your producing partner and husband Guy Nattiv. Is that where your journey beyond acting began?
Newman: Well, I’m an actress first, but in a way, especially now, I feel like you can’t just do one thing. You just can’t. It’s too competitive. But even beyond that, you have to take some responsibility. If you want to be a storyteller, you have to take responsibility to tell stories that you feel passionate about also.

TrunkSpace: So it helps you control your own creative destiny?
Newman: Of course. As an actor, you are sitting around, you are auditioning 95 percent of the time. You look at these success stories, they’re like one out of a billion. Careers ebb and flow, and if you want to be busy in the artistic process, you have to be creating your own content. I was lucky that I met Guy 10 years ago. I had always wanted to produce – the first thing I produced was when I was in high school. They let me graduate high school a half a year early, a semester early, because I was producing plays. I used my bat mitzvah money. There was a play that I wanted to do called Keely and Du. Every year they would pick a production to produce and they wouldn’t produce the script because it had to do with abortion, and they thought it was too controversial. So I was like, “Okay…” and I literally took this $3,000 from my bat mitzvah account and rented a theater, turned it Equity and hired adult actors in the adult roles. And my dad actually directed it. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Wow. What a commitment, especially at that age.
Newman: It was a life changing experience for me. I loved it. So when I came to LA, I got really swept up. I got on a soap opera right away. I started acting pretty consistently straight out of the gate, but I always had the producing bug. I just didn’t know the material. I had trouble finding the material. So when I met Guy, I loved his work in Israel. And before we even fell in love as two humans, we started working on an American-Israeli collaboration together. And it was through that. The project never happened, but we fell in love. I mean, he’s my muse, and I’m his muse. We’re like mutual muses.

TrunkSpace: So in order to stay in the creative process, how important has it been to have these projects to work on during the pandemic? Has it been more apparent this year just how critical it is to control your own artistic destiny?
Newman: Yes. I wake up every morning thanking the stars, Guy, whoever you want to say. When you’re just an actor, you are completely at the mercy of someone else. And I couldn’t bear that. Guy and I are so fucking busy. I mean, I could show you in our office, we have a board with all of our projects. We have 14 projects. We are in development nonstop. We are the busiest we’ve ever been right now. Would I love to be on set, acting? Would I love to be auditioning for things? Yes, but I do feel creatively satisfied because our projects are heavily in development right now.

TrunkSpace: Would those projects not be as far along in development if you did not have this time of extended lockdown to focus on them?
Newman: That’s a great question. There’s two projects, one that came to us through our agents, and one that Guy and I – it’s a true story – that we were actually going to do as our next short. And because of lockdown, a production company said, “Listen, we will give you the development resources to write this. Just forget the short and go straight into the feature. Guy, write the feature.” And that would not have happened. We wouldn’t have had time. It’s an amazing story. And I think that it’s happening – Guy writing it – because of lockdown.

From Left To Right: Nattiv, Bryon Widner, Newman, Jaime Bell

TrunkSpace: In looking at the projects you have in development, many of them are based on real people and real circumstances. For a producer, is there such a thing as a “producer’s voice” like there is for a writer?
Newman: One hundred percent. These are great questions. Hello, Terry Gross. (Laughter)

I think that our slate is pretty eclectic, but every piece of content that we are developing has some sort of social message – social or political. Just entertainment or escapism, I think is very important, it’s just not the stuff that we’re interested in producing. It takes years – decades – to make a project, and for us to spend that much time, literally for free, working on something, it has to have a deeper, more significant meaning.

We have a project about the first stunt woman in Hollywood called A Stunt Woman. It’s about Julie Ann Johnson. It took us almost two years to get her life rights. She wanted nothing to do with Hollywood anymore because she had been blacklisted for outing all of the bad behavior. And the thing that we love about this project is that it’s fun, wild and it’s set in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. It’s a period piece, crazy stunt work, all women, bad-ass, like Tarantino-esque, but it has the social underpinnings. The underlying foundation of it is a Norma Rae kind of woman, who couldn’t take it anymore and took the system by storm, and was punished for it, but changed our business forever because of it, for the better.

TrunkSpace: And it’s a story that, in many ways, has kind of been lost to history.
Newman: One hundred percent. She was the first Me Too movement. She was on the cover of TV Guide in 1978, and everyone gave her kudos for two weeks, and then everyone went back to business as usual.

TrunkSpace: One thing that is great about all of the projects that you and Guy are working on, and this includes Skin, is that they feel like the kind of movies we USED to be able to see before everything was a franchise or based on an existing brand. How important are things like VOD and streaming platforms to projects like those that you two have in development?
Newman: I am so grateful for the streamers. I think that independent cinema is going to survive because of the streamers. I really hope that there is still a world for not just Marvel movies in the theaters after we survive this pandemic. There’s an amazing article that our producer wrote – he produced Skin with us, and our next project, Harmonia, is also with him – a guy named Oren Moverman. He just was interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter on the state of independent cinema right now and the streamers. And you should just read it because he’s so intelligent and has such a pulse on what’s happening.

But, Harmonia is our next film. I really want to see it on a big screen. It hasn’t been made yet, but it’s something that I really want to witness on a big screen, just like Roma. We sought out Roma in the theater and went to see it. And I have friends who are like, “I fell asleep watching Roma.” And I’m like, “Did you watch it on your couch at home?”

TrunkSpace: Yeah, that’s true. It’s easy to not be as invested in a film when you are in the comfort of your own home.
Newman: You didn’t have the experience of it. It’s the Ikea theory, that if you build it… if you buy it and put your time and effort into it – tears into it – you’ll appreciate it more. It’s psychological in a way.

But these streamers… I was in Little Fires Everywhere, and it is very cinematic, but at the same time, Hulu paid for a 10-hour movie. No one’s going to go to a movie theater to see a 10-hour movie, but Lynn Shelton was able to make a 10-hour movie. So the streamers are allowing us to do that. Would I love to see A Stunt Woman on a big screen? Yeah, but am I so grateful that we potentially get to make this big, epic saga, but in a televised way, where you have to see it at home? I’ll take that trade off.

TrunkSpace: There are just so many ways for people to find a project today, which of course can be a double-edged sword. Really, all you can do is make the film or project that you want to make and then hope it finds its audience and connects with people.
Newman: That’s it. Because, like I said, you have to do so much work for free, and it takes decades and years, and you dedicate your life to something that you want to go see. And the truth is, the short was only made because we found Byron Widner, who Skin, the feature, is based on, 10 years ago. It was based on a documentary on MSNBC about the tattoo removal process, and it took us years. Guy wrote the script and every producer in town passed on it. We started shopping it in the summer of 2016 and everyone was like, “Hillary Clinton is about to become president. Racism died with Obama. This stuff doesn’t exist anymore.” Guy and I were like, “What are you talking about? We just spent years of research. Of course this shit exists.” And that’s why we made the short as a proof of concept to get the feature made.

TrunkSpace: When you’re acting in a project that you’re also producing, does actress Jaime ever butt heads with producer Jaime in terms of what they both want to achieve?
Newman: I will get back to you in about a year. (Laughter)

With Skin, the short, we paid for it with our retirement funds. I was such a basket case on that set because every one minute of overtime was coming out of our retirement money. I was such a mess on that set for the five-day shoot. There’s no way I could have acted in it. There’s no way. In the feature, there was a moment in time when I was going to play Julie, the female role, but we met Danielle Macdonald on the short and she was so perfect. She was so authentic. She’s so good. Both Guy and I were just like, “This is Julie.” There’s this quality to her that really is the real woman. And I think that it was such a learning experience for me shooting the feature that I’m glad I was just a producer on it.

When I did Little Fires Everywhere, Reese Witherspoon and I spoke mostly about producing, and I watched her juggling – on the phone producing and then she had her quiet space for the work. What I’ve learned is that producing is extremely chaotic. It is just wrangling in the chaos. Acting is very still. It is very focused. Even when you have a chaotic scene… they call it relax-itration, a relaxed concentrated nature, because then creativity can flow. So I have amazing examples of badass producers who’ve done it in the past, and I’ll just figure it out.

TrunkSpace: What is one lesson that you learned in making Skin that you’re going to apply to the next project?
Newman: Don’t invest your own money. (Laughter) I can’t even say that, because we changed our lives. I tell the story all the time. Guy was having so much trouble launching his career in the US. It had been five or six years. He hadn’t made a movie, nothing we were working on was being made, and we went to our financial advisor, sent him the short and we said to him, “We have a short, and we don’t know how to raise money for a short. Do you think that we should put our own money into it?” He was like, “No.” And then we said, “Can you read the script? I know you don’t normally read movie scripts, but it’s 20 pages. Can you read it?” And he called us Monday morning, and he was like, “You have to make this.”

TrunkSpace: You have been in so many great television series over the course of your career. What is one character you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further?
Newman: I played this crazy, werewolf basically, in Grimm. She was like this motorcycle-riding, leather-clad Blutbad. I did a couple episodes of that. I was supposed to do more, but then I think a show that I was on got picked up, and so they had to kill me off. I love playing the bad-asses. I don’t get cast in them that often, but I really like them. Even in Midnight, Texas, I started off as this sort of like Southern genteel, and then you find out that she’s just evil incarnate – this old thousand-year-old she-devil. I like playing the baddies.

Skin, the short, is available now on Amazon Prime Video. Little Fires Everywhere is available on Hulu. Valley of the Gods arrives August 11 on VOD.

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The Featured Presentation

John-Paul Howard

JohnPaulHoward

The Wretched, a horror film with a throwback vibe, far exceeded expectations when it was released to select theaters and drive-ins during the midst of a global pandemic, even going so far to surpass the $1M mark in a run at a limited box office. Now available on Hulu, the film continues to entertain new audiences in new ways, much to the delight of star John-Paul Howard.

It’s always nice to be thought of as a silver lining in an otherwise dreary time,” said Howard in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “However, it will remain, to me, an amazing feat to be able to entertain the populous during a time where escapism is absolutely necessary.”

We recently sat down with Howard to discuss the film’s success, the scene that will stick with him throughout his life, and why the notion of the ideal male body is ridiculous.

TrunkSpace: Your latest project The Wretched was released in the middle of a pretty tumultuous time for not only the country but the world as a whole. In a way, is it nice to be a part of people’s escape during all of this – to be their outlet to what was “normal” once?
Howard: It’s always nice to be thought of as a silver lining in an otherwise dreary time. However, it will remain, to me, an amazing feat to be able to entertain the populous during a time where escapism is absolutely necessary. Some people have referred to The Wretched as, riding the wave of the unfortunate, to put it as politely as I can, but it is important to understand that no one can predict these things that occur even in a day-to-day life. So, to be an escape for those less fortunate is a welcome feeling.

TrunkSpace: When it first went out to audiences, it hit in one of our favorite places even pre-pandemic – drive-in movie theaters. Have you had the chance to experience the film in that format, and if so, what was that like for you, again, given the state of things today?
Howard: I must admit I never got the opportunity to view the film in that format and am incredibly jealous of those who got to go see it this way. The film was absolutely perfect for drive-in theaters, maybe it was the ‘80s vibes it gave off or maybe it was just fitting for the events in the country, but I regret not finding a way to go see it there. Although seeing cast and crew go to the drive-ins was relieving, knowing they could go back into the world and socialize in a safe environment achieved through distancing, masks and the security of one’s own vehicle, all in a nostalgia-fueled lot watching a good movie, I sincerely recommend heading to the drive-ins this summer just to get that feeling.

TrunkSpace: Would you say that the film exceeded your expectations in terms of how it has reached audiences, particularly in light of the uphill battle it was facing being released at a time when people were tucking themselves away?
Howard: It was really hard to have any expectations at all, especially when news of lockdown was surfacing, but truthfully after the smoke cleared it exceeded all of our expectations. Ultimately, I think we’re just ecstatic knowing our film was perceived positively by audiences.

TrunkSpace: The film hit Hulu last Friday. As an actor, what is it like working in this day and age where a film like The Wretched can have multiple lives – from theaters to streaming platforms – and find new audiences along the way?
Howard: It’s difficult to keep up with how the film is doing and where it’s located, but simply hearing that people are loving it and finding a way to watch it is good enough for me. I’m not a tech-savvy guy but can receive messages from fans and try to respond to them as best I can, so meeting all these new people is shocking but invigorating.

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 Wretched thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Howard: To put this rather bluntly, my pool scene is probably something I don’t think I will ever forget ‘til the day I die. And unfortunately for the audience, I don’t think they will either.

TrunkSpace: As an actor – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Howard: Honestly, even watching a show or movie can help improve your craft or keep yourself sharp. Any sort of social interaction will do the same thing for me, so I might hop on the phone with a friend for a short bit or do a Zoom call with friends where we play games. Of course, reading has a similar effect but certainly not the same. You always want to improve your language skills as an actor.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a guitarist. As music lovers ourselves, how has that instrument kept you company during this time? Did you become dependent on it as a creative outlet?
Howard: Oh absolutely, I play it for a few hours every day, but I have to admit there are some days where I might just get slammed with errands to where I will forget, and at the end of the day my guitar sits in the corner and sends guilt trips every way it can.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actor/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Howard: Actors are hard on themselves in a lot of ways, whether it has to deal with performance or appearance, but to me those are the main two. I’ve never really been fit and have been turned down before because of it. The “ideal male body” is rather absurd and not focused on as having a negative effect on people, but really, I am going to the gym. Not for the “Hollywood Body” but mostly for my own health.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career as a whole thus far?
Howard: The Wretched has been the biggest highlight, honestly. I could mention Hell or High Water or Midnight, Texas as being fantastic highlights, but the friends and family I’ve made on this production, along with the memories, make this my favorite. The unexpected turnout makes it the biggest.

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?
Howard: I don’t think I could, because truthfully, any possible outcome, whether it is good or bad, could cause me to just give up entirely or focus on the wrong part of it. The passion and drive of the moment is what pushes me to continue every day. Let’s be real, this crap is HARD!

The Wretched is available now on Hulu.

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The Featured Presentation

Scott Alda Coffey

ScottAldaCoffeyFeatured
Photo By: The Riker Brothers

As movie lovers who have been stuck at home this summer and looking for new content to consume, many of us have turned to the On Demand options available because, well, we demand it. One of the biggest films to cure our instant cinephile gratification has been The Outpost, the true story about a team of U.S. solders during the Afghanistan War who faced insurmountable odds at The Battle of Kamdesh. Originally slated to premiere at SXSW, the film found new life in all of our homes after the arrival of Covid-19.

It’s disappointing that it didn’t fully get those opportunities, but with that being said, I’m really glad that the movie was able to be released,” says film star Scott Alda Coffey. “Truthfully, more people were probably able to see it because it was right there in their living rooms.”

We recently sat down with Alda Coffey to discuss entertaining in uncertain times, discovering new levels of respect for the men and women of the military, and learning patience from a famous family member.

TrunkSpace: Your latest project, The Outpost, was released in the middle of a pretty tumultuous time for not only the country but the world as a whole. In a way, is it nice to be a part of people’s escape during all of this – to be their outlet to what was “normal” once?
Scott Alda Coffey: It’s really amazing to see the response it has been getting, especially from veterans. I feel so honored that we were able to bring this movie to people’s screens during this uncertain time.

TrunkSpace: Without a lot of new projects being released right now, The Outpost is one of the last big films audiences may see for awhile. Has the current state of the world changed this particular experience for you – waiting for and promoting a new project – while in the middle of all of this uncertainty?
Scott Alda Coffey: Initially the film was supposed to premiere at SXSW before the film festival was canceled, and the movie was definitely shot to be seen on the big screen. It’s disappointing that it didn’t fully get those opportunities, but with that being said, I’m really glad that the movie was able to be released. Truthfully, more people were probably able to see it because it was right there in their living rooms. It was tricky to navigate during COVID-19, but I’m glad it’s out in the world and being seen.

TrunkSpace: The film is based on a true story. When you’re working on a project that involves real people – is there a different vibe on set? Is there more of a focus on getting it “right” for the sake of those who lived the experience?
Scott Alda Coffey: One hundred percent that was the main focus of every single person on set. We wanted to honor all the men who fought in the Battle of Kamdesh, as well as all the troops who fought for our country. That was our number one goal. It felt like a big responsibility, but we were all committed to getting it right.

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 thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Scott Alda Coffey: After having worked on The Outpost, I have a much greater respect for the military and our troops than I did before. I always supported our troops, but now I have more knowledge about them. I was lucky enough to work with a number of vets on the film, and that was so incredibly rewarding.

TrunkSpace: We saw that your grandfather Alan Alda gave you a Twitter shout out a few weeks back for your work in the film. For many young people, having their grandparents call them out on socials can be a horrifying experience, but yours happens to be a legend in the business. How has his guidance helped you traverse what is a pretty difficult industry to navigate?
Scott Alda Coffey: He’s been a huge influence for me my entire life. One of the things that he really helped instill in me is that this career path requires patience. It takes time to build up a career; it’s not going to happen overnight. I really took that to heart.

TrunkSpace: As an actor – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Scott Alda Coffey: It has been a tough time to work those tools during COVID-19, but my girlfriend and I work on scenes together, just trying to keep that muscle going. It’s definitely hard right now, but I’m doing what I can to stay active, acting-wise.

Photo By: The Riker Brothers

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist and how do you overcome those self-critical insecurities?
Scott Alda Coffey: I think it’s so easy to be self-critical as an artist, and we all do it. Every time I watch myself act, all I can see are the flaws. I think that’s common, and I just keep telling myself that my work is done and wondering how I can be better for my next job.

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 16-year-old self, would he be surprised by the trajectory of your career, and if so, why?
Scott Alda Coffey: I think so. In this business you never really know where your career is going to lead. I never would have thought that my first major film would be a war movie, but I am so glad it was. It’s an experience I never thought I’d get to have.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career as a whole thus far?
Scott Alda Coffey: Definitely The Outpost. It’s such a powerful story, and one that I am beyond honored to be a part of telling. Opportunities like this don’t come around often.

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?
Scott Alda Coffey: I think so. I’ve been very happy with the path I’m currently on, and I look forward to what the future holds.

The Outpost is available now on VOD.

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The Featured Presentation

Daya Vaidya

DayaVaidyaFeatured
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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