Category: Stuff to Buy or Do

AND THEN I GO’s Sawyer Barth Interview with Teens Wanna Know

AND THEN I GO, a new film about bullying and school violence has just been released this week, just in time for The National Student Walkout, being held on the 19th anniversary of Columbine, April 20, 2018. (Students will walk out of their classrooms in solidarity to protest gun violence, and show their leaders they want to see action.).

We got to the chance to do a Q&A with one of its teen stars, 16-year-old Sawyer Barth, who plays Flake. Sawyer is extremely intelligent, well-spoken, and does an incredible job in the film along with his teen co-star Arman Darbo. You can read our Q&A and a quick review of the film below. But first  let’s find out more about the film:

AND THEN I GO is based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, also features Justin Long (Yoga Hosers, Tusk, Accepted), Melanie Lynskey (“Castle Rock,” “Togetherness,” Heavenly Creatures), Tony Hale (“Arrested Development,” “Veep”), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Belko Experiment), Carrie Preston (“Claws,” “True Blood”), and Arman Darbo (Defenders of Life).

“SYNOPSIS: In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release. Based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, this unflinching look at adolescence explores how the powerful bonds of childhood friendship and search for belonging can become a matter of life or death.

“AND THEN I GO is a character study that dives deep into the minds and lives of our alienated youth. The film presents audiences with an important and timely story touching on such issues as bullying, mental health, parenting and accessibility to weapons.

“The film asks the essential question – why is school violence a re-occurring incident?”

The Orchard released AND THEN I GO On Digital and On Demand April 17, 2018.

QUICK REVIEW OF AND THEN I GO: This film is beautifully shot and the acting is superb. You really feel that the two main characters are just like any teens in America who feel isolated, useless, and angry because they simply do not fit in any more and life has gone from carefree to dark. The situations presented in the high school, with faculty and parents trying their best to try to help children when they act out, and not being able to do so effectively — as well as the bullying — are very real. You get the sense that, just as in actual life, a little more delving in and a little more communication and even discipline would turn things around and prevent tragedy. I hope this movie is watched by a lot of people, not as an “anti-gun” movie because it is not, but as a means of hopefully recognizing anti-social personalities and the damage they can do when left to their own devices. We can do a lot better to protect society and treat these people before they cause harm, and I hope this film gives some clues as to their characteristics and motivations — because AND THEN I GO was spot-on in this respect.

And now, let’s meet Sawyer Barth!

Hi Sawyer! Before we get into AND THEN I GO, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in West Long Branch, New Jersey which is a tiny town maybe an hour and 15 mins outside of New York. I go to a school called Communications High School. It’s this specialized technology school that has a radio and TV studio and teaches you how to code. It’s all sorts of visual and technical communications. I’ve played rec and travel soccer ever since I was a little kid. I’m an amateur at the ukulele and the guitar, but I like to pretend that I’m a professional musician [laughs]. My favorite color is orange, that’s a fun fact.

How did you get involved with AND THEN I GO?

Well, I auditioned for it in the spring of 2016. I auditioned for Edwin; I auditioned for the part of Edwin, now played by Arman Darbo. I went in to casting and I read for it and they gave me the Flake’s lines and told me to go out to the room and learn them and then wait until everyone else had read and left and I was the last one there. I went back in and I read for it and I was in there for like an hour working on it and trying to perfect it and then I left and I came back awhile later, maybe like three weeks or a month later, and I did a callback for Flake. It was another hour, I’m just working on it and what was really great about auditioning is I felt more like it was a workshop than an audition. I didn’t feel like I was being tested, but rather it was a collaborative effort to make this character as real as possible, which you get so rarely in auditions. Then I found out really soon after that, that I got the role and I was ecstatic about that.

Your character in the film has some pretty despicable characteristics, were you hesitant to take on a role of such a negative character?

I wasn’t so nervous about it because I think it’s fun. You know, they always say ‘it’s more fun to play villains than superheroes,’ and that’s because they’re so unlike ourselves and it’s kind of an exercise in character works. So yeah, I was excited about that. The other thing is the subject matter it’s sort of attracted me in a way because it’s so topical. I wanted to be in something that makes such a difference and it’s touching so many people who have been through situations like this. It’s just important is what really drew me to it.

You played Flake with a very raw, authenticity. What helped you get into this headspace?

Well, I think I saw a kind of no B.S. attitude in him. He does things without putting up a front and without acting for other people. He does things entirely for himself. So I thought the way his outlook on life kind of reflects the fact that he just does things to do them. He might have ulterior motives, but he knows what they are and you can kind of see this in him. He knows what he wants and he’s going to get it and he’s going to grab the future for himself. He’s very ambitious and he’ll do whatever he has to do, whatever field he’s pursuing. I definitely saw that.

Have you ever known anyone like Flake in real life? If so, how did this person affect you?

I’ve definitely known people who are as upfront about things as he is and have that kind of very straightforward, ‘I deserve this and so I shall retain it’ attitude. And the way that they affect you definitely depends on what they really want and if it’s a more malicious thing that they’re going for. They want to hurt people, which unfortunately, a lot of people like that do, then they could effect you negatively and you have to come out of it better as a person and realize the differences between you and that person. Sometimes they work for good, which is great and they can affect you definitely positively because they have such a rigorous attitude towards doing the right thing and it’s great when you see that as well.

What was the most rewarding part about working on this film and what was the most challenging?

Oh man, it’s the same thing! The most rewarding and the most challenging was getting inside his head and doing character work. Flake is such a three-dimensional character and the fact that he’s evil raises so many questions because he is still a person and why he does what he does that’s just one question that raises so many other questions that need answering to. So, I loved delving into that and I felt so good kind of diving into my own mind and doing additional research and kind of trying to personally understand you know, why this kid ticks the way that he does. It is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s definitely the most challenging part I’ve ever played, There’s always thing I feel like I can improve on, but I felt like I did a good job.

Most memorable moment on set?

There was a good scene, I think that got cut out, but there was a glass window. I picked up a rock from the ground and smashed it through the window and they had this glass panel, but it wasn’t really glass, it was crystalized sugar or something. I would take a rock from the ground and I threw it through, the whole thing shatters and then I stick my foot in there. Then I removed all the loose pieces. Arman and I wanted to see what the crystalize sugar tasted like afterwards, so we both had a little chunk of it. It was definitely worth it.

Have you ever experienced any bullying like the characters in the film and if so how did you handle it?

Yeah, I got bullied a lot when I was a little kid and I think everyone does. I think it’s a fundamental part of growing up and the way that I handled it was just by recognizing what’s wrong and what’s right, realizing these things that are being done to me aren’t how a person should be treated and learning that instead of laying down and take it, say ‘I deserve better than this. This is not how things should work.’

What would you recommend to teens out there who are feeling isolated or bullied and might want to do something rash – like get revenge?

I would say talk to someone. There’s so many people who are trained in this. If you feel ostracized or down in the dumps, or like nothing is going well in your life, talk to someone. Even if you don’t want to talk to an adult, talk to a friend. Talk to someone your age because chances are, they’ve gone through the same things that you have, or something similar. Even if they can’t give you the solution to your problems, it’s good to have someone to vent to.

What would you like to see to reduce school shootings?

I think honestly, I’m not educated enough on this subject to come up with any specific solution. All I want is for something to happen. I think it’s great that kids have more power today than they ever had. I think that’s definitely unarguable with all the national school walkouts. I think kids just need to keep staying firm about everything and form their own opinions so that we can decide as a collective unit what should be done.

What has been the best part about being an actor and the hardest part?

Best part about being an actor is the ladies. No, I’m just kidding [laughs]. The best part about being an actor, for me, is stepping into another person’s shoes and kind of being enlightened as to other ways of life tat exist and ways that people live that are unlike your own life and being able to play a character that’s nothing like you. The most difficult part is often times, staying grounded and doing your job and getting everything done efficiently, especially when being taken out by the world wind of set and show business. When you go on a set, you can have as much acting training as you want but nothing can prepare you for the amount of commotion that is occurring at any one moment on a TV or movie set. There’s dozens of people, especially when you’re a kid who are all older than you and you don’t have much experience with all these people who are older than you because you’re used to hanging around kids your age. So just staying the course and doing your job and being able to work things out on your own and learn how to work efficiently on a set is definitely not something that can be learned right away. It’s not just like a math equation where you know the answer. You need to work at it and keep getting parts and keep getting on sets and hanging out with people who know what they’re doing. You’ll figure out this really difficult aspect of the industry.

What’s you biggest pet peeve?

You know what’s a really big pet peeve? When you’re tying or untying your shoelaces, usually untying your shoelaces, and you pull a certain thread of the knot and it gets more caught so that you have no way of getting it undone. That’s the worst thing ever.

Biggest guilty pleasure?

Doritos. I love Doritos. I will munch on them all night. I’ll get a bag that’s big enough for like five people and I’ll eat it by myself in like an hour if you don’t stop me.

What do you find most attractive in another person?

I think a quality that I really appreciate in people is loyalty. There are so many great things that you can find in a person. They can be good at this, good at that, be accommodating in one way or another, but in reality, if they stayed the course with you in hard times, I think that’s definitely the thing that’s most attractive to me in a friend. I find myself gravitating towards people who will gravitate towards me when I need them.

Favorite movie?

Short Term 12 by Dustin Daniel Cretton.

Dream role?

James Bond, maybe.

Favorite musical act or band?

I really like Vampire Weekend, which is kind of hipstery. But I really like their music.

Favorite book?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. There’s a movie that came out about it about last year, which I haven’t seen yet.

What’re you working on next?

I was just in L.A. for a couple of weeks filming this pilot for ABC called “The Untitled Tim Doyle Project” which it’s not titled yet but whether or not it gets picked up in May, I could be working on that or I could have a lot of free time this summer.

Where can people follow you on social media?

I have an Instagram – it’s just @SawyerBarth. I don’t post much, but if you want to give me some support and if I get a couple more people paying attention, I might be more inclined to put some more stuff on there [laughs].

Can we get a quick selfie of whatever you are up to at the moment?

 

What’s Trending in Makeup This Year?

2018 is in full swing, and that means there are so many new looks to try out. Being on trend has never been so fun. This year’s makeup trends feature range from low-key to vivid and eye-catching. Some of these looks are a little out there, but here are some of the current favorites.

Technicolor Eyeshadow

Bright, bold neon shades will turn heads this summer. You can pair two brilliant colors to get the ultimate effect. Don’t go overboard on the mascara, keep it light and let the eyeshadow do the talking. If you choose this look, keep your lipstick nude or very light pink to avoid looking overdone.

Daring Brows

Your brows are meant to be seen, not hidden. Make sure you have full and shaped brows. Threading or waxing brows will provide the cleanest shape if you need to calm your brows down, but if you need to fill them out a little, turn to microblading. Microblading is more natural looking than powder or pencil and it can help you shape your brow perfectly.

Spa Skin

Everyone leaves the spa looking revitalized and refreshed, and that’s what you want your skin to look like all the time. To get the look go for beige, brown, and gold neutral shades. Skin needs to appear dewy, as if you just got out of the shower. A light dusting of highlighter will help you to glow.

Vertical Glitter Eyeliner

Keep your makeup neutral and bring a pop of character with a colorful glitter eyeliner. The new trend has the liner applied vertically up the eyelid and continuing down under the eye. Done right this look is downright enchanting, but it might be better for a party or concert than your high school hallways.

Red Lips

Honestly, classic red lipstick is ageless and never goes out of style. This year, it should be paired with neutral allover makeup with the only pop of color coming from those ruby red lips. Even if you are super casual and dressed down, the red lip will elevate your look.

This year it is all about standing out and doing something different. 2018 makeup trends include innovative eyeliners, bold brows, brilliant eyeshadows, ruby red lips, spa skin, and glitter galore. Try one trend or try them all because the application is half fun right? These new makeup trends are ideal for a night out with the girls, a hot date, wedding reception, or really anywhere you want to ‘wow’ with your mad makeup skills.

3 Areas to Focus on When Finding Your Look

Everywhere you look, you see social media and ads aimed at telling you how you should look, what you should be doing, and how to become more popular. From the latest selfie trend to the newest makeup look, it is impossible to keep up with all the changes that are constantly happening. Your teen and young adult years are a great time to work on finding yourself and your look, but what areas should be focusing on?

Fab Haircut and Color

Your hair can have a dramatic impact on how you look, both in cut and color. If you have had one hairstyle for a long time, it might be time to change it up. A transformation cut can instantly give your style new life and open up new opportunities for you to experiment with new looks. If you want to go longer instead of shorter, you can also try hair extensions. These faux hair pieces can add length, volume, or a shock of color to your hair.

You can also experiment with a new hair color. Before you go crazy with the color, make sure that there aren’t any restrictions on what color hair you can have at work or school. You don’t want to try something new and have to undo it immediately. If you aren’t sure about a color, but you want to try it anyway, consider just doing a chunk of your hair or using a temporary hair dye.

Whiter, Straighter Teeth

Your smile is one of the first features people are drawn to, and keeping your teeth white and straight can help you seem more attractive. If you struggle with crooked or yellow teeth, it is time to fix that. You can find any number of teeth whitening products that fit your needs. If you don’t want to deal with all the metal and annoyances that come with braces, look into some alternatives. Plastic aligners allow you to keep your smile metal free while fixing your dental problems fairly quickly.

Change Your Wardrobe

One of the best ways to find a new style is to experiment with different clothing styles. You never know what looks good on you until you try it, and you don’t have to break the bank to find attractive clothes. Start by going through your closet and getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t worn in the last year. You will be surprised by how much you can clear out. Then bargain shop! Thrift stores can be a goldmine of cheap clothes that you can supplement your style with.

These areas are a great place to start when trying to invent a new look for yourself. Don’t be afraid to go against the flow and find what fits well with you. What is most important is that you feel comfortable.

Fashion-Forward But Budget Friendly: How to Save on Outfits

When your birthday money from grandma is burning a hole in your pocket, you may get the urge to update your wardrobe with some new threads. You do not have to spend a lot of cash to update your look on a dime. Here are some fashion-forward and budget-friendly places to pick up some new, or new-to-you, trendy pieces.

 

Consignment/Thrift Stores

Shopping for new-to-you pieces at thrift and consignment stores is an affordable and fun way to update your wardrobe. Bring along some friends and try on one-of-a-kind clothes that have been gently worn. Consignment stores hand pick the brands and items they carry, so you will easily find lots of top brand names and trendy pieces. Consignment stores may be priced a little higher than thrift shops, but all of the merchandise has been thoroughly inspected, and you will not have to spend hours sifting through the racks to find unique pieces and top brands.

Thrift stores are all about the thrill of the hunt. If you have a few hours to kill with friends, pop in to a thrift shop and let your imaginations run wild. Thrift stores have affordable prices, but you have to prepare to so some digging and sifting through the racks to find cool new pieces.

 

Online Discount Boutiques

image credit: GroopDealz Discount Boutique Clothing

Online discount boutiques and fashion apps are a fun way to shop for fashion. You order from a curated collection of hand-selected pieces, and the companies send your new duds right to your home. You can try them on in the comfort and convenience of your home and send back any pieces that you do not like for a refund. It offers a risk-free and affordable way to update your wardrobe.

 

Fast-Fashion Mall Shops

Fast-fashion stores offer a plethora of options for updating your wardrobe. From basics to lounge apparel, career attire and casual wear, fast-fashion stores in the mall showcase a wide range of styles and sizes in clothing from floor to ceiling. You will be inspired, and probably even a little overwhelmed, by the abundance of options. These stores have a fast turnover rate, marking down clothing often, so apparel is priced to sell fast.

 

Even if you are low on cash, you can still put together some fun new outfits that your friends will want to borrow. From online to thrift to fast-fashion stores, there are a plethora of inspiring places to shop to add new life to your closet.

How Can I Put a Great Wardrobe Together on a Budget?

You want to look good, you want to wear what’s in fashion, but your budget is stretched about as far as it can go. What’s a girl to do? Check out some unexpected sources of high-fashion finds that won’t have you breaking the piggy bank to get new clothes.

Local Treasures

If you’re tired of the prices at your local mall or the online stores, take a look around your own city and your own neighborhood. Chances are there shops near you that offer on-trend, unique items you won’t find anywhere else. You can get personalized service, and you’ll also be the first to get in on sales and clearance events.

If there’s a town near you that caters to tourists, hit those stores up during the off-season when you can often get steep discounts. When you shop boutiques for sales, you’ll get one-of-a-kind items that will give your wardrobe an instant upgrade while saving you money.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are where you can find rock-bottom prices, but if you’re looking for really fashionable items, you have to wade through a lot of regular stuff to find that one jewel in the junk pile. Thrift stores are a good place to find shoes, boots, and handbags, often from well-known brands. They’re especially great for Halloween costumes and basics like tee shirts, sweatshirts or jeans.

Consignment Shops

Consignment stores are thrift stores that specialize in high-end fashion items. While the prices are higher than a regular thrift store, the selection tends to be better, and the prices are still less than what the items would cost if they were new. Some consignment shops specialize in particular types of clothing, like baby clothes or plus-size fashions.

Discount Stores

If you hit them at the right time, discount and dollar stores can be a surprising source of cheap fashion finds. Most of them sell socks, handbags, tote bags, flip-flops, sandals, hats of all kinds, gloves, and scarves. You can also find slippers, headbands and clutch purses. The downside is that their selection changes every week, and the good stuff sells out fast. If you can spot them when they get in, be sure to stock up.

The best way to discover low-priced, high-fashion finds is to get out of the mall. You can find some good things there, and it can be fun to go, but you are probably going to spend more money than you want, and there is a high chance that someone else will have the same outfit. Instead, venture out to new places and look for great deals.

Photo Credit: Hope Ave Boutique

“Now is Everything” by Amy Giles Book Review

Amy Giles’ debut YA novel “Now is Everything” tackles the issue of parental abuse from a viewpoint many teens might relate to — alternating between wanting to speak out but being afraid to do so.

The protagonist, Hadley McCauley, is the eldest daughter in the richest family in town. Her mother drinks too much wine in an effort to dull the emotional and physical trauma inflicted by her controlling husband, a successful and ultra-competitive A-type personality. Her father expects the absolute best from Hadley, and flips his lid and beats her when he doesn’t get it. He over-reacts at the slightest provocation, leaving Hadley walking on eggshells all the time. She is willing to put up with the abuse, as long as her 10-year-old sister Lila remains untargeted. But once Hadley hooks up with her first boyfriend, Charlie Simmons, the carefully crafted facade she presents to the outside world begins to crack, leaving Lila in her father’s crosshairs. This forces Hadley to come up with a desperate plan to save Lila — one which will end up changing everyone’s lives forever.

The book does an adequate job buidling up the suspense of Hadley’s plan and its outcome and is an enjoyable read. The only problem I have with the book is that the characters are too shallow for me to really care about. Lila, precocious and energetic, is the best-developed character. But I feel like I know too little about Hadley and what really makes her tick. She doesn’t want to play LaCrosse or attend an Ivy League school as her father wishes…but I never get a sense of what she aspires to do or be instead. Granted, she’s a teen, and isn’t expected to really have her life figured out yet…but I would have loved for the author to reveal more about her protagonist’s dreams and ambitions besides hanging out with her boyfriend and two best friends.

The mother and father are also a bit one-dimensional. The mom is a typical upper-middle class, pretentious lush who will maintain the status quo to protect her privilege as a kept woman The father is just a tremendous jerk, with little redeeming qualities. People are not like this in real life. Most abusers also have decent qualities which gain their victims’ affection, at least until they explode. This is why victims give them so many chances. In this case, I would think Hadley would have reported him long ago, because there is not a lot of affinity between them whatsoever — especially knowing what’s in store for little Lila.

I also didn’t get a sense that the mental abuse was horrific. The physical abuse as described certainly crosses the line between discipline and criminality, but the mental aspect, for anyone growing up with tough parents, doesn’t seem to cross too far into the abuse category. Like I said earlier, the father is a completely aggressive jerk, but not sure his yelling and intimidation counts as child abuse as clearly as the physical abuse does.

Regardless, any teen with overbearing parents will relate (isn’t that all of you?), and hopefully any who read this novel that are experiencing actual physical harm will gain the courage to tell someone before things spiral as badly as they do in Hadley’s world.

Recommended.

“Now is Everything” was released on November 7th by Harper Teen. (AMAZON AFFILIATE LINK)

Visit Amy at: http://www.amygiles.net and follow her on Twitter: @AmySGiles; Instagram: @amysgiles; and Facebook: @amygilesauthor.

 

Watch the first 4 episodes of Step Up: High Water here

Step Up: High Water is a new series which just debuted on YouTube Red this week.

According to the press release:

“Starring NE-YONaya Rivera and Faizon Love, with music by four-time Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriter Jason “PooBear” Boyd and “Jingle” Jared Gutstadt, Step Up: High Water focuses on several ambitious young dancers in a contemporary performing arts school in Atlanta. The edgy and authentic new series touches on real issues around diversity and complex relationships — and of course, boasts some serious dance moves. The series is based on the STEP UP film franchise that grossed $650 million at the global box office.

“Executive Producers Channing TatumJenna Dewan Tatum and Adam Shankman, join producers Jennifer Gibgot andMeredith Milton, to bring back the flashback feels to audiences nationwide, reuniting after 11 years for this new original drama series. Holly Sorensen (Recovery Road, Make It Or Break It) serves as series Creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner.”

WATCH the first four episodes free (PG-13):

CAST:

  • NE-YO (The Wiz, World of Dance) – Sage Odom, the legendary founder of Atlanta’s famed High Water Performing Arts School
  • Naya Rivera (Glee) – Collette, a former dancer turned High Water administrator
  • Faizon Love (Couples Retreat, Elf) – Uncle Al
  • Lauryn McClain (Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little GirlsSpider-Man (animated series)  – Janelle Baker
  • Petrice Jones (iBoyPlay The Devil) – Tal Baker
  • Marcus Mitchell (High StrungOdious) – Dondre
  • Jade Chynoweth  (The Last Ship, 300: Rise of an Empire) – Odalie
  • Carlito Olivero (Bad SamaritanBlood Heist) – Davis
  • Terrence Green (Being Mary JaneAmerica’s Best Dance Crew) – Rigo
  • R. Marcos Taylor (Baby Driver, Straight Outta Compton) – East-O
  • Eric Graise – King
  • Kendra Oyesanya – Poppy

What do you think of this series? Comment below!

From Mandy Harvey:  5 most important tips for auditioning on AGT (America’s Got Talent)

You might remember Mandy Harvey, America’s Got Talent season 12 contestant who finished in fourth place despite being deaf. She made such an impression with her voice, story and her ukelele that the normally unfazeable Simon Cowell sent her to the live rounds fast track by pressing the Golden Buzzer.

With the final season 13 auditions coming up in Los Angeles, CA at the Pasadena Convention Center on Feb. 3 and Phoenix, AZ at the Phoenix Convention Center on Feb. 24, we asked Mandy to provide some quick tips for those about to audition. 

Here’s Mandy’s tips!:

  1. “Stay true to yourself!”
  2. “Put your heart into your performance.”
  3. “Let Go! Don’t worry about the audience/judges/competition… just focus on what you have control over which is you doing your best!”
  4. “Remember that showing up is the hardest part and you are already pushing past that barrier! That’s something to be proud of no matter what happens!”
  5. “You are not doing this alone! We are cheering for you! You got this!!!”

If you are auditioning for season 13: GOOD LUCK! And if you want to be featured on Teens Wanna Know, shoot us an email to info@teenswannaknow.com

Mandy’s Social Media Links:

Facebook: @mandyharveymusic

Instagram: @mandyharvey

Twitter: @mandyharvey

Watch Mandy’s Golden Buzzer moment here (full segment):

Gigi Cesare: Actress & Singer Poised to Conquer 2018 and Beyond

One of the characteristics of a successful artist is “hustle.” Although some actors and musicians seem to become hits overnight, in truth there is a lot of work behind building their careers. This means years of acting and voice lessons, paying one’s dues in small productions, and generally “working it” for the love of the craft until hopefully, one day, success arrives.

12-year-old Gigi Cesare represents that level of hustle. This Imagen Award-nominated beauty with Uruguayan roots works on her acting and singing chops constantly, and has just released a music video for her first single, called Valentine. She also has several film projects in the works. With this amount of dedication and hard work, great success will surely come knocking on Gigi’s door sooner rather than later.

Let’s find out more about her…keep scrolling for her interview with TWK!

Hello Gigi, nice to e-meet you! You’ve just released a music video for your new single “Valentine.” Tell us what the song and video are about!

Hi TWK! I am so excited to be here with you. Thanks for asking, I am so excited about “Valentine.” This song is about anyon’e love story, it can be applied to any teen, tween, person really who has love interest in someone and wants them to know. Its about it being ok to say “I like you” and taking a chance. Its about not being afraid of rejection or looking silly if those feelings aren’t returned. Let’s face it, we have all been there, right?

What was the best part about making it?

Wow, that’s a great question….there are so many firsts in this process it’s hard to choose just one. I would have to say that hearing my own voice on a studio recording of my very own song is totally epic and the ‘what will happen next’ part is super exciting. I will never forget making the video. There are just so many artistic, incredible moments this process is giving me. I’m really humbled and grateful.

Do you have more music coming out after that? If so, tell us about it!

Oh my gosh I am so excited you asked, I have written a song called “Don’t Cry” that is such a special song written from a really raw place of sadness about my own experiences being bullied. My lyrics are now in the hands of the composer, the same songwriter who composed “Valentine” and he will begin adding music to them.

I want to sing great songs of course, that people enjoy but I also want to say something in the process. I want other kids to know I have been there and you’re not alone and well, there is hope. If you can take your sadness, anger, frustrations and channel them into something positive like writing your own music or go belt out a song, write a poem, wonderful things can and will happen.

Who is your biggest musical inspiration?

I was raised on so many musical genres and decades, it’s hard to choose just one. In current day, I would choose Sia. She makes the kind of music I love and she actually sings her own songs which is very rare, most singers are talking through their songs, she doesn’t use autotune and she can slay the high notes. I aspire to have a similar musical career because she is reaching kids with her lyrics too, not just talking about getting a new “Rolex.” Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a new “Rolex!”

You were nominated for Best Actress at the 2017 Imagen Awards, along with huge names such as Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria, and Edy Ganem. Going back to the night of the awards
ceremony in August, which memories stand out the most for you?

Wow the Imagen Awards were literally a magical Cinderella evening. There were so many people in the room that I never thought I would meet, let alone be in their company as an artistic equal. Meeting Ricardo Hurtado from School of Rock was really cool. His parents were as cool as he is! Meeting Lin Manuel Miranda and Rita Moreno and Norman Lear, I mean these people are Hollywood and stage icons, it was just incredible.

I have seen a few clips of you working on your punching skills. Are you a martial artist, or is this preparation for a role? If prep, tell us about the movie!

Haha yes, that’s great you found those! I am taking boxing for my upcoming role in STREET II DEATH FIGHT. It is an MMA (mixed martial arts) film franchise I have been a part of since I played Jessy when I was age 8 in STREET I. I couldn’t love the producer, Lyle Howry, cast and crew more than I do. Long-time Hollywood Director Dwight H. Little has just signed on to direct, with the script being finished soon, this sequel is going to be an incredible, action-packed, adrenaline-pumping hour and a half of pure entertainment.

You’ve mentioned that Angelina Jolie is an inspiration because she uses her fame to promote important causes. If you were in her shoes which cause would YOU promote?

I think the work she does with clean water, building wells and attention to international human rights are all so important. I would definitely want to be part of those organizations and there’s one more cause I promote across social media platforms which is awareness on the fur trade.

Most people don’t realize how fur is farmed, how the animals suffer for long periods of time before a painful death. I just want to bring awareness to those who don’t know. Faux or fake fur is as genuine looking as the real thing nowadays, and when you think that an animal lost their life in a torturous way so you can have a pink fuzzy ball keychain or decorative fuzzy tassel hanging from your bag or boots, it could cause you to rethink those buying choices. If there’s no demand, those trades go out of business. Learn where your clothing is coming from, know your cosmetics – know if they are tested on animals and just share the word that cruelty is never ok.

I understand that your biological dad passed away when you were little. Can you tell us what happened and what your best memory of him is?

My biological dad, Fernando Marcelo Cesare de Matera (that’s a mouthful) was a professional soccer player from Uruguay South America, Canelones. He was a vibrant, funny, full of life person who was family oriented and I look just like him. When my mom was 7 months pregnant with me, he was taken to INS holding, held for several months then later deported. What we know is that he passed away around the USA border while working toward legal re-entry into the USA. We just don’t have many details. The whole thing is deeply tragic, he was so young.

He was from Uruguay – what part of the Uruguayan culture do you like or feel proud of most?

You know my dad spoke 5 languages and its not unusual for most people there to speak several languages. I love that aspect of South America. When you see how simply my family lives in Uruguay you can’t believe it. The focus there is not on material possessions, its on food, family, love and laughter. Its on building memories. They have these big open backyard outdoor pavilions with fireplaces bigger than you’ve ever seen. They are really into barbequing and roasting on open flames. It’s really incredible. And all the families live on connected plots of land where they can just walk next door and spend their days together. It’s incredible. The sense of family closeness is in all they do. I wouldn’t have minded some street lamps at night, but let me tell you with no streetlamps and lighting to interefere, the skies light up like diamonds at night.

If you could clear up just ONE misconception people have about young performers like yourself, what would it be?

Maybe a big misconception is that we are spoiled and live fabulously 24/7. The reality is it can be lonely, working as an actor, young performer or musician requires a tremendous amount of time dedication, preparation and perseverance and thick skin. If the audition or filming interferes with your plans – a dance, a prom, a party, the biz waits for no man. They will move on without you, so you must be present and available at all times. So sacrifices are big. Sure it looks like fun when you watch someone’s Instagram life, but that is not reality until you’re in it for years most of the time. They say “overnight success” but really there’s five or ten plus years what were part of that “overnight” no one talks about. And there’s bullying. I get it, I know it’s a gift that I get to do what I do. I think if the kids who want be an actor or performer were to ask me for help / guidance I would help in a nanosecond. I am always here to lend advice or guidance when someone wants to know how to enter the biz.


Photographer Natalie Warr @natwarr Photography. Styled by @howardveronika. HMUA by @coconicole.artistry

Biggest pet peeve?

Being mean to others. Mean people. Just be nice. And it always comes back to you. It always will come back to you.

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.

Hmmm, I write stories… I keep something with me at all times so I can write. I am always writing. Oh a fun fact that I have an Auntie in the biz, Brooke Hogan who isn’t just my aunt but a female power force and super positive role model.

Future goals?

To work on some amazing indie films, maybe something in Europe or an awesome NETFLIX series. I am hoping to carve out a career kinda like Hailee Steinfeld. She is multi-dimensional actress who can do drama and comedy and is on fire with her new music career. And of course once I have a platform, to shut down as many fur farms as I can get my hands on.

What other projects are you working on in the near future?

I am partnering with Spreading the Love 101, cause for Autism awareness, which is a cause close to my heart. I will be performing “Valentine” at their event on Sat., April 7th in Burbank with Party Bash for Kids and many other young performers organized by founder @madisynsblog Madisyn Alexis, a young celeb blogger with Asperger’s who is pioneering breaking the stigma on autism spectrum awareness. She’s incredible.

I just wrapped WITHIN AND WITHOUT playing Emily in an emotion-fueled drama piece about a family who loses their mom. The STREET franchise is going to keep me on my toes for years to come thankfully, and I am also cast in THE KING’S PROPHECY as Exandra, the lead in this awesome medieval fantasy tale of cousins, murder and survival. I understand that my film THE KIDS FROM 62-F (I play Nina with an ensemble cast of 4 youth actors) will debut on NETFLIX in early 2018 with a sequel in the works as well. And who knows, maybe one of my stories will make it onto a screen!


Gigi Cesarè as Emily and her on screen dad played by Robert Sciglimpaglia rehearsing a scene on set of film Within and Without. Shot in Connecticut 12/10/2017

Can we get a quick selfie of whatever you are doing right now?

Oh my gosh, ok here goes! Thank you Willie and TWK! I love your vibe and what you do for teens everywhere. Thank you for this fun chat sesh!

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Teens – Plus Giveaway!

Okay, its time for this year’s last minute gift guide and giveaway thanks to a few brands who have sent us some swag. We have a few unique goodies to feature, most of which you can still order and have shipped in time for Christmas. If you are hispanic, well then you have even more time because you can give these as Reyes Magos gifts! To enter our giveaway, scroll down to the bottom for details.

Pyro Pet $35

Pyro Pets are cool, long-lasting candles with a surprise: when they melt, they reveal a cool aluminum skeleton inside! They last about 20 hours, and each is approximately 5 inches tall. Varieties include dragons (shown), cats, wolves, and more!

Nostalgic Candy Club $19.99/month

Nostalgic Candy Club is a monthly subscription service offered on CrateJoy which gives you 6-8 candy choices per month, with a lot of throwbacks. The box we got had candy cigarettes, wax lips, Smarties, Pixie Sticks, and more! Watch our unboxing video above to see what you get in a sample box.

Artifacts of a ’90s Kid $16.99

Are you crazy about the 1990s? Maybe you were too young to remember those days (or weren’t even born yet), but trust us: the days when acts like Ashanti, Nelly, Ja Rule, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. ruled the airwaves and shows like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, X-Files and Friends were the highlights of TV were pretty dope.

You can relive some of the 1990s through Artifacts of a ’90s Kid by Alana Hitchell, a scrapbook/journal of sorts which takes you into the mind of a Millenial as she grows up during one of the best decades EVER.

“She reminds you what it was like to grow up during an era that consisted of playing countless hours of Nintendo, reading Lurlene McDaniel books, and wearing Esprit T-shirts and Yoyo jeans. With no real responsibilities to worry about, a typical day involved playing board games, eating junk food, and obsessing over the latest Lisa Frank stickers.”

FUNimation Anime Subscription $5.99/month

gifts for teens

Japanese anime fans love FUNimation, the leading anime distributor in the US. In addition to licensing and selling DVD/Blurays of the best titles, they also offer a streaming service with features ad-free unlimited streaming for only $5.99 per month.

You can get two titles as part of our giveaway: Shonen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 50: Season Two and One Piece Film: Gold Movie!

JT Spencer Key Fobs $20

Looking for something cool for a friend who doesn’t really need anything? How about a unique, high quality key fob? We didn’t think we needed one either, but we love the one J.T Spencer sent us (and you can win the one pictured as part of our giveaway!).

  • Designs cover everything from the time-honored American Flag to quirky designs. J.T.Spencer makes an effort to offer unique motifs on timeless and classically styled products that appeal to everyone.
  • Available at JTSpencer.com as well as fine retail outlets, prestigious golf, yacht, athletic and country clubs along with universities and colleges across America

Battlefield Earth MP3 Audiobook USB $35

Sci-fi legend L. Ron Hubbard’s New York Times best-selling sci-fi novel, Battlefield Earth MP3 audiobook is available on a 8 GB USB flash drive. Okay, the movie sucked big time, but the book itself is pretty great, and this audiobook does it justice with high production values and great acting from 67 voice actors performing 198 characters.

“In the year AD 3000, Earth is a barren wasteland, plundered of its natural resources by the millennium-long regime of taloned, gas-breathing, nine-foot alien conquerors from the planet Psychlo. Fewer than 35,000 humans survive in a handful of communities scattered across the face of a postapocalyptic Earth. From a desolate village in the Rocky Mountains near what once was Denver, Colorado, a courageous young man named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler embarks on a hero’s journey to challenge the fearful myths of his people. Enslaved by the sadistic Terl, the Psychlo security chief of Earth, Jonnie and a small band of survivors pit their quest for freedom against Terl’s ruthless ambition for personal wealth and power in a rebellion that erupts across the continents of Earth and the cosmic sprawl of the Psychlo empire, with the fate of the world, of mankind, and of the galaxies beyond in the balance.”

• 47½ hours of entertainment and adventure in high-definition sound.

• Cinematic-quality soundtrack with more than 150,000 sound effects.

• Convenient to listen to in your car, on your device or on your computer. Plays on any MP3 enabled player.

Devil in Ohio $17.99

Just because its Christmas, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good spooky book. And Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin fits the bill, with some great reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.

“When fifteen-year-old Jules Mathis comes home from school to find a strange girl sitting in her kitchen, her psychiatrist mother reveals that Mae is one of her patients at the hospital and will be staying with their family for a few days. But soon Mae is wearing Jules’s clothes, sleeping in her bedroom, edging her out of her position on the school paper, and flirting with Jules’s crush. And Mae has no intention of leaving.

Then things get weird.

Jules walks in on a half-dressed Mae, startled to see: a pentagram carved into Mae’s back. Jules pieces together clues and discovers that Mae is a survivor of the strange cult that’s embedded in a nearby town. And the cult will stop at nothing to get Mae back.”

Christmas Bluetooth Speakers, Tumbler Santa Claus $25.99 (Get 50 PERCENT OFF USING OUR DISCOUNT CODE — WATCH VIDEO TO GET IT!!!!)

This is a pretty cute little gift. It plays Christmas music, some other childhood songs, and functions as a bluetooth speaker. It also lights up! Check out our review above for our review and a 50% discount coupon code!

Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide $25

Break the stereotype of the helpless girl who needs a guy to change her tire, or otherwise work on her car, by educating yourself on the ins and outs of maintaining your whip. Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide by Patrice Banks shoudl be in every girl’s glove box!

“Patrice Banks was once like most of us: a self-professed “auto airhead” who was clueless about car maintenance, yet convinced that mechanics were taking advantage of her. Now she’s an auto pro devoted to empowering women to learn basic car repairs and knowing what to do in an emergency. So whether you get a flat tire when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, your car overheats, or a mysterious dashboard light suddenly starts blinking, help is just a reach-in-the-glove-box away.”

GIVEAWAY!

  1. Follow @teenswannaknow on Instagram http://instagram.com/teenswannaknow
  2. Like the giveaway picture below on our Instagram account, and tag or mention a friend in the comments.
  3. We will pick a random winner on Wednesday, December 13th from those who followed directions correctly.
  4. Winner must live in the U.S.