Author: Willie Pena

Liana Ramirez dishes on new role as Roxy on Power Rangers Beast Morphers in TWK interview!

Liana Ramirez (@lianakramirez) is living the dream of any young actress, landing a lead role on a show tied to an inconic franchise — in this case, the Power Rangers. Liana plays Roxy, a villianous female Ranger, on Nickelodeon’s new Power Rangers Beast Morphers.

Prior to this, Liana had roles on shows like Lab Rats and Criminal Minds, but this is her biggest role to date and one which fans seem to LOVE!  If you haven’t watched yet, the synopis for this new series reads: “Scientists tap into the Morphin Grid, but an evil virus corrupts the technology and a new team of Power Rangers is formed to defend the Grid from evil.”

Not only is Liana now part of the well-loved Power Rangers universe, but she is also working on her first book, an action-adventure novel slated to be released this summer called “The Secrets Within Me.”

We got the chance to ask Liana a few questions so you can find out more about her — scroll down for the Q&A!

Image credits: Photos @itstylerrowell Styled @ericas_style Production @maisonpriveepr_la

liana ramirez

 

Liana Ramirez has had a passion for performing and storytelling. She has appeared on networks such as, Disney Channel, CBS, and Netflix. Now, Ramirez is showcasing her acting and storytelling talents. She currently starring in the latest season of “Power Rangers on Nickelodeon” as a series lead. Ramirez is also working on her first novel, “The Secrets Within Me”.

Hello Liana, nice to e-meet you! Before we get to your role in the new Power Ranger Beast Morphers, tell us a little about yourself outside of show biz.

Hey there! Nice to e-meet you as well:D

Outside the show biz, I am just your normal American kid who loves my family, loves going to the beach and midnight ramen runs with my best friends, loves Starbucks and cats way too much, and has full out jam sessions in my bedroom.

Thanks! Now give us the scoop about the new show. Tell us all about your character and how this show fits into the Power Rangers universe.

My new show Power Rangers Beast Morphers is the beginning of a new era for the Power Rangers franchise. Hasbro recently took over the brand, has taken it to the next level and has turned our show into what the fans are saying is one of the best seasons since the beginning. My character “ROXY” is the evil yellow power ranger, the villain of the show. Roxy is devious, ambitious, overly dramatic as well as super emotionless with an “I don’t care” attitude.

The Power Rangers is a legendary franchise with a huge fan base. What’s the hardest part about stepping into such a high-profile role like that?

I think the hardest part about it was the super high expectation for the show and my role to be good. The fans are amazingly passionate about this franchise and sometimes that is scary because all we want to do is make them happy. At the end of the day, all you can do is work as hard as you can at your job and let the rest go.

liana ramirez power rangers beast morphers

What’s been the best and worst feedback from fans so far?

The show as a whole, all the actors, and myself have gotten such positive feedback! We honestly haven’t since much negative! It’s been unreal how much the fans are loving our show and characters. You always hope that people will like your work, but their feedback has been better than what all of us could have dreamed!

Were you a fan of the Power Rangers before you booked the role, or is this all new to you?

I actually didn’t watch Power Rangers as a kid, but I knew what it was, of course. So yeah, this whole world is new to me, but I am a sucker for action films and TV shows, so that was why I was attracted to the show and my role of Roxy when I auditioned.

What was the booking process like—the auditions and all that? Were there a lot of meetings, or was it pretty painless? Please dish for all the other inspiring actors out there!

I actually auditioned originally to be the Yellow Ranger and the audition process was super intense and looooong. I trained everyday for 4 months on perfecting martial art forms, fight choreography and the audition sides. I went into casting about 5 times and spent countless hours waiting to know what the fate of my life would be. It was a super challenging process that ended with casting offering me a different role… “Roxy” the evil yellow Ranger.

So my advice for aspiring actors would be to never pass up the opportunity to audition for another role on the same show. It may not be the role you originally wanted, but it may end up being the perfect role for you that can change your life!

liana ramirez

What has been the funniest blooper from set so far?

I think one of the funniest moments we’ve had was when my costar Colby Strong and I were filming in the woods in New Zealand and were getting swarmed by massive bugs. There were multiple takes where we both had bugs crawling into our costumes and we ruined the shot by screaming and running around frantically trying to get the bugs off of us. It was a wild and hilarious experience!

Showbiz can be fun, but also tough because it’s a serious job. What’s the one thing you DON’T like about being in the business?

People in the business can be super cut-throat about trying to make it. It turns into this competition of trying to constantly be better than other people. It instills this nasty habit of judging others. I admit that I got sucked into this way of thinking at one point, but now I’ve learned how wrong that is! The only way you can truly be successful in life is if you are actively trying to help others rather than putting them down. There is a saying, “By yourself you can go faster, but together you can go farther.”

You have a book coming out, right? What’s it called and what’s it about?

YES! My debut book is called “The Secrets Within Me,” and it’s a YA fantasy/adventure novel. The story follows Magi Davis, a 17 year old girl where everyone is her life knows her secret… except for her. Magi must discover what her secret is before ancient Egyptian forces kill her and her entirely family. *Dramatic music plays*

What compelled you to start writing?

Growing up I’ve always been infatuated with stories, especially the ones that made me feel like I could take on the world, be adventurous and made me dare to believe in myself. I realized I wanted to create something like that and move people with my stories in hopes of inspiring others to go after their dreams and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I wrote “The Secrets Within Me.” I cannot contain my excitement about it! I truly hope people enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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

When I was younger, I almost went in a completely different direction with my life. I wanted to pursue soccer as a career and play professionally.

liana ramirez

Biggest pet peeve?

Sirens. They’re loud.

The song I most have on repeat on my playlist right now is __________ by ___________?

Bad Idea by Ariana Grande

Secret obsession?

Black cats.

What’s the last movie or show you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

A Quiet Place- OSCAR WORTHY!

If you could pass a law everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be?

Follow the golden rule! Treat others the way you want to be treated!

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

I accidentally made my electric and water bill 500$ one month because I took way too many baths. I felt so bad when my family and I figured out it was because of my baths lol! Oops!

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

The biggest thing I’m working on is getting my book ready for publishing! But when it comes to the acting front, I got some things is the works and I am so excited to see which opportunity pans out. I can’t wait to begin filming my next project!

Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? It’s something we ask to keep it real for the fans!

Of course! Here is me in my bedroom answering your questions while hanging out with Harry Potter. Now I’m gonna go and work on my book! Had so much fun talking with you!

liliana power rangers

Instagram: @lianakramirez
Twitter: @lianakramirez
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_4HyJ8rki3fI03MBjVHNuA

Issie Methven: 15-year-old making a splash in London theater!

issie methven

Issie (Isabelle) Methven just turned 15 a few weeks ago, but you wouldn’t guess it from her long list of prestigious London theater credits including her professional West End theatre debut as Little Cosette in Les Miserables, Summer Hathaway in Original UK Cast of School of Rock, Jane Banks in Mary Poppins, and Brigitte Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and several acting roles with the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.

She’s also got a few screen credits, including an upcoming film, and hopes to have a shot at Broadway some day. With her training at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, a leading school for a lot of young British performers, she’s sure to have a good chance!

Let’s find out more about her!

issie methven

Hi Issie, nice to e-meet you! Tell us a little bit about yourself apart from your life in show biz.

I’m 15 and live in Hertfordshire, England. I live with my Mum, and my brother. I’m really lucky as I go to a school for performing arts in central London, which means I spend 3 days a week doing academic subjects (Math, Science, English, etc.) and 2 days doing vocational subjects (Ballet, Drama, Singing). When I’m not at school or working, I like to explore new places, especially on holiday!

Cool, now let’s talk some business haha! You have a ton of theater credits in the UK, from Les Mis to Annie to Sound of Music. What’s been your absolute favorite theater experience and why?

So hard to choose….I’d have to say that being the first ever Summer Hathaway in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock” was a pretty amazing experience. Being in the original cast of a show that’s so focused on the kids was the best ever. As well as performing on stage, we had some fantastic opportunities such as being part of the official launch, playing at the Olivier Awards and playing to a crowd of 10,000 at BBC Proms Party in the Park. Andrew is just the kindest man, and it was a dream to be part of one of his new shows.

issie methven

What’s been the most embarrassing thing to happen to you on stage?

I have had a few stage bloopers. My faves being when the revolving stage refused to turn round in Les Mis, and I ended up singing with my back to the audience, and more recently when I got stuck up the chimney in the “Step in Time” in Mary Poppins. Bert had to keep whistling and pacing whilst the stage hands and crew tried to get me out.😀

I understand you have a movie coming out soon, can you tell us a little about it and your character?

The movie is a modern day twist on “A Christmas Carol;” I play Ellie, the daughter of the protagonist. It was great to part of something so original, and I had the best time.

You have met a few famous people. Who has been your favorite celebrity you have met and what was that like?

My absolute favourite has to be Elton John. He was just so friendly. He could tell we were very nervous and came straight over to talk to us. Such a nice man!

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

I’m terrified of baked beans. Don’t laugh, it’s a real phobia.

issie methven

Biggest pet peeve?

OMG chewing loudly !!!!! It drives me crazy……

The song I have on repeat on my playlist right now is __________ by ___________?

Ava Max – “So am I?” Her song has a great message and I can totally relate.

Nervous habit?

Playing with the front bit of my hair. My mum calls it the “Twiddler” and it’s a habit I’ve had since I was old enough to have hair.

Favorite food?

Oh that’s a hard one…….I’d have to say chocolate……..no, strawberries……….no definitely chocolate………..maybe both together?

Secret obsession?

Jonas brothers….? I’d love the opportunity to work with them.

What’s the last movie or show you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. SO ORIGINAL.

The one thing I cannot live without is__________?

My Mum, she supports me constantly and always picks me up when I’m down.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

I’ve had quite a few auditions over the past few weeks, from a couple of TV shows, to a West End musical. I’ve not bagged the job yet so watch this space. I really loved being on set recently, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity.

Selfie!

😀I was at school at the time.

issie methven

Sarah Abbott: teen actress on new Netflix thriller “The Silence”

sarah abbott2

Teen actress Sarah Abbott has made a splash with her lead role performance in the Lifetime movie “Mommy’s Little Princess,” where she plays Lizzy, an adopted girl who discovers she has royal blood and takes on the persona of a princess from hell.

Coming up next, she can be seen in the feature film The Silence, a “A Quiet Place”-style thriller set to premiere on Netflix April 12 and starring Kiernan Shipka, Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto and John Corbett. Sarah plays “The Hushed Child,” one in a group of survivors who have cut out their tongues to stay safe from monsters that hunt by sound (ouch).

As if that weren’t enough for a 13-year-old, she will also be appearing in the new NBC series The InBetween! We asked Sarah a few questions about The Silence and to get to know her a little better — read on for her exclusive Q&A with Teens Wanna Know!

sarah abbott3

Hi Sarah, nice to e-meet you! Before we get into your work as an actress, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! Thank you! I’m 13 years old. I live in Ontario, Canada. I have been acting since I was 6 years old and I also do competitive dance.

Cool! You seem to be on an amazing roll lately, as your Lifetime movie Mommy’s Little Princess just came out, which you’ve gotten good reviews for, and now The Silence is coming out on Netflix April 12. What’s your secret to working so many great projects at such a young age?

My agent and his team are always searching for great roles for me, but then it’s up to me to put in the hard work and do my best performance at each audition. I can only try my best and then move on to the next audition and hope for the best.

Tell us about The Silence and your character.

The Silence is about these creatures that attack and kill anything that makes sound. To survive, you need to adapt and live in a world without making any noise. I think my character is a nice person who is put in a difficult situation and does her best to handle it.

Silly question—but since your character is part of a group of people who don’t speak so they don’t attract monsters, was the set really really quiet all the time?

Yes, that was kind of funny now that you mention it.

What stands out most from filming that the movie?

I filmed in very eerie and creepy settings which really helped to establish the mood. I also was able to witness some of the magic of movie making that makes the unreal appear real on screen.

You have another show called The InBetween coming out on NBC. What can you tell us about that?

It’s about a woman who can see and talk with ghosts. She tries to help the ghosts with their problems and also help the police to solve crimes. I play a character named Abigail. I can’t really say too much about my role in the series. I guess you’ll have to tune in to see.

You worked with Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster, who directed you in Black Mirror. What most surprised you about working with her?

She was so down to earth and friendly. Also being a former child star herself, I found her so easy to understand when she gave me direction.

So far, what’s been the most memorable thing you have experienced as a young actress?

There are so many. We already mentioned Black Mirror, but it was also incredibly special when my first film called Lavender premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. I walked the red carpet, did interviews and even signed my first autograph. That was very cool.

Have you ever gotten starstruck with any of the big names you have worked with? Please dish!

LoL, yes. It’s a show coming out this summer, but I can’t talk about it yet. I totally stumbled on my lines because I was so nervous, but I took a breath and regained my focus. I was just talking about that moment with my dad the other day.

Showbiz can be fun, but also tough because it’s a serious job. What’s the one thing you DON’T like about being in the business?

I’m still a kid so I love to have sleepovers and play with my friends. Sometimes, I miss out on those things when I need to memorize lines for an audition, but I love being an actor, so it’s totally worth it!

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

In addition to acting, I’m also a dancer on a competitive dance team. I have 9 different dances to learn this season and I will be going to 5 competitions.

sarah abbott2

Biggest pet peeve?

People who crack their knuckles. That sound drives me crazy.

The song I most have on repeat on my playlist right now is_____________.

Imagine by Ariana Grande.

Favorite food?

Any kind of pasta

Secret obsession?

Toy Squishies. I just love squeezing them.

What’s the last movie or show you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review 🙂

Grey’s Anatomy. Very intense

If you could pass a law everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be?

Be kind and accept people for who they are.

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

When I messed up my lines in front of a certain star which I cannot name. LOL.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

As you mentioned, I have the movie The Silence on Netflix followed by the TV series The InBetween on NBC. I also have something else coming out this summer on Netflix but I can’t reveal anything yet. Right now I’m back to doing auditions and excited to start something new.

Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? It’s something we ask to keep it real for the fans!

Sure, here is a picture of me finishing my art project for school!

sarah abbott

https://www.instagram.com/sarah_abbott_/

From Star Trek Discovery to Bajillionaires: teen actress Arista Arhin’s on a roll!

Arista Arhin @aristaarhin is a Toronto native currently starring as Young Michael Burnham in Star Trek Discovery airing now on CBS. She’s also got a brand-new show premiering March 2nd called Bajillionaires. She plays Alicia Windsor, one of a group of friends running a start-up out of their parent’s garage.

This 14-year-old started as a model, doing campaigns for Spin Master, Walmart, and Hasbro. At age 10 she began her acting career, cast as Ozlyn in the award-winning children’s live action educational television series ODD SQUAD (TVOKids/PBS Kids) for which she won a 2018 Joey Award for Best Recurring or Lead Actress in a Children’s Television Show.

Let’s find out more about her in our Q&A, below!

arista arhin 4
Photo: Mark Binks

Hi Arista, nice to e-meet you! While we know you are an actress, tell us a little bit about yourself outside of show business.

To start, my name is Arista Arhin, and I just recently turned 14. I adore the colour pink at the moment, and I love anything to do with beauty and fashion! I have always loved makeup and dressing up, and I would consider it one of my areas of expertise!

Great! You play a young Michael Burnham on Star Trek Discovery, the child version of the series’ main character. Tell us what it was like your first day on set and seeing all the cool costumes and set pieces!

At first everything was a little intimidating, from seeing the sets to meeting all the amazing actors on the show. However, once the introductions were over and we went through a couple of takes, my nervousness faded and quickly turned into excitement. It truly was mesmerizing seeing the intricate costumes and the complex sets. Knowing how huge the Star Trek franchise is, I felt a lot of pressure, knowing that everything had to be flawless, but once we started filming everything did feel perfect, and that first day will be one that I will never forget.

What’s the best part about being on that show so far?

One part of my entire experience that has left me star struck has been meeting all the amazing actors on the show. The first person I met on set was Sonequa Martin-Green, who was so loving and caring, and who made it feel like we’ve known each other for years. Likewise, all other cast members made me feel very welcome and comfortable, and have made my time working on Star Trek Discovery even more enjoyable. Also, it was fantastic to work not only with fellow actors but with the entire crew who was extremely kind and caring towards me as a young actress.

Did Sonequa Martin-Green help you in any way to get you ready to play a younger version of herself?

From the beginning, Sonequa and I had a very strong connection where I would always be able to ask her for help not only with Burnham, but for other characters too. Burnham’s childhood was very complicated and some scenes were quite hard for me to portray, and Sonequa would always be there to help guide me through the emotions and actions occurring in a particular scene. She has given me some very useful pointers and taught me techniques that will forever stick with me.

You are also known for Odd Squad on PBS Kids, and have a new show coming up on Canada’s Family Channel called Bajillionaires. Tell us about that show and your character?

Bajillionaires is a show about a group of kids who run a start-up company in their parent’s garage and they make inventions to hopefully one day change the world. My character, Alicia Windsor, is the Chief Product Designer of the team, and she is very hands-on, always working on new projects, and is a devoted tech geek who is constantly coding. My character is very easy to fall in love with, and I can’t wait for everyone to see her and the squad in action!

You’ve already wrapped shooting season one. What’s your fondest memory from that set?

I remember one slow day on set that we spent mostly in the school room, relaxing between the shoots. While Mya was in her room, Ricky, Alec, and I were hanging out in the school room. Ricky was finishing up this large jigsaw puzzle that we were all working on for the past month, while Alec and I were attempting to cartwheel over the couches. All of a sudden, Alec felt the urge to completely crush the puzzle while Ricky and I were screaming in horror. For some reason, Ricky then flung the half broken puzzle across the room, and I joined him in throwing the other half. It felt strangely liberating. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the day cleaning up the school room.

Will the show be available to watch in the U.S., or is it only for Canadian TV?

Yes! It is currently available on Family Channel in Canada on Saturdays at 10:00 AM ET, starting March 2nd, and it will soon be available on Universal Kids in the U.S., so stay tuned!

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

I played in a softball league for 6 years and had to quit because of filming Bajillionaires. Yet, it was the best decision I’ve ever made!

arista arhin
Photo: Mark Binks

Biggest pet peeve?

When people cut me off when I’m talking.

Favorite place to travel?

I really enjoyed Venice! The food was so delicious, and the scenery and architecture were incredible! I hope to visit again sometime soon!

Favorite food?

I love sushi sooo much!

Secret obsession?

Watching Liza Koshy on YouTube! She is so funny and I hope I can meet her some day!

What’s the last movie or show you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review 🙂

The last movie I watched is Don’t Breathe, and my review would be suspenseful and uncomfortable.

The one thing I cannot live without is__________.

Netflix!

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

So far, I’ve been quite fortunate not to have one.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

My new TV show, Bajillionaires, is premiering on March 2nd, and will air on Saturday at 10:00AM/ET in Canada! Also, Season Two of Star Trek: Discovery airs on Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/5:30PM PT on CBS All Access in the U.S., and in Canada, new episodes air on Thursdays at 8:00PM/ET on Space TV.

Could we get a selfie?

I’m sending two because you can’t take just one selfie 🙂 Thank you so much for such a fun interview!

arista arhin 2 arista arhin 3

https://twitter.com/aristaarhin
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8799369/
https://www.instagram.com/aristaarhin/

Rising star Natasha Bure talks Faith, Hope & Love – and her butterfly thumbs!

natasha bure twk

Natasha Bure (@natashabure) is a singer, author, actor, and YouTuber with a growing fan base, currently at 400,000 Instagram followers and 100,000 YouTube subs. She has perfomed on the hit show The View as well as NBC’s The Voice, and starred in Hallmark Channel’s Switched for Christmas. She has also published a teen advice book called “Let’s Be Real: Living Life as an Open and Honest You.”

Pretty great accomplishements for a 20-year-old, but perhaps her biggest is that she maintains her strong Christian values despite being involved in a business loaded with problematic messages and behaviors. Part of the credit no doubt goes to her parents, actress Candance Cameron-Bure of Full House fame, and former NHL player Valeri Bure, who raised her and her brothers to love Jesus and follow the Bible. That upbringing has clearly paid off, as Natasha seems to have a great future ahead of her while avoiding many of the traps that young influencers succumb to.

Her most recent work is Faith, Hope & Love, which opens March 15th. The romantic comedy deals with two broken-hearted people who find love through a dance contest. Natasha plays Gia Elpidas, who coaxes her father (played by Robert Krantz) to enter. Rounding out the cast are Peta Murgatroyd (Dancing with the Stars), Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law), Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Nancy Stafford (Matlock), Michael Richards (Seinfeld), and Maks Chmerkovskiy (Dancing with the Stars).

We asked Natasha a few things about her role plus some “getting-to-know-you” questions. Read on for the Q&A!

natasha bure teens wanna know

Hi Natasha, nice to e-meet you! Before we get into your new movie “Faith, Hope & Love,” tell us a little bit about yourself outside of show business.

I’m super into music, acting, writing, cooking, and hanging out with my family and friends! I’m a pretty simple girl and I just love being around people that make me smile and doing things that bring me joy.

Thanks! What is “Faith, Hope & Love” about, and tell us about your character?

I play Gia in “Faith, Hope & Love.” She’s a typical teenager who is dealing with the everyday things that all teenage girls deal with. It was super awesome to play her and work with such awesome people on the film. The title pretty much explains the movie in itself. It’s all about faith, hope, and love.

I think a huge theme throughout this movie is family, taking risks, dealing with your faith, loving one another, and of course having fun.

Why do you think teens are going to want to watch this movie?

There are so many fun moments in the film and lots of great dancing! I hope everyone watching, enjoys the cute moments and can groove along during the film.

What was the most memorable moment during filming?

I had such a wonderful time filming with the whole cast and crew. My most memorable moment during filming was probably all the outtakes and blooper moments that we laughed about for so long.

natasha bure teens wanna know

Your family is known for having conservative Christian values, something rare in the Hollywood scene. And you talked about your own personal faith in your book “Let’s Be Real: Living Life as an Open and Honest You.” Has it been challenging to be a young Christian in show business, with all the problematic content themes and behaviors (drugs, sex, violence, profanity) common in Hollywood?

Personally, I’ve grown up in that type of environment my entire life so I don’t know anything different. I definitely have moments where I get discouraged in trying to stand up for what I believe in, when it’s not always the most popular opinion. In the end I just try to surround myself with people who encourage me and push me in the right direction.

You recently wrapped up your teenage years. Looking back, if you could travel back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself the day you turned 13, what would it be?

It would probably be to push myself and follow my passions with all my heart, regardless of other people’s opinions.

natasha bure teens wanna know

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

Hmm. I’m a clean/organize freak. I love cleaning and making things organized. I’ll even go over to my friend’s house and clean their rooms or organize their bathroom because I love neatness. I feel so much more calm in an orderly room, and I get too stressed when things are messy.

Biggest pet peeve?

When people are messy or disrupt my organized rooms/house area.

Nervous habit?

This isn’t really a habit, but when I get super nervous, my thumbs start to really hurt and feel like they have butterflies inside of them. Normally people get that in their stomach, but I get butterflies in my thumbs.

Favorite food?

Sushi.

Secret obsession?

It’s not really a secret obsession, but escape rooms.

What’s the last movie or show you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Quirky. Riveting.

The one thing I cannot live without is__________.

My family.

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

One of my most embarrassing moments of my entire life happened quite recently and I’m still not over it. I don’t think I can even speak of it yet! But, I had a quite embarrassing incident where I accidentally jumped into the wrong car at the valet, and there was an older couple in the car screaming because they were so confused why I hopped in their car.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

I have lots of music on the way. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now and I’m super excited to release! I’m still making YouTube videos weekly and documenting my life for others to watch and share with me. More acting to come too!

Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? It’s something we ask to keep it real for the fans!

natasha bure teens wanna know

Follow Natasha Bure:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/Natashabure
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Natashabure
YouTube: youtube.com/natashabure

Faith, Hope & Love Trailer

The exquisite photographic eye of 17-year-old Kelly Needleman

kelly needleman teens wanna know

Kelly Needleman is a Northern California teen in his junior year of high school with a gift for photography and filmmaking. His pictures have appeared on the websites for National Geographic, CNBC and ABC thanks to a keen eye for composition and his knack for capturing ethereal, almost magical qualities from the landcapes he photographs.

What’s even more remarkable is that he has only been shooting for about two years and has no formal training, being entirely self-taught besides getting a few tips from fellow shooters, including a cousin in New York who is a professional photographer. While he is still learning, he is already producing some excellent work, and we cannot wait to see his career blossom.

We asked Kelly a few Qs about his background and his techniques, and share some of his best work. Read on to get inspired to pursue your own passion!

Images below courtesy Kelly Needleman and David Needleman

kelly needleman teens wanna know

Hi Kelly, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Before we get into your video and photography work, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, thank you so much for talking to me. I am a 17-year-old film director, writer, producer, entrepreneur and photographer located in Northern California. Although I am still a junior in high school, I have created my own production company called Needleman Productions. I plan on majoring in film directing and minoring in business when going to college.

Thanks. How long have you been capturing images, and what made you get into it?

I have been in the creative industry for the past few years. I started taking photos when my mom bought me my first camera when I was 15 years old. I gravitated towards landscapes and nature, which was fueled by the beauty that surrounded me. This lead to a natural progression into the film industry.

Which film of yours are you most proud of, and what makes it stand out to you most?

One of my favorite films I have made recently was “Italian Masterpiece”. This is a compilation of my entire time spent in Italy. It showcases these locations: The Dolomites, Venice, Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Tuscany. I feel that this film captures Italy through the countries dramatic mountains to the unique cities, visually showing a country full of life, love, and art.

And which one do you most wish you could do over so it was better?

I would like to revisit my film “My Identity”. Though it was very popular and received many awards, I feel I could have recognized the people who influenced me to be the person who I am today.

What’s your overall goal – like what do you want to achieve long term as an artist?

My overall goal is to create movies that are visually beautiful with attention to detail. I would like to make the viewer feel that they are enthralled by the visual experience.

Let’s talk equipment. What camera do you shoot with, and your favorite lenses?

I recently invested in a cinema camera called the Canon C200. In the past, I have used the Canon 6D for photos and short films. My favorite lenses to use are the 17-40 mm wide angle and the 70-200 mm telephoto lens. This allows for artsy and creative shots in my opinion.

What are your top 3 favorite photographs, and what makes each so special. 

My ultimate photograph would have to be “Peaceful Violence”

I have taken this shot many times, but this day the sky exploded and there was a magical feeling to the atmosphere. I was in the right place at the right time, for sure.

kelly needleman peaceful violence

My second favorite photo would have to be “Italy From Above”  I took this photo with my drone off the side of a mountain in the Dolomites. Again, lucky that this one car was driving up at the time I was shooting.

kelly needleman italy from above

My third favorite photo is called “Silky Flow.”  This is one in a series of fog photos that I have taken in Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. Capturing the fog was a weekly schedule for me and every photo was completely different, although shot in the same location. This taught me how to be patent and disciplined when waiting for the right moment and conditions to take the best photographs.

kelly needleman silky flow

Can you shed some light into how do you produce your stunning photography? Do you use photoshop to composite images together, such as add lighting and fog, or it that all in camera? Explain your process a little.

I try to edit as little as possible. All of my images are natural, not superimposed or created with Photoshop. I use Lightroom for editing colors and contrast. I have found my own style which is dramatic and mystical. I try to make each photo the same type of mood to convey a story or feeling.

Which is your go-to camera to shoot with? Why?

I have always fallen in love with the Canon brand. For me personally, I gravitate towards the Canon products because they are very reliable and bring my visions to reality. My go-to camera would have to be the Canon 6D because I am the most familiar with it and have used it throughout my entire creative career. I have developed a small relationship with Canon and have been published on their website and social media various times.

And from some of the bird-eye shots, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and a few of your videos, I see you have a drone as well, right? Which one do you use?

Yes, I have the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. I have used the drone for the last 2 years and it is the best drone in the market for its price. I have traveled through Europe with this drone and I found it quite cumbersome. I recently purchased the DJI Mavic Air which is very compact and easy to travel with.

Which filmmakers or creators do you look up to most?

The classic directors Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and Steven Spielberg. I also admire the careers of both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as directors, writers, and actors.

Currently, I am really loving an extensive amount of Netflix movies and TV series. The creativity and storylines are incredible. Some of the series I admire are Breaking Bad, Ozark, Bloodline, Dark, The Mist, and The Rain to name a few. I am a big binge watcher.

If you had the power to write, direct and star in your own movie with an unlimited budget, what would you call it and what would it be about?

That’s a really hard question because there are so many possibilities. I know would like to do something in the genre of psychological thriller mixed with drama/mystery. I would like to have the setting in a country that is not filmed in frequently, such as Iceland.

kelly needleman by david needleman

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

I have been playing tennis since I was 10 years old and I am currently the captain of my tennis team in high school.

Biggest pet peeve?

The sound of people eating loudly and licking fingers.

Favorite food?

Olive oil based penne pasta with chicken.

Secret obsession?

Watching YouTube videos, specifically David Dobrik.

What’s the last movie you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

Bird Box. Bizarre and Transfixed.

The one thing NOT related to filmmaking/photography I cannot live without is__________.

My Family

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

Just imagine an intensely competitive and quiet moment during a tennis match tournament with an audience watching and you completely airball your serve. On top of it, the racquet hit my leg and I had to play in pain for the rest of the match. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does happen it is extremely embarrassing.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

Currently, I am in the midst of my first feature film. I am the director and writer of the film Lost Visibility. The logline for the film is: Maybe they weren’t as close as they thought they were. Three friends share intimate dreams that bring their secrets to reality.

The movie is in the genre of Teen Drama, Mystery, and physiological thriller. I have a confirmed lead actress, Gigi Cesare, who will be playing the role of Sam. She is on Netflix and has been nominated for an Imagen Award for best actress in a feature film. Currently, I am casting, alongside my Casting Director. We are in contact with a local famous actor, Disney Channel star, and Netflix star for roles in my movie. It’s a very exciting process and I can’t wait for the official shooting in summer!

Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? It’s something we ask to keep it real for the fans!

Currently talking to my producer for my feature film and drawing storyboards with my storyboard artist.

kelly needleman teens wanna know 2

Follow Kelly!

https://www.instagram.com/kellyneedleman/
https://twitter.com/kellyneedleman_
https://www.facebook.com/kellyneedleman/
https://vimeo.com/kellyneedleman
https://500px.com/kelly_needleman
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9637880/
https://filmfreeway.com/kellyneedleman
https://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/1460193/
https://www.famousbirthdays.com/people/kelly-needleman.html

‘All These Small Moments’: Brendan Meyer from The OA and Mr. Young talks about latest film

brendan meyer

Brendan Meyer is the lead in the new film “All These Small Moments,” which also stars Molly Ringwald, Brian d’Arcy James, newcomer Sam McCarthy, Harley Quinn Smith, and Jemima Kirke and directed by Melissa B. Miller Costanzo. It opens January 17th in select theaters, and the 18th on VOD.

Set in New York, the movie is a somewhat quiet study of relationships and the awkwardness that accompanies teenage life, especially when compounded by family strife and the beginning of sexual self-awareness. The film will resonate with older teens and anyone who has experienced a crush which one knows will never come to fruition, but which nonetheless inexplicably fixates one’s desires.

We got the chance to interview Brendan about the film as well as a few other topics (like his role on Fear the Walking Dead) via phone conversation, scroll down to read!

brendan meyer
Brendan Meyer as Howie Sheffield in Orion Classics’ drama ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS. Photo courtesy of Orion Classics.

[Full disclosure: Interview below has been edited for clarity…and because on the call I kept calling the movie “All the Small Things” like the Blink-182 song instead of All These Small Moments — oops lol]

Hello Brendan.

Hi there.

How are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m swell, we got exactly 10 min and I was told I better not go over so I am going to be speed talking. Is that cool?

Yeah, that’s absolutely fine. I’ll try to talk quickly too.

All right, cool. So before we talk about your movie All These Small Moments let’s help the people who may not be familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Yeah, ok! My name’s Brendan Meyer, I am actually Canadian but I live in Los Angeles now. And yeah, I always wanted to be an actor so I’ve kind of been doing little acting classes since I was really really young. But it’s probably been…I’ll say my first actual professional acting credit was probably like almost 14 years ago now.

It started kind of small only working every now and then, did this show call Mr. Young and then I moved to Vancouver. I’ll say that’s when I really started — I mean I was working before that but not as consistently. So yeah that is kind of when I really started pursuing it both in Vancouver and then in L.A. So that’s been about eight years.

You live in LA now?

I do now. Yes. Yes.

Let’s get to the film now. Tell us what All These Small Moments is about, and about your character?

Well basically it focuses on this teenage boy and a bunch of different aspects in his life, and it also focuses on his parents. So his parents are going through kind of a rocky patch in their relationship. They are not sleeping in the same bed all the time, and the kids can kind of feel that, so that is kind of the home life.

Then Howie — the teenage boy that I play — whenever he is going to school, he rides the public bus and sees this sort of older woman, early 30s, and starts to be drawn to her and wants to know more of her story. And it also goes into sort of what is going on with him in school and this girl Lindsay, that he is always running into at the library, and his relationship with his friends and stuff. It is a little hard to describe succinctly, but it’s sort of this tapestry of all these moments that he is going through and that the family is going through.

all these small moments poster

Right. I saw it and I loved it. I think that everyone’s performances were amazing. So, I enjoyed it, but why do you think teenagers are gonna want to watch this film?

Well, I think teenagers will like this film because I think it is a great portrait of adolescence and I think how he desires to make sense of his situation and deal — I mean I think anyone who has dealt with parents breaking up or having a rocky relationship, that is not something I personally went through that but I imagine so many kids did. So that is something that young people could relate to if they are going through it right now, because I think its very real and honest to that experience.

And then I think there is a real interesting sense of development to all the different characters and I don’t think its just funnelled through a teenage experience. I think a teenager might enjoy not just relating to what they see, which is this sort of teenager-around-their-age’s journey, but they might also kind of be able to see their parents in some of the characters, or think more about what it would be like when they are a little bit older. So I think there is a lot there to chew on that is not just something that is trained to that teenage experience, and I think teenagers may be interested in that.

I agree. Especially older teens, maybe not the 13 or 14 year olds but you know the…

….maybe not, maybe definitely people in the Howie age-range, like 16, 17 and maybe even 18 could really, I think, get a lot out of it.

Absolutely. Now did you know who Molly Ringwald was before you booked the role? Did you know her iconic status?

Yeah, yeah, of course I was very very familiar with her movies and who she was and and the career that she’s had. So yeah, I was very excited to get the chance to work with her and was absolutely familiar with her.

Awesome. What stand out most for you from the production?

I mean one of the greatest things, you know the first thing that I always think of, is getting to film in New York. I love New York and I love spending time there, and we really were in such great, kind of classic New York locations whether it would be a Brooklyn brownstone or this roof overlooking the city or you know in these little parks or shops or cafes or wherever the scenes were.

I think that the movie does such a great job at capturing New York. And so, as an actor in the moment, being there was so amazing. I mean, I lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn while I was there. I walked to set a lot of days. I think the place I stayed was like two blocks away from the actual house where we shot all the stuff with the family. And it was pretty close to some of the other locations too, so it was really really cool.

Were there any awkward moments on set, especially with the actress who plays your crush? I know in real life there is not such an age difference, but as actors getting into your characters, was there any kind of maybe deliberate awkwardness that you guys kind of played off each other? I am talking about Jemima.

Yeah, I don’t think…there was no real awkwardness but I think there was certainly…you know the two of us and [the director] Melissa certainly worked together to sort of get it. A lot of it was in the script but it was still in the moment that you really have to finesse that sort of balance of the relationship, because obviously it is sort of an inappropriate age gap.

But is also one of the central relationships in the movie and so I think its an interesting balance. You are right, it is awkward and finding the moments in the script where the age difference didn’t matter in what they were talking about, and maybe finding the moments where it did and where that led to a little bit of awkwardness when that age difference shows, that was something we definitely had to work on as actors and with Melissa.

ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS2
Jemima Kirke as Odessa in Orion Classics’ drama ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS. Photo courtesy of Orion Classics.

 

Well you did a good job because there were some moments when I was cringing. I was like “oh no…”

I am also very naturally awkward. So sometimes that would just come out, and I like to think they could just use that (laughing). I don’t have to pre-plan that necessarily all the time.

All right, good. What role do you get recognized most for and maybe you wish people would move on? I am guessing Mr. Young, am I right about that?

Ah, look I never wish people would move on from anything I…you know, I don’t mind whatever people recognize me from, it’s fine. But yeah, I think that’s probably still the one that I most get recognized for. Sometimes The OA, but mainly Mr. Young still.  And for the most part I can still move around and its not too crazy but yeah, I’ll say when people do stop me its most often from Mr. Young.

Cool. You were part of another iconic series, albeit briefly: Fear the Walking Dead, first in the web series form and then in the actual show itself. Did you have hopes to make it as a regular or did you kind of know beforehand that your character was going to be limited?

You know, there was always talk about it potentially being more, but that was never confirmed. I actually booked the regular role I have on The OA at like the exact same time so I couldn’t have actually done it. So I don’t know necessarily if they ever made that call. I know there was certainly talk about having that character having a little of a longer lifespan, but I never got a confirmation one way or the other.

But it didn’t really ever matter because I started filming The OA I think the month after I did that episode of Fear of the Walking Dead — which was an amazing experience. It was really, really cool. The one episode that I got to do, filming in the water tank they filmed that season in and being down there on the set with all those actors for a day was cool. But yeah I think I filmed that the end of January and was in New York for The OA in February so it wouldn’t have worked.

Alrighty, so Brendan what do you have coming up next?

Yeah so the next thing is season 2 of The OA. I think that is the next chance you will be able to see me, and this movie comes out on the 17th in theaters and the 18th on VOD.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Love your Instagram feed by the way, you have a good eye for photos man, you are talented. Good luck with the movie and hope to see you on a red carpet in L.A. somewhere.

Thanks man hope to see you too!

Follow Brendan: http://instagram.com/brendankjmeyer

Film trailer:

Abla Sofy: GUESS’s New “It” Girl is Arabic and Proud – Interview!

abla sofy interviewpic

Abla Sofy has a lot going for her. This Moroccan-born beauty hangs out with Bella Hadid, appeared on BRAVO’S ‘The Second Wives Club,’ modelled for BEBE, starred in a music video with French Montana and Daddy Yankee, and is now the first Arab model ever to have a billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood as the face of GUESS. She is also a fashion stylist who has worked on campaigns with Hailey Baldwin, Camilla Cabello and Jennifer Lopez.

What makes her unique and refreshing is that she is of a conservative upbringing, and therefore her modelling is less revealing than many Western models — which is just fine with her bosses, who respect her cultural views. 

We got the chance to do a Q&A with Abla to dive deeper into her world and what she predicts will be hot in fashion for 2019! read on…

abla sofy interviewpic

Salam! Abla, nice to e-meet you. Before we get into your current projects, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

First of all, I would love to thank you for the interview and for your interest in me. I am 100% Moroccan born and raised. I went to French school and gained a business degree in Morocco. After getting my business degree, I decided to move to LA and go to fashion school. It was always my dream to be in America. After my first visit, I loved it and decided to pursue my studies in fashion school here. When I moved to LA, I got the chance to be introduced to Mohammed Hadid through a family friend and I started working with him as his personal stylist for his TV show. Then I had the opportunity to be on the show myself.

Great! You were recently picked to represent the major fashion brand GUESS, the first Arab to do so. How has that changed your life so far?

When we finished shooting the E! TV show ‘Second Wives Club’ , Mohammed Hadid loved my style and sense of fashion and decided to introduce me to Mr. Paul Marciano, the owner of GUESS. In the beginning, I was afraid to model for him when he showed me all these beautiful pictures of all these gorgeous girls, so we finally agreed that I would work inside the company as a stylist and a designer.

After two years working with GUESS and getting to know the company inside and out, I was approached by the producer Redone to star in a music video with French Montana, Daddy Yankee and Amanda Cerny. After the video came out, I received a lot of exposure and I became far more confident to get into the spotlight. This is when Mr. Marciano asked me to model for him for the second time and this time I accepted!

To be the first Arab model for GUESS changed my life in many ways, especially in the world of fashion. I’ve got a lot of respect from people in the industry because this is something nobody has ever done before. I get the opportunity to represent the Arab woman in America and many people respect this achievement a lot. It has made it very easy for me to have a voice and an impact so I can advise the many people who reach out to me to give them advice about life and how they should achieve their dreams. As an Arab woman it is important to me to let people know how to stand up for what they believe in and not follow all the ideas that are sold to them.

abla sofy interview

What are your responsibilities to the GUESS brand…do you just model for them or is there more to it?

I have a lot of responsibility toward the brand GUESS. I need to give the best image of myself as I always keep in mind that GUESS is a global brand, so everywhere I go, every magazine cover I shoot and every interview that I do, I need to follow the values of the brand that the owner of GUESS believes and teaches all his models.

I always carry with me little cards that have all the values of the brand written down. It’s something very important for me that is beneficial for me even in my personal life. Mr. Paul Marciano has a lot of experience and has built an empire, so each piece of advice I get from him is very valuable to me.

What have you learned about fashion and style now which you wish you knew when you were younger?

I will never forget one time I was in school and I was wearing red pants and a pink shirt. This girl in front of a guy I liked yelled at me and said that “everybody knows we can’t mix pink and red.” I was so embarrassed. If only I had known that the answer I could have given her: that there are no rules in fashion. Everybody has their own vision and taste and if you want to mix some colors and textures this is what you should do and you can make these beautiful in your own way.

What fashion trends do you think are going to be hot in 2019?

Neon and everything bright are the trends for 2019 which I really love so I’m very happy about that. Green, orange, yellow-and even silver and gold are the colors that are going to be everywhere this year. Also, the mix of classic and sporty is a trend. For example, a suit with a sports bag or belt bag is very trendy so we can play as much as we want and we can go out to meetings all week and go to club with the same outfit, which is really cool.

abla sofy interview3

What is one beauty tip you think every teenage girl should know?

The most important advice for every teenage girl is to take care of her skin and teeth while she’s young. Teeth change your smile so don’t be afraid to wear braces now because you will thank your parents later. Make sure you take care of your skin and use the right products. Don’t use too much make up now so you can have nice skin later.

You are also an actress, right? What’s the biggest challenge you have faced so far in show business?

Yes. I also have a TV show in Morocco. It’s the Arabic version of ‘Entourage.’ It was really fun because I was playing my own character. My biggest challenge in America is to keep my own voice and continue to make people believe in me. With everything that is happening in the world, people have wrong ideas about Arabs from the images they are given on the news. I have to fight this every day and show them that the Arab people are hard workers, they are positive, they are smart and they can bring big value everywhere they go and people should trust them and give them a chance.

And what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is the fact that I convinced all these brands such as GUESS, BEBE and national and international magazines to believe in me as an Arab woman. This is the message I always give. I don’t want to be just another a model, because I represent the new era of Arabic women. I am strong, open and I still respect my values. I am very proud of this.

Which celebrity have you most enjoyed working with and why?

I had a chance to shoot many campaigns with Hailey Baldwin when I used to work for GUESS as a stylist and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from her as a model. She has a very strong personality and she also refused to be overtly sexy in the pictures. This reminded me of myself. She kept insisting on this until production accepted her values, so I respect her for that as she is a very young model. She knows what she wants and this is how she succeeded.

Who would you most like to work with in the future?

I am very close with the Hadid family, but I have never had the chance to work with Bella Hadid. I think everything about her is perfect; her face, her style, her personality. I would love to have the opportunity to work with her. I really admire her as a model, and how down to earth she is with her family and fans after all the success she has achieved.

What do you think is the biggest misconception Americans have of Arabs, and what is the truth about it?

I am so sad to say this, but the biggest misconception we have about Arabs is terrorism and the fact that our people are very close-minded. This is really false, because in every country there are people that do bad things. Having a bad image of the Arab people hurts me a lot. This is why it’s very important for me to insist that I’m an Arab, I’m open minded and I am doing something good for the Arab people in order to improve even a little bit, the bad image that is given on the news.

If you could go back in time and give only ONE piece of advice to your teenage self, what would you say to yourself?

If I could go back and give myself one piece of advice it would be to be patient when I was young and wanted everything right away, right now. We don’t know that the best things take time to achieve. You have to build yourself up so you have a stronger base and better things to present and to give to people in the future.

abla sofy interview4

Morocco versus L.A. – who wins? : )

This is always one of the hardest questions I get asked. I think a mix of both is perfection for me. I try to take what I love from both Morocco and LA. Both are valuable to me.

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

I am a very introverted person. I can spend days at home just sitting reading, getting inspired and watching TV. I’m a big thinker. I love to think and try to find the best solution to new ideas. I don’t like to surround myself with a lot of people. It freaks me out. I think it’s very important for a person to know how to make herself happy and how to get inspired from her own energy.

Biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is when someone is talking too much. It really stresses me out. I don’t want to be rude, but it really makes me very frustrated, so I have to leave or to ask the person to calm down as it gives me a big headache. This is something I’m trying to work on because it’s important to hear people talk so you can get their point of view. However, if someone does not stop talking, I feel like they are getting into my head and attacking me.

Favorite food?

My favorite food is, of course, Moroccan food. This is the thing that I miss the most from Morocco after my family. Moroccan food is just so tasty, so full of spices and so healthy. It’s very hard for me to find something similar when I’m in America, so I found a little Moroccan restaurant here in LA that I go to weekly, which I enjoy very much.

Secret fear?

My secret fear is that I will stay too focused on my work and not be able to have kids until later, because I always wanted to have children as young as I can. I am very focused on my career now, which is making me really happy, but it’s always something in the back of my mind. I think a person should find a way to balance both of them. I’m still working on that.

What’s the last movie you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

“OCEAN” was the last movie I saw coming back from Morocco on the plane and my review is: ‘amazingly insane.’

The one piece of makeup I cannot live without is__________.

Concealer of course! I always have the worst dark circles. I never leave my house without a concealer. Sometimes, it’s the only make up I have on my face.

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

The most embarrassing thing happened when I went to a model casting and they asked me to show up with no make- up on. I thought they wouldn’t know I had concealer on, but they did and asked me to take it off!

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

I am working on a few fun projects with some brands. Fashion is always my thing so I’m transitioning into television. It’s my dream to have a TV show and work on that more in America, since I’m already acting a lot in Morocco.

Selfie time!

abla sofy selfie

Follow Abla: https://www.instagram.com/ablasofy

Watch her music video with Daddy Yankee, French Montana and more here:

Jackson Dollinger talks ‘Sydney to the Max’ and more in interview with Teens Wanna Know

jackson dollinger

Jackson Dollinger is set to become one of Disney’s newest rising stars with the January 25 premiere of the Original Disney Channel Series, Sydney to the Max. Jackson plays Young Max, the tween version of title character’s Sydney father who is shown in flashbacks set in the 1990s.

We got the chance to ask Jackson a few questions so you get to know him and his upcoming show better. Scroll down for our Q&A!

jackson dollinger

Hi Jackson, nice to e-meet you! Before we get into your role on Disney’s new show “Sydney to the Max,” tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi. It’s really nice to meet you too. Well, I am turning 12 years old this month. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have been acting for a couple of years now. I started my acting career doing commercials and about a year in, I decided to try out theatrical. My passion is skateboarding and I have been skating since I was about 2 years old. In my spare time, I spend a lot of time skateboarding, surfing and playing basketball.

Thanks…now tell us what “Sydney to the Max” is all about, and about your character Young Max!

Sydney to the Max is a sentimental and heartwarming comedy about a single father raising his middle school daughter with the wisdom and wisecracks of his mother, Judy, who has a razor-sharp memory of Young Max’s teenage antics. Many of the flashbacks scenes to young Max and his best friend Leo parallel the funny predicaments that Sydney and her best friend Olive get into.

Young Max is a fun, outgoing, loveable daredevil and avid skateboarder. He is being raised by his single mother, Judy, and is seen in flashbacks to the 1990s. Young Max wants nothing more than to impress the cool skate crowd known as the “Dog Boys” and hang with his best friend Leo, at home or the local video arcade.

You play the younger version of Ian Reed Kesler’s character, Max, shown in flashbacks. Did you guys meet or were you totally separate on set since your characters live in different eras?

Although we never shoot scenes at the same time, I see Ian every day because the present day and 1990’s sets are all on the same stage. I love playing the younger version of Ian. He is super talented and funny and I learn a lot about Young Max’s mannerisms just by studying Ian when he is performing his scenes.

What is the biggest difference between young and older Max, and what is the most challenging part about playing him?

The biggest difference is Young Max is quite the character in his younger years and Adult Max has mellowed out in his older years, but is still a big kid at heart.

I think the most challenging part about playing Young Max is that when shooting a scene in the 1990s, there is technology that I have never even seen. For example, I had to make a call from a payphone and I had to get a quick little lesson on how to use it, smartphones operate a whole lot differently than rotary phones. LOL

What’s been the best part about being on that show so far?

I would have to say that the best part about being on the show is I have learned so much. I have learned a lot about myself, my acting, blocking and shooting, and doing stunts. Also, the cast is so talented and the crew is so awesome. It is truly a pleasure to work with each and every one of them. I feel very fortunate to be part of this awesome show. It is a show to be proud of!!

jackson dollinger

And the hardest?

I think the biggest adjustment for me has been getting used to doing school and work every day while shooting. It isn’t hard, just different from my schedule when I attended traditional school.

If you could bring back ONE thing from the 1990s, what would it be and why?

I would definitely bring back the freedom to roam with friends without parental supervision. Young Max is a pretty free-range kid on the show. It seems like kids in the 1990s had a bit more freedom in terms of going places with their friends. The world seemed like a simpler and safer place.

Tell me something people might be surprised to know about you?

I think that people might be surprised to know that unlike my character Young Max, I am a straight A student.

Biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is when someone is handing me silverware or a straw and they touch the part that I will be eating or drinking from.

Favorite food?

My favorite food is absolutely SUSHI…hands down.

Favorite Youtuber?

My favorite Youtuber is Roy Purdy because he is a great skater and I love his dance moves.

What’s the last movie you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

The last movie I saw was Birdbox. Two words . . . Couldn’t sleep!

The one thing I cannot live without is__________.

The one thing I cannot live without is my skateboard, but water would be a close second.

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

One very embarrassing moment was when I was sitting and tipping on a chair during a network run through and the chair fell all the way back and I ended up on the floor in front of everyone.

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

We are still in production on Season 1 of Sydney to the Max. I will be working on the show through March.

Selfie time!

jackson dollinger

Follow Jackson Dollinger at https://www.instagram.com/jacksondollinger/

Watch Jackson in this trailer for the new show, Sydney to the Max!

Ananya Birla crusades for better mental health and becomes India’s first Platinum artist in English

ananya birla featured

Ananya Birla is a rising pop-star from India. She is the first artist to achieve Platinum status in India with english-language songs (“Meant To Be” and “Hold On“) and recently released a third song called “Circles“with Universal and Island Records UK — which also just went Platinum! She has worked with Afrojack and Mood Melodies, shared the stage with Coldplay at Global Citizen, and gained over 40 million views on her Vevo. She splits her time between London and Mumbai.

She also runs a mental health initative focused on young people. After battling her own mental health issues while studying at Oxford, Ananya launched Mpower – which works towards dispelling the stigma associated with mental health illnesses and provides care in India.

Let’s find out more about her career and how she overcame her past struggles in our Q&A below!

ananya birla2

Hi Ananya, nice to e-meet you. Before we get into your work as a singer, entrepreneur and mental health advocate, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a singer-songwriter from India. I spend about half of my time in the US, and the other half in Mumbai. I love travel, guitar, yoga and spending time with my friends, family and puppy Skai.

I run a mental health initiative in India, MPower, which provides treatment and campaigns to get rid of the stigma around mental illness. I also founded an organization called Svatantra when I was 17, which lends money to women in rural India to help them start businesses and become independent.

Great! US audiences might not be very familiar with you yet…so can you fill us in on some of your notable work and achievements in the music industry?

I spent a while gigging and doing open-mic nights around London when I was at college, before I released my first single at the end of 2016 with Universal Music. Since then, I have released three more songs, worked and performed with amazing artists around the world, and reached over 100m streams.

Last year, I became the first home-grown artist to go Platinum in India with an English song, which I have managed to do three times now with my songs Meant To Be, Hold On and Circles.

What are the biggest differences between being an artist in India and the US?

Bollywood music kind of rules the music scene in India, and other genres like pop, hip hop and rap can get squeezed out. It can feel like artists are pushed to fit-in and be the same as everyone else, whereas in the US people embrace musicians that are new and different. I love that there is so much talent here, working on all types of different music – there is something for everyone.

What is Mpower all about and how does it help people?

I battled with my mental health when I was at university in the UK. It was a really tough time and it was made worse because I was too scared to talk to anyone about the way I was feeling, thinking they might undermine my ability or see me differently.

I was very lucky to eventually get the support that I needed. But when I returned to India the issues around mental health seemed even worse. Because of the lack of awareness and investment, it is so difficult for people there to get help.

I created MPower because I wanted to change that by campaigning and providing care for people living with mental health issues who are too often ignored or discriminated against. We have built a world-class care centre and we also run big awareness-raising music concerts, which bring together thousands of people from all over India.

MPower is focused on India, but the message is a global one – we need to stamp out the stigma around mental illness.

ananya birla3

How can people take advantage of what Mpower has to offer?

Although mental illness is just as common as physical illness, it is surrounded by shame and fear which isolates people when they need support the most. With Mpower, we want people to feel that it is OK to not be OK sometimes. And for them to know that there is help available should they need it.

When people are struggling they can either come to our amazing care centre, speak with one of our team members on the phone or even reach out online. Increasingly people are getting in touch with me or the organisation via social media which is great because it is so accessible, especially for young people.

We are still in our early stages, but already we see more and more people opening up about their mental health without feeling misplaced shame. We plan to continue to expand across India, opening centres and engaging with more schools and colleges to teach them how they can support people who are struggling.

Why do you think mental health issues are seemingly increasing among young people?

I think young people today are under a huge amount of pressure – from their parents, communities, schools, and from themselves. It can leave people feeling like they’re never quite good enough.

Social media also plays a big part. It can give you unrealistic expectations and lead you to compare yourself to others. It’s sad that whilst we have social media and the internet and we’re communicating and connecting digitally all the time, our generation seems to be feeling isolated and lonely, perhaps more than ever before….

It’s still the case that huge numbers of teens with mental health issues are suffering alone and in silence. But, I think that people are starting to get more confident about coming forward, identifying how they are struggling, and seeking help. It is so inspiring to see more and more people speaking out and ‘owning’ their mental health.

At Oxford, you experienced panic attacks. What exactly did panic attacks feel like when you were experiencing them?

I experienced anxiety and panic attacks whilst at school in England. It’s a combination of emotional and physical feelings and everyone experiences them slightly differently. For me, it was overwhelming fear, a pounding heart, shortness of breath. There were days I felt too overwhelmed to leave the house.

How did you get better?

The first step in getting better was accepting that there was a problem. Once you do that, you can begin to understand the issue and find methods to help yourself. For me, things like deep breathing, regular exercise, yoga, spending time with my friends, and taking a digital detox were helpful.

Once I had acknowledged it, I was able to talk about it with people close to you. It is tough to open up at first, but sharing something you’ve been keeping to yourself for a long time can feel like a weight has been lifted. I also came across friends who had experienced similar things which made me feel less alone.

If it is available to you, talking to a professional is the best possible way to equip yourself with the tools to manage these issues. There is a wonderful sanctity about therapy. And, whilst it can be daunting to open up to a stranger, having an outside opinion and the security of confidentiality can be extremely reassuring.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced so far as an entrepreneur?

When I launched Svatantra at 17, the finance industry was dominated by experienced, middle-aged men. Even my own team was much older than me! I had to prove that I was willing to learn, and that I had a strong enough vision to see it through and get back on my feet if I made a mistake. I reinvented myself daily, getting tougher, stronger and more committed to making Svatantra the business it is today and delivering a positive impact.

And what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

All my songs are so personal to me and are generally based on own experiences and I think my fans recognize that. Nothing makes me happier than when I get a message from a fan who says that they connected to my music and that it made something that they are going through a little bit easier. That feels like the biggest achievement to me.

ananya birla

You were born to a wealthy family. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of you because of that?

Some people assume that my life might be easy and that I don’t have challenges or worries. I have been very lucky to be born in to a family that has achieved a lot, but it doesn’t mean that it has been a totally smooth ride. Particularly, growing up came with all the usual emotional and social challenges; the self-doubt, the feeling ‘not good enough’. Plus I had the pressure of living up to what my family has done, and having people I didn’t even know constantly questioning my decisions and direction.

I have always wanted to be independent and carve my own path. I get so much emotional support and love from my family, and that’s all I really need.

If you could go back in time and give only ONE piece of advice to your teenage self, what would you say to yourself?

Have confidence in your ability, take risks, and listen to your heart.

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

I am totally obsessed with sneakers!

Biggest pet peeve?

Dishonesty

Favorite food?

Hummus. On everything. All the time.

Secret fear?

Losing a friend. My last song Circles was a celebration of friendship, I truly believe it is the most magical and powerful force in the universe.

What’s the last movie you watched, and give me a review…but you can only use TWO WORDS for the review : )

Bohemian Rhapsody – Iconic and Inspiring

The one thing I cannot live without is__________.

Music

Most embarrassing moment IRL you wish you could do over?

I have a habit of tripping over at the worst times. I can be a bit clumsy! This included an awkward fall at some big event in India in front of a pretty prominent audience which included former UK Prime Minister David Cameron…

What else are you working on or have coming up next?

My next single is out in January and then my EP a little later in the year, which I am working on right now in LA.

Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? It’s something we ask to keep it real for the fans!

ananya birla selfie

Follow Ananya:

https://www.instagram.com/ananya_birla/
https://twitter.com/ananya_birla
https://www.facebook.com/AnanyaBirlaOfficial/
https://www.ananyabirla.com/
https://www.svatantramicrofin.com/
https://www.mpowerminds.com/