Author - Gabrielle Alexandra Smith

Falk Hentschel Relates to Issues in ‘Marwen’

ATM: How does acting help you say the lines “I am who I am” to yourself?

FH: I think many actors approach their work from a place of becoming someone else or at least that’s the goal.  For me, I think I approach it more from a place of empathy.  Finding a way to be truthful in the given circumstance/situation of the character that I’m playing.  I ultimately always ask myself the same questions: “What would I do in this scenario if this is the journey I have had gone through and I how would I feel.” That mixed with hair/makeup and a costume gives the illusion of becoming someone else.  But in the meantime I just get explore myself deeper than I would without these questions.  In a way I get to find out more of who I am and how I am by taking on new characters, if that makes sense. Also it means that no matter what I do, a character will always carry the essence of who I am with it.  In my opinion that just can’t be helped.

ATM: What makes this movie more honest? The plot summary? Characters? Relationships between the characters?

FH: Mark’s own honesty and truthfulness is what does it.  It’s about a character who chooses not to sacrifice who he is, no matter what opposition he is met with.  That’s very honest.

ATM: What are similar sacred places like Marwen in your life?

FH: I probably go to a place like Marwen when I write screenplays.  I get to create a world that is mine, in which I can be honest and express myself to the fullest.  I’m also lucky to feel this way around my family and friends.  Another place like it, is nature.

ATM: How does your portrayal and observation in a true story film contrasted with an original film dictate your learning experience?

FH: I feel a bit more responsibility to get it right in the true story scenario.  In this case, the person I played had already passed away and there was very little information about him to be found.  So i focused on infusing him with the essence of what he represents in this story.  He is the other side of the coin of Mark.  Someone lacking courage to be himself, someone who lashes out at others, someone without empathy.

ATM: How did your struggle with body dysmorphia define your identity?

FH: It’s a never-ending struggle.  But I manage better and better.  I still go through periods in which I’m incredibly harsh on my body, where I feel that I’m never good enough just the way I am.  Body dysmorphia basically makes you constantly worry about your physical identity and its relationship to receiving love.  The question that basically runs through your mind is “Is my body love-able enough.” I think that many people nowadays suffer from one form or another of body dysmorphia.  Hopefully society will shift soon and put less emphasis on the importance of the physical appearance. I certainly am.

ATM: When you look in your mirror now or your black phone screen what do you truly see? Do you see a male who is on a continuous journey with life?

FH: I see a human being that is dealing with the current moment as good as he can.  Someone who desires nothing more than to be okay with himself and the world but often times struggles with that.  But I don’t want to miss those struggles either because they are in part what catapult me into the next moment and make me grow.

ATM: Describe what goes on in your head while having an eating disorder. Mentally. Emotionally.

FH: Your mind gets consumed with your appearance and what you can do to better it.  Your days are scheduled around your eating disorder.  When/what I eat or what my next workout will be runs the show.  And no matter what you do, you always end up feeling like you’ve failed, like you need to do more.  It’s been a while that that has come up for me but the feelings of guilt when I eat certain foods or when I am not active for longer periods of time can still become quite overwhelming.  Especially in connection with jobs.  The current idea of a male leading actor is that he is hugely muscular and shredded like hell.  Someone who is almost indestructible, always strong and has to save the day. Very little focus is put on the emotional make up, vulnerability and soul of the character.  So it perpetuates the idea that in order to be of value to the industry you need to represent those old fashioned ideas.

ATM: Why do you think people tip toe on the word depression?

FH: Probably cause most everyone these days have struggled with some form of it and we’re scared to put ourselves in fear of being broken.  I’m not a doctor but to me depression means to be disconnected from positive feelings for long periods of time and having trouble to change that.  Society puts a lot of pressure on us to perform, to succeed and to be happy.  I think unchecked that creates the feeling of failure very easily.  Also I believe that we have become very scared of truthful interaction with one another.  Talking openly and honestly, without fear of offending anyone or being vulnerable by exposing ourselves to others.  That has created an overall loneliness that hangs in the atmosphere around us.  Community and togetherness is what we’re made for and I think it’s the way we function best, together.

ATM: How did you embrace your pain with depression?

FH: The first and hardest step for me is to allow the depression.  Just give it some space.  I say to myself “You’re allowed to be depressed right now.  Feel what you need to feel and then you can try to get better.” Usually that already grants me a little relief and opens a crack in the armor to then start to focus on what’s good in life, the things that lift my spirits.  I’ve an amazing support system in my life-partner, family and friends.  I can share my feelings openly which is huge for healing.  Also being in nature somehow always helps me balance myself out.

ATM: At what point did you realize your depressed state was just a chapter in your life and did not define your whole life?

FH: I have always been able to recognize my depressive episodes as something that will pass, sooner or later. I think normalizing it helped me a lot.  Hearing from other people about their struggle with depression was something that put it in perspective for me.  Like I said togetherness makes everything easier for me.  I’m not alone in this.

ATM: What are your comments on witnessing and experiencing how the mind can transform a person’s world?

FH: Oh man.  The mind is what we use to see the world and decide with how to navigate it.  In a way without our mind there is no world for us.  So a powerful mind can create any world it wants.  Whether it’s real to others or not doesn’t matter. As actors we do it all the time.  Having gone through a psychosis myself, I’ve had firsthand experience on what it’s like to see the world you thought was real entirely collapse.  It’s a scary realization to know that what we perceive as reality is such a fragile thing. To me our mind is still the greatest frontier to be explored.

Johanna Thea on ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ and Poetry

ATM: What were your comments on the experience that went on behind the scenes?

JH: Johnny Depp has a lot of dialogue. Everyone is friendly when coming on set. He was nice when thanking everyone on set. He received a standing ovation of everyone. Someone reached out to everyone such as co-stars and stars.

ATM: How is the element of power used throughout the series and film?

JH: The is a struggle with half-bloods and blood in the society. We face this on an international level. A lot of her characters struggle with power. Of course, there is Harry Potter with being adopted. He realizes his power. He uses the power but does not abuse power. This is what humans struggle with this. The characters struggle with their powers and the decisions that have to make.

ATM: What is your perspective on the wizard’s ambiance and appearance in the film?

JH: The films get darker as he grows up. He is becoming more conscious as an adult just like we are. A lot of us who are not psychopaths and sociopaths are not mindful of the amount of darkness in the world. We become more aware as we become older and this makes the world appear to be darker. The portrayal of the wizards, in the beginning they are distinct from the other characters. They blend more into society. She might be speaking more into the recent thing in our society in the things around them. People who decide they will challenge their wealth against our alliance with government bodies. The wizard’s powers are good.

There integration into society is the same for individuals in society who are charitable. Hamina is strong, amazing, and charming. Ron is funny but not as clever. Harry is smart but still not as a clever. I always wonder why she wouldn’t choose to have a female protagonist. This is a bit like the antihero. The heroes in life are not who you would expect to be heroes. In life we paint people are evil and bad. They are really just wounded. This something she brings to life. My friends and I bring to life about what we were taught in school. A lot of the things we have to deal with in life are often with relationships and connection. Not just with ourselves but with other people. Her series brings awareness with the younger generation and our generation.

ATM: What is the observation of the family structure and tackling the ideal family?

JH: We have all met ideal families. It is important for children are made aware that even if you have good ideas that it is hard. Harry’s mom makes a sacrifice that is love. The family that we gift ourselves are with people that we love. There bond is not an idealized version that we got by Hollywood all the time. Their love for themselves and each other is what wins out. This is a fantasy, which you have the chance to not have to live in this. The struggle that people have in the world is that we have to accept that people die. Our connections and family bond help us get through these times. The power of the true bloods wants to keep the bloodline alive. They want to keep the pure bloods a live. This is a fallacy she is trying to illuminate through the series. IT is not about genetics our bloods that make us a family.

ATM: How do you see yourself as a fantastic beast? 

JH: Just like my character, who is a witch, I’m bound only to the laws of nature and aware enough to differentiate between areas of my life where I have real control – such as the direction of my focus, energies I choose to surround myself with (friends & pursuits) and effects which embodying love generates in those around me, rather than wars happening in distant lands, and overall outcomes.

I’m a fantastic beast because I understand which gifts I give the world and that many worlds co-exist, which rather than undermining mine, brings awareness to the number of cooperative elements present for everything to co-exist in harmony.

ATM: In a word associative view, what is in the name Fantastic Beasts? 

JH: To my mind, the word Fantastic Beasts inspires feelings of beings who are wild, not in the primitive sense, but rather that of being true to their actual inner Being and truth.

 It strikes me as a celebration of all things natural, real and untethered by conditioning to any culture, idealization regarding physicality or approximations born of gender roles, and societal norms. It brings to a light representation of beings that can be masters of themselves yet also remain free from external dictate, without necessarily being rebellious, but rather, independent. In our human world, what does harry potter represent more than an orphan?
JH: Harry Potter represents the egalitarian spirit in which we can all be heroes through overcoming our fears, facing each challenge, being okay with vulnerability, needing support, not being the best or being treated well, and yet above all our always having the choice to love, and be good. Harry Potter represents our freedom to be brave and keep fighting for what and who we believe in.

ATM: How has JK Rowling influenced fantasy literature?

JH: I’m by no means an expert on fantasy literature, however, what I can say is, through achieving her dream and sharing with us all the means through which this occurred, she has opened a world of hope and possibilities for all artists, regardless of their background. Equally, through maintaining her character and being consistently good, she diminishes the fable of power and money corrupting. Rather illuminating through her actions, much as in her books that being good, courage, love and self-belief are all choices we get to make over and over again, throughout our journeys.

ATM: What does this film adaptation say about magic and how it is depicted to the public?

JH: As ever JK Rowling makes us aware of our kinds of magic, and how we can determine to use them whatever the challenge, obstacle or fear. Naturally, David Yates enables his actors to open up on camera and through various shades of vulnerability, illuminate what can work for us as magical beings, and what invariably fails! Yes, and while it may mean different things to different people, what’s important is that we kept the poetry of our souls alive and tuned in to the silent rhythms our kinds of magic can form. For me, this lies somewhere between watching the sunset, in awe, at dusk, and my seeking within myself for the power to be still in the face of seemingly insurmountable odd.

Having experienced trauma myself, and many of life’s challenges associated with our world, I’ve come to trust that inner voice which guides us, magically to safety and to increasingly better ways of living. For life demands many forms of strength from us, at different times, and it has taken me some time to realize that often this is present in moments of extreme vulnerability and openness to change. It’s been an absolute pleasure. What is your connection with poetry?

JH: As a child before attending school at four years old, I began reading, writing and doing dictations, essentially getting home schooled. So that it became natural for me to express my emotions through poetry. I’ve been writing poems ever since I can remember and was first published around seven years old. My favorite poems are The Lake Isle of Inishfree by W.B Yeats and of course Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass which lies somewhere between poetry, and prose drives me to sheer ecstasy. Having written so much poetry for so long, I’m releasing my first collection through Amazon in January 2019 entitled “Heart Beats.”

ATM: Why is Leaves of Grass and not Whitman’s Song of Myself as engrossing to you?

JH: Walt Whitman’s collection of poems is called “Leaves of Grass, among which lies his poem ‘A Song of Myself’. So that when I said Leaves of Grass was among my favorite poetry, I was in fact referencing the entire collection. This is because each section illuminates a different aspect of the human condition and leg of our journey.

While Song of Myself is about introspection, loving oneself, and is playfully speckled with wit and wisdom to encourage and enable us embracing ourselves other poems in Walt Whitman’s collection are more somber and intense! For example, “Calamolis” broached homosexual desires, and different types of love and ways of loving, and “Songs of Parting” is one which creates a sense of the endless opportunities in life to embrace each moment and perhaps also live on in our work, and how we impact each other.

So, in answer to your question, while I agree that “Songs of Myself”, is among the most celebrated poems in American literature, for me, it depends on my mood on that day, what my soul needs as sustenance and if I feel the desire to simply celebrate human’s existence as part of the whole or am looking for a different type of introspective or experience in that moment.

Being dyslexic I also enjoy listening to each installment of his collection, for just like the natural ebb and flow of our human experience, so too does listening to Walt Whitman’s poetry bring us at once closer to ourselves, and to an even greater awareness of nature, and our part in it.

ATM: What poet or poem relates or is close to the plot summary to Fantastic Beast? 

JH: Hmm this is a hard task, what comes to mind though, albeit not quite poetry, is Shakespeare’s plays. For just like his works the nature of what it is to be human is explored through the challenges each character faces and their decisions thereafter.

In this sense the journey of souls through various battlefields is highlighted in the fictitious crusades of both artists characters, what Shakespeare draws through fictitious situations, J.K.Rowling does through her fantasy.

Both striving to illuminate the complexities and weakness in human nature through illuminating how these need not lead to one’s downfall unless one so chooses!

Also both attribute many weaknesses to characters chosen isolation, such as that of Shylocks blood-lust in The Merchant of Venice being synonymous with Voldemorte who at one time could have chosen to be good and celebrated. Which is interesting as one of the psychological principles of addiction states that substances can be used instead of true human connection, so that both authors create an awareness of the importance of keeping good company through illuminating the effects produced through its’ opposite.

ATM: How does the title Heart Beats relate to your life?

JH: Thank you for this question, for it has always been my heart which has saved me from great disaster, and encouraged in me a sense of integrity and ultimately, resilience.

Given my traumatic upbringing it was the love of those around me, who chose to adopt me as friends and family who gifted me a strong sense of duty to cling to life, because of their love.

Later, it was loving women which drew me again to the surface of turbulent waters, as I grew to understand that my sensuality and sexuality are far more complex than previously understood.

Also, that love is ultimately what drives me forward, gifting me the outlook and overtly positive sense of life being inherently a gift, and loving the penultimate definition of being alive.

So my poetry book “Heart Beats” is an encapsulation of how loves “beats”, have consistently encouraged me to grow, celebrating life, learning and this human experience with each new breath, and possibility of loving. It is a direct reflection of how my life has evolved so far, and perhaps the title was inspired, albeit subconsciously, by my mentor Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”, in the sense that each Heart Beat, much like each leaf, contains within it the fullness of every experience possible, while at once needing the one next to it in order to find, or indeed have any sense or meaning. Which is to say that I too believe that the individual is at once an expression of self and part of the whole dynamic movement of other selves!

Daphne Maxwell Sees Versatile Expressions in Acting

ATM: Describe your approach to acting as an art form.

DMR: Art is an expression of the God given gift I was given. Something that I would like to share that I have seen. Art is an expression of all the things I like to do, and the things God gave me to do.

ATM: How do you see acting as artistry?

DMR: Acting is the expression of the words of the writer. The words are a portrayal of their vision of an idea. The actors get to say these words. They encourage you to listen to these words and interpret them so that it means something to you. Hopefully, the words motivate you to do or feel something. Acting is bringing these words to life, and this is an art form.

ATM: How do you continue to be true or real with your art?

DMR: There is no truth or falseness to art. Art just is, and it is judged by those who can see it. It is not judged by me creating it. It is an expression of my authenticity. Art comes out of one, and it is presented as it is. It is easy to do, scary to do, but art is in the eye of the beholder. Not the maker.

ATM: When it is in the eye of the beholder and not the maker, do you think the maker will ever see it in the same way as the beholder?

DMR: Everybody will get a different meaning depending on where they are in their life. This is called art interpretation. The way you see it is up to you. I do not judge this as an artist. You are entitled to view it the way you want to. You could say it is wonderful or a piece of crap. It does not change that fact that it is the artist’s work.

ATM: What prompted you to have an education in interior design at a young age?

DMR: I took a mechanical drafting class in high school and enjoyed it. I realized mechanical drafting was used in interior design and architecture. When I got to college I wanted to express myself in drafting, so this was the course I took. I got my degree in this because I loved the act of designing and creating details. The act of trying to express how I would like to live or how a building needs to be structured to enhance the community.

ATM: Do you dabble in art before taking the mechanical drafting class?

DMR: I was making art from when I came out of the womb! In my family, we did crafts. I knitted and sewed. We painted pictures. I was always doing something artistic.

ATM: What were the stereotypes for black women on television during the 1960s?

DMR: On TV, we had Julia, played by Diahann Carroll, who was a nurse, a single woman and mother raising a son on television. She was one of the few black images on television. Throughout the history of movies, there were black people, but they always played characters in ways the dominant culture wanted them to play. They played maids, servants, and the villain. They were trying to propagandize the fact that you should be scared of black people. When we got control in the 60s of our image, we started with superheroes (the film Shaft), and folks in the neighborhood who were cleaning up. This was our created image. If we do not create the image, then we do not get to say what they looked like.

ATM: Did you ever envision that you would one day embody the character of a mother?

DMR: Never crossed my mind. Acting is not a thought process, but it is a doing process. You get the opportunity to represent a mother on television, and this is what you are. I am not a writer, director, or producer. I do not get to create these characters.

ATM: Today, what are your comments on the expression of the black identity as seen in television and film today? What shows on TV do you feel expresses this?

DMR: There are various black identities on television. We wanted to see all of our communities and not just one type of black person. It is a variety now from hero to villain. We are not monolithic people. We are people who do various things such as being villains and heroes. We are doctors, lawyers, and more. This is all we wanted, which is not to be just one image.

ATM: What is your description of yourself as an actor today?

DMR: Unemployed.

ATM & DMR: (Laughs)

DMR: An actor has to wait to get chosen. I recently finished shooting two projects. Today I am not employed, I am the lady who is cooking for a bunch of folks.

ATM: What is your personality? How did you ground yourself in this strong woman persona?

DMR: I am gregarious and outgoing, and I like to smile. I am warm and friendly. I am a strong woman who has an idea of what is right and what is wrong. I will not put up with BS. My mother told me I could do anything I wanted. You have mother wit and intuition that guides you. There should be no obstacle to doing what you want to do in service of your purpose. Your purpose is your God given purpose. You have to find out what this is. You do this by living every day as a good person. You find out where it leads you. I go where my light leads me and try to make the best choices when I get there.

ATM: Has anyone ever been intimidated by your personality?

DMR: Oh, sure, I can come on strong sometimes. I can offend people sometimes by being very upfront. They sometimes do not want to hear what I have to say. I have been offended by people. It does not kill you. Hopefully, it makes you think.

ATM: What are your comments on someone who does not understand or know their God given purpose or their innate ability? Also, do you look at life in sequences of chapters?

DMR: For those having a hard time finding their purpose just know that making mistakes can help you find it. You just get up and try something else. This is how you find your road, your purpose, and your door. I got up this morning and thought, “What am I going to do with this day? Who can I help this day? How can I advance into what I want to do today?” I can look back on the chapters in my life saying I went through this and I got through that. I do not have chapters in front of me. I have only today. What can I do today? Move toward a goal and how can I make this day of my life.

ATM: What are your current goals?

DMR: I have a fashion collection, which I will put on the runway in the Spring to design and make the collection. I have a book on my computer that needs to be published. My book talks about the doors of Sicily and Venice. I have an event on my calendar. I have to prepare for these. What am I going to wear? How will I do this? How will I get there? I do not think of things as a big life goal. I am an older woman now. I had my goals. My goal now is joy. I want to feel good about myself. If this means making true art, then I do art. If it means working out every day for two weeks, then I do this.

ATM: How do you get past a mistake? Are you a perfectionist?

DMR: I am not a perfectionist. If I make a mistake, then I get back up. I go on to the next idea. Failure does not stop me. Failure is a lesson. You learn from it and you move on to create something new. Failure can be defined in a lot of different ways.

ATM: Such as?

DMR: I can fail at creating something that I wanted to create in a garment, and it just doesn’t work. Why does it not work? Because this needs to get changed and that needs to get changed. This is a failure. It is also the lesson. So it changes and you have success.

ATM: What morals and values did you live by in your 20s and 30s? What are some of your morals now?

DMR: I lived by inquisitive values and pushing the envelope. I had a basis of honesty and a basis of truth. I had a basis of loving myself. I had pride in myself. I had a moral compass that I was raised with. I made judgments of what I did based on what was right or wrong for me.

Yeniffer Behrens Embodies Film and Television

Yeniffer Behrens talks about the Grey’s Anatomy episode “Flowers Grow Out of My Grave.” This episode references the Day of the Dead, which is a popular day of remembrance celebrated in the Mexican Community. Additionally, she talks about her career as an actress, producer and filmmaker.

ATM: How did you envision your role after reading the script?

YB: I was so happy they incorporated el Día de Muertos in the show. I thought it would revolve around just my character and her family, which is the Latino family. Then I kept reading and realized it was integrated throughout the episode and that every character was aware of it. They acknowledged this beautiful event that we do. It exalted the honor of our culture throughout the episode. I loved that Meredith’s daughter and separately Bailey’s son explained what it was. How amazing would it be if all of us in the world honored each other’s cultures in this way?

ATM: How is death celebrated in the Latino community?

YB: It is a day to honor those that have passed away in your life, to keep them alive in your heart and mind… to celebrate who they were, and to remember them. It is more of a tribute than a memory. It is a celebration of life. My mother always said this “To die, you have to be born. There is nothing truer than knowing you are going to die. It is the law of life.” You live and pass on. Many other cultures believe in coming back, which get seen as reincarnation. We are born, and we have a day when we pass, then we hope our family will remember us. Día de Los Muertos is specifically a Mexican holiday, but it has variations in which it is celebrated in different countries.

ATM: How do the characters on this show view death since they are around it all day?

YB: My sister is a nurse and when she first started the job she was not used to this environment. She came home talking about almost losing patients and was very shocked at first because she was not used to emergencies and people being on the brink of death. Now, three years into it, she and the people in her field are constantly working to save a life. Death is a part of their life and becomes a new normal in the medical field. I have so much respect for them because they can save lives and make a huge difference in the world but are also so close to death. The process becomes very clinical by not just saving one person, but by saving society. I would think this is how the characters on Grey’s Anatomy see it. My sister was the first person I called when booking Grey’s Anatomy. I always told her: “One day I will be on this show.” This show has been in our living rooms for years, and now I would be in it.

ATM: Octavio Paz is quoted on the show: “The Mexican…is familiar with death. [He] jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it. It is one of his favorite toys and his most steadfast love.” How does citation continue to resonate with this event in the Mexican community?

YB: Everyone has a different perspective. We are all alike, but it is not what “is”, but how we respond to what is. This goes across the board, not only death but with life. This is my interpretation. We see throughout the episode that everyone had a different way of dealing with death. Ellen (Meredith), in the last scene of the episode, as she walked down the corridor sees her mom, her sister, her friends, dog and husband. Everyone that she loved gets shown. This gave me chills because I believe our loved ones are always around us. They show up when we remember them. She (Meredith) was remembering them. This is the importance of the Day of the Dead. When you remember them, it keeps their life going on and this is very spiritual.

Put value in life with faith and determination and you will get to create whatever you believe is your reality and what you want your life to be. I firmly believe this does not need to be about religion. Spirituality and being connected to our own spirit is what connects us to this whole world. It stems from a higher power. Everything we want to accomplish and all the answers to the questions we have about our life are all inside ourselves. We just need to listen to our heart.

ATM: We need to continue to search within ourselves to find our destiny.

YB: Exactly, to find your destiny and to find your truth. You have to speak to it. I cannot tell you how to live your life, but I can give you advice for it. It is ultimately what you want that is in your heart, mind, and soul connecting your thoughts, words, and actions. This alignment causes magic to happen.

ATM: How has your production company True Form Films inspired other American Latinos to tell their story?

YB: We are unstoppable and determined to create a film with a low micro-budget, which has surprised many people as to what we have done. This is because of the good quality of our work. It has inspired them to both do it for themselves and to hire us. Our first film was After School in 2012. We did it with less than $45,000. A lot of it was achieved through donations and favors. We had a script and passionate people attached, and we did crowd funding as well.

ATM: You mentioned you were attracted to film as a kid. What is it about film for you? What is it in storytelling that creates your attraction for a film? Is it the dramatizations of the stories getting told to you?

YB: I found it fascinating more than amusing. Grease was my favorite movie as a child. It showed a world that made me want to be a part of it. I realized I could create this and do this for a living, so I became even more fascinated and excited about it. The ability to create art is a gift. We can create art to make others happy, sane, and even have audiences go on a journey for even just an hour while making them forget about the horrors of life.

ATM: So, you feel a film could be used as an emotional escape to help people tune into a different life that is different than their own.

YB: Exactly. This is what it did for me. As a child, my parents, unfortunately, did not get along all the time, but when I was taken to the movies or I watched T.V, I escaped into that world and was excited, happy while I immersed myself in the story.

ATM: In these stories that you saw yourself in while watching as a kid, what characters did you identify yourself with the most?

YB: Grease, The Brady Bunch, and Wonder Woman. I was Wonder Woman for like three years in a row for Halloween in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. I could not get enough of Wonder Woman. I wanted to be a superhero to help my mother out of that situation. I wanted my life to be like the Brady Bunch and for us to get along.  As a kid, back when I lived in Washington, D.C. I was bullied in school because I did not speak English very well. The moment I would watch these movies as a little kid, I would wonder why people did not get along and even now as an adult I don’t get it. I developed a personality of being a leader, a community driven person, and created a team around me. I was a cheerleader in high school, the head of every club you could think of, and was the one to organize pep rallies and brought the community together. I was about celebrating life and having fun. I got this from my mother. She is very much like this. She loves to gather people together to have parties and break bread. I feel that I got this from her.

ATM: You went to high school in D.C.?

YB: No, I went to high school in Miami. I went to elementary school in D.C. from 1st to 3rd grade and part of 4th. We went to Miami for a couple of years. I went back to this area in Alexandria, Virginia. This is a part of their Tristate. I was there for 7th grade. I went back to Miami for 8th grade and high school. I graduated from high school in Miami and some college.  My grandfather got stationed in D.C.; he was ambassador or consulate for Venezuela for an embassy. We moved where he was.

ATM: I was asking about this particular place because I am a native of D.C.

YB: This is awesome. I love D.C. I love Georgetown. I was raised in this environment. I have relatives in Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia and my brother was born in Arlington. It is a special place for me as well.

ATM: Do you believe what a person can be missing in their life that they subconsciously watch shows that fill this void of what they are missing?

YB: I think so. Entertainment is a form of therapy. It is a way of inspiring others to do what they want to do in their life. There are circumstances that make people feel scared. If you see it on T.V. and there’s a character you relate to, then you want to be like them. You have this to hold on to when everything else fails in your life. You have this one character that inspires you. The arts and what we do is so important to society. For me, I loved more family-based films and stories that made a difference.

ATM: So, you watched shows like the Brady Bunch that presented a well-put-together televised family. I am saying that self-consciously as a child you wished because you wanted this type of life at the time.

YB: Absolutely. I am proud of myself for creating a family that resembles more of the Brady Bunch. I have an amazing husband who is a great dad to my children. I have a daughter with my husband and a son from my first marriage. In my first marriage, I noticed the same pattern I grew up with, so I got divorced and was okay with this for my son’s future. I then married a more compatible partner. It is my version of the Brady Bunch. He is the stepfather to my son and my son calls him “my bonus dad” instead of stepdad. They are great together. We spend holidays together, and it’s all for the kids. I am proud of the family unit I have created and this all stemmed from watching the Brady Bunch. The show was my escape, so I wanted to be in this family.

ATM: Describe the feeling while winning an award for your directorial debut Mi Amor. And what was that feeling when you saw your hard work win an award?

YB: The excitement and sense of accomplishment are immeasurable. The short film tells the story of a family. It is about love, lost love, and true love, forever love and love between a mother and son. I was a part of one conversation in this film. I was able to use this experience and put it in the story. It has completely healed this young girl in me, which is my 18-year-old self that got heartbroken. I am not the only woman who has been rejected by a mother in law.

ATM: Do you believe this film has allowed you to lay your 18-year-old self to rest? Has this chapter really closed in your life?

YB: I am giving her some validation. There is a piece inside me that looks back, and I now see I have become stronger and reliant. The past prepared me for this career, which is full of rejection. I learned about not giving up on myself, my dream, or my career. My 18-year-old self has held it together for me. Now she feels like it was not all a waste. She says: “You have pain, so put it in a film. There is more where it came from.” This brings me to my next feature film called Choices. This is the story of the same 18-year-old who stayed alone with her brother and sister. Her brother was 12 years old, and sister was 10 months old. She had to raise them. I am developing this story and might end up directing it.

ATM: You have talked about her so much, especially now in two films. How would you describe your 18-year-old you? Who was she?

YB: She was fearless and full of piss and vinegar. I had developed such a hard-wired persona determined to not let anything bring me down. While in school I would hide what went on at home. School was my escape and where I was seen as the happiest. I developed leadership. I was alone at 18 and felt I could do this with a fake it ‘till to you make it way of being. I could be a mother to my brother and sister, find help and be a cheerleader and leader, and co-captain of my team. It was this kind of attitude and my faith in God that made me strong.

I look back at being 18 when I had I won Miss Teen in Miami. A month later I was alone. As a beauty queen, I went to these events and had to represent and to pretend I was not alone or getting financial help from the church and welfare. I had to play the part and it made me strong.

ATM: If films were not a part of your imagination, then how different would this have influenced your growth?

YB: There was no other option. I was forged and fierce. I tried fashion merchandising and was going to train to be a flight attendant. People think you must have plan B and do something on the side. I wanted to try this too, but my heart was not happy.

I will tell you this. God is so amazing. The week that I was going to apply to become a flight attendant and go to Dallas to take the course I booked my first starring role in a film. I was flown out to California. This was confirmation telling me “You are not going to have a plan B. You are going to be an actress.” You are going to be in this industry. This is what happened. I did not do the plan B. I continued onto my career as an actress and filmmaker. This is what I am meant to do. God likes to put all these obstacles in front of you when you say, “I want to do this.” The universe says: “Okay how badly do you want it? Let’s see.” Follow your heart and do not give up. Do not give in. It is okay to fall. It is okay to cry and feel scared. Just keep going and do what you love.

Analysis: ‘The Mercy’

The Mercy represents how isolation can influence someone’s mentality and perspective on life. Donald Crowhurst was a real amateur Yachtsman whose goal was to compete in sailing around the world in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 1969. In the opening scene, he becomes curious about this race. He seems lost within himself as a person. Even though he is a man, this could be seen as a curious and lost state that is similar to a baby. He is curious to know about the race and wants to take it on. This also becomes his dream and passion. Having a dream and passion is a part of society in the American culture. Crowhurst had a dream, and he goes after it like society says you should. But he has a wife and three children at home. People in our society think an adult’s dreams is over once having children and getting married. How could he live out his dream and still be a father? The answer is that you cannot do both for long. He tries to, but it gives his dream more attention.

Everyone disagrees he should go but his three children. The children and him being on the same page could be the idea of a man sailing across the world is something a kid would dream. His wife is the one who thinks this is a bad idea. There is a line where she says “[Oh, you were serious about this.]” Crowhurst looks at her in disbelief and as if he has something to prove to her and everyone else. Additionally, he lacked logic about the whole boat adventure. His ambition and perseverance overshadowed this less attention on logic. Crowhurst was not aware of the severity of the trip and the internal effect it would have on him. This contest was extremely bigger than him. To him, it was just proving to the people around him and his family that he could do something. He was already failing with his ad selling company.

People in the film start to label him as a hero while he is freaking out on the boat in the middle of nowhere. Crowhurst had no idea how he started to get seen in the eyes of people. Crowhurst obliviousness is like the isolated mentality someone is in once they are so engrossed in their dream or passion. He represents how a person does not tap into the comments of the world. The internal change someone goes through is never celebrated. It will get overshadow with fame, money, and other notoriety labels.

Crowhurst internal change made him become a new Donald. His new “identity” or “self” is oblivious to the people around him. No matter how many reporters or deep conversation he would have with his wife, they would not be able to capture the change through the words coming from his mouth. He knew this because the change is indescribable. A person like Crowhurst begins to look at the water different, the people in his life differently, and thoughtfully looks at life. It is as if figuratively life is on a wooden table and Crowhurst is sitting in on the outside. He sees all the labels and does not want to be a part of that world. This world includes his wife, children, reporters, and everyone else. The change becomes higher than a rebirth for the husband of three. This is what happens when a person undergoes a journey that is insanely bigger than them. Toward the end of the movie, Crowhurst tells an imaginative figure of his wife “I am something else now.” He does not even say, someone. He objectifies himself as a thing and not classify himself as a person. At this moment in the film, we hear the voice over of his old self and clips of his old self. Crowhurst wants to connect with his old self. He wants to hug his old self. He probably in an imaginative world, would sit his old self down, and ask “Who was I? Explain me to me.” He knows if he comes back, the people around him will throw a camera in his face. The people around him will see him as his old self. He would coin the title famous but will not feel famous. Society’s only response to a person who encounters the new human perspective Crowhurst does is fame. Why should Crowhurst receive fame for something that was just a passion and goal for him? Why couldn’t he just enjoy his new take on life and explore more of his identity? Society would not let him do this.

In one of the closing scenes, Crowhurst’s wife says something that sums up society and life. “If he did jump, then he was pushed. Each and every one of you here had a grubby hand on his back. Every sponsor, every photographer, every reporter, and the sad little man who stands at a newsstand. To feast on the straps of another’s undoing. Once he was in the water, you all held him under with your judgment. Last week he was selling hope. Now you are selling blame. Next week you will be selling something else.” At the beginning of the film, Crowhurst was doing it for the reporters, but then he starts to realize life is not about pleasing people. Did Crowhurst die or did his old self already become dead? Was his body just an empty vessel for new identities to move in and out? What happens when a person like Crowhurst achieves their dream, purpose in life, and goal? Does the only answer have to be to make them famous?

Parker Wierling Talks ‘Greyhound’

Photo Credit: Valheria Rocha

ATM: What research did you do for the role in Greyhound since the film takes place during WWII? How did your character relate to the research?

Parker: Greyhound was so fun! It was an amazing learning experience and working on location with an amazing cast and crew in Baton Rouge was a blast. I did some research on the U.S.S. Kidd, which was the ship that we filmed some of the movie on! It was such a trip being able to work on real battleship that fought from World War II through the Korean war.

ATM: How does working with an actor with a long career such as Tom Hanks add more to your intriguing nature for acting?

Parker: Working with Tom Hanks was a dream come true. I always wanted to work with him on a war film after watching Saving Private Ryan when I was 13. He’s a lovely person and a total professional in every sense of the word. I learned a lot from him!

ATM: What is unique about the plot summary and express the identity of your character in your next year’s Yes, God, Yes?

Parker: Yes, God, Yes is an early 2000’s coming of age movie that takes place in a weekend Christian retreat. It was so fun filming in my hometown of Atlanta. I played a character named Wade, who’s a good kid even though he may not always make the right decisions because he wants his peers to like him.

ATM: How did the family atmosphere on set effect your experience with the film?

Parker: I loved filming Yes, God, Yes because it was such a tight bond with the entire cast and crew. We felt like family even though it was a shorter shoot. Karen Maine, the director was so on top of things and kind at the same time. Watching her work was inspiring, for sure.

ATM: In what ways did your performance on with film Greyhound drive your artistic goals and allow you to gain knowledge?

Parker: The role that impacted me the most was my role on Greyhound because I was on that set for the longest amount of time. Living with a character for that long was an interesting experience for me and I got to learn a lot about World War II navy life.

ATM: What actor or actress has inspired you enough to want to work with them? How does this same inspiration influence a character’s expression you would want to embody?

Parker: It would be amazing to work with Bill Hader. I’ve always loved comedy and that guy always cracks me up. Everything I’ve seen him in never fails to make me laugh! A dream role for me would be a wacky character in a Christopher Guest mockumentary. Spinal Tap and Best In Show are probably my favorite comedies ever and I would love to be a part of something like that.

ATM: What does your latest single “TailorMan” resemble to you as an musician? How does this introspective about yourself dictate the projects you have in the coming forth?

Parker: “TailorMade” was inspired by going through a rough 2017 and rising above it this year. Filming Yes, God, Yes and Greyhound really helped me out and that song was an outpouring of all my emotions after coming back from Baton Rouge. Check it out!

https://soundcloud.com/focalfeature/tailormade I have a song called “D.I.Y.” coming out on December 7th and an EP titled, “Automatic Focus” coming out on December 22nd!

 

A Chat with CJ Tyson of Paramount Network’s Lip Sync Battle

ATM: What about your interest in the arts persuaded you to take this position on this production?

CJ: I am originally from New York. I lived here for about 14-15 years. I come from a live theater background. A lot of the creatives on the show are from New York City. The Lip Sync Battle started as a segment on the Jimmy Fallen show. Steve Merchant created the idea and concept. They brought it over to Spike, which is now Paramount Network. This was one thing that drew me to this show — the interest of the gratification in seeing the audience laugh and to entertain them. I enjoy anything that happens spontaneously to the audience. I loved the comedy aspect. There are not too many jobs where you get to combine the art of dance and the art of comedy. I love things that are funny. I love to dance.

ATM: Who is your favorite comedian?

CJ: From the show or just in general?

ATM: Both.

CJ: I love watching animations in general. Family Guy is one of my all-time favorites. Seth McFarlane is incredible. I got to meet him, and he is just a genius. This is a great attribute all human beings should have. There are a lot of funny people on the show. It is an enjoyable process once you start filming. Matt McGorry was a hilarious guy. We had to give him a couple of creatives to choose from before coming on set. He wanted a little help on the dance moves.

He would send us videos of him dancing at home on his own. These are the crazy moments you would never send to anyone. He was someone who wanted to have fun and be very serious. He made you laugh. Snoop Dogg was very funny. He was in a great state of mind. He is kind of carries a dad demeanor. He made light-hearted jokes. Everyone that said yes to the show had a funny aspect. We have been lucky not to have to pull the funny out of them. They open their hearts to the show.

ATM: How does this show exhibit a softer side to people working in Hollywood?

CJ: The people who are coming in and wanting to be funny must show a vulnerable side, primarily because of the scheduling of the show. We sometimes get a confirmation the day before filming. The celebrity comes in with having an hour to learn the song, lyrics, and the creative. You are in the state of vulnerability to the max. They are usually in the state of coming to set well-rehearsed. They learn their lines. This is their art form. Here you are at the whim of dancers and the choreographers. They have to be open to trying and seeing everything. Seeing what works and what does not. This is a side other people do not get to see.

They all come from different artistic backgrounds, which shows their softer side. The creative process is fascinating. You have these icon actors like Kathy Bates who gets serious about everything. They are serious because they care about the funny. They put their all into it. Every moment means something to them. The athletes are the ones freaking out. The athletes get the most nervous. We have to calm them down and remind them that these are the things you do around friends and family. It is the same thing on this show except with cameras.

ATM: What has this show taught you more about your love for the arts?

CJ: It has taught me that I truly love to dance. It takes a month to film an entire season. We film most of the episodes on the weekend. We have eight days to film 20 episodes. You must love what you do being in this type of pressure cooker. Otherwise, you just will not make it, to be honest. — The hard work each art department goes through is amicable: the dancers, choreographer, lighters, art department, and everyone. You see how much they care about the quality. They love the art of comedy. I enjoy this. The show is like a Christmas, Thanksgiving, or family dinner. They are prepping and cooking all day. You just sit to enjoy a great meal. It is just fucking delicious. They put so much of their heart and soul into the entire process. You cannot help but feel the love.

ATM: Does this show help you see a different side of LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen does not get seen?

CJ: What you see is what you get, honestly. I only knew LL as the rapper. I have followed his career in the acting field. This work ethic is one of the best seen. He is right up there with Beyonce and Madonna. I used to work for them. He is meticulous and direct. He is a great man and never raises his voice. He is “LL Cool J.” He bases his points very concisely. He knows how to have fun. There is no pseudo. Chrissy is so funny. She tones herself down for the show. She says everything from the heart and says it with pure love.

ATM: How do feel your work ethic can match to the people you have mentioned above?

CJ: I have always been the type of person to observe the things I liked. I take a piece from the people who I find inspiring and take it with me. I have always been a person of discipline. Dancing is the most disciplined among all the other arts to me. Dancing takes your mind body and soul, and you also have to give your all at it. I just watched what they did meticulously and applied it to my regime of being an artist. Todd Smith is not late and knows his lines. This has a lot to do with your reputation in Hollywood. It is a very small group of people. People talk about your reputation. These small things are a part of the discipline. Someone is going to get hired over someone that shows up on time and can do the job correctly. This does not work with people coming in with an ego.

ATM: Describe the energy that moves throughout the production.

CJ: It is an organized, crazy, hilarious, and chaos. The dancers start from 7:30 am to 1:30 am depending on when we give the creatives.

ATM: Why dance? Why does dance make you who you are?

CJ: Honestly it comes naturally to me. My dad was a rapper, and my mother was a break dancer. It was in the blood. I dance and act. I found my true calling in dance. I love communicating with all types of people. I found this in me while being an entertainer and an artist. Dancing is a way for me to do both as an artist. This is why I picked to dance. It is such a universal expression.

ATM: How could a younger dancer look up to you?

CJ: Hmm. I have never thought of this before. If you want to be a dancer these days, then discipline is the number one priority. It is going to take hard work to get what you want. If it is easy, then you may not have done it right. You have to research whatever you want to do. We have Google. People should know their craft. It is bullshit when people say they do not know. You must work your hardest. As a dancer, you have to be perverse. This is a prerequisite for a dancer. You can no longer work at being good at ballet, tap, or hip-hop.

We auditioned over 500 to 600 dancers for this upcoming sixth season. You have to learn a technical and Hip-hop combination. You can get anything from Fifth Harmony to Paul Abdul. There are many factors with dance on the show. You must be able to infuse all these genres of dance into one project. Take as many classes as you can. A lot of Los Angeles dancers think the dancing that happens on tours is all they have to do. There are many jobs for dancers. If you want to pay your rent and eat, then you have to be able to take a job where you can point your feet or twerk.

Zach Avery Talks Complexity in ‘Farming’ & ‘White Crow’

Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard

Zach Avery plays an authoritative profession in Director and Writer Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s film depiction of his real life in Farming. Thie film is about a black male who lives in London and struggles with hatred in his heart toward blacks while growing up in a working-class white family. Also, Avery plays a journalist in a film based on a true story called White Crow. This film follows the legendary life of Russian male ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. We see the Nureyev’s struggle with his sexuality, following Russia’s societal norms, passion, and his dreams while living in Russia.

ATM: What problems are visible with a black guy living in a white household?

ZA: The problem was not just race, but more of the fact 10-12 black kids were living in this one household. Kate Beckinsale plays the motherly figure to the kids. She really was not there and does not act like a real motherly figure. She seemed to be taking of the kids to get paid. You have these negative race ideologies. During this time, there was a class system regarding if you were darker than another than you got put in a lower class. This is a very tough situation to live in. On top of that, you are a 4-year-old living in the household with 10 or 12 other children in the same house.

ATM: How can the mindset of someone like the male lead character become restructured for how they grow up?

ZA: You have to know how to create your own path at such a younger age. It teaches you that in life you are going to go through these hardships and have cards stacked against in many scenarios. You have to have the resilience and the perseverance to say “Look it is just me. I am the only one that can make my dreams come true and push them in the right direction.”

ATM: What did you observe about the lead character’s shift in persona once joining the white skinhead gang?

ZA: It was a crazy transformation talking to Adewale about what happened as well as watching it through the film. He is so mentally, physically, and emotionally broken down because of what he has gone through in life. He truly begins to hate people who look like him. There is a violent and vicious hatred you see in his eyes that makes him become the head of this white skinhead gang. At first glance, you would think this was far away from his personality. If you would speak to the character, then you would see he has hatred. During this time, he was in a place where he despised people like how to like the other skinheads and gang members. It was sad and crazy to watch and hear.

ATM: Express the hatred that grows in him stemmed from his parents giving him away.

ZA: There is definitely hatred. I’m not sure, but he realizes this hatred later on in his life. He gets so bad in London that he gets sent back to his birth parents. He goes completely mute. He refuses to speak and interact with them. He takes this action path because of this hatred, and he does not fully understand why this happens. He knows there is this feeling of hatred and animosity. He won’t even speak to them.

ATM: Did you become aware of this old term used in London before coming onto the project?

ZA: I was not. I heard about the project. I got sent a couple of pages of the script. I met with Adewale to not audition, but just talk about the whole process. Through him telling me his whole story, this is how I learned about the whole thing. He did a deep dive into the whole situation. It is something I never heard about while growing up in the United States.

ATM: Did you witness any of the tools you got taught in your Doctoral Psychology program inside the minds of these characters?

ZA: I always had this secret passion of wanting to act. There was no thought of becoming an actor and it being a job based on my family. Psychology was the closest thing to it. I have always been interested in people and why they do certain things. You could have two people raised in the same upbringing and they could go different paths. What is the reason for this? It is about internalizing all of this. Everything learned in school. Psychology is more of life. You can learn about the theorist Freud, but it is more about watching the people around you. Looking at their decision and how they do everyday life. School helped, and it was a way for me to show my parents I was doing something outside of acting. It was also about living and taking all this in to help onset.

ATM: Which selection would decide as male lead’s character’s biggest struggle: animosity toward his parents giving him away, his location of where he is while living in this white working-class families, and what he learns about his skin, play more of a role in how he transforms mentally?

ZA: It was more about when he was London. He went to school in a predominately white situation. It would be him growing up in a white middle-class environment. He would get broken down by these people mentally and physically. It was a defense mechanism. The only way for him to survive was to hate people like himself. He did not want to get beat up, so he did it to other people to live. This is not the creative way of doing things, but this what he has to do at the time.

ATM: Do the white people become oblivious of his skin color because he agrees with them in contributing the same hatred and behavior toward black people?

ZA: It is a piece of this, but there is also a fear factor. When you can truly instill fear in someone, regardless of race, this fear is the driving force. He thought no one was going to mess with him. He was a loose cannon. They knew he would do anything to them to make sure he was king. This does erase the racial barrier of thinking I am better than you. Now, this is just a guy who I am afraid of no matter his looks.

ATM: Society has this idea of us living in one world. Each of us is raised differently and go through a different thing. Do you believe this is a world within its self?

ZA: Yes. It really is exemplified by the journey. Race was nothing when he was a young boy. You do not think about whether you are different or the same as other people. When these things start happening, there are things of black, white, or brown. This was the force of knowing he was different and that he needed to assimilate to survive. He grew up to realize these things were not right. He became a person who wanted to teach equality, and there is danger in separating ourselves. Adewale feels it is about bringing people together on a human level than on a race level.

ATM: In the White Crow, how does his sexuality influence how he performs? What does ballet dancing truly mean for him?

ZH: There is inherent sexuality in the nature of dancing, especially ballet dancing. There are smooth sensual motions and especially if dancing with a partner. For him being a man in ballet, there is a notion about him possibly having female qualities and about him as a homosexual even though you have an extremely man figure doing these dances. There were rules about marrying a woman and living a life doing what a heterosexual man should be doing during this time in Russia. Rudolf did not feel like this. He felt he loved woman and men. He wanted to live a free and creative life. This did not gel with the time, but this helped him dance. He could channel all these emotions all in a dance piece. It draws us in when we see a dancer have emotion.

ATM: Why is he considered a legendary dancer?

ZH: He makes the balance between strong masculinity, but also a balance of fluid unlike motions on stage. He almost looked like he was floating. They were very powerful dancing. These two dichotomies in a ballet piece are what sets you apart than most other dancers, especially male ballet dancers at the time.

ATM: Do you believe he died not knowing he was the epitome of the greatest during his generation and a legend?

ZH: This is a tough question. He knew he was great, but because of the creative nature of any artist, you are always second guessing yourself. You are always using the confidence of feeling great, but it is within yourself on your deathbed. Everything that has been percolating throughout your life and the realities of your insecurities come out. I do not believe he felt he was the best no matter what. I truly believe he knew he was good, but there is always going to be that insecurity where I do not know if you can label yourself this.

ATM: Did you go for Psychology to answer everyone’s question of “What are you going to do after college” knowing you it was acting?

ZH: Yes. Looking back. I do not realize this at the time. It was one of those things feeling like it was concrete and tangible rather it saying I want to become an actor and move out to LA. Everyone looks at you like oh really. This was something people understood. I felt this was not going to make me happy. So, I did not care what people thought and just went for it.

Patrick Kilpatrick Talks New Book, Hollywood and Career

ATM: What can a young person take from your memoir Dying for Living: Sins & Confessions of a Hollywood Villain & Libertine Patriot?

PK: Any challenges that they have is God’s blessing to pivot them toward the skill set needed for their true purpose. I had a privileged upbringing. I had a mother who was mentally ill and bipolar. She was violent, irrational, and volatile a lot of times. These kinds of things can get seen as negative events, but they drive you towards what you are supposed to do on a lot of levels. I broke my back in a car accident, which ended my high school athletic career. This can appear to be negative, but I became a writer as a result. I learned how to do a lot of healing exercises. All of these things put me in good steps when getting into action films. I hope people are entertained. My book is not boring. There is a lot of instruction on how to add and cultivate the skill set of how to work in the entertainment industry.

ATM: How can the skill set needed in the entertainment world be the same for another profession outside of this industry?

PK: All human endeavors involves delivering the good. This means a whole set of methodology for actors. I have been running a mentor-ship program for entertainment lawyers for about 15 years. There is a methodology to do things to make you not wonder in the wilderness trying to figure how you do things. If you want to be a doctor, then obviously you want to follow in the footsteps of other great doctors. You want to get a superb education and succeed.

You are going to need to meet the challenges that come your way with a lot of hard work, education, and diligence. You will need to deliver the goods. It helps to be well spoken, to have a broadly-based education to succeed in most things. Most people think you will succeed when going after acting. Acting is a combination of writing, producing, and directing, which allows you to have a long career. Some disciplines are vital to all activities. If you want to go into politics, then the study of acting is a good one.

ATM: Can you explain the title “Dying for Living”?

PK: I have played a large number of villains. You are either dying or living. You are being jailed or beaten up at some point in the movie. I picked this for a larger sense. The moment I came out of my mother’s womb, I was just crazy to live. Also, to gobble up as much experience in all directions that I possibly could. Some of it was reckless such as motorcycles and driving cars fast. I was always dying to live. You live the most when you are out there on the edge of an activity.

ATM: What are the moments you reminisced about while reading the book?

PK: I ended thinking about how I began to play the villain all the time. How did I end up with the moral code, politics, and patriotism? The first book deals with why I ended up playing a villain in 170 television shows. I realized while in 2nd grade, my class put on a play and named me the villain. I did not remember this until after the first book was written and published. This is a small thing but a remarkable thing. What was it about me that made people put me in the antagonist position? What was it about me in football that made them design the whole defense for me to go where ever? They nicknamed me the “Monster Man.” I could go where ever I wanted to on the field.

ATM: How do you see Hollywood and what does it mean to you?

PK: Hollywood is an extraordinary grace filled place on one level. It is failing on other levels. The studio system is not as creative as it used to. They mostly do sequels, bad television shows, and comic books. I wish there were vastly more of original storytelling in Hollywood. This is where they are failing. During the 70s they succeeded in being great sources of stories such as the Godfather and others. Television is a great thing in Hollywood right now. There are streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others. This is where all the great, original and creative writing is going and has been for some time. The financing of movies is incredibly complex that is pretty much a broken system.

There is a lot of intellectual property theft in Hollywood. Not the best. It is a two-way thing. It is an extraordinary life, and then it is an extraordinary brutal life. You get adored one moment, but the next moment you are treated with very little dignity. It is two sides of a different coin. You have to become happy and make your peace with this. It is a very bizarre world. I talk about this in the book — one minute you are on top of the world because you are in anything. This “anything” can last forever because of Video on Demand or streaming service. You can do a good part in a movie, and it can last forever.

Sooner or later they use you and will kick you out. It is up to you to reinvent yourself and conjure up a light. I advise the young actors to have side things like producing, directing, or writing scripts. All of these things give you a psychological and economic sanctuary for how brutal the industry can be. Another thing is your skill set separates you from the vast majority of the people who are wandering around and have no idea what they are doing. There is a way to do these things. It involves creativity and a methodology that works. We are in a very different time now with social media and other things.

ATM: What happens when acting slowed down during your career?

PK: I had two kids who were in school when acting slowed down. I just could not support them. So, I became a really fine acting teacher as a consequence. I wrote my book as a consequence. I became a screenwriter, director, and a producer as a consequence. The world drives us to some of these things. I always have something whenever anything slows down. You cannot be a good director if you do not know how to write and produce. You cannot be a good actor without knowing great writing and great directing. It is a cross-discipline craft. I love teaching. You reach a point where there is nothing better than to instill skills in a young person to send them off to make a difference.

 ATM: How do you help make a difference with your acting students? 

PK: Most acting schools do not teach audition mastery. If you are not a master at auditioning, then you are not going to work. You might lock in a job, but you are not going to have a career. Auditions are such a component of this. We teach them to have brilliant, creative, and swift auditions. If they are writing a script, then we teach them how to do this, so they are not wasting their time writing about something that is not going to get produced. This could be because it is missing some key elements. If you are a director, then we teach people how to know about quality acting and producing. We teach people how to prepare their materials so that they can find financing for their projects. You do not want to spend your life doing this. You need to know how to speak the language of money.

ATM: Explain how your current and future projects further your dedication and perseverance in the entertainment world.

PK: The Night Walk is a Romeo and Juliet story. A Western journalist meets Islam beauty. She gets killed, and he gets framed for her murder. He ends up in prison. I am in charge of the prison, and I make his life hell. This is the movie only in my words. Each project is different. I saw the movie as what it was, which is a Romeo and Juliet story. I worked to elevate this project all the way down the line. A lot of young filmmakers have a wonderful idea for a movie, but they do not know much about the business. There is so much to learn in this business, Gabrielle. I will get hired as a lead actor, and I end up directing or consulting the whole thing.

The idea is a good thing, but they do not know to keep it simple to sell it to an international distributor. This is all the sellers care about in the international market. Matt Damon, 42 million dollars, and an action movie. You have to keep it simple. You have brought them toward excellence. I worked with the director to bring in the message. There are strategic materials that go to the investors. You have love scenes, so you have to bring on bold actors who are not afraid of love scenes. You have to pick a location for films that goes with your budget. I know a lot of locations all over the world. Active Shooter is a unique project. I had a lot of resources as a successful actor. We had 500 hours of footage that we had to cut down to a small number of hours. I knew how to take a little bit of money and stretch it.

Dash Mihok Talks Family Characteristics in ‘Ray Donovan’

ATM: What is the importance of the last name Donovan? What does it signify on the show?

DM: It is a blessing and a curse, but mainly a curse. They are a family full of dark secrets and deep insecurities. They are wild, volatile, and free. They perform violent things and take care of business things at the same time. The one thing about being a Donovan is that even though your family has your back ultimately, despite a feud that goes on internally, the Donovan will have each other’s back first.

ATM: How does your character display masculinity vs. your brother Ray Donovan?

DM: Depends on your definition of masculinity. In real life, I would say having sensitivity, and some femininity is a more masculine thing. Ray is as masculine as it gets. He has a deep insecurity, and he cannot explore it in any other way. It is unsettling for him. Ray feels like he will lose control if he is not ruling with an iron fist. Bunchy cannot help being sensitive and emotional. They were both abused by a priest. They dealt with it differently in ways over time. Bunchy started to find more of his masculinity. Ray started to find more of his sensitive side. This is the beauty of the evolution of these two characters in the less five or six years.

ATM: How does your character’s insecurities help him foster a relationship with his daughter?

DM: It is perfect that a baby comes out in the series and it happened to be Bunchy. He has always been desperate to have something to take care of. No one even thought he could take care of himself. He realized there is this little girl that he made. He will do anything for his daughter as a parent. She has given him great pride, responsibility, and direction in life. This is awesome to contribute to the grand evolution of the character growing up.

ATM: How does Mickey shape your character to be strong during everything he has done?

DM: This is the quandary of Bunch this season. It is about how much damage has Mickey done and is he still willing to protect him. The minute his daughter gets taken from him; he is willing to do anything. Mickey gives him a sense of purpose once again. He is a Donovan, and it is in his blood to take care of his seemingly dying father. Mickey will always be a master manipulator of anything he can. He does love his children, and they somehow love him.

Through the years you never saw Bunchy fighting for anything. Bunchy is macho a lot since Mickey came back into the Donovan’s lives. Ray tried to keep Bunchy away from the more criminal aspects and rough ways. Mickey is bringing Bunchy into it whether they are good for Bunchy or not. It made him feel as if he had something to do. This could have been taking out a bunch of Russians with him or being involved with a prostitution ring. Bunchy is always trying to find a purpose and strength. Mickey will always make this front and center. Whereas, Ray will always try to shield this from him.

ATM: What is your character in constant need of with the people around him? Do you believe your character is trying to feel wanted?

DM: For sure. Since day one Bunch has wanted to feel loved. Everyone does deep down. Certainly, all the Donovan’s do. They show it in different ways, but Bunchy’s is more honest. Bunchy wears his heart on his sleeves. He wants to feel worthy and will do anything to receive that love. He spends all his time wanting this. How it transpires seems to be heartbreaking. Deep down he knows his brothers and his father loves him. Abby is now out of the picture, but she was certainly a strength for him. She was a strong female figure in his life. He is looking for love in any place after this. It is not working out with his wife, and certainly, he wants it from his wife. It is tough without female energy in his life. Expect for his daughter, which is why he wants to hold onto her so badly.

ATM: What would you do to help your character if you saw him walking on the street knowing his insecurities and problems?

DM: It is different in various years. I would have stopped the car and got out to hug me. Now, there is a little bit more protections, virtuosity, and wildness in his eyes. He would have just welcomed a hug earlier in the series. Now it would be a bit leerier and warier of who you are and why you are hugging him. This makes it more complicated. I would approach it by asking him how he was and wait for his answer. If it were one that constituted hugging him, then I certainly would do that. If it were not, then I would ask him if he had a place to stay.

ATM: Why does your character still struggle with his identity when he has a massive number of brothers around him?

DM: He does not identify with him the same way. He desperately wants to. He does start as he begins to flex the muscles in his blood to kick some butt. Also, to take more responsibility and matters into his own hands. This is a kid who was the youngest while being abused. Things deeply break you at such as young age. You look up at your brothers to know that it did not happen to Terry. You were the weak one. You did, or you did not know whether it happened to Ray. Why was it you that the person went after? So, it would be best if you were weak. Growing up with this when paradigms are formed at such a young age, around 8 or 9, will affect you for the rest of your life. The identity struggle will always be, “Why me? Why did I source this abuse? It is my fault, and I did it.” This would make any human struggle with their identity.

ATM: What is your character’s definition of love is?

DM: Oh, this is a great question. I want to answer this in a good way. It is a combination of a lot of things. His definition of love is ultimately being able to give it and figuring out how to do this. Once he realizes the unconditional love with his child, he sees, he is love. Love is serving and giving it to other people. There is a common to it, and it is universal. Feeling safe first and foremost.

ATM: What’s the lineage of your last name?

DM: It is Czech. It is from a Czech Scandinavian name. I do not know much about my father’s side. I know that they are East European. I am not Native American.