Category - Entertainment News

Chris Coy and ‘The Front Runner’

Chris Coy takes on the role of Kevin Sweeney who was the press secretary of the 1988 Presidential Candidate Gary Hart. After talking to the real-life Sweeney to figure out how to approach the role, Chris learned the seriousness of this profession and gives his thoughts on the topics raised in this film.

ATM: While portraying Kevin Sweeney, what did you learn about the profession of a press secretary?

CC: No matter how much of preparation or plan you may have; the rug might get pulled out from under you at any moment. It might not be a fault of your own. You still have to do everything in your power to solve these problems. You have to navigate that scandal or issue still. You have to try keeping your focus on the prize and the mission. It is one of the most stressful and chaotic jobs on the planet. I learn that I am glad that I am not one. I will take acting any day over tackling real problems like them.

ATM: Do you look at press secretaries differently before your character?

CC: Yes. I did not know ahead of time how stressful and unpredictable it could be — also, the consequences of your candidate’s actions. There is no anticipating how the public is going to react to any given circumstance. Because it is a period piece of time, I do not think that were ready for the world implications for his actions and consequences. It does not matter if you are ready or not. You must be quick on your feet. You must be ready to act in an instant. How do we save this? Especially, in this circumstance, where Kevin Sweeney really believes in his candidate and knew he could do a lot of good for this country.

Despite the behavior in his personal life, he still believed Hart was the man for the job. They were on a schedule with this headline and it all sort of fell apart. I learned how just how involved a press scandal would be in navigating a press scandal. And how heartbreaking it could be when you believe in your candidate like Kevin Sweeney and watch it deteriorate in front of your eyes.

ATM: During this 1988 campaign there was no social media. What does this show about influential the evolution of social media could be to a presidential campaign?

CC: We are now all informed on a second to second basis. Before it was all through the papers and in the press. We knew it was coming. There was an evening where we were trying to stop it before ever hitting the newsstand. Right now, if news breaks, then it is instantly on social media. There is no putting a wall up stopping it.

Regarding transparency, honesty is almost your only option. There is no hiding anymore.  Transparency is a good thing when it comes to politics. It was easier to hide during pre-social media and easier to stop the press if you could. You could get on the phone to bribe and beg. Now, the news has already gone public before you get the chance to stop it. This is a positive thing in terms of our growth.

ATM: How in touch was the public with political during this time?

CC: Now, political news and political voice can always be heard. We can add a direct line to this political voice. Especially with Twitter and the current president. We are always on Twitter reading words from his direct mouth. Whereas, in pre-social media, there was no direct line between the public and the president.  Only when it addressed the nation and it came on the television, you heard what he had to say. There is such a high level to information now and we all have access to the political drama that we are interested in hearing. This is easy now. Before, you were at the mercy of the press. You had to wait to the Nightly News, wait for the newspaper, as supposed to going on CNN.com.

ATM: A lot of times the camera does not shine a light on what happens or how they feel. What did you witness about the emotional state of Hart, who was up to be the most powerful man in America?

CC: I talked to Kevin who is very much alive and well. He was also involved with the film. Gary Hart never expected to be held accountable for his personal life in his political endeavors. This was not how it worked prior to this moment in time. The film is about the moment where tabloids, journalism, and legitimate news hibernated. We were interested in what a politician’s personal life was like, where his morality laid. In this case, I do not think Gary Hart was ready for this to happen. He hoped or assumed his politics who saves him. He thought people would focus on the progress he was trying to make as a politician and country as supposed what kind of man, he was behind closed doors. He was wrong because they did care. He was punished for his actions.

This movie asked questions about what matters and what is important. Is it just the politics or his personal life? Is it a combination of the two? Should it be a combination of the two? Should it be important? It is important to ask these questions. He did not want to be president to have power. He really wanted to make changes and positive progress. He wanted to help us as a country. To be this close and fall short. The reasons why you cannot prevent it is not your fault. I saw politics and the emotions cross path. Things do not always work out the way you saw them working out. An unexpected blow could take you down no matter how well you are doing.

ATM: Do you think a presidential candidate unknowingly signs up for a “celebrity status”, which can often get in the way of them trying to help this country?

CC: It does not matter if they are unaware of it because this is just the way of our country. We focus on and celebrate politicians as much as we do like any kind of celebrity. If you are going to be under the public eye, then you must know you will be under a magnifying glass. Do I feel this can get in the way of a positive impact? Sure, it can if they allow themselves to be distracted. This is the nature of the beast. If you are going to be play the game, then you have to be ready, willing, and able to handle this. Otherwise, do something else.

ATM: How does this show a person the effects the media has a presidential campaign?

CC: It demonstrates just how closely you are going to be watched. The media is an amazing tool for the people in how quickly it keeps the information into our hand. It makes sure we have a route to find out who you are and whether we want you there.

Darin Ferraro Gives Insight on Boxing in American Film ‘Creed II’

Darin Ferarro played a referee in the recent film Creed II. This film stars Michael B. Johnson, Tessa Thompson, and Sylvester Stallone. Ferraro, who is in the midst of the two opponents, controls the power and hatred that goes on between the boxers in the ring.

ATM: Explain the competitive nature of the each of the men fighting.

DF: Drago is 6’7. He is ripped up and an amazing looking guy. He knows how to fight and throw a punch. It seemed like a four-shot combo and knocked the guy out. We had to send in a stretcher because his eyes rolled back after the hit. Adonis Creed is very defensive. If he loses, then he will come back stronger than ever to beat his opponent. He does not quit. He trained hard and dropped the weight he needs to fight his competitor. He does not quit.

ATM: Would you say love is a stronger element than family or is family stronger than love?

DF: This is a good question. He has a child with Tessa Thompson in the film. He has to win still, but he has to know to still come home to his son and wife. I would say a little bit of both. He is a fighter, so he is hard headed. He has to win but knows he has to come home to his family. It is the love to win, but also the love and love for his family.

ATM: What does home mean to him?

DF: Homes means to stay with his wife and Rocky Balboa. Also, to make his grandmother, child, and wife very proud of him. Home is where his heart is. He wants to come home to his family but does not want to lose against Ivan Drago’s son.

ATM: What does this film highlight about a person who risks everything with nothing to lose vs. someone who risks everything with everything to lose?

DF: There is a fear that sets in him. He will be ashamed to look at his family in the same way if he loses. He is the man in the family. He is the boyfriend in the family. Adonis feels he has to prove something. He has to prove he is not a mess up or a screw up. Adonis Creed comes from a place where he was never loved or nurtured. He came from a place where kids were together like juveniles. He started from juvenile detention, and all he did was fight.

All he did was box to defend himself. He had nothing to lose, but now he has a family, a son, girlfriend, and grandmother. Drago does not have anything to lose. He does not have a son or girlfriend. He is just there. Sometimes when you have more to lose you fight harder. If you lose, then you come back to do it again until you win. The drive of having a family and having more to lose will make him want to come back as the winner.

ATM: What does boxing truly mean to Creed? Does he see it more than a sport as we see it?

DF: He sees it as a boxing sport but like the show Contender. It was these guys who trained and fought hard. They would go against their opponents each week or month. It is not more of a show this time. Rocky 1-6 was more of a show. People thought it was not real fighting and was an act. This is more about different forms and ways of boxing. It is more of a structured fighting stance. It is taking boxing into more of like they just glide each other. It is more of a routine and persona. They are trying to make it more realistic. We thought this was how boxing was looking at Rocky. Creed shows this is how boxing is.

ATM: As the referee, what does this expose about their position in boxing?

DF: I was working one on one with the Russian character. He put up his hand in take 2. He thought I did an excellent job and was an actual ref. I have done referring in my days. He feels if the characters or the look is not there, then it is not realistic. A referee does make it make realistic and feasible. There are rules. It is not like in Thailand where there are no rules when it comes to kickboxing. You have the referee that says no it is over. He is knocked out. You cannot keep hitting. The referee comes into play a lot. Without the referee, these guys can get badly hurt or even killed.

ATM: How does it feel being in the midst of all the power, animosity, and hatred between the two opponents?

DF: I know exactly how it felt. They did not like each other, and it was very optimistic in what I saw. It can become brutal. You have to become focused and ready. They saw my stance and how I did it in Creed II. Also, how I performed as a referee because I had to be ready. If I saw any cheap shots, forearms, chin checks, then I had to watch all of this. This is the hatred they all had together each other.

ATM: How does American film depict boxing or MMA compared to the real sport?

DF: I loved Muhammad Ali and watching Rocky Marciano. I felt this was boxing. Today they are trying to bring this back into a more realistic form where you have this and that. There is the creative aspect to it. They are selling clothes, boxing gloves, and product. I have a boxing company here in Tampa that was one of the sponsors for Creed. I thought Rocky was more realistic, but it was not. They seem like they are trying to make it like MMA style and bring it back. Boxing was so big back in the day. It seemed like too many hands and investors got in the way of it. Boxing started to go down. They did not have great fighters and started to have unknown fighters. MMA is a brutal sport. People do not feel like watching. They beat people up and go about their day. Boxing is a show. You have gloves and trunks on. It is a show, and this is how it should stay.

 

 

Global Sensation Jay Chou Joins ‘xXx 4’ Cast

Renowned musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor and director Jay Chou (The Green Hornet, Now You See Me 2) will star alongside Vin Diesel in the latest installment of the “xXx” franchise directed by D.J. Caruso.

Chou is an Asian superstar who has won the World Music Award four times and appeared on soundtracks for films, including: The Green HornetNow You See Me 2, and Kung Fu Panda 3.  With multiple world tours under his belt, the “King of Mandopop” has acted as a mentor for the past two seasons of “The Voice” in China.  In Hollywood, Chou is known for appearing alongside Seth Rogen in the action comedy The Green Hornet and Jon Chu’s Adventure-Comedy Now You See Me 2

“I’ve met DJ a number of times over the past few months and it’s very clear how talented he is as a director. I am looking forward to working with him and Vin in bringing this film to global audiences,” said Chou.  “This is an incredibly exciting film which I’m beyond happy to join.”

The H Collective, who is financing the movie, is also introducing Chinese actress Zoe Zhang (Chinese Zodiac), a frequent collaborator of Jackie Chan, to the already diverse cast of international talent.  Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum will produce with Diesel, Samantha Vincent for One Race Films and The H Collective. Production is slated to begin in 2019.

Kim Hawthorne Talks Education and Teaching Skills

Kim Hawthorne speaks on her role as a principal on Greenleaf. She expresses the importance of education and truth in acting.

ATM: What effect do you think principals have on students?

KH: Principals are in leadership and authoritative positions. They can empower their students to greatness and scare the heck out of them. My principal at my high school was Mr. Otero. Everybody was scared of him. The Vice Principal was a little bit nicer. I would get sent to the office quite a bit because I was the class clown. My algebra teacher would always kick me out of class because inevitably I would be sitting there asking, “Why do we need this?” He would say, “Get out Kim. Get out?”’

I would have to go to the Vice Principal’s office. But both principals I would say encouraged me. When they get you “one on one” they have a heart for the students. They would encourage me to be the best I could be and tell me they believe in me. My character on the show is similar. She is not only the principal of the school, but it is her school. She owns and created the school. She has a heart for the future of the world. She has these little souls that she is in charge of. Principals are extremely important in shaping how our youth see the world and see themselves.

ATM: How did you see the world at their age?

KH: I was just a kid like everyone else. I did not have a care in the world. This means my parents were doing a good job. I did not have any worries. I was very positive. I went to a Catholic school in Newark, New Jersey. It was like a private school. The classes were not as large as a public school. I find most people who went to this school are at the top of their professions. They are lawyers, head of accounting departments at major corporations. I got a very good education. There was also art in the school. This is how I discovered I was good at singing. Then, I wanted to pursue a career in art. I was very focused and an A student. I was still getting into trouble because I was “Miss. Chatty Kathy.”

I would get kicked out of my homeroom class and had to go to another class. It was because I was talking a lot. I would finish my work before everyone else. I would get bored. This is the same issue with my oldest son when he completes his work. He starts talking. I was told by one of my teachers who I am still friends with her daughter who was in my class named Mrs. Jackson. She said, “You know when you get bored and finish early, read a book.” I am also telling this to my kids, read a book. I pay them to read books. If they want to earn money, then they need to read a book.

ATM: Can you empathize with the younger actors on this show or the young actors you see emerging compared to when you were first starting?

KH: I did not get my first “real” T.V professional acting job until my 20s. I was acting in plays and musicals and going to college. I look at them, and I am entirely in awe of them. I did not have the confidence to think I could act on T.V. while at their ages. I thought it was a bigger deal and took more. I was not ready for this and was more comfortable on the stage. I did not have the outlets. Some people’s families get plugged into this, or the kid knows they want to do this. My mother got me into playing the piano, singing, and performing as much as she could, but she was not one of these stage moms that knew how to find the auditions. When I look at Lovie Simone and Desiree Ross who are the younger actors, I am at awe because they are at my level regarding the type of job they have. I am like a mentor to them. It is funny that we’re talking about teaching because this is one of my gifts. God will give you certain gifts. I know this. This happens whether I am doing it in a classroom or randomly on set.

ATM: What attracted you to the stage at such a young age?

KH: While in the second grade, there was a performance group that came to my school. I remember sitting in the gym at my school. I was like, “This is what I want to do!” I was 8, and I never changed my mind. Of course, if a kid wants to play the drums, you point them in that direction. This is what my parents did. They tried to do as much as they could to help support my dreams. I never had the desire to do anything else for years.

ATM: How would you express your experience in jewelry making?

KH: While in college I dated a guy that was an artist. He sculpted and did pottery. When you are spending time with someone you kind of look around. There was clay. I started making these clay earrings and selling them in college. I always loved to design and had a million ideas in my head. This was when the jewelry bug bit me. I saw it was lucrative. If I start making jewelry, then I have to make money. It was not just a hobby for me. I turned it into something like an enterprise. After this years and years went by. I’ve lived in two countries and several cities. I was married a couple of times. A girlfriend of mine asked if I would be interested in taking a jewelry class with her. I went to take a beading jewelry class with her. I got bitten by the bug again. Next, you know I have beads, and I am selling jewelry. I started to learn different techniques. I love it because I like creating. I like getting an idea and the challenge of manifesting it.

ATM: How would you describe this business?

KH: I would describe the entertainment industry as a business. You have to approach it as a business. You must understand what it is you are bringing to this business. What is your brand? What are you selling? If you take a head shot, then what are you saying with this headshot? It is a business first for foremost. It rarely is what I describe as a “fast food industry.”

Someone messaged me on Instagram who had just started watching Greenleaf on Netflix. They asked why aren’t you known? Where did you come from? I have been doing this for 30 years. A lot of people think you can look cute and know someone then, boom. This is great. The longevity aspect of it is really your craft. It is getting your craft down, know what you are doing as a professional actor and treating it like a business. There are crafts and skills you need to have to sustain a long career. It is not about looking good and posting on social. All of these “fast food things” that I see happening are not real life.

Sure, you can have a little bit of fame and notoriety, but I guarantee soon as the next big thing comes you are out. It has taken me 30 years to get my dream job on television with Oprah. I’ve been out here for decades working. I have longevity. I am not worried about the day Greenleaf decides they do not want to go on, that I am not going to work again. Or that I am a one hit wonder. I have been in it for 30 plus, years.

Fresh actors need to approach it like this. If they really want it, then they need to be in it for the long hog. I started with people who no longer act. If they had stayed, then maybe they would be where I am today. We do not know this. We do know that when they dropped out, they missed their opportunity. Mine took 30 years. It was worth the wait, and I am going to run with it.

ATM: How do you keep the emotions out to have a long sustainable career?

KH: Let’s go back to 15 years ago. There was probably a lot of emotion for me. There were times I had auditions that I wanted. Every audition was considered make it or break it. This is something that the longer you do you begin to realize that you should not take these rejections personally. You should realize walking into the room, that is not about making it or breaking it. It is about I am going to do this job in here. Treat it like an interview. I treat it like an interview. It is to the point now that my manager will call me and go you booked something. I am like, “What was it? I cannot remember what I auditioned for anymore. I am not emotionally attached to every little thing. However, when first starting, you are. You must have a heart for this business. Your heart is more on your sleeve when first starting out. It is a muscle you must develop to become less and less emotionally attached to the outcome. The thing that should be the main focus for the actor is the audition itself; this is the job. You do not have any control over anything.

ATM: What is the definition of fame to you?

KH: I do not even resonate with this. This is interesting. I do not resonate with the word “fame” because “fame” to me says you want approval from outside sources. I do not resonate at this frequency. I get my source starting from within. I try to live as authentically as I can. I cannot even describe this word. It means you are looking outside of yourself for validation from other people to raise you. So, this is not something that resonates with me. It is a dangerous word. What happens when you are no longer in a position to get this from the outside? What happens to you? Think about some of these mega celebrities. What happens when they are no longer popular or famous? It is a fake construct; it is not real. It is man made.

ATM: Based on your definition, do you consider yourself famous?

KH: People know who I am when getting on a plane. Let me look up the definition of “fame” on my computer. I told you, I was a teacher.

ATM: (Laughs).

KH: “Known about by many people.” Yes, I would say I am famous.

A Chat With Modern Family’s Michael Churven

ATM: How do the different cultures on the show resemble elements of family?

MC: I love that it broadens the definition of family. There is an idea that there are so many forms a family could take such as children, step children, parents, step parents, and same sex parents. The whole argument is that they are essentially all the same. They share the same exact core definition, which is to trust their community and raise children. Regardless of someone’s background or position in life, the core definition is the same.

ATM: What do the families most value about one another?

MC: They value the stability of the relationship. None of them are going anywhere. They are bound together by these relationships. This means they are unbreakable. It does not matter what you are going through, or what your mood is, it is never going to change with these people in your life. This is a solid foundation that you can go out into the world to live your own life, but then you will always come back.

ATM: Express the reaction when Modern Family first arrived on American Television.

MC: It was groundbreaking, particularly from the view of having a same sex couple. There were all kinds of different kinds of family. Even back then you knew this was going to be a special kind of show. It was well written and it was a feeling about it right from the pilot. It was all the right ingredients coming together from the same crystallized jewels. You had great acting, great writing, and very interesting story idea at the right time.

ATM: What does this say about our culture today? What could someone from 10 years into the future look back and say about the boundaries that are being pushed?

MC: Modern Family fits into a typical family. It has gone from something that was considered held out to something fresh to something that is common. This is not to disperse the talent, writing, and amazing nature of the show. It is incredibly to see that it has mature into mirroring its landscape.

ATM: What are two characters that have progressed throughout the entirety of the show?

MC: The kids would be the most obvious. It is wonderful to see them grow up. My experience is from the 9th season. It is great to see them grow and mature. They are taking on these great lives now. It is really great to see.

ATM: Do you believe the comedy during the serious moments show us people within the family circle are not perfect?

MC: Yes. You have so much of the fatal flaws in the characters is what makes it funny. You have people who are funny trying to hard to do their best in family. They fail. It is great to encapsulate this so well in the characters who are fully fleshed out.

ATM: There is a lot of flexibility on how the writers are writing these characters. A person can always relate to at least one family member on this show.

MC: There has to be recognition there. When people are able to recognize situations and character. They see that is their mom, dad, aunt, and child. You have to be able to understand a situation to laugh at it.

 

Actor Trinity Whiteside on Modern Day Relationships

Whiteside talks about relationship and love with elements and word association is derived from the film Nobody’s Fool.

ATM: How does the title fit into the context of the story plot?

TW: It is about a girl who has been seeing a guy. She really thinks it is something great and good. It appears she is being catfished. If you are being catfished, then you feel you are being fooled. When you find out someone is catfishing you, then one thing you want to tell them is that you are nobody’s fool.

ATM: How has the word “fool” evolved since Shakespearean times such as being a clever peasant that entertains someone of the high social class, to what it has become today?

TW: It is to each his own. It depends on your ethnic background. In my ethnic background, my father is African American and my mother Caucasian. If you were to use it among my father’s family, who I was raised around, then usually if someone is a fool it means someone with a great sense of humor. “Man, you a fool.” It is used because you are humorous. Whereas, on my mother side, if someone is a fool, then it usually degrading. As if they are uneducated.

ATM: How is it used in this film to you?

TW: It is used to signify you are nobody’s dummy and you are not going to play the fool for anyone. This is the context that is being used in the film.

ATM: What persona did you have to take on to portray your role?

TW: I had to adapt to the mindset of someone who is the higher or the upper echelon of the business world. This is far from my personality. I am a more down the earth and an everyday person. I like to have fun. In this role, this was not who I was. Everything was business and serious.

ATM: How does this film portray modern-day relationships in our culture?

TW: It portrays them accurately. Today in our society relationships are microwaved. Everyone wants to do a quick fast and hurry, instead of it being an oven baked relationship. If you want it to be very good, then take time. Everyone wants to meet everyone on social media.

As supposed to going out meeting people and having a conversation and being keyboard related.

ATM: Do you believe this is generationally based?

TW: Yes, I do. Technology has its good and its bad. It is very useful and time-saving. You can online shop and not leave the house.

With relationships, you have to experience the face to face interaction to really get a feel for who you are dealing with or who you are talking to.

ATM: How would a lack of internet impact the current state of how valuable a relationship is?

TW: You would have more long-term relationships.

For me, I met my wife on a social scene. We met face to face. We were able to talk. I was able to look at her certain gestures when I talked and said certain things.

And gestures for what she did respond to and what she did not. If we did not have all this technology now than this would not be the case.

I have been married for 16 years. I got married young. For this, how we met in face to face interaction, we were able to get a different feel for who we were dealing with. Now, people jump into relationships based on what they see on social media and on the internet for this nature. When they finally get to see the person “in person” they do not like who this person is.

ATM: Is a long-term marriage as prevalent today as to have a long-term marriage?

TW: It is only prevalent if the connection is there. We put so much on the term “love” and everyone has their own opinion personally on what this means to them.

There are people we love and do not like and their people we like and do not love. You need both to be a relationship that is worth staying in.

ATM: What does a relationship or marriage look like that is worth staying in?

TW: For instance, my relationship with my wife. My wife is not just my wife and not just who I love and chose to be with, but she is my best friend. It is an understanding. She understands what I need from her. She understands who I am and how I am.

No one gets me how she gets me. If we were not married, this is where I say you need the like as well as the love, then we would still be best friends. This is where the like is. We are so compatible as far as our sense of humor and our thought patterns and how we feel about certain things. It is more than just love that goes into a sustainable long-term relationship.

ATM: When did you realize you loved your wife? When did you know it was real? 

When did you realize she was the only woman you wanted to live and love for eternity?

TW: I don’t believe that there was a specific moment or instance with me and my wife. I believe it was a culmination of things over time that caused me to realize one day that I really love this woman.

The moment she became my best friend, not just an intimate partner, but my true best friend, was when I knew it was real.

With her, there was and is an incomparable level of comfort that I have never had with anyone else. When you have the opportunity to spend your entire life going to bed with as well as waking up with your best friend every single day, you better take it.

HBO’s ‘Insecure’ Director Maurice Marable

Maurice Marable was the director for the “Backwards-Like” episode on HBO’s Insecure. He talks about the themes and topics implemented in this episode about the characters Issa and Daniel.

ATM: In relation to your episode, what’s being a man? 

MM: There are strengths, and there are weaknesses. He thought his strengths were standing up for his art. On one level when it comes to his music, it is finding a way to believe in himself. And trying to find a way that there is going to be something for him out there musically and that he is going to make it. He is flawed, so I do not want to say this is the definition of a man. As a person, his insecurities take over. His lack of awareness takes over. His idea of being at fault on others takes over. It is hard for me to relate to this aspect of being a man and being someone who needs more self-awareness and needs help to figure out things for himself.

It is so funny because I am married and have a daughter. Being a man in the tradition that I raised in was taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. Being a man was protecting people that you loved. Being a man was not being afraid to admit mistakes. I think men, in general, have some flaws because of the way the world has raised men. Some of these flaws come out in the idea that men are more valuable, which is crazy. Men are de facto leaders no matter what. Also, men do not trust. Not just the old cliché of women but they do not trust each other. And that it is all about them and that they should be allowed to dictate terms. This is so not real. This does not mean people do or act like this. We all know people like this. We have a president. This should be a definition of a man.

ATM: How does this definition of a man help you to understand the definition of a woman on this show?

MM: When I think about characters, I try to define them based on the circumstances in the background of that individual and what their challenge or issues are. There are certain nuisances, of course, I go yeah, I know the things. Sometimes I do not want to make men one thing. I try to be open and try not to judge. If there is a character that is F-ed up, then I am not going to judge this character. I am going to show that they are F-ed.

For me being a man, I am sensitive on both sides on how men get portrayed and how they represent themselves to others. On both sides good and bad. I try to be honest about this. And do not take one away from the other. I would be a disservice if I made all men good or all men bad. Whether it is the right thing to say or not, when people are flawed and doing the wrong thing, they were raised with the wrong thing. The world has shown them that doing the wrong thing works. This is the part I have go on that is real and have to lean in on this. My personal values sometimes do not always filter in. I try to embody the character I am dealing with.

ATM: Is this show any closer to the modern day dating world?

MM: I have been married way too long. I have KIDS (Laughs). I am definitely not this dude either. I have a son who is a young man, and I have friends. On a real real, like on a real real level, I find it crazy. It is different. I grew up where you had to talk to somebody. You had to say hello and meet somebody’s mama. Nowadays there are apps, and folks are dismissive. Like, “Ahh it did not work out. Boom.” People break up with people through text messages. I am like “Why.”

ATM: You were once in your early 20s or a young adult, what does this show say about adults?

MM: Life is always evolving. I think the cycle of growth is always the same. When you are in your early 20s, and you are trying to discover the world and figure yourself out, and you are learning hard lessons and beautiful lessons, this does not change from generation to generation. I can relate to being broke and wanting more. Hanging out with my friends and thinking I am in love. “But what am I really in love with or about? Do I even know this person? Am I self-absorbed? Am I taking this person for granted? Is this person taking me for granted? Am I in a relationship? Or do I think I am in a relationship and this person is not and think we are together?” Vice versa. It is all this, but it does not change. How we emotional grow is the same with every generation. I do think some older people are cooler. When I was in my 20s, I thought 40s were old.

ATM: What do you believe is the difference between male to male friendships vs. female to female friendships?

MM: Issa has her crew. In all friendships and crews people play different roles in your life. There is not one friend who does it all. There is your friend you can tell “x” to. There is your friend you can tell “that” to. There is one friend you cannot say anything to because you may respect them differently and do not want them to judge you. I believe our friends help to make up one whole relationship.

In the show, she’s got a real core of girlfriends who do not always see eye to eye. They love each other, and they know that. They have arguments, fights, and disagreements, but the bond is real. This is not a show about Daniel’s life.

This is a show about Issa. What we see of Daniel is a just small window. He is not hanging out with other cats. He does not seem to have any close male relationships on a real level. This also may contribute to his issues. Who is there to school or check him or give him support? He puts a lot of this on Issa. One point she is my friend, or my buddy. The next thing he likes her and let’s do this. Then, now I am going to disrespect her. Every time you hear about him, it is about sleeping with another woman. His relationship with the producer obviously did not work out. This is it another form of masculinity where it is like, “I am the man. No, I am the man.” The alpha is supposed to win. There was no need to play alpha.

ATM: This cost him his chance and opportunity. Daniel does not listen to Khalil and instead does what he wants. Beggars cannot be a chooser. He is not at a place in his life where he can have the flexibility where he can choose to do this.

MM: The ego has been passed around for years. The male ego and the idea of this insecurity of getting played. This man thinks he is stronger than me or better than me. Or I cannot let him own me. It is not about being submissive, but it is about understanding where you are and not getting ahead of yourself. And being open to the idea of being led. This is a problem with him in general.

ATM: How did you want to show Issa’s vulnerability while she was at this low point in her life?

MM: The Issa character is honest. Even when she is trying to play it off, she cannot do it well. We see her life right in front of her. We know that she felt this security in Daniel and she has felt this for years. Not in the best and healthiest ways. It is familiar. All of us tend to fall into things that are familiar and not see the problems in it. She was at a place where she felt unmotivated at work. She was not in a relationship, and she was sleeping on someone’s couch. It does not look bright at the moment. I saw that this character was lost. For me as a director, how do I visually show this? In this episode, she wakes up in the morning, and we realize she is in bed with Daniel. But they do not have sex. What I love about her, in general, is that she lets us in on what and how she is feeling. The fantasy of it all. She lets us in, but it does not mean she makes this choice in reality.

This is how Issa displays the conflict of choice. In this episode, she is going to have to make a choice. It was a thing for her but also Molly. They are both in different but similar situations. Issa is on the verge of ending a job of employment. Molly is starting employment. Molly has what she asked for, but it is not working out. Issa’s character does not have what she asked for and is searching for it. And to think she might have it in Daniel. Deep down inside she knows, and her girls know this is not the best move. It took Daniel showing himself again that showed she needed to stop making the same, not good choices.

ATM: How do you show a distinction when you direct in general? Your style?

MM: It is so funny because I am like, “What is my style?” I do what I love. What I love is trying in truth whether it is in comedy or drama. Even in the comedy that I do, people probably think they are a little more dramatic. The reason is that I have to find the truth. I do not like comedy for comedy sake. I like the truth. I like the idea that a situation is funny because it is coming from a real place. My other style is how I see things through the lens and through the camera. I believe in the psychology of camera work. I believe in how if someone feels lonely, then how do I fill this inside a film.

If you look at the dinner scene with her and Daniel, then you notice there is a moment where it starts with them talking together. You see them in the frame with each other. You see the over the shoulder, which add to the conversation. It starts to build in a negative direction. They are not in the same frame for a while. There is a lot of negative space, and she is in the corner of the frame, and he is not. She is in the corner of his frame. It is a big frame and he is not in it. The only time we come back to this, is when the waiter comes and breaks the attention. You see them again and that they are not happy. It is about how do I separate them at this table when they are sitting right across from each other? How do I separate them, so they are in two different worlds?

ATM: What were you searching for when you were the same age as the characters on the show?

MM: I was searching for validation. I felt like I knew my purpose and I was searching for a pathway to get there. One side of it is validation, meaning the idea that I can do and achieve the things I want to achieve, and people are going to believe I can do this. When you are young, you want what you want. I was a insecure person. Apart of it is arrogance and you have this attitude to keep moving forward. Like, “I am going to do it. I do not care. I am going to do it.” At the same time, you are living a split personality life. You are scared, and you are like, “It is never going to work. I am never going to find anybody.” There is all this back and forth swing.

I remember as small as it seems we all have a warped idea what we were supposed to be. You have this thing about I want to be somebody. Whatever this somebody was in your mind at the time. Whether it was, I want to be fly. For me, “I want to be the best creative person out there” or “I want to be able to pick up the most fly girl.” All of these things were going through my head. At the same time, “I am never going to find nobody. Ain’t nobody ever going to like my stuff.” “Oh Lord, I am going to be broke forever.”

ATM: Of course, at this age, it was hard for you to see the outcome of what you were doing. You could not see the outcome or the destiny of your passion while in the midst.

MM: I was blessed with all my insecurities and all my weird doubts . I was truly blessed. There is this thing out there, especially nowadays where you see people who have millions of dollars by the time they are 25. You are like, “What did I do wrong?” From 25 and under, I was really broke. I did not realize I was broke broke. As long as I had enough money to do the things I wanted to do and hang out with my friends when I needed to, it seemed okay. By the time I was 27 years old, I was working at HBO. I was overseeing a department. It was a creative space. I had already been in the military. I had gone to school and then dropped out. Got out of the military, and then went back to film school in Atlanta. Then I dropped out again.

I ended up working in New York with Spike Lee and others. I took opportunities as they came. It was never planned out. If something showed itself, then I grabbed it and did not think once about it. I did not over analyze it. I was scared at every step. I was still like, “I made the wrong choice. This is not going to work out.” When I got to New York, I was only making a $1000 a month. I was broke. I was eating Ramen Noodles and also not eating. I wanted to be in the biz. I just kept pushing.

This is the beautiful energy that we do not always talk about being in your 20s. This drive. Issa Rae as a person epitomizes this. She just did it. She kept doing it and then she got it.

In hindsight, I look back to all the broke nights and rough days . . . my life was blessed in the sense that I was able to keep moving forward with this attitude that, “I am going to make it happen.”

ATM: So, you conquered the American Dream?

MM: I am not sure about American Dream nowadays. I conquered Mo’s Dream.

ATM: You know the term in which people say “you made it.”

MM: Well it is allusive. The goal post changes with ever goal.

ATM: Outside from the industry that you are in. The American Dream is in the average person’s view as working doing what you love, you do not come home unhappy about what you do, the dream that you had as a child is your reality, and you are well off. In this context, this is what I mean. Most minorities are not able to conquer the American Dream or the idea of it.

MM: That is the truth. It is the thing that keeps me humbled. You are so right. I was looking back and I said, “I am just going to keep working.” Still, today, if I am not on a show or producing a show or doing something, I start to go, “Is it over? I hope I put enough away for the kids?” It does not slow down. I still do not feel comfortable. I feel like people look and like my work. People call me up to do things. I am very blessed for the work I get to do and who I get to work with. It is hard to take for granted when you grew up a minority. I still hang out with my family. I know everybody. I know Poo Poo. I know Carol. Carol got some problems but she cool people. I am always trying to stay open. This is my approach to characters.

ATM: Maurice it could have gone the other way.

MM: Very easily.

ATM: A lot of people do not get the opportunity to have their reality mirror their deep desire.

MM: The other thing is that you do not know what you do not know. No matter what people say, “Why can’t they just make it?” Most people do not know how to get there or are not around it to know that it is possible. It takes two generations to change the course of a family. It takes one generation to say, “I have to do better.” They do better so they can show the next generation what it takes.

My grandparents worked on farms.  This is how my dad and my mother got money in high school. They were country. They grew up poor. They had 13 brothers and sisters, both of them. The dad left on both of them. It is this kind of stuff. My pop wanted something more in his life. He went into the military. His thing was that you can truly do what you want to do. “Do not ever let race stop you. I do not care what they do, but you just find a way.” You just kind of find a way. I had that. I had someone that kept telling me. I had someone who instilled in me a value that I am deserving of anything as long as I worked hard for it. Not everyone has this.

ATM: It is good that you do not get comfortable. In context from an average person, they would just say, “Oh he made it.” In your context, it is still that you have to work hard, and it does not stop. A lot of people who get content are too comfortable. This is when they stop working hard.

MM: I am not going to lie, when I was young, I spent every dime that came to me because I thought it was going to happen forever. I was like, “Oh yeah I am going to make this money forever.” Then one day I did not have a job because I am freelancing, and I was broke. Then I was trying to borrow money from people and they said, “I thought you worked?” Here is the other side of it, people think you make a lot of money. I do make more than the average American. I cannot front on this, but this does not mean I can retire. I make a good living. You want a house and now you have a mortgage. There are two cars because you have to go to work and your partner needs to go to work. It starts to add up.

ATM: More money, more problems.

MM: More money, more problems. If I fell down a flight of stairs and could not work for a year, then we would be struggling. It could all end very quickly.

 

Alejandro De Hoyos Presents El Contratista at Panafest 2018 in Downtown L.A.

ATM: Why do you feel it was time to establish your production company Alta California Pictures?

Alejandro: People in the Latino community are always talking about how Latinos are not hired for television or movies. One time I spoke to some of my fellow actors and they complained about this, so I said: “Why don’t we just do our own projects?” Going on what they said, I asked, “Why are we waiting for white people to hire us? Let’s do our movies and T.V.”.  This became the reason why I decided to open my production company, Alta California Pictures, and do El Contratista.

I have always enjoyed doing production. When I was younger, I was hired to Manage Magic Circus, the largest private Night Club in Mexico City. I produced many live and televised Kickboxing competitions, including a heavyweight world title. I also produced a lot of live shows of the popular singers of the time such as Disco sensation Sylvester, José José, Lupita D’Alessio and Alberto Cortez.

ATM: Why do you believe it is hard for some Latin Americans to receive acting roles?

Alejandro: It is about opinions. I can only go by what I hear at these auditions. They say, “White people are the guys with the money, the ones creating all the shows and the ones making all of the decisions.” Maybe this is the case. They feel producers want to have more white people, but I think it is getting better with Latinos and different minorities in the industry. If we Latinos have good scripts, even if we do not have the money to produce them, then we can talk to other Latinos or minorities who would be interested in helping us produce our own shows.

am a businessman. I have been doing business for so many years in different entities. I have always felt that you should not wait for anyone to hire you. Go open your company. Do what you need to do. Be independent.

Obviously, if I get hired by a big company to do a film, then of course I am going to be more successful than if I do my little film, but at least I am doing something. In a couple of years, El Contratista, or the others films I will produce in this business will have more recognition.

ATM: In your film, El Contratista, there is a lot of elements that deal with being good and bad. What are traits that makes a person good or bad? Do you feel the two can intertwine at any point?

Alejandro: Of course. It is all about the circumstances of where you put yourself in situations that will make you act or react a certain way. We always talk about this example where if your kids became threatened, then you become mama bear, destroying anyone that is in front of you. Could you kill in that situation? Yes, you could to protect your family. Yet “Is killing good?” becomes the moral question and a question of society. If you need to protect your daughter, for example, then you are going to say it is okay.

Cano, my character in El Contratista, is dealing with a lot of issues because he believes in what he is doing as a military man. He has seen a lot of stuff happen. Just like we have seen in real life, soldiers have experienced going to war and witnessed things that should not happen such as killing innocent people, and things like these. My character does not necessarily like what he sees. It gets to the point where he says enough is enough.

ATM: Based on this film, how could a lie destroy someone’s rationale about life?

Alejandro: It can get a little complicated. Let’s say you believe in a specific person and in the government. You are a patriotic and you are doing everything you can to help them. Then you find out they had no interest in doing what they were supposed to do, and it was all about the money. Then you would say, why did I do all this and sacrificed all for this? For what? So, people could make money or benefit from this. It becomes a lot deeper than just being good or bad.

ATM: Based on the lie your character in the film deals with, do you think this lie creates a rebel or a warrior?

Alejandro: It depends. I would say both. A warrior because you want to do something about it. You are a rebel now because you are going against them and that power you feel you were trusting and not trusting anymore. So, both. A rebel-warrior. I like this.

ATM: Does your character subconsciously become like a father figure in the movie?

Alejandro: My character is like a father to all the soldiers that have helped him with this. Once the character decided to create his own security company, as he leaves they go with him to be a part of his new endeavor. This is why they go to Mexico. To help a little boy whose parents were killed, and they do not know who killed them. Was it a cartel?  These days everything is about a cartel… Or was the murder connected to a small group? Or money? The boy’s father was a very rich man. These are all the questions you have to figure out throughout the movie.

ATM: Express the moral of this movie. What can an audience member take away?

Alejandro: We are patriots. We believe in our country, religion, and people. Sometimes these beliefs are shattered when finding out that the people who led us to believe something were actually lying. In the movie, once the boy’s parents are killed and he gets more involved into violent video games, he gets desensitized. This is a question that many parents have. Is my child becoming desensitized by playing these killing and war games? To be honest I do not know. It would be very controversial if someone said kids are violent because of these video games. It could be a release.

 

El Contratista will screen on October 27, 2018 at 8:00 PM Block Day 1 of Panamanian Film Festival. The closing night film will be A Night of Calypso on October 28, for more information about the program visit PIFFLA.com. This event is taking place in the Lupe Ontiveros Theater at the Los Angeles Center in Downtown Los Angeles, 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles CA, 90013

Aleksi Puranen Talks ‘Heavy Trip’ and Finnish Film Culture

Aleksi Puranen was the writer for the recent film Heavy Trip, which is about a heavy metal band coming together to make great music. Puranen talks about the movie, Finland’s society and film views.

ATM: How did you think to connect comedy to heavy metal music?

AK: I think there are quite a few similarities between heavy metal and comedy. There are a lot of things in heavy metal that are over the top like the way they dress. Or how extreme their opinions might be or their appearance. They usually very easygoing guys.

 ATM: Why was your film Heavy Trip necessary to be written for the big screens?

AK: Right from start we intended to write Heavy Trip as a feature film for the big screen. In Finland we don’t even have such a thing as a “TV movie” anymore. We used to, but not anymore. So, it was either a feature film for the big screen or a TV series and series was never our intention. Plus, there hadn’t a feature film about a metal band, at least not in Finland, and we decided it was time to their voices be heard. And usually extreme metal is combined with horror, which again was never our intention, but rather wanted to make a comedy since quite often the guys under their extreme or harsh appearance are sweet and mellow.

ATM: Do you think it could persuade a person who has never listened to the genre to listen?

AK: I think it’s very much possible that someone who has never listened to metal would start listening after seeing Heavy Trip. The music the band plays in the film is rather extreme, but the soundtrack by Lauri Porra is much more mainstream and melodic and I’d say “easier” to listen to. I’ve heard people who have never listened to metal say that they enjoyed the music. Whether that lead them to buy loads of metal cd’s or create Spotify playlists consisting of metal, I don’t know. But, in general, I think when you see something new in a film that interests you, there’s always a chance you might give it a go in real life.

ATM: What are your favorite heavy metal bands?

I started out listening to bands like Kiss, WASP, Twisted Sister and Dio in the 80s. Then I got in to melodic metal bands like Helloween, Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden etc. These days I mostly listen to progressive metal or just heavy metal and my favorite bands are Dream Theater, who are widely considered as the prog metal masters. They’ve been around since the late 80’s and continue to produce quality albums. Then there’s a Finnish band called Sentenced who started as a death metal but leaned more towards heavy metal and hard rock later on and had a really dark and humorous side to their lyrics. They disbanded in 2005 but still remains as one of my favorite bands. Evergrey from Sweden is close to a perfect mix of combining melodies, heavy riffs and emotional, somber mood and I enjoy their music very much. Another band from Sweden I love is Seventh Wonder who are closer to the style of Dream Theater and they just released their new album and I can’t stop listening to it. Circus Maximus from Norway is another one. They also play progressive melodic metal and sometimes even lean towards hard rock and I’ve listened to their two last albums almost continuously. Iron Maiden and Halloween also remain as some of my favorite bands. On the harsher side, I also enjoy Finnish Moonsorrow who play really epic metal and were sometimes said to play “pagan metal”. Whatever their genre, I really like them. Then there’s Summoning from Austria, who started out as a black metal band an evolved into a wonderful mixture of extreme metal, darkness, fantasy, ambient sounds and soundtrack-like music and their albums from “Stronghold” on have been masterpieces.

ATM: Have you ever been in a band? If so, then what was your band name? Describe an outfit and dream concert event.

AK: I used to play at my neighbor’s garage as a kid. I played bass guitar and “growled”. This was in 1991 or 1992 and we tried to sound like Iron Maiden or Megadeth. Then we recorded a demo tape (with a c-cassette just like Impaled Rektum did in the film) of more extreme metal and called ourselves “Impurity”. This must’ve been in 1992 so I was fourteen and not very good at playing any instrument. Soon after that I quit playing and decided to focus on listening to music instead of trying to play and I’m quite happy with my decision. If I played in a band today, the music would be really heavy with a melodic touch, a combination of what Sentenced and Evergrey sound like, perhaps. I don’t think I would have any special outfit. Dark jeans and a t-shirt would do, but a dream concert would probably take place somewhere in Finnish or Norwegian Lapland at a mountain side. I have no idea how anyone could organize a concert event in such a place, but it would be epic!

ATM: How popular is the film industry aspect in Finland’s pop culture society?

AK: I think the film industry is quite a popular thing in Finland, but the thing is we’re a nation of 5 million people and not too many Finnish films travel abroad. Although, lately this has been getting better and better. But the fact that approximately 30 feature films get produced per year is since the Finnish film industry relies on state funding. Finnish Film Foundation has a limited budget and is obligated by law to support all kinds of films (art house, documentary, short film etc.), so there’s only so much money to be dealt and naturally, there are lots of filmmakers who are eager to get their share. Average budget of a Finnish feature film is approximately 1,5 to 2 million euros and the Finnish Film Foundation usually covers about half of that. Producing films without state funding would be impossible in Finland.

ATM: How do Finland society celebrate its film professionals (directors, producers, actors, etc.)?

AK: I think film professionals are quite highly valued in our society. Maybe there’s not as strong a “star cult” as maybe in Hollywood but for example, the press in Finland is very interested in how Finnish films travel abroad etc. It is, of course, a big thing every time a Finnish film succeeds in one way or another abroad. For example, when the short film “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?” was an Oscar nominee and the feature film The Fencer was a Golden Globe nominee, those were big deals over here. Of course, we have our own annual “Oscars”, Jussit, which is an awards gala where all the awards are given, and both films and filmmakers celebrated. “Jussit” is in March so we’ll see if Heavy Trip or my feature length documentary Wheels of Freedom will receive any nominations. If they do, that’s, of course, a wonderful thing but not the reason I make films.

ATM: So, fame and fortune does not matter to you in terms of making films? Why do you even make films? What makes you not stop?

AK: Well, it’s, of course, nice to get recognition for your films but awards and fame are not the reasons for making films, for me at least. I think there are very few Finnish filmmakers who are rich. There are some but most just make a decent living. And quite a few struggles to make a living at all making films and it’s not unheard of that people stop making films because it’s hard to make a living. The pay is not as good as in big Hollywood productions because the budgets are also significantly lower. I make films out of a passion for storytelling. If there’s a story I love, then I naturally want people to hear about it. With films, you can not only entertain but also inform people, change attitudes and even change the world. I don’t think I’ve made that kind of impact or if I ever will, but as long as I just have this passion for telling stories I will keep on trying to make films. What or when my next film will, I have no idea at the moment, but it will come someday.

ATM: How do you feel you change attitudes and use film narratives to change the world? Is there any elements or topics about life that you have not observed yet your film? Describe the struggles of your first time and what was the time of it.

AK: I think there are quite a few topics yet to be covered. I first graduated with a BA in 2006 and then with an MA (in film screenwriting) in 2012 and worked in the film industry as a lighting technician, assistant director and whatnot, all the time trying to make it as a screenwriter and/or director but none of my projects went anywhere. I made several low/no-budget short films out of sheer fun and also to keep up and advance my skills as a filmmaker. Those films were easy to make in the sense that there weren’t any funding bodies or anyone else who might have had had the possibility to tell me what to do or not do, but rather I had pretty much the freedom to do whatever I wanted.

A lot of times I either didn’t get any funding for my writing or producers weren’t interested in my scripts. So, in a sense, Heavy Trip and Wheels of Freedom are really my first times. Both took quite a while to get going. I think I started with both in 2013 or 2014 and they were both eventually released this year. Both actually cover the topic of believing in yourself and not being afraid of failures or rather keep on trying even if there’s a big chance you might fail, which is fairly typical for us Finns. We tend to think that if there’s a chance I might not succeed, then why to bother at all. Especially with Wheels of Freedom – which tells the story of a disabled man trying to drive across Europe from Finland to Lisbon, Portugal with his power wheelchair – I was able to make people aware about disabled people’s rights. Not sure if I have changed any attitudes yet, though.

ATM: What are some social issues or controversies in Finland now?

AK: I think #metoo is one, which I think is rather self-explanatory. Also, right-wing political parties rising to power (or trying to) is something I think I will try cover in one way or another in my future films.

ATM: How do you cover such topics without it coming as bias?

AK: This is a good question. I think when you’re making a film you should always have a point of view, whatever the story is you’re telling. You’re always commenting on something about the world or society or pointing out something that may be wrong about society. As a filmmaker you should always have something to say and the film you’re making is the medium through which you convey your message.

 

TJ Wright Turns a Frown Upside Down in ‘The Hate U Give’

TJ Wright plays Sekani in the new film The Hate U Give. Wright’s character helps bring humor and comic relief to the main character’s sadness. Wright talks with ATM about his role and life outside of acting.

ATM: Express how it is working around so many adult actors while at a young age.

TJ: They made it a lot of fun, so I was not like the only kid. They made it very inclusive. This was really fun for me.

ATM: Explain more about your role in this film.

TJ: My character is the young brother in the family. He supports comic relief in the film. My character helps his sister in her moments of sadness.

ATM: What is it like working as a young actor through your eyesight?

TJ: It is good for me to start at this age to see if this is what I want to do as an adult. I want to do this as an adult from my experiences so far.

ATM: Describe your whereabouts during the audition decision making.

TJ: I got the script when I was about to leave at the end of the summer. I was about to leave for a trip. We taped in Miami. I flew to New York for recreational purposes. I flew to Philadelphia to see my family. I received a call back while in Philadelphia. I flew to Atlanta from Philadelphia and then I went back to Philadelphia after this.

ATM: How did you feel about the script and story-line?

TJ: I felt the script was really powerful and touching. I knew I was going to click to the character the first time reading, and I did. This was really helpful.

ATM: Why did you feel you were already going to click with the character?

TJ: Some of it was funny. Everything about his lines and the way he acted in terms of the little things that tell you what to do. Some of it was funny. It just helped me think of how Sekani would act if he was a real person.

ATM: Are you normally a person that provides comic relief to people? 

TJ: I definitely provide comic relief. Sometimes when people are sad, I say, “no,” stop,” “no.” I am like, “there is your comic relief.

ATM: Talk more about your aspirations about swimming.

TJ: I used to be on the swim team for UM. I started to get more focused on my acting career. I am out of it a little bit. I am a very good swimmer. I am about to tell you my catchphrase. “Breaststroke is my best stroke.”

ATM & TJ: (Laughs).

ATM: What do you like to draw?

TJ: I like to draw portraits of humans. Sometimes I will do abstract and doodles of animals. Mostly I do people.

ATM: When did you first start drawing?

TJ: I started drawing when I was about 2 or 3. Honestly, every 2 or 3-year-old starts scribbling. I got the click of stick people at 3. This was a really helpful boost to my drawing.

ATM: Describe an early drawing of yours.

TJ: I did a drawing of a one-eyed human at the age of 6 or 7. This is one of my first drawings on my Instagram. The hair was out in terms of it blowing into the wind. It was really cool.

ATM: Why do you enjoy photography?

TJ: I really like aesthetic stuff. I am really good at making collages and polaroid pictures are everything.

ATM: Who are the photographers that you admire?

TJ: My mom and grandfather. We have like a little family tradition.

ATM: What do you like taking pictures of? Nature? People?

TJ: My grandpa is mostly about jazz photography. My mom does a lot of pictures of people, sunsets, and sometimes abstract pictures of grass. Sometimes I ask, “What is that?” I do a lot of pictures of people when they are not looking.

ATM: So candid photos?

TJ: Yes.

The film The Hate U Give is an adaptation from author Angie Thomas’ book titled the same as the movie. The main character loses her childhood best friend to police brutality and is left to cope with the sadness. Wright’s character Sekani provides comic relief to help the main character through this difficult time. The Hate U Give Now In Theatres.