Category - Interviews

Mona Marshall Talks America’s Pre-Sexual Revolution Era

Mona Marshall plays Shelia Broflovski, Kyle’s mother, on Comedy Central’s South Park. She is currently working on her new web comic The Adventures of Puss N’ Dick: A Survivor’s Guide to Relationships. With this new web comic, Mona speaks about life before the American Sexual Revolution.

ATM: The Greek Mythology characters were more expressive with their sexuality. Some took on more opposite traits of what was expected of their gender. They seemed more comfortable with their body and sexuality. They were very close to nature.

MM: We do not live close to nature anymore. I am not trying to suggest anything is right or wrong. I am trying to say the more we can understand each other, then the more harmony there is and the better off we are. We are all experiencing this human condition whether you are living here or in India or China. This is why art and music are important because you can enjoy art and music. You do not need to know the language. You do not need to know the background of this, all you have to do is be present and experience it. Not to say it is ritually that we know the background because it is. You can experience the piece of artwork and just enjoy the artwork at this moment. You experience the music at this moment and just allow your heart and soul to be filled by the music.

ATM: Gender studies started during the 80s leading into the 90s, so how did people during your time of the 60 and 70s perceive gender and sexuality?

MM: I was lucky in this. Once the pill happened things changed. When I was a little girl someone had written “Fuck you” on the wall somewhere. I had no idea what this was at nine or ten. Kids today know what this word means. I went home to ask my mother and she said “Oh, honey come here. I want to explain something to you.” She explained to me the truth about sexual intercourse. I thought back during these days as an eight or nine-year-old “Oh, my gosh. Who would want to do this? This was awful.” She said something to me that was extremely wise.

“When two people love one another, it is a beautiful thing to do.” I have only known two men in my life. I married both, but not at the same time. My sexuality and expressing it has always been safe. It has always been surrounded by love. Not to say this is the only way to get this experience. I will say when you have feelings behind your sexuality it becomes even greater. It is a wonderful gift we have been given. Sometimes we spend it in a way that is detrimental to our health. When people use it as manipulation or as a weapon to gain favor. So much of our actions have to do with our emotions. We are highly sensitive about how women are talked to by men. My husband is one of those men if he sees someone who has a great smile either male or female, he will compliment them.

Today with everyone being a little paranoid about how you talk to people this could be very taboo. Sexuality is one of the greatest gifts we have. With this gift I want to use it wisely. I do not want to use it frivolously. I want it to be a part of something that is meaningful. This was the good part of these more innocent things. They are both valid. Some of my women friends’ love screwing around and have a lot of fun. However, there are some who got damaged. Once again it is what is it that you want. Most women because we are wired differently, I am talking about straight men and women. Most women want to be loved.

Men are wired differently. They need to “get off” sort of speak. The greatest combination is when men have sensitivity. This is why it is a great idea when a girl is drunk and a real guy in my opinion who is a gentleman is not going to take advantage of this situation. This is just an idea that I have and this to me is about being civil. Women have a responsibility not to tease and tease a guy. “Yeah, he wants it.” She manipulates him by saying no. This will be an episode we will deal with. We are given gifts. It is in our best interest not to squander them. These gifts could be intellect and friendship. If your motivation is to be a good friend, then this sometimes means letting people find their way.

ATM: There is a sense of art when a person uses their sexuality to the fullest.

MM: What does this mean? To the fullest to me means it is a relationship of the mind, body, and spirit. It is connected to deep spirituality. I have been blessed. These are the words my mother told me. I did not have her for very long. She was a working mom. She worked from the time she was 13 ½ years old until the day she died. This was a great gift she gave me. No one knew the sexual revolution was going to happen a couple of years later. Because of this, I have not had any sexual hang-ups. When you grow up a heavy child, an obese child, and have dealt with your weight and body issues your whole life, having the feeling that this is a safe place being with this man and he loves you is an incredible gift. I feel like I have been blessed twice.

ATM: How did losing weight influence the ways you connected with love?  

MM: In a way, it was the universe protecting me. We all have challenges in our life. I never used to know this, but pretty people have challenges too. A lot of very attractive people are never called upon to using anything but their attractiveness. I found this out from a model a long time ago. She was approaching 30 and she was gorgeous. She was concerned about her looks. We all age even if we do not take care of ourselves. It was said that her value was based on her looks. A lot of times people think very attractive people do not have any problems and why do they have to know this. The bottom line is the gifts we must develop.

This means our brains, bodies, our ability to be passionate, and care about other people. We all have stuff. I have friends that grew up with a lot of abuse. They have worked through this and have done things despite this. This is adding a resonation to people that we can be uplifting. “I do not want to say I was a bad kid, so I missed a lot of opportunities.” Even with the obesity, I still was a part of the school drama, worked behind the scenes, and in the choir. Sometimes the things that look like they are negative force us to be positive. We make the most of what we have. I would not have found what I have in life if I did not go through some of the trials in life.

ATM: While you were going through the trials you did not know it would be used in the future. You needed this knowledge to get through what you had to go through in the future.

MM: Exactly. You do not know this as a kid. I had some good mentors as teachers. I have been blessed even though my first husband had a lot of troubles. I think I married my father not realizing this until well into the marriage. I learned a lot in this marriage. All joking aside, I felt loved in this relationship.  There came a point where I got tired of taking care of him. It became enabling. He was not willing to change, and I wanted to change. I had to let go of the marriage. I knew enough about being a good and loving wife because of this I was in the position to meet the man I am married to now. You never know fate. The episode that I am using for the pitch has a lot to do with fate.

As humankind, this is what it is, honey. It is a big classroom and we are learning every time if we are willing. Our lives get bigger and have more joy in them when our hearts open. As long as we are prejudice against things, we do not know our lives get very small. I am not talking about the ability to travel in the world. I am talking about the ability to travel the emotional world. Look around and you see it all the time

ATM: Why did you decide not to take care of your previous husband?

MM: When I said take care, I did not mean anything about cooking. I love to cook. Two people need to take care of each other. I was not tired of being a wife, but tired of the fact I was working two jobs struggling and taking care of stuff at home. He was still after 10 years of marriage trying to find himself. When I said I thought I married my father, I am pretty sure I married someone who was undiagnosed with bipolar. It is interesting in our family that my father was bipolar. My mother was very artistic. I got the artistic gene. My sister, her children, and her grandchildren got the bipolar gene. Back in my day and even when I was first married to my husband Dennis, you could never diagnose someone as bipolar.

They never thought about it. You would just have these terrible depressions and then become manic. After a while if someone refuses to get help, you have a decision accepting it is never going to change and you have to move on. He had found someone else and was living with her in months’ time.

Kenneth Fok Talks Male Communication and the Dangers of South Africa Today

ATM: What does your interaction with Matthew McConaughey’s character exhibit about male on male communication?

KF: Lionel and Dill have known each other for a few years, but there is still a duel every time they communicate. Matthew’s character is always obsessed with something that is inside of his head or an obsession with the thing he is after. In terms of the interaction, it is very off the cuff when they are trying to handle the best price for the fish. It is a very simplistic way of communicating with each other. He is trying to extort money from me. I am trying to get the cheapest price from him. It is much of a case of haggling, this is the way I see it. The relationship does not really go deep. This is my second time working with Matthew. The first time working with Matthew was on The Dark Tower. It was a total interaction with this character. The characters are much more familiar with each other in this film Serenity.

ATM: What if in this scene there was only silence? No sound at all and all we saw was nonverbal communication. Now, how does this change the communication?

KF: Looking back on the day our interaction. Matthew’s character, Baker Dill, seems so distant from the present throughout the movie. My character, Lionel, is curious about his intentions with the gossip from the town’s residents, but there is a red herring in the film about a character trying to track him down.  Lionel is trying to communicate with Dill but there’s constant deflection. There is a very different way of communicating. One is present and interactive. The other is not within this realm at this point.

ATM: What is something that would be deemed an obsession to you but a hobby to an average person?

KF: Films. A lot of people enjoy films, but I watch to the point of obsession and breaking scenes down. I seem to do this subconsciously that it’s become second nature. It has always been an analytical way for me when watching films. While on set I am analyzing and assessing how other actors approach a role and prepare for a role. For me films and tv series are my obsession.

ATM: What is the strategic thought that first enters your mind while in this stage of analyzing films?

KF: Believability. It is different ways of portraying a character. For me it is believability. If you feel what the character feels, then for me this is your first point of contact to pass the test or not. If you do not buy what they are selling, then they have not done their job. This to me is your number one go to. Do you believe them or not? Do you feel their pain? Do you feel whatever they are trying to portray of their character at this point? Everyone has an innate sense of whether someone is telling the truth or not.

ATM: Do you agree that the set design for how the Escape Room was made can metaphorically be someone’s mind when they tap out of reality?

KF: For sure. The sets on Escape Room were phenomenal. When watching these sets in film, you have the added benefit during post production to wrap up the quality. It is quite amazing what they can do. It warps your mind into what is or isn’t reality. These sets take you to a different dimension and really play with your mind – to play on your mind of what is real and what is not real. It is like a third or second Character. It is multiple characters in this case, a character in itself. Different sets have different personalities. The escape goes from one room to the next to see what the clues are to escape it.

ATM: How can a person having ownership get in the way of things?

KF: In Looming Tower, having ownership can cloud your mind. A lot of it was the CIA vs. FBI. I think once the agencies claimed ownership on their intel that’s when it got clouded and ownership became the focus and not the best interest of the country at the end of the day. Prior to 9/11, they were working almost as separate entities. A disaster like 9/11 made them wake up. There is maybe a pride involved and you cannot see this unless something tragic happened.

ATM: How do you handle ownership in your life when you have a huge responsibility?

KF: It is with a humbled heart. Ownership covers a lot of things. If you are talking about ownership of one’s self. If you are talking about ownership in spirituality or the existential meaning of this. It is just taking ownership of who you are within the context of the people around you. In today’s society, in the world of selfies and your status, how many likes you are getting, it makes you lose your ownership of yourself. Maybe it starts being owned by the world. I would like it to be close to home and not be out there as much. Ownership within my immediate circle and just keeping it humble, trying to keep it closer to home and not being out there as much and let the responsibility have a ripple effect from that.

ATM: Where in your life do you feel you are a warrior?

KF: You have to be a warrior while living life every day. Especially living in South Africa. It feels like you have to be a warrior every day. It sounds extreme, but if you are not a warrior these days you will get swallowed up. If you heard it or not – living in South Africa, there is a high crime rate. As soon as you step out of the security of your home, you are in the big bad world of Johannesburg. You must be a warrior in this sense to be aware of your surroundings. I am not kidding or blowing this up! If you are in your car, stopped at a light, then, you are constantly observing to see if it is okay or if there are hijackers out there. Is there smash and grabs out there, which happen quite often. It is just survival of the fittest whether you are in a job situation to fight for the right to be at your job. This turmoil is an everyday life especially in the city.

ATM: What is a misconception of a white South African male today and what is the reality of a white male’s presence in South Africa?

KF: That they are privileged. South Africa has gone through such a transition. To me, being honest, it is kind of a regression than progression. Trump and just his way of dealing with situations, his abrasive nature of dealing with people. It is just regressing. I come back to be a warrior. If you are not a warrior out there, then you are going to get left behind. There are a lot of misconceptions of white males in South Africa. There is a big turnaround in terms of the job situation. You are less likely to get a job as a white male in South Africa. This is the truth and the reality in South Africa as a white male.

ATM: White males are not of the dominant like in America?

KF: Yes, for the most part. If you are a white male looking for a job in South Africa, then you are probably way down on the list. With the whole history of Apartheid, they have been trying to introduce a new way of dealing with the post-Apartheid situation. The privileges that white males had before are no longer. It is trying to get to the state of equality. Black people or Indian people or Asians have been given these opportunities more today.

ATM: South Africa’s way of fixing the racist behavior was to marginalize the white male.

KF: It is about the BEE, the Black Economic Empowerment. You are trying to give preference to the previously disadvantage. Before the white male had an advantage. It has very much been reversed and a part of South Africa. I am waiting to see when the playing field is leveled, and it is the best person for the job and not your skin color. The balance has to be tipped the other way around. We have spent over 20 years now, since the democratic South Africa, now we can level the playing field. Make it the best qualified person for the job.

ATM: They are giving black people and other marginalized races a chance. They have become the dominant. Whereas, before the white male was the dominant.

KF: Yes.

ATM: Has this truly and honestly made a white male understand how black people were once horribly and systematically treated? Because of this societal switch do white males get it now that they are living it and reserve psychology has been done?

KF: I think it does give them some kind of perspective. It is almost a role reversal. I am a Chinese male in South Africa, and we did not have this privilege back in the day. We had to ask for permission to buy houses or to be someone’s neighbor. It may put them in the shoes of what happened before. It is quite a real thing when before you saw a black beggar but now there are white beggars. This is the reality of South Africa. You can put yourself in their shoes as to how it was before but only to some extent.

ATM: Some might not know this in America.

KF: It has been in the news in South Africa. I am not sure what outside of Africa how the rest of world sees what is going on here. What do you guys think? To see what is happening in your own country, I wonder what people from outside of my country see what you see. Do they still have the stereotype of looking at South Africa? Whatever this stereotype might be.

ATM: From my perspective, I mostly see information and news about politics and about the government overall. Some know there are some white people in South Africa. There is not a little of talk or the media does not really show your side of what has just been said. Some people think of various ages that Africa has a high rate of starving children. It is not judging the person for thinking this way, but it is to question what the media is putting out to make people think like this.

KF: People are surprised when they come to South Africa. What they thought of South Africa compared to what they experience is a total mind shift for them. They are pleasantly surprised. We do not have tigers and elephants in our backyards.

ATM: Also, some people still think Africa is all poverty.

KF: As much as the rich get richer, there is a big part of society where there is a shortage of jobs.  A lot of people on the ground are not happy with what they were promised from this government. They feel progression is very slow. There is a lot of frustration in this. It is a difficult one to balance out.

ATM: What information from the media do you receive about America when in South Africa? What do they tell you about America?

KF: There is so much fake news these days. I try to keep up more with world news and not local news. From the reliable news outlets, from what I have seen that it is interesting is the impact America has on the rest of the world economically. It is quite a scary situation. You just have to wait and see what Trump’s move is. What he says. What he tweets. This almost has a knock-on effect on the world’s economy, which is quite scary. I am quite sure that perhaps he realizes the power he has in his hands. A lot of people are afraid of this. I see a very segregated America. What you are seeing on T.V today almost reflects what you saw on T.V during the 60s and 70s. If you had a split scene to put these two images together, then has America really progressed? I do not know. This is my perspective on America at this point. The world is in a scary place.

Nathalie Boltt Puts A Good Sense to the ‘Riverdale’ Maternal Role

ATM: If your character were to look in the mirror, then what do you believe she would see?

NB: I do not think Penelope looks in the mirror with much ease. She probably does not really look into her own soul. If you know what I mean. This would be hard for her to ask the question of “Who am I? Who am I becoming?” This is quite difficult for her to ask a hard question. It is easier for Penelope to plot and move forward. Also, to distract herself with plans of how she is going to get back on top.

ATM: How would you express Riverdale’s civilization such as social life, social norms, and how they operate?

NB: I do not think there are any social norms. I think Riverdale is an extremely twisted place. I feel like teenagers are the off springs who are the normal ones. The parents are all completely out of their minds. Who knows? Maybe this does reflect a lot of how young people see adults. We have all got to a place where things are quite confused, and no one really knows what is good or what is bad anymore. There is a lot of crime in Riverdale. You can get away with an enormous amount of criminal activity without getting caught. The story has a sort of reality where anything can happen. You can get away with poisoning, drug dealing, and murder. In season one, the kids all starting out innocent has rapidly changed. I feel like if you are watching scenes now in Season 3, you feel bad for the kids. You see how things get really complicated easily. If we are not careful, then these children will become twisted like their parents quickly. It is quite a complicated civilization and community in Riverdale if you put it all together.

ATM: What is your character really searching for? Is it power? Is it a sense of trying to internally belong to herself? What is it?

NB: Penelope runs the Maple club. It is a club of domination. It is less about sex, and it is more about control. I am going to speak as Penelope here. I tie it into the fact that I have had this awful childhood where I was adopted as a small kid. I was groomed into the Blossom family essentially to marry my adopted brother. This is very already twisted. You can understand as Penelope I have a weird understanding of life and family. Over the last few seasons, she has suffered a lot. Always fighting with her daughter and the relationships with Nana, Rose, the mother in law are abusive. Penelope has had enough of all this. She is trying to figure out who is she. At the same time, she is getting revenge. She is finding her own power and being a madame. She is a dominatrix and a madame of a bordello that is specialized in domination. This is all about her getting her power back. She was in love with serial killers and understands them. It all makes sense when you try and understand someone who has been controlled and separate their whole life. Penelope is one a path to expressing herself and finding her own power.

ATM: What labels would be attached to her if she lived in our reality?

NB: She is a feminist, but a dark feminist. I would not say feminist hate men the way Penelope does. She has her own personal cost to bare. I would call her dominatrix. This would be a label I put on her. I would call her a murderer. I would call her a victim because of being abandoned as a child, sent to an orphanage, adopted by a very strange family that was out of control. I would label her a bad parent for sure. I would also label her as hopeful. Hopeful is a little bit too sweet. She is in search of redemption. She is a bit of a martyr. She sees herself as a bit of a Jon of Arc or someone who is along these lines. Is she prepared to die for other women to reclaim their power? Maybe.

ATM: What seems to be some of your character’s coping mechanisms?

NB: Penelope coping mechanism on a superficial level is style. She has had a distinct style and dresses with incredible class with an old fashion vintage aesthetic. No matter what happened to her even when losing her house and family, her dignity, her inheritance, she always found a way to look good. She covers herself. She protects herself with this mask of class, style with what she looks like on the outside. She does not conform to any norms. I have a kind of the 20s or 30s aesthetic. Her other coping mechanism is that she is closed and mysterious with what she reveals. There is a quiet to her personality. She will only reveal what is actually going on in her mind when she directly pressed for information by someone. She probably only tells Betty because she is her niece. Penelope has a secret desire to aim for the family because she has lost everyone.

Coping mechanisms are an outer shell for control and a very serene posture and vibe that does not reveal to me. In the end, her coping mechanism is that she has this skill. She has a quiet power in how she gets through to people in her path. This is her ability to poison. She has some secret abilities, and this is how she copes. Planning and plotting are a part of her coping mechanism. In her core, she is playing a chase game here. She has a very clear plan. She is picking off the pieces in her past. So, she can control and win her game. Maybe she is like a chess piece and maybe the queen on the chessboard.

ATM: How would an audience from South Africa view your character and her nonconventional ways?

NB: This is an interesting question. Very interesting. While a household name in South Africa, I was on a show where I played a journalist. She was always on a mission to out the baddies and hunt down the truth. Now, I am kind of the opposite. Now, I am the baddie. Betty is the blonde who is in my case. My fans in South Africa view me so well. This is a real switch around. To be honest, they have been very complimentary of my acting skills. They say “This is incredible to see your range. You seem to be able to play anything. You are so evil on screen now, but so loving in real life.” I go “Well this is acting life. This is a part of the craft.” You take a character and you put it on. You try this skin on. It was fantastic playing the romantic show in South Africa. It is now fun being a terrible villain. They are very proud. I get a lot of “I am proud of you and how far you have come and stuck with it.” There are not a lot of South Africans that have survived the whole international transition. I am very blessed to have done this and have brought my fans with me.

ATM: How would a New Zealand male viewer perceive your role?

NB: A lot of what I did was a comedy when moving to New Zealand. This was fun. I just did Happy Together with Damian Wayans Jr. I do love this side. For them to see me play in an award-winning Australian movie production than playing this actress. They would go “Yes, this probably makes sense.” I do not know if you can see it, but there is a bit of comedy in Penelope. She is so complete in this and twisted. It is to the point where I say horrific things to the character Shellie that you can almost burst out laughing. It is like I cannot believe that this is happening right now. A New Zealand audience would be smirking at Penelope going “There she goes again. She is completely mad.” If you saw it from a male perceptive, then they would be a little terrified. She is a male hater on the show. I was also a dominating woman on the comedies in New Zealand. I played the hard-drinking, brash girlfriend in Isidingo.

ATM: What connection do you try to draw while working the Palm Oil Organization?

NB: If you get to know me as Nathalie Boltt and not Penelope the actress, then you will see I have always been a very passionate conservationist and a wildlife activist. The only connection there is the red hair with the orangutan. The orangutan is the key species that are being critical in endangered. I reached out and said, “Can we make it a red hair connection?” This would really raise awareness going “Hey, Riverdale this is Riverdale, but also hey guys have you realized what is going on with the other side of the planet.” A lot of people do not know how their choices of what they buy in North American stores affect third world countries, especially in Indonesia. The oil mayfar. This is where some cosmetics and in cleaning products come from. I am a person who entertains with my madness, social media captions, humor.

Then I go “How about this?” People go “What?” I go “Yeah, this is what happens. You have a choice every single day in what you do and what you buy. We can all team up together and make a difference. I have really interesting fans that if they follow me they do not just get some superficial posting of pictures on set or this outfit or that. The rest of the time I am encouraged to think, to speak, express themselves, and make smart choices. I also think the people who follow Riverdale are the young people who will use their inherent through our inheritance in the world and change it for better.

We are at a time where you see so many smart young people speaking out about gun violence at school, how some politicians do not represent them, or how the environment is in absolute crisis and nothing is being done. I like to be one of those people who goes “Come on let’s say something and make a difference?” If I can help you make a difference, then I will help you run with it and start making a difference. This is my role in a way. This is my other role in a way in life. To use my profile for good. To get back to your original question. I hope that my fans in Indonesia can see this. Even though they are far away, I want them to know that I see them, I hear them, and care about them. There is quite a difference between Penelope and Nathalie Boltt.

NB: What can you admit about the reality of endangered species in Indonesia and how this can transform a person’s emotions?

ATM: It is very real and scary in what is happening down there. We are losing tropical rain forest at the rate of a football field every three seconds. If you can picture what this means. Everyone needs to think about is the rapid break and forests as the lines of the earth. They are being cut out. It is simple to understand that when you lose these lines you die. No matter where the forests of the earth that are being cut down will not have the forest in our area and we die. Going down here and seeing how devasting the Palm Oil industry has been and how quickly we are losing our forests. We need to do something need and change policies. We need to boycott Palm Oil. It became real when I went down there. It is not sad little cute pictures of baby orangutans or other animal species being taken to orphanages. It is not cute. It is just devastating.

You see places that were full of life and they have been replaced by this monoculture that has nothing living in it. It is at a rate that is far that we will eventually lose our rainforest within three years. I am trying to wake people up to this is being real and not made up. I am helping Palm Oil investigation and an engineer to develop an app where you can just scan your product to see if Palm Oil is in it. We are also looking to develop a sustainable Palm Oil plantation. This does not exist yet. At some point cutting your own indigenous forest will stop. This is what you can learn and find from being in the forest. We are not there yet. I am trying to help this, happen.

Nathalie Boltt Talks Nelson Mandela, Stereotypes and Cultures

ATM: How can the understanding of climate change help a person understand this issue related to the Palm Oil?

NB: I think everyone understands climate change at this point. You do not have to know the major details. You just have to understand that we have thrown ourselves out of balance as people. Our planet is getting warmer and our weather is changing. Any day you watch the news to see fires, wild storms, and the completely unusual changes in temperature from extreme cold in places where it did not use to have this happen. The danger is people feel overwhelmed and they do not know what to do about it. They think: “I am one person.” You have a teenager at school going “I feel like I have no control over my life because my parents make these choices. So, what do I do?”

A lot of people have told me that watching my post on Palm Oil has inspired them to do their school project on it. They have done presentations and their school has taken on the project, without having known about the issue before. But now know what is going on, so one person has made a difference. This is good because everyone feels involved.

Also, the positive side to social media is that anyone can build their following if they are passionate enough and talk about what they are passionate about. This could be deforestation, climate change, saving species, or getting plastic out of the ocean. We have a voice now through social media. This can be very empowering. You can find your tribe of people who feel the same way. There is so much you can do in terms of connecting with people who can support your cause, finding friends with the same values and voicing your worries. I didn’t have that as a kid, so the Internet is a blessing if you use it right.

ATM: When you were younger why did you not know how to help people?

NB: Because this was before the internet. In South Africa, where I grew up, we had very little access to real information during the Apartheid years. We did not have T.V until late. This was controlled by the government. So, our information about our society, was told to us in the newspapers. We did not know how black people were being treated. I was living in this strange bubble. And when the government changed and Nelson Mandela came out of prison, I realized I had been living a complete lie. I watch what is going on in America now and go “Wow, it is going backward. In terms of integration and compassion and acceptance of all ethnicities and belief systems, we are going backward.” After what I experienced in South Africa, where a society woke up and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that allowed victims and perpetrators to speak and apologize and heal, I feel saddened and extremely frustrated witnessing the enabling of separation that is going on in the US. But I am very hopeful it will change. I know it will. Because we can speak up through social media. Unlike in South Africa in the 80s, where these outlets didn’t yet exist.  The only people who I could speak to as a kid were my school friends and teachers. I could ask my parents how I could help. My mom always made me aware of people in need. At university, my friends, whose parents had been involved int he anti-anti-apartheid struggle, made me aware of what had really been going on in our country. They taught me to question everything, to think for myself, to be proud of standing up for a cause.

With regards to my passion for conservation, my mother helped me speak out about my passion for the environment. She helped me. She has a huge heart and has spent her life connected to animals. Our home was a zoo of saved animals! So of course, that has influenced me. The connection to another species and our natural world is deeply therapeutic.

ATM: Going back to growing up in apartheid South Africa, If the newspapers showed something went wrong, then you believed it no matter what. You did not have anyone coming out saying their opinion whether it was fake or real.

NB: You just ate it all up. Especially as a kid, you trust people. You think this is true. You just go with it and it is only much later you go “Oh, wow. That was nonsense. We believed a lie.” This has made me who I am today. I have great compassion for all communities and cultures. I have a great understanding of how you can be one thing and then turn out and become something different as long as someone just explains to you what is going on. I always encourage people on my social media to not get angry, shout, and lecturer people about anything. This does not start the conversation, but it ends the conversation. It ends up like where we are at in America, where certain groups of people are allowed hate whatever is not them. They are encouraged to fear ‘the other.’ This never solves anything. Fear can lead to violence and violence never solves anything. Never.

ATM: Although we are in the early parts of the 21st century, there are some American people who still believe there are no white people living in South Africa. This is totally not true. I would not blame them. I would blame what society puts out about how Africa is portrayed. How would you explain the social behavior growing up in South African as a white woman?

NB: This is a huge question, but it is a good one. Growing up as a white person, male or female, it was crazy. I finished high school during the last year before Nelson Mandela came out of prison and the system changed. I went to a white-only school. We did not learn about any history in South African that had to do with the Apartheid. We had a very one-sided curriculum. The following year everything changed. I went to a university that was very progressive and openminded. The people that I met there helped me to really wake up.

It was a beautiful time when Nelson Mandela was released from prison – the people fighting for him and for change – we had so much hope. Talking about the time of the rainbow nation. Nelson Mandela developed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which went on to be used throughout the world. This was all happening while I was at university. I felt so privileged and a blessing to see this happening.

The Truth and Reconciliation commission was essentially: let’s talk about it and let’s not fight about it. The perpetrators and victims were brought together in a court. They were invited to express their pain. As the perpetrator of a crime, if you told the truth, you were given amnesty. A very progressive concept. The healing that comes out of it this is so much more rich and helpful than being judged and incarcerated. For both victim and perpetrator. Because you can look each other in the eye, express your grief and see how flawed we are as human beings. People need healing. They need to say “I am so sorry. I did this because I was instructed to do so by the government.” Or give the reason and motivation for their crime and their deep regret.  The people on the other side are given the chance to express their trauma and say, “I need you to know how much you have hurt my family with the violence that was brought upon us.”  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission trailed around South Africa for three years listening to the pain caused by the Apartheid government. It was broadcast live on TV.  Witnessing it completely changed me and healed many thousands of people and a large part of the psyche of a very damaged South Africa. It was revolutionary and the reason SA did not break into a civil war.

How does this apply to my career as an actor? Well, I have witnessed so much. I have seen people change completely. So, I am very aware that it is possible to be any character you choose as long as you believe and give that person a back story. Why are they like this? What happened in their life to make them like this? Actors are very accepting of people’s any traits.  We are the ones that are fearless of ‘the other’. We are always putting on each other’s skin and trying on someone’s character.

We always need a recipe to create something new and life-changing. I was on this show, Isisdingo (The Need) and the movie, District 9. Isidingo, is one of the longest-running daily dramas in South Africa. It showed the first interracial kiss or relationship. This was huge. It was so cool to be a part of this. You portray something and people see it is possible. This creates change. In District 9, it was this brilliant commentary on the ‘aliens’, the victors to Earth, that were treated so badly, and it was shot in these refugee camps. So, this was a very smart commentary on, not only what had happened politically in South Africa, but also on how refugees are treated globally. It was a privilege to be part of these stories – there is nothing better than to know you are a part of the change of a terrible system that turned into a better system. This is my experience.

Even in New Zealand, I learned about the anti-anti-apartheid movement – information I hadn’t heard while living in SA because the censorship of the news. When I lived in NZ, I learned about how the 1981 Springbok tour was boycotted in New Zealand. Many people believed, quite rightly, that the South African rugby team would not be allowed to tour, as people of colour were not allowed to join the national team.

It was fascinating to see how New Zealand influenced the change of power in South Africa. And the whole debacle was played on the radio in South Africa and Nelson Mandela got to hear about the rugby boycott in New Zealand from his cell on Robben Island.

ATM: There are some things society feeds people that are not true. They so long have wanted to keep us divided. You grow up thinking this race is better or this gender is that way. A lot of what is taught in education today and from the beginning of time is not true. When you go to the source, you realize the lies that society embeds in your head through tests, quizzes, and etc.

NB: Exactly. We have a lot of work to do to open minds and undo the damage of racism and bigotry. For example, the terrible attack on Jussie Smollett. There have been some posts from the Riverdale cast on how we really stand by him. Riverdale is very gender balanced and LGBTQA proud, so I am very happy to be part of that. This also goes for our sister show Sabrina. It is something to be proud of that we do not stand by any of the hate that is going on in the world. We want to be a part of the people who speak out about these things. All of us stand for something positive on the show.

ATM: How was your race and gender in New Zealand assessed once moving there?

NB: Contemporary NZ is predominantly European. So, going from that background, there was nothing unusual about me, when I moved there. Maori is the indigenous culture there, along with an interesting mix of Pacific Island culture, Indian, Asian and so on. I was hoping to be speaking influent in Maori within the ten years living here, but sadly, even though there is now a lot of Te Reo/ Maori taught in the school curriculum now, I didn’t pick it up in my day to day.  It did not happen. It was when I moved around a bit and got involved with some of the T.V shows where I got to mix more, culturally. New Zealand has some historical issues in terms of race relations, but not the same scale as South Africa. I really enjoy being around the Maori friends I made, and getting to learn more about their culture, which is fascinating and proud and very musical and artistic. I was once told I have ‘mana’ after I performed in a series about the part the Maori soldiers played in the Gallipoli war. ‘Mana’ means grace and dignity. I was so moved by this. The Maori culture is based on mana. So, this was very meaningful to me.  

Thank you for your interesting questions. Not a lot of people have gone there with me. I am always open to discussing my background, and cultures.

Isabel Lucas: Gender & Love Complexities in Adventure

Isabel Lucas stars in the recent film In Like Flynn. The film shows you the high lengths a man named Errol Flynn that went on to explore what life has to offer. Lucas talks about her character’s connection, family and more.

ATM: What can you assess about Errol’s perspective of adventure?

IL: Imagine someone putting all his coins in one basket to buy a boat and go to a journey to somewhere he has never been before. I am not sure. What is an adventure? It is all so relative to each person. He went on these big random escapades. In the film, we follow him through the earlier years of his life. I did not know this myself that before he became an actor Errol Flynn had gone on all these adventures. This is what made him the charismatic man he was and is.

ATM: What is an adventure for you?

IL: Good question. Maybe it’s easier for me to consider what an adventurer is. An adventurer is not afraid of taking risks, someone who wants to get closer to the juice of life, be passionate about their life and doing things that are not safe or easy but makes them feel alive. – What about you? What do you think is an adventure?

ATM: An adventure is not necessarily dangerous, but it is that internal moment when you take a risk and you are able to overcome this risk and feel happy.

IL: Yes, this makes sense.

ATM: Do you think your character Rose had a chance to dabble into adventure like the men?

IL: That was such a different time then. These days, women can do this more easily, they are liberated. They can make choices that feel freeing for them. I don’t think women were able to do this in the same way as men were during Errol Flynn’s time. Maybe they were dabbling in adventure as you say, but they’d certainly have to face a backlash. Rose was attracted to someone who was an extreme daredevil. She was incredibly brave to go on her own adventure looking for him, traveling from coast to coast. She shared this with him in the scenes. You know, maybe when we fall in love, we become an adventurer in a more internal sense. We go out on a limb. We are going to places where we have not been before. We make these irrational decisions, but they feel right. They are bold decisions, but they are from a place of love, passion, and wanting to live on the edge. Maybe in this way – more internally – she was very adventurous.

ATM: So, women are more of an adventure internally and with their emotions. They are adventurous with love and it shows with the words they say. Also, in the charismatic or passionate words women say to their male lover or lover. This is typically in a literary sense taking a risk also. You are saying words that are based on your emotions, but you do not know how the male or the other person is going to react.

IL: Exactly, this is the point. When we are in love, we become like an “adventurer of the heart.”

ATM: We become like little kids again.

IL: Yes. This is why we all love this experience and why an adventurous spirit is attractive to us and a beautiful thing. It’s attractive to see it in people and when I feel this in myself. It’s about completely living on the edge of life, feeling closer to why we are all here and being really alive.  In this way, this energy inspires me and connects us to the love of kids. They are playful, young, and have not been hurt by life.  

ATM: Sometimes when people fail or mess up at something when life hurts them it closes the internal need for an adventure. They do not try anymore and just become more content in life. The adventurous streak is gone. This could be with a heartbreak or a relationship.

IL: This is why resilience is important whether we get our heart broken or have a car accident. We get hurt physically and emotionally. This is life. The real question is how do we still say yes to life and open our hearts again and soften rather than become over-protecting and guarded? It is important to repair, nourish and nurture yourself after you have been hurt. It is important to know to get this feeling back -the childlike, joyful, and adventurous spirit. Otherwise, we become hardened and close down our hearts. You then do not care for yourself or other people as much because you are afraid of being hurt. It is good to learn about being hurt and come back from this.

ATM: When has been a time you have sought an adventure or lived on the edge of life?

IL: I feel this happens when doing a movie. Most actors have a huge amount of self-doubt. I have talked to Christian Bale, John Hurt, Ben Mendelsohn and have learned mainly that actors all go through the same internal struggle, “What am I doing here? I cannot do this…” and it can happen right before shooting. It feels like this, “Yes, this is my job and I like doing it, but it is also scary” right beforehand. – It is also a risk. What is everyone going to think about it? This is an unknown territory. I take it day by day. So, for me living on the edge has been mostly related to work. 

ATM: Describe the authenticity seen in Errol Flynn during the times of pre-Hollywood?

IL: It does not mean that when working in Hollywood you become fake. A lot of people do care what other people think of them. It is a human trait to want to be liked and look for validation, but wanting to get a positive response from people, I think, can also be unhealthy. We can become quite inauthentic and very concerned about what people think. This is why I think Errol Flynn was attractive. He was living his own truth.

ATM: What is the difference between the customs and social norms in America and Australia?

IL: I have heard people describe Australia as being comparable to America during the 40s, 50s, 60s. In that sense, they really appreciate Australia because it felt like the 40s in America when everyone came to start their own dream. It is kind of related to openness to life. Australia is not as important on the world scene as America and political issues and baggage that weigh down society are less impacting.  Maybe there is a little bit more freedom here.  

ATM: How and what did your young adult self-view as life in Australia?

IL: My family moved around a lot which affected me considerably. We lived in different parts of Australia which are all very beautiful in their own way: in the south (Melbourne), the north (Kakadu National Park) and on the north-east coast (Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef).  My mother grew up in Switzerland and we spent some time there as well. I went to school in Switzerland when I was 7 and again at 15. I felt a new familiarity with nature in Australia when I returned. In noticing the difference in the landscapes between the two countries, the beautiful land, the forests and the rainforests, and I discovered the coral reefs. It was such a colorful, very aesthetic and beautiful underworld treasure! Nature had and has a big influence on me. 

Michael Quinlan on the Value of Trust & Human Connection

Michael Quinlan recently played in The Upside and played on Hulu’s Looming Tower. Both projects were opposites of each other but share a lot of insight on how we move through this world. A lack of trust could impact a nation. Whereas, taking a chance on a person can start a lifetime friendship.

ATM: If you did not walk upright, then how would this change your perspective of life?

MQ: If we walked on our hands and did handstands all over the place?

ATM: Yes.

MQ: I could not really look up per se because I would be down. My view of life would be from the ground. As we see in some movies, this is the viewpoint from a cat or dog. Their viewpoint is from their height. You get a sense of what life is like from their eyes. It would be limited. We could not really take in the scope of things. It would be limiting.

ATM: When two people come together from different forms of life, how can this broaden their horizon?

MQ: It was unintended for Philip to hire Del. He did it to piss everyone off in the beginning. He wanted to rattle the cards a little bit. Del was not prepared for this job nor did he want to do all the work. As the story unfolded, they really did see other sides of life through the other eyes that they never would have this opportunity come along. It is a true story and these guys are still friends. If he did not take this crazy chance, they would have never developed this relationship and known one another. Obviously, they saw completely different sides of life through each other’s eyes. This was a positive thing in the end for both.

ATM: How was trust seen in the series Looming Tower?

MQ: This was interesting. Again, this story was based on real characters. Jeff Daniels plays a real guy in the 80s and 90s who was in the FBI. He was ringing the bell and calling attention to this group called Al-Qaeda. No one kind of gave him the time of day. It turns out he was correct. Before 9/11, these guys, the agencies did not trust each other at all, which were the FBI, CIA, and NSA. They kept priority information to themselves and they did not share it. This was really the problem with 9/11. The left hand never knew what the right hand was doing.

They lost a lot of valuable time and information that could have been put to good use. This guy O’Brien, the character Jeff Daniels play was instrumental in bringing it to light. He ironically was killed in 9/11. It was his first day to work as head of security for the World Trade Center. It turned out he was right. After 9/11, the agencies really did come around to see they had to share information to move the security of the country forward.

ATM: What was the mentality of the people in this profession during the 80s and 90s?

MQ: They were just after their own slice of life. They did not want to share information about the information they had gotten. It was like “I did the work to get the information. It is mine. I am not sharing it.” They all had the same mentality. In the end, they realize it was detrimental to all of them combined. They learned to react and move forward in a different way after we saw what happened when they did not share information.

ATM: I would assume when you look at the script you visualize how it will get visually portrayed.

MQ: Yes, when you look at the script you visualize what you think is important. Sometimes when you get to the set it goes along these lines or it changes completely. You have to talk to the director and see what is and how things are set up physically. You really do not know until you get there. As an actor, all you can do is be prepared with your lines and prepared to be swift on the fly if you have to. The only thing you can do is to show up prepared, know your lines, and not get in anyone’s way.

Eugene Cordero’s TruTV Show ‘Tacoma FD’

ATM: In American television, what are the expectations and stereotypes geared around the channel TruTV?

EC: They have a show like I am Sorry and Impractical Jokers. They are moving into comedy. I have noticed this recently that if I were to turn on the channel, then it would be more comedy based. As far as the general public people saw it kind of like this crime and investigation type channel before it made the switch into comedy. TruTV used to be court TV. They would show cops and judge shows. Then it became more of a national network. They started making original content and a lot more of the reality shows and comedy shows. Within the last few years, it has hit its mark with the comedy side of things and trying new things and giving indie comedians some chances to make some T.V.

ATM: How does seeing firefighters dabbling in comedy make us see a softer side than what the world perceives of them?

EC: To be honest, the focus of the comedy is to give a situation that these guys are just real people. It is more of not poking fun of the work. Especially in Tacoma FD, all the firemen are great firefighters, but they are just bored when they are not fighting fires, and this is what they do in the meantime. It is just a show of them being regular guys like otherwise. They will do goofy stuff. It is like if you went to a barbecue or a family party, then sometimes you would be surprised to hear what these people do for a living. They are just normal people. It is finding the funny in a situation that surrounds a firefighter rather than a situation that surrounds a couple living home in a new neighborhood type thing. All the stories are loosely based off of real stories the firemen have told the writers. There is a basic truth. It is not that far off some of the situations that happened to these guys.

ATM: This show exhibits that even with a prestigious job you can still be funny and do your job.

EC: Yes, but it is not a dramedy. It is a straight-up sitcom comedy. It does not play the same serious tones that some of the one-hour firemen shows are doing like Chicago Fire or anything that has light moments in it. There are other comedy shows and movies that are policeman and firemen. It is not necessarily like a territory that has been touched before. It is having fun with the firefighters in Tacoma, Washington because this is the wettest city in America. It is playing off the idea that there would not be as many fires if it rained so much. This is why they are in the fire station for a longer period of time.

ATM: What are your observations of the brotherhood that is acquired while working this job?

EC: It is like having brothers without being actually related. A fireman shift is like three or four days in a row. They sleep at the firehouse. These grown men are each other’s roommates for a couple of days a week. They talk about everything in the family. This is as closest to family than any other jobs where you know you are going to your family at night. These guys are around each other for the next couple of days. It takes a certain type of person to feel comfortable or excited to be in this type of environment. They find some real like comradery with finding a group of people that they support. It is something that happens here with firemen and policemen that do not happen at other jobs. You are watching these guys that you are working with risk their lives every day. There is a closeness you automatically have they you know the person standing next to you at work will do anything to help you live, this is crazy. Even though it is a comedy you have to see this kind of togetherness going on no matter what. This show shows this in the goofiest and funniest ways.

A Critical and Analytic Approach to the term Wish

Final Wish is a horror and suspense film that shows the serious effects of when a wish goes wrong. Michael Welch is the star of the movie and is at the forefront of the devastating climatic behavior. Welch talks about wish as a subject matter and what a wish truly entails in our society and culture as Americans and humans.

ATM: Did you ever make birthday wishes when blowing out candles at a young age?

MW: Oh sure. I am sure I made a wish every time.

ATM: Reflect on a wish you made as a little boy.

MW: Wow, do I remember any of my wishes? As a kid, one of my constant wishes were, this is probably common, it was for a genie to give me more wishes. In retrospect, I am glad this did not work out. We have seen a lot in movies when you end of getting this and something else in your life ends up turning out not so great. This is sort of what happens in this movie. With a prospective of age and a little more wisdom, now I would come up with different wishes. Now, if I had one wish, then I would wish for infinite wishes. It seemed like perfect sound logic to me.

ATM: It is interesting in the American culture, not speaking for every culture, but American’s culture — We have preconceived notions that any wish that we make will come true. I do not think we have the intuition that the opposite or the negative side of the wish can also come true. This never crosses our minds. Pertaining to the movie, when we wish, we think it is positive. For example, what if you wish for 20 dollars today? But what if your wish does a reverse and you end of losing 20 dollars.

MW: Absolutely. Something specific in America that is prevalent is wishing for other people’s lives. We do this a lot. We see what others have their public persona. We go “Man their Instagram pages just looks so happy. They must be the happiest person in the world. I wish I had the things in my life that the person has in theirs. I would be happy too.” The truth is that we have no idea what the realities are in their lives. We do not know their anxieties and insecurities. Or the kind of sacrifices they must make to get this point of perceived success. In a way, this is kind of a problem with the Instagram culture. A good thing moving forward is for people to be a little bit honest about the realities in their life where others do not feel alone. Especially young kids do not have much of a preference of life yet. They might feel certain and perceive what others are feeling and go “Well what is wrong with me?” We should be a bit honest with each other about what is going on in our lives.

ATM: Sometimes this person that feels alone and wants this life could be living a better life than whatever person they think they want to be. This is one of the biggest issues with the nonentertainment society and the entertainment society. The less fortunate mirrors with the fortunate do. Regardless of what you are trying to imitate, you cannot really imitate it. For example, if someone in Hollywood dyes their hair pink, then this could have stemmed from an emotional explosion. Sometimes the most genius’ things have come from the saddest moments.

MW: 100%. You are right. We are so result oriented. We want to skip steps or something. Maybe this genius came out of immense sadness. This was the soil from which this grew. Do you really want this? I agree with you. We just see the end results and have no idea what went into the process.

ATM: Tony Todd in the film says “With life, there is a balance. When you have life, you have death.” Often times, when someone wishes for a 20-dollar bill. They can lose this 20-dollar bill. Another person finds the 20. This is technically another person’s wish coming true. Could also a wish be a let down from another person? One person’s misfortune or mishap could be another person’s fortune.

MW: 100%. This is important to keep in mind. From an example in my own life, last year my wife and I were looking for a house. There was a house perfect for us. There was another family that wanted the house. We ended up in a bidding war and securing it. I have no idea what the situation was for the other family. Did they need it more? I do not know what their life circumstances were.

I do not know what to do with this knowledge. It is good to keep this in mind and empathize with people.

Your 20-dollar example is interesting because this happened to me recently. I had found a 100 bill on the street. So, the first thought is “Oh this is cool.” But then the second thought is “Aw, man I am so sorry for the person who lost it. I hope they did not need it.” For some cosmic balance, I tried to use this 100-dollar bill to do good for someone else. Just for all the reasons, we are talking about. Not to pat myself on the back, but to talk about the perspective of keeping this in mind. So, we do not all live in a kind of bubble. You are right. You never know the ripple or the ramifications of how things turn out. You can reverse this.

Who knows how my life would have turned out if the sadness or this other stuff that seemed like hell at the time did not happen? If this hadn’t happened, then I would not have met my wife. This beautiful daughter would not be in the world. I would not trade this for anything in the world. You just never know. It is an interesting idea to explore. This is why we are drawn to it this way. We have seen so many drawings of this story so many times. Especially, if I am going to tie it to the movie. This character has lived a very selfish life up to this moment. He has no perspective. Now that his wishes are coming true, he is not able to see the ramifications because all he is concerned about is his own interest. Of course, this all catches up to him. He has to face these demons both literally and figuratively as the movie progresses. It is an interesting thing to explore.

ATM: We as humans without trying to be selfish often make some wishes from selfishness. If a person of the nonentertainment wishes to be famous or a millionaire, then they might have to go through a lot to get there. Once they are a millionaire, then they do not want it. You know the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.” Especially if you are wishing something before the pieces of your life have unfolded. For example, if someone wants to become a singer. If they would have waited, then probably they would have gotten a record deal. We are impatient because of human nature. I would sort of predict this is where wishes derive from.

MW: It is important to go through the process than to be so focused on the result. Someone might be going to college, having a specific plan for their lives. Over the course of these four years they come out with a completely different set of ideas. You have to go through the process. If this person made this wish at 18, then this was their perspective at the time, and they had nothing to pull from. Who knows? Life could turn out differently and not as fulfilling.

In my case, I started acting at ten. It all came out of let’s just see what happens here. We are playing with house money. We have nothing to lose. There was not a crazy drive to succeed at first. This was not what drove it. I continued and received more of an instinct for it, enjoyed it, and had fun.

My parents did a good job keeping and maintaining balance in my life. At a certain point, you flip the switch and want to pursue it full time. Again, it is be careful what you wish for. Now, I have a whole other set of things to worry about. Now, every time I go on any set to do any job the mentality, I have is that everything is riding on every job for me. My ability to secure future work depends on the strengths of my work for the current thing I am working on. If I cannot deliver, then I have no way of providing for my family. There is this level of anxiety that is constantly with me. I am not complaining. But if we are being honest, I am pointing out the reality of what is to have some level of success in this industry. The other things that come with it.

ATM: I would say “prayer” is the religious term of a wish. What if the terms “prayer” or “wish” were not a part of the American custom? How would life truly be if we did not pray or wish? Would we truly become what we asked for? We just went with the flow of life and did not wish.

MW: Wow, this is a great question. How different would this world look if people essentially allowed the universe to take them on whatever journey they were met to go on? I do think it is important to have goals and to set your intentions. Do you know what it is? It really comes down to collectively becoming more process-oriented than result oriented. We are so married to what we think the results should be. Maybe we are wrong, and this is not what it is supposed to be. Maybe we are developing blind spots from our narrow view of how we think our lives should go. I am not sure if I would eliminate the idea of settling your intent, which is a part of what a wish or prayer could be. Shifting the way we view could go a long way of our health and psyche. This would be great for all of us.

ATM: Another example. A kid who dreams to be an NBA star, doctor, actor, or anything. As a kid, we all have notions or dreams of our lives. As soon as your mind is fixated on “Oh I want to be a doctor, NBA player, or actor,” then all your next moments or positions start to surround this idea. You start looking for a medical show, playing basketball, or watching a lot of films. The kid who wants to be an actor will now gravitate to artistic things. What if they never dreamed to become an actor? Would this change what they might have initially or innately gravitated toward? Would this person really become an actor? Everyone should have short- and long-term goals. I would assume the kid who became an NBA would ask “What if I never dreamed to become this and just let life run its course?” Sometimes I feel regardless of what you dream, pray, or wish, that life finds you or what you want finds you.

MW: It is funny you say this. Whenever you met someone in the entertainment industry and hear their success stories of how they got to where they are everyone has a different story, but it is almost always “Oh yeah, I just kind of fell into it.” You rarely hear. . . pick a random celebrity. Hugh Jackman for example. He was like “I was born ready to do this thing. I pursued it and then it happened.” It is always like ‘“I was sort of over here doing this. Someone over here said, “How about this?” I said, “Ok, cool. I will check this out.”’ It is always something serendipitous. I agree. It is almost like the concept of the beach ball and the pool. If you push too hard to try and grab it, then the water will pull it away from you. I do not know the answer here.

Without goals, then your life can be without also. I am not sure if I have any solutions then to say it is an interesting thought. I am astounded right now. I do think it is interesting that success stories, at least within the entertainment industry, always seem to come about in a similar way, which is “I was open to possibilities. We had a series of things that happened. I took advantage of opportunities as they came to me.” The best thing you can is to try being as ready as you can be to the advantage of opportunities as they arrive. Maybe in the process of developing yourself, you develop certain things. You either end up working in the industry or doing something else. Focus on the self-development rather than “How do I get a million Insta followers so I can sell myself to some commodity?” It all goes to focusing on the process and letting the results go however they are.

ATM: When you mentally result oriented, you are close-minded. Going back to the example about the kid dreaming a dream, wish, or pray, they become close-minded to anything else outside of their notion. People should be open minded to other things.

MW: This ties into acting too. I need to work on this a little. I am controlling about my ideas and what I think the results should be. Sometimes when you are so narrow-minded about this, you can close yourself off to other possibilities. Working with Lin Shaye in this movie really showed me how to open up and follow my instinct. To just try some things. Maybe it works and then maybe it does not. They are going to edit the movie later and pick the best stuff. You do not have to present a perfect package every time when they say action. As a result, she ended of finding some cool and interesting things that were not in the script or discussed beforehand. She was not thinking at the time “Is this right for the character? Are people going to judge me?” She does not care about this, but this goes for some real jinn. I agree. It is important to stay open to all possibilities.

ATM: When you are more oblivious to the results more things will happen for you.  

MW: This is great, but this is tricky. This requires real internal motivation to be process driven than result driven. This is not natural for human beings. I am not sure if this is a universal human thing or specifically an American thing. It is not the way we are taught to navigate through this life. It is much healthier and creates better results to do it like this.

ATM: When you live by the process than the results, people will have others saying they should not do this or that. They do not see the end of the road. Whereas others do. You could be focused on the process and someone is asking you about what will happen in six months based on the reality of what is currently happening. I would not even say these are naysayers. It does not let you become process minded. For actors when auditioning, I would assume people ask “Well, what are you going to do in six months?” Of course, no one truly knows. Actors just audition and audition to try getting a part. It makes you internally freak out and come out of the process-oriented mental space.

MW: As an actor, you cannot have this mentality. Even though it is constantly shoved in your face. Whenever you tell anyone you are an actor, it is what is next. You have this, but what is after this. Your whole sense of value is wrapped up to what you have lined up. It is assessed on how high it is in the industry. It is everything being shoved in your face, which is all about the results. Somehow you have to find a way to put all of this aside and focus on what is you have to do. This is to keep improving your acting. There is so little discussion about “acting” in the world of acting. It is always about these other things. At the end of the day, none of this matter, but I have to figure out how to do this performance.

My entire life has been like this. Whether I am finished with my next job, I am back at ground zero. It is like this for every actor. You are back out on the grind with other people that are applying for the same parts. It requires a lot of throwing your hands in the air and going “Listen I am going to do my part. I have to have faith that on some level this will all sort itself out.” Whether this is the universe, God, or luck. You have to put control in forces that are beyond yourself because you only control so much. There are things you can do. I am trying to take more control of my career in some ways. I am trying to develop my own projects. This takes time. A lot of what we are talking about is having faith to some degree or some mentality or you will go insane.

This was fascinating. This is not what I was expecting at all, but I loved it. Usually it is like “Hey, tell me about the movie. Tell me about the part. Tell me about working with so and so.” This is very refreshing. I appreciated this conversation.

Darren Brass Talks Tattoos, it’s History and More

ATM: Tattoos started during the period before Christ.

DB: It’s funny. Tattoos are one of the oldest art forms. Graffiti was another art form that I grew up in. Then you go back to the cave paintings. I had a likeness to the deep roots of this culture. This culture evolved all the way through no matter where you came from.

ATM: The cave paintings was considered hieroglyphs, which were a part of the logographic writing system. The artwork that was put on scribes was classified as an art form. Tattoos were not called tattoos but were seen as the only way for communication. Now, we can compare the similarities and call them tattoos. 

DB: It was an adornment. It placed you in your tribe. There is the show “Where you are from?” You were ranking it. It made them look more beautiful.

ATM: They were at its high during the times of Hammurabi who was the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty. The code of Hammurabi was written in what can be considered tattoos. They did not think to put it on each other’s skin yet, but it took the place on stones. This was essence and origin of tattoos before coining its name. Then it moved to be the portrayal of a tribe. It was taken seriously. You have to have this type of ink to show you are with us. I would assume it became popular in American during the mid to late 20th century.

DB: Yes. The military was what brought it into here. The sailors were sailing and saw the tribes. They were intrigued by it and it just grew with them. They got it. This was a mark distinguishing. If you were from the Navy or the U.S Army, then you had something to represent you. Something that represented your ranking, where you had traveled, or where you had been. Army, Navy, it was similar to any other tribe. You have to be distinguished to this and that. It is all playing a part and going around no matter the culture. When you bring in Japanese culture, they have been doing this for centuries. They are inherited to their culture. Things are done a certain way and it does not change. It is a purpose and a reason for everything, which is amazing and remarkable.

ATM: A person’s body replaces a canvas, which can get seen as a metaphor or simile.

DB: Absolutely, your body becomes your technique.

ATM: Why did you move your artwork to a person’s body rather than stay on paper or Adobe Illustrator?

DB: It was where I was at during the time. I have been doing graffiti since I was 14 years old. Graffiti did not have the same presence as it does now. You were not making money doing graffiti. You have to survive. I was in school at the time pursuing an Illustration degree. I had friends that were getting tattoos and I knew people that were getting tattooed. I was in the punk rock hardcore scene. The bands watched our tattoo. My friends were coming to me asking why you are not tattooing. I was drawing designs for everyone. I was like no, I have to finish school. I got bored with school because I was bombing every night and going out doing graffiti. I was bored with school. I was not getting that much out of it. I said I wanted to do it. I went to the shop and started to tattoo.

ATM: It is like you said, “I do.”

DB: Yes, I said “I do.” I did a hardcore and out school apprenticeship. I started as a piss boy and worked my way up. I worked at the end of the shop, made needles for everyone.

ATM: You crawled before you walked.

DB: You have to.

ATM: You have to start from the bottom and work your way to the top. It is the hardest, but the best way.

DB: You have to work your way up. You have to know every aspect and every angle. Kids nowadays do not know how to make a needle. This to me is astonishing. Ok you know there is a needle, but do you know why you are using this needle? Do you know why this needle as supposed to that needle? Just technical things. There are certain things tattoo artists coming into the game should know every degree about the business like anything. A mechanic knows a car grader in and out.

They might not be working on the car grader every day, but they know how it works, how to build it, why it works the way it does, and the parts of it. This aspect of tattooing has been lost a little bit. You can buy a tattoo set up on Amazon like everything else. There were only two tattoo suppliers. You had to be verified to work in or for a shop. I was not allowed in my shop to order my first machines. I was given them when they felt I was ready. I had worked with what I was given. How can I make it better? This was a part of the apprenticeship. I am thankful for it as difficult as it was. I can go anywhere and tattoo with what I have.

ATM: Some people what to get into it not understanding the reality of it. You cannot just draw on a piece of paper or on Adobe Illustrator and then say, “I want to work in the tattoo industry.”

DB: There are more shitty tattoos then there are quality tattoos. It is a shame. It is exactly what you said. “I can draw on a piece of paper and now I can draw on skin. What is the big deal?” It is a very few that can make this transition in such a flawless way because there is so much in it.

ATM: Okay, describe the moment when you made a mistake with a tattoo?

DB: (Laughs).

ATM: Come on. I know you have.

DB: Look everything is like building blocks. A part of knowing how to do a tattoo is if you do make a mistake you know how to cover it or hide it. I spelled two things only in all of my 25 years. I was able to fix every single one of them. I was ten years into my career. Only thing I should have done was put West on a compass. I was tattooing a sailor who works on a ship. He knows a compass. He knew the “E” should have been on the right and not the left.

Why did he not tell me? It is a team effort here. I was looking at the ocean and it was at the left of me. I was thinking this was east. I mean being on the east coast and all. It was just a stupid mistake. The first thing I did was spell Friends wrong. This was after 10 years of tattooing. After I was done, I looked at it, and went “Oh Shit.” Then in a meter-second. I was like “Wait, five people just looked at it and liked it.” Everyone cannot be wrong. I showed it to them before I did it. I noticed it and called the person. “Hey look. I just looked in the design stencil. I flipped the “I and the “E.” It was an easy fix. We are human. We are not with flaw or error. Now, I always show it to them and let them spell it by letter.

ATM: We need the flaws. DB: It makes us human. In every mistake no matter the part of life, you learn from it. This is it. I was mortified the first time I spelled something wrong. Like was someone of an intellectual. “Did I just do this?” I lost sleep over this. Do I want to make this mistake again? Hell no.

The Powerhouse Duo Emily and Elizabeth Hinkler

Emily Hinkler and Elizabeth Hinkler are powerhouse twins who are actors, producers and LGBTQIA advocates. They played conjoined twins on two episodes of ABC’s The Good Doctor. Emily recently played a boy (Lee) who is forced to attend gay conversion therapy in Boy Erased. Elizabeth will be on the big screen this spring in the movie Under the Silver Lake. They take on separate projects but do not feel in competition and instead share a strong bond.

They are currently starring in the YouTube Premium series Overthinking with Kat and June. The series chronicles the hopes, dreams and fears of Kat and June, whose thoughts are heard out loud.  Emily and Elizabeth play twin sisters Tessa and Molly, the best friends of Kat. Together the trio hatches plans that are bound to fail and cause hilarious misadventures.

In their spare time, the twins volunteer with foster youth and Trans Lifeline, an organization that works to meet the needs of the trans community and fight the epidemic of trans suicide.

ATM: I grew up an only child and am curious about what it is like to be twins?

Elizabeth:  Every twin relationship is different, just as all types of relationships are.  We do have a close bond, but wouldn’t necessarily credit that to being twins, because any pair of people can cultivate a deeper connection. 

Emily:  We nurture our bond through respecting one another and taking time to support each other’s feelings, thoughts, values, and work, as well as giving the other space to grow individually.  It is amazing to feel so much support from each other in each of our pursuits, and we are incredibly grateful trusting that we will always have each other’s back, and will be the wind beneath the other’s wings.

ATM: I am sure that you support each other; but are there times when there is a healthy competition between the two of you?

Emily:  With both of us being actors, we understand that there can be inherent competition, but we choose to support one another.  We are each other’s biggest fans and encouragers.  When we audition against one another, it doesn’t feel competitive or like a direct comparison because we are both so different, and bring each of our unique intricacies to the audition. 

Elizabeth:  If a director picks one of us over the other, we know it has nothing to do with us personally, and doesn’t mean that one of us is better than the other, but that the director clicked with one of our interpretations more.  When one of us gets a part, it is a win for our team.

ATM: What is the series Overthinking with Kat and June about?

Emily: Overthinking with Kat and June follows the story of an awkwardly blossoming relationship between two new roommates- one a complete anxious introvert, and the other, a bubbly, outrageous extrovert.  We play genderqueer intense thespians Molly and Tessa, the best friends of Kat, and are always scheming up excitingly brilliant, yet failure-prone plans.  We had a blast working on the show. The cast and crew bloomed into a close-knit family, and it was a joy to make people laugh! 

ATM: I know you enjoyed doing an episode of The Good Doctor. Can you share a fond memory?

Emily:  We were recurring guest stars on two episodes of The Good Doctor playing conjoined twins, Jenny and Katie Kunkler.  Working on that show was absolutely amazing- it was like lightning in a bottle.  The story line was incredible and complex, and we really appreciated the opportunity to play.  

Elizabeth:  Not only did we both get to work on the show together, but we each had our own storylines as it is important for us to be seen as individuals. To top it off, the cast and crew were extremely talented and down to earth. The directors for each of our episodes, especially Cherie Nowlan, trusted us impeccably, and allowed us the freedom to explore.  Nick, Chuku, Antonia, Freddie, and everyone welcomed us with open arms and treated us as their honored guests.  They went above and beyond- getting us water, snacks, and giving us neck massages- because we were conjoined at the head and had to stay still for long periods of time.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime and was definitely one of the best highlights to each of our careers.

ATM: (Emily) Boy Erased is such an important film. What do you hope viewers take from this film?

Emily:  I hope people are inspired to take action.  I am so thankful that this film brought to light a piece of the tragic history that the LGBTQIA community has gone through.  Many people don’t realize that conversion therapy still exists today.  In the US alone, 36 states still legally allow gay conversion therapy to take place.  That is disgusting.  This film is so important, and has already been a powerful vehicle to start the conversation and open up the hearts and minds to many… but I know we can go much farther.  I hope this film starts a dialogue about the stigmas of gender and sexual identity and will open hearts and minds to others different from ourselves.

ATM: (Elizabeth) Tell me about your upcoming movie Under the Silver Lake.

Elizabeth: Under the Silver Lake is releasing this April and was in competition at Cannes this past year.  It’s a neo-noir film by David Robert Mitchell, starring Andrew Garfield.  “Under The Silver Lake” was the first role I booked on my own- and I am so excited for it to finally come out!  The film is creative, surreal, and magical- I wore bejeweled makeup and a pink bob!  The script alone was even an imaginative masterpiece- adorned with drawings and pictures to further enhance the words themselves.

ATM: Can you talk more about the work you both do for Trans Lifeline.

Elizabeth: Translifeline is a national trans-led organization that gives support to trans members (including non-binary and gender non-conforming persons) in our community, specifically in fighting the epidemic of trans suicide.  We have volunteered our time with a lot of LGBTQIA youth, but were looking to get involved in other volunteer opportunities, and Translifeline felt like a perfect fit.  The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is an essential place for many people to get the crucial support they need, but for many trans persons, in reaching out for help, they struggle with being misgendered, wrongly profiled, and judged.  This organization was created to support, raise awareness, and specifically understand and address the needs of the trans community, and we are humbled to help support this cause.

ATM: Are there any projects in the works with your new production company?

Elizabeth:  We recently started our own production company, called The Hinklers.  It had always been a goal of ours to start a company where we create and share stories that we are passionate about, but it was assumed that that goal was sometime down the line… whenever we felt “ready”.  Not too long ago, our mentor, Jay Duplass, encouraged us to take the steps and start our dream now.  We never realized that by simply having a hunger to bring our community together through story was the necessary fuel we needed to get started.  Our passion for our company has brought so many amazing people and resources into our lives.   

Emily:  Since then, we raced off creating three short films in three months. This process has helped us solidify each of our artist missions: creating a loving connection from a fearful world, and furthermore, to embody that in our production process with our filmmaking family.   Right now, I am developing a TV show, and Elizabeth is writing a feature.  There is something so exciting about combining our values of trust, connection, compassion, collaboration, and creativity into what we do and make, and we are ever grateful for Jay to ignite that spark in us.