Tag - actress

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.

Janelle Monae Joins Focus Features’ Harriet

The multi-talented, Grammy Award-nominated artist Janelle Monáe joins the cast of Focus Features’ Harriet, the new feature chronicling the life of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Monáe joins the previously announced cast including Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winner Cynthia Erivo as Tubman, along with Tony and Grammy Award-winner Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, multiple Grammy Award®-winner Jennifer Nettles, Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Zackary Momoh, Deborah Ayorinde, and Vondie Curtis-Hall.  Awarding winning director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) is set to direct a screenplay she co-wrote with Gregory Allen Howard (Ali, Remember the Titans). Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) with Martin Chase Productions, Daniela Taplin Lundberg (Beasts of No Nation, The Kids are All Right) with Stay Gold Features and Gregory Allen Howard will produce.  The film is set to begin filming this October in Virginia.

Monáe will soon be seen on screen in Robert Zemeckis’ Welcome to Marwen co-starring Academy Award-nominee Steve Carrell, Emmy Award-winner Merritt Wever, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Eiza González, and Gwendoline Christie.  Her previous acting credits include the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture Moonlight and Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures.

Based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.

Erin Carufel Talks Doctor Role

Having a great interaction with your patients is not always easy. Peppermint cast member Erin Carufel explains how she prepared for the doctor role. The film stars Jennifer Garner (Riley North) and focuses on empowering women. Carufel also expresses more about what it means to jump through different roles as a profession.

ATM: Explain the preparations behind your character.

EC: I played a neurologist in the ICU. Riley North is a patient of mine. I took it upon myself to research my character. It is all the same work whether you are in the lead or have a few scenes. I called a few hospitals in the area. USC was the first to get back to me. I told them about the role and that I wanted to shadow one of their female neurologist in the ICU. They agreed. I had to come in to take tests before the shadowing. I had to take a TB test and flu shot. They did not want me to affect any of the patients in the ICU room. I accompanied her on rounds throughout the day. It was amazing. I got to observe her interaction with her patients. Sometimes it is a sense of care or a feeling. I did not interfere. She answered a lot of my questions.

ATM: Did you ever think about pursuing a career in medicine prior to receiving this role?

EC: No. (Laughs). I have always wanted to be an actor since being a kid. Let me tell you why.

ATM: Why?

EC: I wanted to do everything. I have an adventurous spirit. I wanted to be a pilot, lawyer, bad guy, and more. How do I live these professions in my own lifetime? Acting is the way. I realized this at a young age. I have always had a sense of curiosity about all different professions.

ATM: Let’s say a kid grows up to be a doctor because of their fascination with medicine. When they actually step into a hospital they realize this is in fact not the right profession. Sometimes when you fantasize about a career and it ends up being not like your imagination. However, in acting, you can just be done with a portrayal of a career once the movie is over.

EC: People should do want makes them happy and fulfills them. If you do not like your profession, then why not change. My husband is also an actor named Scott Connors. He thought of being a lawyer for a while. He actual interned at the DA’s office. All the lawyers were telling him not to be a lawyer. It was after receiving the day and a life that he realized this career was not for him.

ATM: Is there a character who you played and studied as an actor and afterward thought differently about the profession?

EC: This is a good question. I have played some really fun roles. I have played a police officer. I was able to do ride alongs with the Portland police. It was fun and I felt the adrenaline. I did not have to do the paperwork and did not get the whole picture of what it means to be a cop. I only got to turn the light on and go chase people. I also shadowed a public defender. You do not get a sense of it until you actually are living the profession.

ATM: What have you learned from the director of Peppermint?

EC: I took away from his flexibility. You have to be flexible as a director. You have to know how to work with an actor who comes from different backgrounds, use different techniques and methods. Everyone is not doing the same thing. You have to be open and know to work with a particular director. Pierre Morel is open to learning and wants to be able to communicate. Some actors love to be directed and talked to a lot. Some want to be left alone.

ATM: How would you describe yourself as an actor?

EC: (Laughs). I like to think of myself as a communal. People look at pictures of me and are not aware that it is me. Hair, makeup, and wardrobe play a factor into a character. Also, these play a factor in bringing a character to life. I like being able to live in the skin of any character. This is why I love the research aspect of my job. I get to really dive into the character. This female cop is always flickering her hair back into a bun. She wears no makeup or wears massacre. You have to figure out what makes this person them. I like to reveal the character within myself.

ATM: What did you take away from the witnessing the interaction with the USC medical neurologist that helped you worked with Jennifer Garner?

EC: I was able to get the sense of taking care of my patients. I learned that you have protected and do what is best for your patient. This might sound counter-intuitive. You have to protect the patient from the family, the police, or anyone coming in who do not understand what is going on. My priority was to take care of Riley. The second priority comes with the police. They are inferring with my patients care. They cannot interfere with the patient in any way that is negative. I learned how to do this in a diplomatic and polite way. You have to still be firm. A good doctor is also good with people and how to interact with people to better interact with the patient.

ATM: How different was your approach to being a patient in real life in hospitals? Did you gain any respect for doctors?

EC: I learned how to be more compassionate. I learned to respect when a doctor says a patient needs to rest that exiting is the best to let them rest. I would be left on my own agenda now from looking at the other side.

ATM: What other themes besides empowering women does this film create?

EC: Things are not always what they seem. Sometimes the good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys are the good guys. There is duality in almost every character in this film. You get to see the yin and the yang. I try to find if the character is a villain or the bad guy when acting. I also try to find the opposites of these types of characters. This helps me more ground the character. We have the whole spectrum inside of us as humans. Some people float on the spectrum. I have the potential to be bad too just as being good. I can dig into all different aspects of myself as an artist and not just play one note.

ATM: Explain these different aspects that cause you to wish to dig within yourself in future projects.

EC: I really want to find my vulnerability. I feel as if I lead with strength. I want to find a softer side of myself as a character. I want to reveal more of my character’s vulnerability and what makes them flawed. What is the flaw within the character that would help me reveal within myself? This is interesting to me right now. I do play a lot of strong characters. I want to dive into being a vulnerability. I want to play characters that reveal the flaw and show weakness.

ATM: How would you approach your character if it were more emotional?

EC: My character is emotional, but there is more of a cover-up. It is boiling underneath. I have to be a professional and do my job in the doctor role.

ATM: Express the position of stepping on the producer side from being on the acting side.

EC: It is a new world. There is a huge learning experience. I am learning every day. I see myself directing in the future. I am interested in directing, starring, and producing my own films. It would be interesting wearing these many hats.

Carufel wants to direct, act, and write her own work in the future. She is producing and attached to star in an independent feature film. This her first producing role. This is an ensemble piece and she is up to play one of the leads called Maggie. Peppermint in theaters September 7, 2018.

 

Briana McLean On The Struggles of Acting

People might not understand the behind scenes of what it takes to become a break out star in Hollywood. There is a lot of money and time that goes deep into the work. Briana McLean, an actress in the recent film Searching talks about the true values and efforts it took to become an actress.

ATM: How was the premiere for the movie?

BM: It was really great and definitely bigger than I expected. The invite for the screening downplayed the size of the event. The turn out was amazing.

ATM: Has this film given you a reality of how it would feel losing a child?

BM: I’m not a parent yet but the film does a great job of taking you there and what it means to be a parent in our world today. Our hearts are so tied to our devices and social interactions. Searching does a great job exploring these connections. I found myself still emotional while watching even knowing what to expect.

ATM: Does acting in the industry now change your way of looking at films?

BM: This is a really good question. I’ve always been compelled about what motivates and shapes people. I always question my reactions in my personal relationships, friendships, and family. I ask myself, “Why did I do this?” or “Why am I reacting like this?” Acting helps me so much in my own self reflection. One of my professor’s at USC would always refer to actors as “Athletes of the heart” and that has forever stuck with me. You have to be so in tuned, committed to exercising your heart, and empathy for the world in order to be a strong actor. An actor who betters themselves for the world is always going to be a better storyteller. Seeing how well Searching is doing is a crazy feeling. I’ve never been able to able to share a story I was telling with so many people at once! It feels insane. People all around the world are getting to experience this story.

ATM: How are your friends and family like this for you?

BM: It’s funny. I am not really good at telling people things. A lot of people found out about the after seeing the trailer online or on T.V. They’d text me and say, “Oh my god! YOU’RE IN A MOVIE?!” I’ve just never been good at sharing stuff. I never want to seem boastful. I like for people to find out on their own. They know where my heart is in this work. It’s never about telling people who I’ve met or who I was around. That was never what brought me to acting.

ATM: Did you attend an acting conservatory or school?

BM: I attended an arts middle and high school called Denver School of the Arts! After that, I got my BFA in acting at the University of Southern California. Once I graduated I moved to Chicago and taught Early Childhood Education.

ATM: Why?

BM: I needed to figure out what I wanted to say. Most actors don’t come to the work with diverse experiences or the life outside of acting. I think a life outside of that world makes for better storytelling. When I graduated from USC, there were even fewer opportunities for people of color in film and television. This was in 2010. The storytelling was much, much different even 8 years ago. It’s a really special time to be acting.

I also wanted to know a life outside of acting. It makes you think about what life would be if you weren’t acting. Once I stepped out of the classroom and moved back to LA, I was trying to get a position advocating for teachers. I didn’t find anything that felt right. I was running lines with a friend who encouraged me to get back into acting. Shortly after I jumped back into it, my first agent came to the first play I did in LA. She had heard good things about the play and I had no idea she was an agent when I met her after the show. She loved my work onstage and reached out a few weeks after. It is really special to find someone who believed in me so much. I was so green and it’s definitely an opportunity a lot of people don’t get.

ATM: It is interesting that when you are in the midst of something you are not aware of what is happening. Other people can see it, but you cannot. Life pieces everything together like a puzzle. However, you feel like nothing is going right. You look back and see how everything was connected. Life becomes a jigsaw puzzle once you figure everything out.

BM: That’s so true. You figure out this happened because of this. But it’s definitely easy to say to people, “No, no. You’re wrong. This is NOT going to happen.”

ATM: This is the hard worker’s anthem.

BM: So true.

ATM: What ideologies did you have about acting prior to joining Hollywood?

BM: I romanticized it to some degree. I was definitely spot on when it comes to how emotionally draining it is. I’ve realized how privileged you have to be to pursue this at a high level. Privilege meaning you have a flexible job and can afford to live in a city that caters to acting. You have to pay for high-quality headshots and have a car to make it to auditions. A lot of people aren’t privileged enough to have all those things. It’s not talked about enough. I started to see everything it took. You have to pay for actor accounts and union dues. There are just so many costs. If you don’t have someone to help it’s very, very difficult to pursue it at a high level. People romanticize the struggle but I see it as another system that is structured to keep certain people from being successful.

A lot of kids at USC come from wealthy backgrounds. When I was graduating SAG and AFTRA were separate unions. At the time, you could just buy into AFTRA. Most of the people I went to school with were able to do so. So when the unions merged, almost all of them became SAG. It cost $1,100 to buy into AFTRA. I definitely didn’t have $1,100 nor did I have anyone who had that amount laying around. These kinds of things frustrate me because there’s so much talent that misses out on opportunities because they can’t afford to do this work.

If you are talented and love this work, you should be able to do it. A lot of people working aren’t necessarily working harder than others. In many cases they just have the resources and opportunity to fight for a dream they wanted. Film and TV is just another space where black and brown people are kept from reaching their full potential. This is not to take from black and brown who are killing it right now! I’m not trying to take anything away from people of color who creating beautiful work. I’m more so speaking to the fact that it takes a lot of EVERYTHING – money, access, opportunity – most of these things are still very much inaccessible to people of color.

ATM: People who are not in the industry sit back and create a commercialized fantasy of the industry. They wonder why their favorite or hit actor in a film is never seen again. A big fan can be the money. Some actors live from role to role. This similar to how people live from paycheck to paycheck. Some people just do not have the money to make their dreams come true. It is what solely hurts the most. No one will come out to say it. This is why some people in acting just go to work normal jobs. You have to let people experience the industry themselves and let them learn what is all about truthfully. People think first time actors receive a million for their first roles.

BM: (Laughs). Exactly.

ATM: This is not reality. There are a lot of people such as Tyler Perry who worked a lot of odd jobs to make it to where he is today. It takes a lot of dedication, perseverance, and sacrifices. No one does it just for nothing. There is no one in the industry that gives half their dedication.

BM: It has to be 100%.

ATM: Some people are just supposed to be in the entertainment industry and some people just are not made to be in it. It is hard to distinguish who is which.

BM: It is. It is hard to step away. I realize I’m supposed to do this shit. Storytelling is what I’m supposed to do. I’m very, very grateful. There are very few people who get to do this.

 

TV One’s Down for Whatever with Star Studded Cast

Hosea Chanchez plays a persistence detective that is set on finding the two young female serial killers in his community. He prides himself in making a good life for his family. Letoya Luckett plays his wife who is also a very successful doctor. TV One’s Down for Whatever takes us through the turmoil of reconnecting with our wounds and family. Luckett’s character cannot let go of finding her family. An adopted family saved her from becoming a juvenile delinquent. Imani Hakim and Bre-Z play the Brown Sisters who are behind the murders throughout the community. Timothy Wayne Folsome wrote and directed this film.

The film shows how different an environment can influence someone’s life choices. People go through life and become a reflection based on their upbringing. They are reflections on the values that were instilled in them as a child. The Brown Sisters are a replicate of receiving the wrong home training as a child. Down for Whatever exhibits a lot of heartbreak and acceptance. Chanchez’s character tells his wife that The Brown Sisters being her actual sisters is not possible.

Luckett’s character sticks to her heart and goes to search for them. This film teaches a person to persevere with things that they feel is destining to be true. Finding new things in your own judgment can change your life. Three of the actors from the main cast talk about how their experience of this film will help them on their next projects. Hosea says, “You have to do your best in a swimming pool full of actors. I always inspire to do better in my future.” Hakim mentions that with each project there is room for growth. “I come out of projects feeling very refreshed and more inspired to create more. I was actually up last night directing my own short film. This film puts things in perspective to create your dreams. These films inspire you to make your films.”

Luckett found different aspects in her personality once stepping off the set. She says, “I learn something in each experience. I like to take things into my own hands. I think to myself to try things on the production side. Also, to get behind the camera more inside of being in front of it. It is cool to create your own content. I did this with my last album called “Back to Life.” I did a short film for the album. People understood the album based on the short film. This inspired me to do more of my own content. A lot of times you see the same thing. You see a black girl in her 30s with a strong willpower that is going through a breakup. I want something different. I am definitely going to look for a project like this that takes me outside of my comfort zone.

TV One’s Down for Whatever takes us through the hardship of how everyone needs their family. A family has a sustainable power to help change one’s mindset. This T.V movie aired July 27, 2018.

Bill Holderman Makes Directorial Debut With A-List Cast

Bill Holderman has written and produced many feature films. Book Club starring Diane Keaton marks his directorial debut in Hollywood. Book Club also stars Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. The Chicago native has worked on past films such as The Conspirator (2010), The Company You Keep (2012), A Walk in the Woods (2015).  Holderman talks with ATM about his first directorial debut, pre-production, and describes his experience working with his star-studded cast.

ATM: Walk us through the casting process.

BH: It started with Diane Keaton. We had written a script specifically for her. Diane’s name in the script was Diane and, in the movie, it is still Diane. We sent the script to Keaton’s agent, got her agent on board, met with Diane to read the script, and this got the ball rolling. Once you have Diane in your movie, it becomes a lot easier to send a script out starring Diane Keaton. This was the first piece of the puzzle with putting everything together. In addition, the original draft for Jane Fonda’s character in the script was Jane.

ATM: Explain how it felt working with the cast of the Book Club.

BH: Everything you expect and imagine. You have the idea of these actors in the movie from having such a long relationship with their onscreen personas and offscreen personas from their interviews as a fan. They were all even more impressive than I thought. I had pretty high expectations for each of them. Diane has written a couple of design books and has a strong sense of style. She has one of the greatest best design eyes ever encountered. Diane is very smart, savvy, and inspirational. I can talk about each of them in the same way, they were very impressive to work with.

ATM: Why do you think this film has already been considered “the must-see comedy for the summer?”

BH: Hopefully, because it is funny. This film was shot in 33 days with a very tight budget. The reality is everyone that came on board both cast and crew were there because they were excited about the movie. Additionally, you could see this same energy from our four leading women. They had a really good time and fun making the movie. This fun translated to the audience. This type of movie does not get made very often. Hopefully, people walk out with a bigger smile than when they came in.

ATM: What did you learn from directing this film that could possibly help you on a future film project?

BH: I learned to have a lot less sleep. After we casted the four women, we bought them in to cast the men. They have been in the business so long and have so many onscreen pairings. These dynamics felt very real and you could feel the good chemistry through the actors. This is something I would repeat. We asked the women who they wanted to act opposite of. For Diane, Andy Garcia was her number one choice and to me Diane was between the two.

This was a huge blessing. This is true for Don Johnson and Jane Fonda who have been friends with over 40 years. These are two people who I did not imagine to be friends. I found out they were genuine friends when she bought up his name. Richard Dreyfuss and Candice Bergen were the same. Also, Mary and Craig worked together previously on the Proposal, so to see these two together for the second time was great. All the positive energy the actors had with their co-stars really helped to translate to the audience’s interpretations of their relationships. I hope to replicate this great lesson.

ATM: Tell us three of your favorite scenes in the Book Club.

BH: One, I loved the dance number between Craig and Mary. This scene was really special, and they worked very harder on it. It comes at a point in the movie where there is a nice climax. This dance scene holds a dear place in my heart.

Two, there is a scene with Diane and Andy on a swan.  They are floating on top of the swan. Just to have the opportunity for Diane Keaton floating on a swan holds a special place.

Three, there is a scene with Jane Fonda and Don Johnson are in a diner. In this certain scene, these actors breathed so much life into the scripted words. They were doing things more than what was expected. They bought honesty and realness to their characters. These scenes will always be treasured in my experience.

ATM: How did you keep your emotional feel to the film separate from your job?

BH: That’s a good question. The schedule was so tight you do not have time but do your job with getting coverage. All the joy and appreciation with the cast’s trust in me with this process was something that I checked at the door. They had expectations of me and we all had a job to do. They had a tremendous amount of respect for the material.

ATM: How did you stray away from being starstruck while directing this film with such an A-list cast?

BH: This is a very good question. I had to convince them to be in this movie because I was a first time director. This took having meetings with each of them separately. They leveled the plain field after sitting down with them and convincing them to do the movie. You become on the same level as them once they get in your movie.

ATM: Are you working on any additional film projects?

BH: Not yet. I just finished this movie a couple of weeks ago. There are things being discussed but I have not figured it out yet. I want to finish this one and get it out. It is hard to think about anything else when I am mostly focused on this film.

Holderman brings to light a cast of experienced women in the Hollywood who have captured our attention for many years. In this film, we see a side of these actors that is different from their onscreen roles in prior films. This movie deepens a fans history and relationship with them. Book Club captured experiences that can help an individual get over hurdles in their daily life.

Book Club in theaters Friday, May 18, 2018.

 

Canadian actress Mouna Traoré Co-Stars on New American Series

Mouna Traoré recently earned a role on BET’s new series In Contempt. She is no stranger to the entertainment industry. She is a part of two Canadian television series Rookie Blue and Murdoch Mysteries. These roles provided her with the wisdom to portray the role of Vanessa Hastings. Vanessa is a shy conservative and driven public defender. Traoré has a lot of similarities to her character Vanessa, which allowed her to vicariously live through the lines of the script. She discusses with ATM  her upbringing, thoughts before earning the role, and gives insight about Canada’s justice system.

ATM: Describe to me your character Vanessa Hastings on BET’s In Contempt.

MT: An ambitious attorney that is anxious to get the real trial experience. She is not ready for the reality of what public defenders deal with or the reality that the client lives. Vanessa has grown up in an isolated, suburban, and privileged community. She has not been exposed to the reality of minorities. Have you seen the show? If so, are you team Charlie or team Bennett? Come on tell me. Which one? Do you like the show?

ATM: Yes I have. I am team Charlie for now. Is your character going to come out of her shy bubble?

MT: She might become challenged and tested. Vanessa deals with a lot of backlash from the other characters on the show. This world seems very brand new for her and she has to figure a way out.

ATM: How do you feel about your character having white parents? I enjoyed the scene where Tracy comes up to the car to find out your parents were white. Your character says to Tracy “So you are not going to telling anyone right?” Then Tracy responds, “Why, should I?”

MT: Her character is so petty on the show.

ATM: I feel her character is very funny. (chuckles)

MT: This is interesting because I had a similar upbringing. My step mom’s parents are white and Jewish and also my mother’s first husband. I was not the only black person, but I often was the only black person.

ATM: Did black people perceive you as white?

MT: Yes,  people perceived me as whitewashed.  I took piano lessons and did things that did not match other people’s stereotypes. My mother is from Haiti and my dad is from Mali. Both of them are french speaking and my father is Muslim.

ATM: Knowing that your personal life sort of merged with your character, when did you actually receive the script?

MT: I got the script when I auditioned in 2017. I treated like it was any other audition. I thought I would never get the role because it was BET, which is American.

ATM: What made you believe this theory?

MT: Especially for me, American shows in Canadian usually cast all Americans. So, this made me go into the audition saying, “I would never get the part.”

ATM: Well you got the part. (chuckles)

MT: I know. I could not believe it.

ATM: Back to you growing up with white parents. Would you say this helped you possess the same qualities of your character Vanessa?

MT:  Feeling like you do not belong anywhere. Sometimes feel I like the outsider and like I never actually fit in with other people, which is similar to the social life of my character. Similarly, my character does not fit in with the public defender’s world or anywhere. I was able to emphasize with Vanessa a lot.

ATM: I agree. When Charlie says, “You have to get your hands dirty.” Your character makes a face expression contesting that she did not sign up for this. She says something along the lines “I wanted immigration and housing issues.”

MT: She lives in her own little bubble and does not go far past it. Vanessa gets into the situation where she must deal with criminals. Also, Vanessa must deal with the judgment of the people at work. My character’s rich lifestyle and people not taking the time to understand her is why she socially cannot connect with others. Vanessa is judged because she has money and people do not take the time to understand her. I have had these experiences in my life. It was interesting seeing how we connected. In contrast, I would never dress like Vanessa.

ATM: When people outside of the entertainment watch television shows or films, they think celebrities have the exact same personality as their character. I feel it is hard for regular people to detach or understand the real person from the character that is portraying.

MT: No, this is not true. I am totally not super hygienic. My character has a cool thing about hand sanitizer. It is interesting that people actually think like this.

ATM: Yes, the spray! Vanessa makes me laugh everytime she uses it. What do you believe this show is sending to the millions watching all over the world on Tuesday nights?

MT: This show confronts what goes on in America as far as the criminal justice system. Additionally, this show looks at the treatment of black people and really educates people about the bond system. A few other aspects that In Contempt focuses on is how the justice system praises and makes money on poor and black people.

 

Traoré’s character on BET’s In Contempt lives outside the social atmosphere of the general public. She was raised by white conservative parents, which puts her at a social disconnect with the rest of the characters on the show. She is considered the social pariah on the show for now because of her different perspectives on the black community’s struggles and hardships. Aside from co-starring on this series, Traoré is a co-founder of a production company, The Mini Films. Tune in Tuesdays at 10 pm on BET to watch In Contempt.

 

Megan Hutchings on BET’s “In Contempt”

Megan Hutchings co-stars in BET’s new series “In Contempt”. This series gives audiences a modern day understanding of how the justice system operates from a public defender’s point of view. The Toronto native plays Tracy Campbell, who is known for using her sexuality to get what she wants. Her character is a southern belle who is hiding who she really is, and audiences will learn more while watching.

 

ATM: Why did you choose to take on your role as Tracy in BET’s In Contempt?

MH: Based on the content of the show. I felt it was a very entertaining show. I appreciated a lot of the really complicated cases that were being portrayed. I liked the cast, the crew, and the creator.

ATM: Tell us more about your character Tracy.

MH: She is Gwen’s best friend and roommate. We have a special friendship and a bond in and out of the office. Tracy is also the fancy southern female lawyer. She is outside of the lines of social drama as a woman. Tracey is open about liking sex and using her sexuality as an advantage. Tracy is a fun person, but she is hiding something.

Still of Megan Hutchings as Tracy Campbell and Erica Ash as Gwen Sullivan from BET’s “In Contempt”episode 103.(Photo: Sven Frenzel/BET)

ATM: Where did your Southern accent come from?

MH: Tracy is possibly from the South. The creator wanted her to have a Southern belle accent. I worked with a dialect coach. It was the creator’s choice.

ATM: Explain your friendship with Gwen Sullivan’s character.

MH: We both become competitive. When you have a black and white friendship the race card gets played, but on this show it does not. We have respect and want the best for each other. Our arguments and disagreements shine the light on our care for one another.

ATM: Explain what your role on the show represents today.

MH: She has a lot of humanity. Tracy puts on a carefree and sexy persona. She might have troubles and hurt from her past. This hurt, and pain might make appearances in the show. We all can emphasize with hiding who we truly are as a person. We are afraid of rejection or what people would say about us. She represents being a powerful female.

ATM: What is your relationship with the judge on the show?

MH: Tracy is a woman who just likes sex. She does it when, how, and where she wants. Tracy sometimes uses sex to her advantage. She likes him but uses him as leverage in the courtroom to win cases. She likes what he can give to her.  She does not get attached to anyone or let anyone in.

ATM: Compare Megan and Tracy.

MH: Similarities

Megan- hiding who I am. Also, putting forth a person that I am not.

Differences

I cannot relate to her putting forth her sexuality or femininity without an apology. I feel this is something most women, but predominantly Canadian women cannot agree to.

ATM: Why can they not relate to this?

MH: Because society tells us we are not allowed to. We have been conditioned to think that men can have sex with no problem. Whereas, women are shown to not be able to do this.

ATM: Agreed, because when a woman is shown to express herself more than sex, she is considered a sex symbol or other derogatory words.

MH: Tracy is all the names that we call women, but why can’t we just like sex.

ATM: Take us through a day of production.

MH: We get up between 4-5am. We go to hair and make-up. Sometimes we are on set for 14 to 17 hours.

ATM: Do you hang out with the cast outside of the show?

MH: We hang out sometimes. Mouna and I are in Canada. Erica and Christian are on the West Coast. The bond is still there. We all have a good dynamic with each other.

Off the Camera Responsibilities

ATM: Aside from playing on BET’s In Contempt, tell us a bit more about your nonprofit Dreams of Rescue.

MH: I make personalized dream catchers. The proceeds go to the rescues. I have been making dream catchers for some time. I established this nonprofit close to a year ago.

Hutchinson’s character represents a lot of women in society. Campbell must undergo a lot of self-judgment to truly come to terms with her wrongdoings. Also, she is part of the cast that handles legal cases of all races and from all perspectives. This show answers a lot of America’s questions about what has been happening between minorities and the police.

Al Pacino’s Wilde Salome & Salome Los Angeles Premiere

Al Pacino at the Special LA Premiere screening of WILDE SALOMÉ and SALOMÉ at the Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre​.  The film stars Jessica Chastain and Pacino. Stephen Fry moderated the post-screening Q&A. The film will be opening in Los Angeles and New York this Friday, March 30th. ​

Teaser Trailer for American Pastoral

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Philip Roth novel, AMERICAN PASTORAL follows a family whose seemingly idyllic existence is shattered by the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Beginners) makes his directorial debut and stars as Seymour “Swede” Levov, a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn, a former beauty queen. But turmoil brews beneath the polished veneer of Swede’s life. When his beloved teenage daughter, Merry, disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family. What he discovers shakes him to the core, forcing him to look beneath the surface and confront the chaos that is shaping the world around him. AMERICAN PASTORAL also stars Academy Award® winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind ) as Dawn, Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, The Twilight Saga) as Merry, Emmy® winner Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black), and Academy Award® nominee David Strathairn (Lincoln, Good Night, and Good Luck).
American Pastoral – In Theaters October 21