TV

Meet NCIS: Hawaii’s Breakout Star, Kian Talan

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Your Mondays just got so much better! The highly anticipated premiere of the CBS series NCIS: Hawai’i aired on September 20th and it was nothing short of amazing! The series stars Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, the Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor and single mom of her two children Julie and Alex. Her son, Alex Tennant is played by actor Kian Talan. Alex is a moody and exasperating teen who is struggling to cope with his parent’s split and his father’s new family. His frustrations manifest themselves through his outbursts in school as he juggles his growing pains and the responsibility of raising his younger sister. 

Being able to portray an authentic Filipino American character is something Kian Talan has always dreamed of doing. Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, Kian struggled with the pressure to succeed at a young age while also feeling like an outsider in his predominantly white neighborhood. As he grew up, Kian recognized the importance of understanding his Filipino roots. However, in an attempt to not stand out more than he already was, Kian set aside his acting aspirations and obtained a degree in Computer Science with the intention of becoming a web developer. 

Kian’s struggles are some that are shared amongst many immigrant children and children of immigrants. Sometimes it feels easier to blend in than it does to stand out. But, by doing so, we neglect ourselves the opportunity to follow our dreams. Luckily, following his collegiate career, Kian took acting classes which reignited his passion for a career he never fully realized. The obvious underrepresentation of Asian Americans throughout American media ignited the fire within Kian to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. His driving force is being able to shed light and tell stories of Asian/Filipino Americans, stories that he never got to see growing up. 

As his latest role as Alex Tennant hits television screens across the nation, we caught up with Kian as he was filming the show to discuss his upbringing as a child of immigrants, his role on NCIS: Hawai’i, Asian representation, and much more!

Kian Talan

Cliché: Growing up as a child of immigrants in a predominantly white neighborhood, trying to ‘fit in’ is easier than risking being a stand-out. How did you eventually gain the courage and confidence to pursue your passion for acting? 

Kian Talan: Growing up in a white suburban town as a Filipino brown-skinned kid definitely made me think in a certain way and subconsciously ashamed of who I was. I worked so hard to fit in and didn’t lose that mindset till I moved to NYC. NYC introduced me to so many different types of people, cultures, and other Filipinos who were proud to be who they were. It helped me gain confidence in who I am and my “crazy” dream of becoming an actor. I’m not saying that the insecure little kid in me doesn’t show up occasionally, but I’m working every day just to be me.

 

Cliché: Tell us about your character Alex on NCIS: Hawai’i.

Kian Talan: Alex Tennant is an average high school kid with a not-so-average mom. He is the son of Jane Tennant, Special Agent in charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor. He is just trying to deal with his mom always working and his parent’s recent divorce. Alex is a good kid at heart, loves his parents, but he feels neglected, which causes him not to make the best decisions.

 

Cliché:  Were you a fan of the NCIS franchise prior to taking on this role?

Kian Talan: NCIS is such an iconic franchise, but to be honest, I wasn’t a hardcore fan. I would watch re-runs from time to time but never got fully into it. However, I’m really excited to be a part of the spinoff NCIS: Hawai’i because I think it will be very different from what viewers are used to watching. Of course, it will be the same vibe as the rest of the NCIS shows, but there will also be a strong contrasting presence showcasing family and the beautiful culture of Hawai’i. Growing up, I never saw a Filipino family at the forefront of a network show. So, it is an honor that I can be part of this movement to tell more Filipino stories.

 

Cliché: What is it like so far working with Vanessa Lachey and the rest of the talented cast in Hawai’i? 

Kian Talan: Before I get to the cast, I want to talk about the amazing crew that mostly gets overlooked. These people are the most hardworking and genuine people I’ve ever met. From the make-up/hair team to production, they have made me feel very welcomed. The crew is also mostly Asian or from the island, which is so rare and definitely makes it feel like home for me. 

As for the cast, they are all super talented, and I knew it right away from the first table read. Let’s just say it was very intimating as this is my first big role on a show. But, they are all so supportive and great, humble people.

We just started shooting the season, but I will say Vanessa Lachey has positively impacted my time in Hawaii so far. People think that if you’re the lead of a show that it’s easy, and it’s a life of glamour, but it’s not. Vanessa goes above and beyond to make sure the show will be the best it can possibly be. I witnessed it from my first day on set. She puts in long hours but comes on set with an infectious, energetic attitude. She’s really got to know everyone (cast, crew, background actors) and is a great role model and talented actress.

Cliché: Underrepresentation and misrepresentation for Asian Americans is still an ongoing problem in mainstream media today. How do you think meaningful change can occur to fix this issue in film and television?

Kian Talan: For a long time, the representation of Asian Americans on Film/TV has been either for using a joke, being an object, or supporting someone else’s story. Change will only occur when people realize that we have our own stories to tell. Stories with love, heartbreak, pain, and struggle because we are human beings like everyone else. We’re not fighting just to be seen; we are fighting to be heard and properly viewed for who we are in a truthful way.

 

Cliché: Do you have a dream role or genre you hope to one day play?

Kian Talan: I’m a big fan of independent films. I really hope I get the opportunity to work on an independent drama that is just honest and stripped down. I want to tell true stories that are eye-opening and create change in how we view Asian-Americans.

 

Cliché: Aside from NCIS: Hawai’i, what other projects do you have coming up?

Kian Talan: To be honest, nothing really. I just started shooting NCIS two weeks ago, so I’m just getting settled in Hawaii and excited to be diving into the world of Alex. 

 

Cliché: Where can we find you on social media?

Instagram: @kian.talan

Twitter: @kiantalan

Facebook: @kiantalanofficial

 

Be sure to watch Kian Talan as Alex Tennant on NCIS: Hawai’i, Mondays at 10/9c on CBS and Paramount Plus!

 

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Images Provided by Kait Keem and Martin Diegor

Wrapping Up With The Kardashians

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After 20 seasons, Keeping Up with the Kardashians has finally come to a bittersweet end. The reality television series created by Ryan Seacrest centered around the glamourous lives of the Kardashian-Jenner family, predominantly Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, Kylie, Kendal, and their mother/manager, Kris. The show dove deep into their personal lives featuring all of their day-to-day activities, lovers, career opportunities, plenty of gossip, and everything in between. Keeping Up with the Kardashians was a groundbreaking show for pop culture as it caused reality television to grow in popularity and created a whole new world for social media influencers.

Photograph found on the official @kuwtk Instagram page of sisters having fun.

Since the show began in 2007, the show created a ginormous fan base and the Kardashian and Jenner girls gained millions of social media followers. Along with the show, each member of the family accomplished a lot including marriages, children, business launches, modeling gigs, and more. After the season 20 finale, the cast of Keeping Up with the Kardashians sat down for a televised interview with Andy Cohen to look back at everything they have went through and to answer hard hitting questions from fans. Read on for the highlights.

Karadashian-Jenner girls with Andy Cohen on the day of the interview. Photograph posted on @kuwtk Instagram page.

To start off the interview, Andy Cohen reminded us that there have nine spin offs of the show, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are billionaires, the sisters have had headline relationships, three marriages, and over 800 million google search results. Clearly, Keeping Up the Kardashians put this family on the map. Following the introduction, Cohen began asking the most pressing questions. In 2007 a sex tape of Kim Kardashian was released and addressed in the first episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. This tape was a large scandal and Kim did receive a lot of attention for it. One of Cohen’s first questions was directed to Kim asking her if the show would have been successful without the sex tape. Kim responded by saying that the tape did help the initial success of the show, but it is a mistake that she will have to live with for the rest of her life and a tough conversation that she will have to have with her children someday.

Cohen then went on to ask Kylie Jenner questions about her life. Kylie is a billionaire who created an incredibly successful beauty line, Kylie Cosmetics. Kylie shared in the interview that she grew up being very insecure about her small lips and would outline them with lip liner. This sparked her love for makeup and led her to Kylie Cosmetics. It is a well-known fact that Kendall Jenner has always kept her love life private and refused to include her relationships in Keeping up with the Kardashians. During the interview Kendall Jenner admitted that she is in a relationship with professional basketball player, Devin Booker.

One of the most iconic Kardashian-Jenner relationships would have to be Kourtney Kardashians relationship with Scott Disick. The couple had three children together and dated on and off for nine years. The two split up in 2015, however Scott and Kourtney have remained friends. Scott was a major character on the show and appeared on every season. In the interview, Cohen asked Kourtney why she broke up with Scott and she said the deal breaker was his substance abuse. Kourtney is now dating Travis Barker and Scott gave his blessing and said he wants her to be happy.

Post from @kuwtk Instagram post from interview day.

Another highlight from the interview is when Cohen asked Khloé Kardashian about her relationship with Tristan Thompson. Thompson cheated on Kardashian with Kylie’s best friend at the time, Jordan Woods, when she was pregnant with their child. Thompson and Kardashian broke up because of this and the Kardashian family cut Jordan out of their lives. Khloé and Tristan, however, did get back together and Cohen asked Khloé why she didn’t give Jordan the same pass she gave Tristan. Khloé went on to say that she doesn’t hold any grudge against Jordan and that she forgives her.

This spicy interview was a perfect wrap up for Keeping Up with the Kardashians. To watch for yourself visit Keeping Up with the Kardashians Season 20 Episodes 13 and 14 on Hulu.

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Olivia Rose Keegan Shines Bright in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

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The trope of playing a villain entails a criterion dating back to silent films. Villains ooze confidence and lack remorse. They carry themselves above the world in which they inhabit. As an actor, setting aside your personal morals and beliefs to justify the words and actions of your heinous character is mandatory. For Olivia Rose Keegan, transforming into a villain has become her trademark. The sweet and endearing tone of Olivia’s voice makes you wonder how the young actress is able to portray wickedness time and time again. 

At 11 years old, Olivia Keegan decided to transition from the stage to on-camera. Starring in critically acclaimed projects such as the short film Picture Perfect and the feature film Decoding Annie Parker, Olivia tended to her acting skills. This led to her landing the role of Claire Brady on the beloved and world-famous soap opera, Days of Our Lives. The “acting boot camp,” as Olivia describes it, prepared the actress for her latest role of Lily in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, streaming on Disney+. Lily joins her fellow Wildcats at East High, some of whom include Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo, with the determination to land the leading role in the school’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is currently streaming on Disney+. 

As Olivia’s career continues to flourish with every cutthroat line and glaring stare she delivers, we hopped on the phone with her to discuss High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Days of Our Lives, Twilight, and so much more!

Cliché: What inspired you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry at such a young age?

Olivia: That’s a good question! I don’t know what possessed me really, but I was so determined. I started in musical theater when I was about 7 years old, so that’s probably how I caught the ‘bug’. When I was 10, I woke up one day and knew that I needed to pursue on-camera acting and dedicate my life to it. I wrote essays to my parents every day, for almost a year, to convince them. After a while, I wore them down and they let me go and do it. I found myself an agent online in San Francisco and she started sending me to auditions. I think I’m very lucky to have [started] at such a young age. When we’re young, we go through life head first and follow our instincts. We’re less afraid of judgment and fear. I’m very grateful I got into it at the age I did because I don’t know if I would have the guts to do it now. 

Cliché: How did it feel to join such a successful show like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and work alongside Joshua Bassett, Olivia Rodrigo, Matt Cornett and so many other talented actors?

Olivia: It has been amazing and a literal dream come true. I used to dress up as Belle as a child and now I get to wear this beautiful Broadway-caliber Belle dress for a Disney+ series. Coming in for season 2 could have been an intimidating situation inherently because the cast was so close. But as soon as I walked through the door, all of those feelings melted away. Everyone could not have been more warm and welcoming. That cast is so incredibly talented in their own way, so I’m just enjoying it all and trying to soak it all in. It is such a dreamy and inspiring environment to be in.

Cliché: Tell us about your character Lily in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series?

Olivia: Lily is a transfer student who comes to East High with her heart set on landing the lead role of Belle in the school production of Beauty and the Beast. She is a very determined girl and willing to knock down anything in the way of what she wants. It has been a really fun journey, with lots of twists and turns and I’m excited people get to see it all play out over this season. 

Cliché: Up until last year, you portrayed Claire Brady on the beloved series Days of Our Lives. What was that experience like and what did you learn from your time on that show?

Olivia: I probably learned almost everything I know on that set! I also grew up on that set, so all of my awkward phases were nationally broadcasted! It was so, so great though. Soap Operas really are the best [acting] boot camp. We would shoot anywhere from 60-70 scenes a day with so much dialogue. Usually, on any other show, you would shoot 4 scenes on a ‘heavy’ day. It’s a very ‘sink or swim’ world. It pushed me to new limits and gave me a sense of confidence in what I can handle.

Olivia Keegan

Cliché: A few of the roles you have portrayed in your career have a “villain” undertone to them. What draws you to those roles?

Olivia: It has absolutely been a coincidence! I’ve been reflecting lately and thinking maybe it is time to look inward and see what kind of energy I’m putting out into the universe. It purely is a coincidence, but, with that being said, it is so fun to play the villainous character. It’s a great challenge because my characters, Lily and Claire, are doing some bad stuff and it can be difficult to justify their actions as an actor. It is a beautifully cathartic experience. 

Cliché: Is there a role or genre of film/television you hope to explore in your career? If so, what is it?

Olivia: I’ve had an obsession with vampires since I was a kid. So, I’m trying to manifest being able to play a vampire. I’m not sure what hooked me into that, maybe it was seeing Twilight when I was younger, but I’ve wanted to play a vampire for about a decade now. I also recently finished the show Outlander and loved it! It made me want to do a period piece as well. 

Cliché: What can fans expect next from you?

Olivia: Well, they can expect some fun stuff from the rest of season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. We’ve got some twists and turns that I don’t think people will expect! Other than that,  just trying to manifest a vampire role! 

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Images Provided by Katie McGehee

Actress Connie Giordano Shines in “Mare of Easttown”

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A Philly local, Connie Giordano delighted at the opportunity to play a character close to home – and opposite Kate Winslet, no less! Connie stars in Mare of Easttown as the titular character’s high school friend, Patty DelRasso, whose daughter quickly finds herself neck deep in the town’s murder mystery. Connie hopes Patty and Mare’s relationship can be further explored in later seasons. All the more reason we have our fingers crossed that Mare of Easttown will return for season two!

Cliché: Who or what encouraged you to pursue acting?  

Connie Giordano: I’ve been performing since I was a kid. My parents always encouraged me and my twin sister, we took piano lessons, dance, etc. My father has always been a tremendous support to me especially, and he’s not in the entertainment industry at all…he was in Insurance Sales and Real Estate. I have family members in the entertainment business. My second cousin, Patsy Grady Adams, was in Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner, and my cousin Denise Stout, is a performer in Chicago. So it’s in our genes! 

Tell us about your Mare of Easttown character, Patty DelRasso. 

Patty and her husband Tony own an Italian restaurant, DelRasso’s. She’s also a nurse. Our daughter Brianna attends the local high school. My character was a basketball teammate of Mare’s in high school. We’re part of a very close community in Delaware County. (Delco)

How would you describe Patty’s relationship to Mare? Do you think the fact that they grew up together gives her any kind of special insight?

Their relationship is something I’d love to explore in another season! I think there’s a mutual respect, but I’m not entirely sure how much respect.  I think their history provides insight for Mare, sure. She is pretty familiar with my daughter and how she’s been raised because of our high school relationship, and being in such a tight-knit community.  

 

The show delves into the dark side of the community and the secrets we all keep. How do you think Patti perceives her own role in Easttown?

 I think Patty assumes a matriarchal role to her daughter and her husband. I don’t necessarily agree with that personally in regards to her husband Tony, but I think she’s quite the “Mama Bear.”

What was your favorite scene to film?

Well, I filmed one that didn’t make it into the final cut, but that happens sometimes! Besides that, my scene with Tony and Mare outside her home when Tony approaches her to “talk.” 

What attracts you to murder mysteries? Did you ever think that Patty could have something to do with the multitude of crimes plaguing Easttown? 

Sure, why not? Everyone has a dark side! I love mysteries, and I loved the writing from Brad Inglesby because I never guessed correctly when I was reading each episode. I loved that!  Life has so few surprises; mysteries are a real treat! 

Kate Winslet has raved numerous times about the magic of Wawa. Did you get a chance to try it? 

Oh yes, I love Wawa. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so I’m well-acquainted. Their food is always fresh since they have a dairy in Southern Chester County, and they have great coffee! 

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Actress Connie Giordano Shines in “Mare of Easttown.” Photo Credit: Ken Volpe: www.transposure.com Hair and Make Up: Brittany DeCheine at D Cheine Beauty.

Mike Heslin Satirizes Pursuit of Social Media Stardom in New Mockumentary, “The Influencers”

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Many of us dream of becoming an influencer. But how far would we go to achieve fame? What happens when we lose control of our manicured Instagram persona? Creator Mike Heslin affectionately parodies this scramble to the top in his new series, The Influencers, which follows a group of thirsty social media starlets as they battle it out for a brand deal. The Influencers is now available to stream internationally on Revry, the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable network.
 
Cliché: How excited are you to be able to have the opportunity to work with Revry? 
Mike Heslin: Super excited! As a queer filmmaker, it feels like a great fit since Revry is a LGBTQ network. One of my production company’s missions is to elevate LGBTQ+ stories, characters, and artists – so we are thrilled to find a new home and partner in Revry. 
Tell us about your new show, The Influencers.
The Influencers is a new satirical comedy series that follows six social media “stars” as they compete in a series of creative challenges under one roof for an exclusive brand deal with the latest millennial juice craze: Jücytox. As cameras capture each influencer in real life, the manicured versions they present to the world online implode before our eyes. Witty and fun with a dash of heartbreak, The Influencers combines the best of mockumentaries such as The Comeback and Best in Show with the latest obsession-worthy reality TV formats to provide a satirical behind-the-scenes look at the lengths people will go to in their quest for (insta)fame. 
 
What about the influencer world lends itself to the mockumentary format? 
Everything! Influencer culture is all about a perceived, curated “reality”, so the idea of a show within a show where we get to see both the filtered versions they present online as well as what they are like in reality when they can’t perfectly edit and manicure everything really tickled me. For people who so carefully curate their image, I thought it was a compelling and interesting idea to see what these people would actually be like if you put them in a big-brother style house where they no longer have control of the edit.  
Influencers are often stereotyped as vain and superficial, which is perfect for parody. Are any of the characters inspired by your own experiences or interactions with influencers? 
Some of them but I can’t reveal which characters! I was between acting gigs and was freelancing for a social media agency working as a social media director and creative director. Casting and contracting influencers was part of my day to day and while there are tons of influencers out there who are super intelligent and incredibly business savvy, I happened to work with a few that were gorgeous, sweet, but who were lacking any real skillset. I started to wonder what would happen if these individuals had to prove themselves in a real public forum and how they would fare on an unfiltered platform where you couldn’t perfectly curate your persona. Thus the inception for The Influencers was born! 
 
Would you say you’re attempting to poke fun at the influencers or humanize them? Or a bit of both? 
It’s satire, so a bit of both. Most of us are active participants in today’s social media culture in some shape or form, so I think it’s important to be self-aware, to laugh at ourselves and to not take everything so seriously. 
What do you think it says about the current state of our society that everyone is so obsessed with follower counts? 
I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon. I think with or without social media, everyone just ultimately wants to be liked and respected. That being said, social media certainly can exacerbate the need to be liked and can be very polarizing (especially in times of political turmoil and a pandemic). I worry about the effect it has on our youth who are being raised in an era of unrealistic standards, but ultimately would argue that social media connects us and brings us together despite all of the negative attributes that can come with it, and connection is always a good thing. I feel connected to more people and like checking in with and keeping tabs on distant relatives or old friends from back home that I probably would have lost touch with had I not had social media. I also think it can be a great tool to market and educate but again, it definitely is a double edged sword. 
 
Does the show examine what drives people to want to become social media influencers? 
It more so examines what comes with online fame and the lengths people will go to to achieve it. It also examines what happens when you put someone who essentially doesn’t have a real skill set in coveted positions of power and/or responsibility. 
 
If you were an influencer, what kind of content would you make? 
I try to do my part to help advocate and educate for my LGBTQ+ community online already, but if I could be any kind of influencer I’d want to be a travel influencer. Getting paid to jet set around the globe and stay in five-star hotels in different countries doesn’t sound like the worst job in the world.
 
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Mike Heslin Satirizes Pursuit of Social Media Stardom in New Mockumentary, “The Influencers.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mike Heslin.

 

Madison Walsh and Michael Musi are Engulfed by Family Secrets in New Mystery Thriller, “Something Undone”

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How well do you know your family? It’s a complicated question for many – and we might not always what we uncover. In CBC Gem’s new mystery thriller, Something Undone, foley artist Jo (played by Madison) becomes consumed with her quest to find her own answers, even as it jeopardizes her relationship with her partner Farid (played by Michael). We spoke to the actors about the show and the power of familial love.
 
Cliché: Are you passionate about true crime in real life? 
MM: I don’t know that I would call it passion but it really fascinates me. I go through waves. Sometimes it’s all I listen to and sometimes it’s Drake and Justin Bieber. All about balance. 
MW: Yes. But I get bored with the over-extended TV docs. The Jinx is an exception. I prefer dramatized versions of true events like the recent The Investigation from Denmark. 
 
Tell us about your new show, Something Undone, and your characters, Jo and Farid. 
MM: Something Undone is a thriller-mystery about a foley artist, Jo (played by Madison), who goes home to settle her late mother’s estate while also recording the required sounds for her true-crime podcast she runs with her partner Farid (me!). While in the house, a haunting sound leads her to a dark family secret and she becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth. 
MW: I play Jo! Our story is all about sound – so pop in your headphones when you watch! 
 
How did you adapt to filming the project under COVID restrictions? 
MM: It was tough. But we designed the show to be shot during COVID; one character, one house. Sound is a MASSIVE part of our show and it allowed us to create a very full story without breaking any pandemic rules. 
MW: We actually thrived with the creative parameters! I think the idea of an artist’s “blank page” is hell.  
 
Madison, you play a foley artist! Did you gain a new appreciation for the craft in prepping for the role? 
MW: I am such a nerd for foley. We were lucky enough to get a Zoom chat with Andy Malcolm – THE Canadian foley artist – and he showed us all around his amazing farm/foley studio.
 
Your characters run a true crime podcast. Would you say that the pressure to always investigate the next story has created some distance between them? 
MM: I think they had a pretty good balance up until this point. They’re both so passionate about what they do and are lucky to be able to do it together. But they both have obsessive natures to them that make it hard for them to peel themselves away from the job. Speaking of the drive to investigate, Jo finds herself consumed by the need to know what really happened with her mother’s death, which could be suspicious. 
 
How would you describe Jo’s bond with her mom? 
MW: Tenuous. Complicated like most women’s relationships with their mothers. That specific connection and the patterns of theirs we repeat is something I wanted to write about. 
 
Michael, can you give us some insight into Farid’s perspective on Jo’s journey? 
MM: Farid is a really supportive partner so being away from her during this time is really difficult for him. Jo has struggled with her mental health and Farid’s constantly worried about her. When he begins to notice her destructive behaviour, he’s terrified for her well being. 
 
Without giving away any spoilers, how would you say Jo and Farid’s relationship changes throughout the season? 
MM: They definitely drift apart. As Jo gets consumed by the family secret, she pushes Farid further and further away. 
 
What messages do you think the show has to offer on the strength of love and family, even beyond the grave? 
MW: You only get one family. So don’t give it up. 
MM: Losing a parent is horrible. I lost my mom when I was 24 years old and there are things I wish I had done/said when she was alive. Honestly, I would be really happy if this show made our audience pick up the phone and call their parents.
 
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Madison Walsh and Michael Musi are Engulfed by Family Secrets in New Mystery Thriller, “Something Undone.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of Madison Walsh and Michael Musi.

A Conversation with Virgin River Star, Jenny Cooper

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If you are a fan of great television, specifically, shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and 24, then Jenny Cooper is a familiar face. The Canadian-born actress continues to grow her impressive resumé as she stars in the hit Netflix series, Virgin River.   

Based on the novels by Robyn Carr, Virgin River follows Melinda ‘Mel’  Monroe, a woman who answers an ad to work as a midwife and nurse practitioner in the remote California town of Virgin River. While she hopes it will be the perfect place to start fresh, she soon discovers that small-town living isn’t quite as simple as she expected. She must learn to heal herself before she can truly make Virgin River her home. Jenny Cooper plays Mel’s cautious older sister, Joey Barnes. Joey is weary of Mel’s move to Virgin River and makes every attempt to convince her to return to Los Angeles. 

The critically acclaimed series has made its mark in Netflix streaming history. The season 2 premiere was given a coveted 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes while racking in nearly 1.8 billion views in November and December of 2020. Following the news of Virgin River being picked up for a third season, we caught up with Jenny Cooper to chat about her admirable career and of course, Virgin River

 

Jenny Cooper

Cliché: What drew you to acting? How did you get your start in the business?

Jenny Cooper: My parents were huge movie and theatre buffs. So, I grew up really appreciating the arts, both visual and performing. At some point, when the lights would dim before a performance or a movie, I started to have a sense of belonging. That led to studying acting, which was extremely fulfilling, and finding “my people.” I had done a few commercials when I was little so had my SAG card when I came out to LA. My career kind of started backwards with a couple of series regular roles (Jake and the Kid, a Canadian series) and Fast Track (Showtime). They both filmed in Canada and lasted one season each. When I came back to LA, I had to start back at square one. I had to build my resume with guest star roles and take every acting class I could fit into my schedule.

 

What entices you about joining a project, the people involved, the overall script or the character you are reading for? 

All of the above! Definitely the people involved. The longer I am in this business, the more I want to be surrounded by like minded people I can trust and grow with. And of course the script and relationships depicted are key. I love it when a theme or role mirrors an experience I have had or grown from, something I can recognize. That’s part of what I love about playing Joey on Virgin River. My own sister lives in NYC so we have, for the most part, a long distance phone relationship. But we are so close that it always feels like we are in each other’s living rooms. And no one knows me better than she does. No one shares your life experiences quite like a sibling does…

 

You’ve been on so many successful shows with such incredible followings like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and now Virgin River. How does having such dedicated fans inspire and motivate you on set?

So, it’s an interesting relationship. Of course, we’re not really thinking about pleasing the fans when we’re on set doing the actual work. The writers come up with the storylines they feel work best, a million things go on behind the scenes to help realize those storylines and lastly, the actors (and director and crew!) come in and do their best to bring them to life. But I have often found there is no rhyme or reason to shows that do amazingly well and some that just don’t find their way. Virgin River definitely seems to have found a robust and international audience. It is very exciting, and I find our fans to be incredibly loving and generous, both to the show and, personally, to the cast. Social media really allows you to hear from everyone, for better or worse, and the support has been extraordinary.

Tell us about your character Joey on Virgin River.

I would love to! Joey is a mother of three. She’s recently separated from her husband, Bill and is heading into unchartered territory. Joey is used to being on top of everything; a multi-tasker who manages to take care of her busy life with effortless style. However, all of that comes crumbling down when her marriage falls apart and she has to figure out what to do next. Mel relies on Joey for her big sister advice, but Joey leans on Mel too for comfort and support. And I think that’s why she has such a hard time accepting the fact that Mel is really happy somewhere else.

Congratulations on Virgin River being renewed for a third season! Is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming season?

Thank you. I can’t really say much other than you’ll get to see more of Joey’s awesome house!

You’ve played some amazing roles in your career. Is there a dream role you’d like to play?

I would love to do something totally different, like a period piece or play a vampire. Just a fun 180 of some sort.

What’s next for you? 

I am working on a couple of projects that I am writing and producing, which are my other passions. And sending my children back to school in April, which is very exciting!

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Images Provided by Dean Foreman, Hair – Matilde Campos, Makeup – Ashley Donovan 

Actress Alondra Delgado Brings New Intrigue to “All American”

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Like many actors over the past year, Alondra Delgado found her career momentarily suspended by COVID-19. After many months, her perseverance paid off and she was cast as newcomer Vanessa Montes on the hit teen football drama, All American. While Alondra didn’t know much about football at the start, already being an avid fan of the show certainly helped!  If her secret past with Asher is any indication, Vanessa is definitely shaking things up on season 3, currently airing on Mondays at 8pm on The CW.

Cliché: You’re an actress, writer, and producer. Has wearing so many hats enhanced your understanding of the industry at large?

Alondra Delgado: Definitely! An actor, writer, and producer have many different responsibilities and each of them are essential. There is a unique feeling when writing something that truly means something to you and then watching it being brought to life. It is amazing to see how people create their own take on your words, and this creates more depth and meaning to the stories. Being a producer for the first time made me admire a lot more everything that happens behind the camera. The whole process of putting a film together, the before and after takes so much time and it’s what really permits the film to be accessible to the world. Being an actor brings everything to life and it is what makes the public connect with the film and have meaning. Having the opportunity to do all three has helped me learn a lot and appreciate the art of filmmaking a lot more. 

How has the pandemic impacted your acting career?

COVID-19 has changed everything and definitely the filmmaking industry. When it all started a year ago, I was not able to film or book anything for eight months. During the whole first quarantine I only sent two self-tape auditions and continued my training by taking online Zoom acting classes. It was hard. You feel so much time is passing by and your dreams are farther and farther away. Once productions started back up, I started to audition via self-tapes a bit more often and that’s when I landed my All American recurring role back in October.

 

Tell us about your latest role, Vanessa Montes, on All American. 

Vanessa Montes is my second recurring role. I was very excited to get cast for this, given the fact that All American is one of my favorite shows and I’ve been watching it since season 1. When I got cast I couldn’t believe it, and still to this day I am overly excited every time I get to be on set. It has been a great experience, everyone in the cast and crew is amazing and have made me feel welcome. 

How much did you know about football prior to being cast?

If I am being honest, the only football I knew was thanks to the show. When I started watching All American a couple of years ago I started to learn a couple of things, and when I booked the show I was like “okay, maybe I should ask my friends to explain the rules to me.” I know the basics now and definitely admire the sport because it looks tough for sure! 

What can we expect from Vanessa in season three?

Vanessa will bring a new energy to the squad. She has some secrets that might create a bit of drama. She wants to enjoy high school and make friends, but we’ll see how that goes being the new kid and the new head coach’s daughter. It’s a lot of pressure for sure.

Vanessa is very confident. Would you describe yourself as a confident person?

Vanessa indeed is a very confident young girl who carries herself well and knows what she wants. I do identify with her right now. It has been something that I’ve worked on but I describe myself as a confident person. I believe in my talent and know that if I work hard enough I can achieve the goals I have set for me. But it is definitely something I still work on every day and grow and learn. 

She also has a history with one of her classmates. Without giving too much away, tell us more! 

It is definitely a very interesting situation that I know will have everyone at the edge of their seats with intrigue. I can’t spoil any details, but I can say that Vanessa knows Asher from before. 

What do you hope 2021 has in store for you, both professionally and personally?

Personally, I hope everything that is going around in the world gets better and people stay safe and this nightmare goes away. I am grateful for the blessings 2020 did give me and I hope these new opportunities open more doors for me. I want to land my first series regular role soon and another lead role in a feature film. Fingers crossed for 2021!

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Actress Alondra Delgado Brings New Intrigue to “All American.” Photo Credit: Tim Schaeffer Photography @timschaefferphoto. Hair and Makeup: Johnna J. Perez @johnnajmakeup. Styling: Sean Dylan Perry @seandylanperry.

“All That” Star Aria Brooks Talks Sketch Comedy, Songwriting, and More

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13-year-old Aria Brooks has already made quite a name for herself. With the help of her mother’s coaching, the actress has some impressive credits, including starring alongside Cynthia Erivo in Harriet and scoring a spot on All That. Aria also has a passion for songwriting – something that she unexpectedly has a lot of free time for in quarantine! She plans to release more music in the near future as well as a few possible short films.

Cliché: Who has given you the best advice about acting so far?

Aria Brooks: My mom has given me some of my best advice. She is normally the one who coaches my auditions, so she has helped me to make better choices in my auditions. Also, a lot of her advice relates to real life as well.

How did you hear about All That?

One of my agents sent me the audition for All That, along with instructions and a breakdown of what I had to do.

What do you enjoy most about performing in sketch comedy?

I love the variety of characters that I get to play. It’s also really high energy and very funny. Plus, I think it is more fun to make choices in sketch comedy because none of the sketches are consistently the same characters.

Tell us about your other show, Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, and your character, Nola. 

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings is an anthology series based on the story behind Dolly Parton’s songs. I was in the Cracker Jack episode, which was about a group of friends hanging out for a weekend and it brings up past memories. My character, Nola, ran away from home with her dog. Nola brings back the memory of the main character’s dog, Cracker Jack.

What was it like having the opportunity to work with Cynthia Erivo on Harriet?

It was amazing! She was so nice and working with her was inspirational. She had an amazing work ethic and she was always so in the moment. 

You’re also a songwriter! Where do you find inspiration for your songs?

Normally, my songs come from things that happen in my life. I pour out my heart on paper because it is therapeutic for me. 

What are you doing to keep yourself busy during quarantine?

During the quarantine, I’ve been embracing my creative side. I’ve been writing scripts and songs a lot more. I’ve also been creating song parodies and putting them on my social media. I have a lot more time on my hands, so I’ve been able to do things I wasn’t able to do before. And, of course, I have been spending a lot more time with my family.

Are you working on anything right now?

I am planning on releasing more music this year. I am also still writing short films to potentially release and get better at filmmaking. 

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“All That” Star Aria Brooks Talks Sketch Comedy, Songwriting, and More. Photo Credit: Byron Brown Photography.

Vasilios Filippakis Navigates Sexuality and Culture in New Series “FAK YAASS”

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June is Pride Month, which gives us even more of a reason to add fantastic gay content to our to-watch list! Actor and writer Vasilios Filippakis has delivered in the form of popular dramedy, FAK YAASS. Vasilios plays Nico Nicolakis, a young gay Greek man struggling with the idea of returning home to what he assumes will be the judgement of his family. Vasilios is excited to be working on new scripts and is gearing up for a move to LA in the fall. You can stream FAK YAASS in its entirety on YouTube HERE
 
Cliché: Growing up, were you always a storyteller or did you discover acting and creating later on?
Vasilios Filippakis: Growing up, I knew I loved being on stage and performing. I did my first play when I was eight. Being in theatre gave me a space to be free and explore my creative energy. When it came to creating FAK YAASS, I knew I had this idea but I didn’t know how to conceptualize it and  make it happen. I could not have done it without the help of the core team, the talented writer, Anthony Filangeri, the producer/director Matthew McLaughlin or my co-star Leanne Smith. 
 
Tell us about your show, FAK YAASS and your character, Nico. 
This is a gay friendly show that will take you on the journey of Nico, an early twenties gay Greek kid, who escaped his small town life to live it up in the big city. Thriving being away from his family and living out his truth, he is eventually forced back to his small town to care for his very homophobic grandpa. 
Why was it so important to you to create FAK YAASS
It’s funny you ask. I really didn’t comprehend the importance of the show until we got to filming. Up to that point I really didn’t think more than it was just something that reflected an aspect of my life in a comedic and cute way. To see the reaction of the cast, crew and family members on set, that was the moment I realized the impact this could have. Now, after seeing the show and receiving feedback, I realize that it’s important for these types of stories, that include members of the LGBTQIA community, to be shared with the world. I truly believe that his content can be very powerful in the ability to shine light on our differences as they are what make us the same. 
 
The show deals a lot with the clash between sexuality and culture. Did you ever feel pressure to choose between your identity and your family and community? 
It really does. What you see in the show is very similar to what I dealt with. Once I came out, I never really went back on it. I didn’t hide it from my family and the community. If anything, I did the opposite. I lived my most authentic life at all times. In a way I’m convinced that people of this community are given this gift, this light, to share and teach those around us to be the best versions of themselves. 
 
In the show, Nico’s grandfather is homophobic, which can be relatable for a lot of people trying to navigate family dynamics when coming out. How can we bridge the gap to help older generations learn to accept their LGBTQIA family members? 
Be yourself. Be you, always. RuPaul in a season of Drag Race (can’t remember which one) once said something along the lines of “by hiding who you truly are. you are robbing those around you from being themselves”. I believe that fully. At the end of the day, keep being you, show love, show kindness and compassion, and be patient. That’s how we bridge the gap. 
What advice would you have for LGBTQIA folks struggling to come out to their family or trying to encourage their family to embrace their identity? 
Show how brave you are. Take the step and know that, despite how cliche it is, things do get better. Take that step from fear to bravery and know regardless you have a whole community that supports you.  One day, when you’re least expecting it, you’ll be reminded of your bravery and how shining your light has changed your world. 
 
Nico’s friends are also very important to him. Would you say that a chosen family is just as important (and sometimes moreso) for LGBTQIA folks as their actual one? 
YASSS! Omgush, yaass. Mine has saved me. Little Vasilios would have never imagined the life I’ve had, and most importantly, the friends I’ve made along the way. They really are my other family. There is a bond that you can’t share with everyone. 
 
What’s next for you? 
I am getting ready to move to LA in September. I am also working with Bulldog Productions as a producer and we have a couple fun scripts and new shows in development!
 
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Vasilios Filippakis Navigates Sexuality and Culture in New Series “FAK YAASS.” Photo Credit: Denise Grant (headshots). Screenshot from FAK YAASS courtesy of Bulldog Productions.

“Avocado Toast the series” Spotlights Bisexuality, Parental Divorce, and the Generational Stigmas of Sex

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After meeting in a small town and deciding to become roommates, Perrie Voss and Heidi Lynch sparked a friendship that quickly became a robust creative partnership. Inspired by their respective personal challenges and what they saw as the simmering ideological tension between baby boomers and millennials (symbolized, oddly or fittingly enough, by avocado toast), the idea for Avocado Toast the series was born. Perrie and Heidi play Molly and Elle, two friends each struggling to adjust to huge revelations – both in their own lives and the lives of their parents. We spoke to Perrie and Heidi about the origins of their friendship, exploring sexuality, and trying to understand (and break down) our cultural hang ups around acknowledging our parents’ sex lives. Avocado Toast the series premieres on Amazon Prime May 18th.

Cliché: How did the two of you meet?
Heidi Lynch: We met on a theatre contract. It just happened that right after meeting our personal lives simultaneously exploded. We needed a friend, and we had both just relocated to a small town to do a play and only knew each other. We became each other’s source of support and laughter through hard times. The show is inspired by our real life events. 
 
Perrie Voss: We met over a summer doing a brand new play together in southern Ontario! We decided to be roommates while we rehearsed the play and little did we know our lives were about to change forever! Ominous I know…
 
When did you realize you wanted to do a comedy together? 
HL: In that dark time. Well specifically after it. We had gotten so used to making each other laugh and adding lightness to each other’s dark time that we wanted it to continue. Our contract ended so it felt natural to work on something together. We realized that we had never (especially at that time) seen bisexual coming out stories, or stories about how hard it is when you’re parents divorce, even when you’re an adult. We felt like other people needed the ability to watch something humorous that addressed those issues, if they were in the same position. 
 
PV: This question somewhat needs to be informed by the ominous cliffhanger I just left you with. Avocado Toast the series is based on our real life events and us meeting at a very serendipitous time. We bonded immediately and decided to be roommates while we rehearsed the show – which in itself could have been a comical disaster. But it was amazing and we discovered we had a really similar sense of humour.  During this time Heidi had been going through a really huge revelation about her sexuality and then extremely suddenly, two weeks into rehearsal, my parents told me they decided to get divorced after 38 years of marriage. We were both going through it and what we realized is that we had this incredible strength to draw on with one another. We realized that we were able to be there for each other but we made each other laugh a lot but there was a trust and a bond that I had never experienced before with a friend – especially that quickly. We just knew we had to write it – and it’s become this story!
 
Talk about your new show, Avocado Toast the series and your characters, Molly and Elle. 
HL: This is a show about female relationships. Relationships between best friends and between mothers and daughters. It’s an example of how not to treat each other but how we so often do. We put unreal expectations on our best friends, our mothers, our daughters and Avocado Toast the series explores that, with a comedic lens, through Molly and Elle. Molly is coming out as bisexual when her mother tells her that she and Molly’s dad are totally fine with it because they are very sexually adventurous and have an open marriage. Elle is adjusting to her parents’ divorce while watching her mother date a much younger man. Molly and Elle lean on each other as they judge their mothers more harshly than they would any other woman until the crutch that is their friendship breaks. 
 
PV: Molly and Elle are best friends and roommates – they’ve been friends since they were little but Molly had recently moved to England for two years to pursue a teaching career. Elle is an art director at her mom’s agency and focused on work and playing the field. She takes what she wants when she wants it. When Molly comes back, and moves back in with Elle they discover each is about to go through their biggest life-changes to date. Molly had fallen in love with a woman for the first time in England and Elle discovers her parents are getting divorced. While they try and re-establish their friendship, they’re also trying to sort through their new sense of reality. Elle is a hard-working party-girl and she comes across as a brash, tough cookie, but she has a very soft centre. Which is what she has to unexpectedly deal with throughout the season. What she discovers is that she doesn’t have to filter everything through aggression and anger.
 
Where did the name for the show come from? It’s peak millennial! 
HL: Exactly! We started with some other names but after avocado toast was blamed for millennial mortgage woes, we felt like it was the perfect symbol for millennials and baby boomers not understanding each other. 
 
PV: It is! Avocado toast (the food) has become the proverbial symbol of millennials! There was this article that came out some years ago – right when the avocado toast craze really took off written by a baby boomer for The Globe and Mail in Toronto (google it!) which talked about millennials not being able to afford to buy a house because they’re spending all their money on avocado toast, and if they saved their money they’d be able to buy a house. Which we found infuriating, and darkly hilarious but we also saw that as a thematic difference between millennials and baby-boomers – that if we just ‘saved up’ that would somehow make up for the housing market flux. But what we wanted to do was show that although these two generations are vastly different, we’re also not as different as we thought. It was like a symbolic clue: Avocado Toast! The intergenerational glue!
 
Had you ever worked together before this? How would you describe your dynamic as actors, and does it have any impact on your personal friendship or your creative collaboration? 
HL: I think as actors we work together incredibly well! We have gone on a long journey together in the creative process. We have both learned more than we ever even knew we wanted to about every aspect of film making and we are still standing and have something incredible to show for it. We have watched each other learn and grow and struggle and achieve so much. I am beyond excited to share what we have made with the world on May 18th and I think that will be when we can really take stock of all that’s happened together. 
 
PV: Back when we did that play was the first time we had worked together, and that was almost five years ago. We have a really fun natural chemistry which was a huge impetus for us wanting to make something together, and we’re also both really game to play in the moment as actors. And because of our history and understanding it allows us to be really available to each other as actors and make each other laugh. We know the joke we’re going after in the scene, and what the truth of the moment is. Within our relationship, I think the biggest thing was to learn how to communicate on multiple levels. Being able to combine our creative communication within our friendship communication was a learning curve for sure. But we knew that we were good at both separately so finding where that balance exists was key for us.
Heidi, your character Molly is coming to terms with being bisexual and dating a woman. She (and the audience) might think that her main focus would be coming out – until she realizes her parents are swingers. How does Molly wind up having to confront her own preconceived ideas about sexuality with respect to her parents, in addition to accepting her own? 
HL: I think you’ve just hit on season two. In season one, Molly doesn’t really get to the stage of confronting her own preconceived ideas about sexuality with respect to her parents. She just freaks out, judges them and doesn’t turn back. I feel it’s crucially important to explore how characters are hypocritical. This also plays into the expectations that are put on mothers and older women in general and the things they CAN and CAN’T do. There is prejudice even within the LGBTQ+ community and I think that is also important to explore. We all need to continue learning acceptance with one another. I hope that season 2 leads Molly to a place of acceptance and learning about her mother. 
 
Perrie, Elle has to deal with her own parental conflicts when she finds out that her mom is dating a much younger man in the wake of her parents’ new divorce. How does she react to that? It also brings up an interesting point – age gaps in a theoretical context are one thing, but it’s another thing when it involves your parents!
PV: Elle feels like she has a lot of her life together. She has a great job, home, she dates who she wants. She feels really free, like there isn’t anything holding her back. When she discovers that her mom has had an affair with a younger man, it does a few different things to her understanding of her own sense of reality. The sense of betrayal goes beyond her parent’s relationship and Elle also feels betrayed by her mom. There is a breach of trust and respect. Elle’s mom, Patricia, is doing what feels right for her but it’s ultimately extremely selfish. I think regardless of age, we have a difficult time seeing our parents as sexual beings, especially when we have to witness them in the new stages dating or the throes of passion. But what we also wanted to look at the double standard between older men dating younger women – which is quite a cliche in our society. But when older women date younger men there is a complete societal incomprehension. Elle is having to deal with betrayal of her mom’s affair and the safety of her family unit exploding, which is a huge personal unravelling, but also having to see her mom unabashedly and brazenly embracing her sexuality. Being around new cuddly couples is tough – when it’s one of your parents? It’s another level.
 
Did you draw inspiration from your own life experiences to make the show? 
HL: 100% and we’ve been very vocal about that because we think it is important. As we came through our life experiences and were on the other side of them then the process of research and connecting with others online who went through similar experiences started. Molly and Elle have become amalgamations of lots of stories. 
 
PV: Yes. Everything is based on real-life experiences and re-configured, re-imagined and re-packaged!
 
Would you say that there’s some similarities between Avocado Toast the series and other female driven comedies like Broad City
HL: I honestly am the worst person to answer that. I have avoided Broad City as much as I can because we were writing. But I’m sure there are. The most I can say is that I think Avocado Toast the series leans to the serious more than Broad City. We aren’t even writing anymore and I can’t bring myself to watch Feel Good yet because there is a Canadian/Brit queer female love story. I am so happy queer female representation is becoming more mainstream and I can’t wait to binge so many things once we have launch on May 18th. 
 
PV: I think artists and creators are constantly responding to their surroundings, so I guess on a sociological level being a woman creates a similar lens to look through, which can create a point of unity throughout female driven projects. Our project is written from our truth, and there are a lot of funny moments too, because often truth leans into humour. I love comedy and definitely want to make people laugh. But all we can do as human beings is speak from our individual perspectives and life-stories so it’s hard to say that it’s like anything that currently exists and I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s similar to other female-lead projects aside from the fact that it’s also proudly female-lead. 
Why was it so important for you to center narratives about sexuality and acceptance? 
HL: For me, I enjoy watching content that makes me laugh, makes me cry and makes me feel like I’ve seen a story I haven’t seen before. That’s what I set out to create. We need these stories to affect larger societal changes. It would have helped me to have more bisexual characters to point to when I was navigating what to call myself and how I felt. As a general rule, we don’t like to think about or acknowledge our parents’ sex lives. 
 
PV: I think anyone who goes through something new that often isn’t reflected back to them in standard media needs support shown to them so they can feel less alone. I think we need a community when we’re going through something new and scary. When you realize you have a different sexual orientation than what has commonly been reflected back to you on TV, you need something to hold onto, a narrative of people who have gone before you to know you’re not wrong or weird and you’re still loved. When your family falls apart and everything you knew crumbles away you need to know that other people have felt that way too, and you’re still able to carry on. We need community and that’s what we’re trying to create through stories like these. 
 
Why did you decide to focus on the sexcapades of both Molly and Elle’s parents? 
HL: That is totally a general rule that I definitely follow but on a larger stage(society), we desexualize women over the age of 40 and that is something we want to help change. How do we change that? Representation. We want to create female characters who are still discovering things about themselves and having awakenings as they age into incredible older women. 
 
PV: I think it’s because we have a hard time imagining our parents as real people. They’re sort of make-believe characters and we create a fantasy-non-human world around them and who they are. It’s like when you would run into a teacher at the mall or something. It was hard to believe they existed outside of school. It also feels extremely taboo to integrate sex with parent-talk. But we also wanted to look at that head on and talk about the fact that we are weirded out by it. It was our way of drawing a line of connection between the two generations. Younger generations often feel like they’re the first person to ever do something kinky… and I can almost guarantee that your grandparents were freakier than you are. So let’s make it less taboo! We had some interesting talks with our multi-generational cast and crew in our additional content videos about sex and talking about it with our parents. Look out for those on our website and YouTube! 
 
How do each of your characters progress throughout the season? 
HL: Molly starts the season returning to Canada for a teaching job after having to live/work in the U.K. to get teaching experience. When she returns to her old Canadian life she is forced to come to terms with everything that has changed since she left, mainly the fact that she’s been dating a woman the entire time she was gone and none of her friends, family, or co-workers know. She falls prey to internalized homophobia as she gets outed through social media at school, and has a meltdown while teaching a conservative government restricted sex education class. She wants to lean on her best friend Elle but Elle is wrapped up in her own dilemma. She decides to end the relationship and repress her bisexuality to get back to her old Canadian life but the heartbreak from denying what she wants and who she loves starts to bleed into every aspect of her life. Finally Molly is forced to stop waiting in the wings and to act on her impulses.
 
PV: Elle goes through a personal softening in many ways. She’s quite brash and ‘take-no-prisoners’ off the top. She takes what she wants. But I think by the end she realizes how much she needs her friends and ultimately is forced into a place of vulnerability.

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“Avocado Toast the series” Spotlights Bisexuality, Parental Divorce, and the Generational Stigmas of Sex. Photo Credit (headshots): David Leyes Photography.

Jacob Hopkins is Building His Own Dragon Army on “Dragons: Rescue Riders”

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Having already made his mark in the voice acting world as Gumball Watterson in The Amazing World of Gumball, Jacob Hopkins was ready for his next animated adventure. He now plays Axel Finke in Dragons: Rescue Riders, which follows the Rescue Riders, a group of humans and dragons who work together to protect the town of Huttsgalor. Axel has less than good intentions, coming from a family of dragon haters, and hopes to one day control his own dragon army. You can stream Dragons: Rescue Riders now on Netflix. 
 

Cliché: How did you first realize you had a talent for voice acting?
Jacob Hopkins: Like every other kid growing up in the early 2000’s, Cartoon Network was a staple in my childhood, so I became wired around cartoons and nurtured a love for them.  I would impersonate every character! So, I wanted to give it a shot and Gumball was my first audition. In all the vocal cord exercising for Gumball Watterson, I may have stumbled upon my voice acting skills!

Do you prefer voice acting or on camera roles? How do the experiences differ?
I honestly don’t have a preference: I’ve made homes in both realities. The fact that they’re two separate worlds and require different sets of skills is why I like them both so much. On camera acting requires a sense of yourself: your body language, reactions, and relationships with the other characters. However, in voice acting, all of the prior listed skills have to be portrayed solely through your voice. This requires what I like to call a “colorful” vocal range (“color” meaning different emotions, voices, and tones).

Including on-screen and voiceover work, what has been your favorite role to play?
My all-time favorite role so far is Gumball Watterson. I really got a chance to truly develop and mold a character as my own. By expressing my interests and likes on set, I got to incorporate my own personal loves into the character (anime/video game references, singing, improvised lines that they actually animated into the show, etc.). I’ll always cherish what I’ve accomplished and learned in those three years.

You also play Chad, a proud geek, on The Goldbergs. Would you consider yourself a geek?
Well, I’m very active 24/7 (Taekwondo, hiking, bike riding, swimming, lifting).  I also play drums and have a complete drum set…it’s a secret passion of mine, which by the way is something the real Chad Kremp has done all his life!  I like to spend some of my down time drawing, reading, watching cartoons, anime, playing mainly Nintendo video games, and listening to 80’s music. 

Talk about your new show Dragons: Rescue Riders.
In the land of Huttsgalor live the Rescue Riders, a group of humans and dragons alike who are the town’s heroes. The show is aimed for preschool and kindergarten audiences but are also for families as well. It teaches morals on teamwork, friendship, courage, and how to be an everyday hero.

How does your character, Axel Finke, fit into the show’s universe?
The Rescue Riders are always at odds with evil Slinkwings, rescue missions, underwater excavations, and yours truly, Axel Finke. As the nephew of the town’s famous Magnus Finke, notorious dragon hater, Axel has his own agenda: to take control of his own dragon army. How he’ll approach said task, you never know. Is he going to turn over a new leaf and join the Rescue Runts? Or will he raise his own dragon blaze against them?

What’s Axel up to in season 2?
Axel arrives in Huttsgalor as a stow away in search of his long lost uncle, Magnus Finke. As a skilled conman, Axel’s true motive is never quite revealed to the audience (or the other characters), but it seems he has two agendas: to prove himself to his uncle by becoming the pilot of Magnus’ most powerful weapon and to earn the Rescue Rider’s trust. Axel can appeal to both his evil uncle and the heroes of Huttsgalor, which makes him incredibly unpredictable and fun to voice! 

Dragons: Rescue Riders is about twins raised by dragons. If you could be raised by a wild animal, what would it be and why?
Obviously a dragon! If you manage to befriend one, they’ll protect and love you as their own, hunt for you, fly you around, and breath intense flames at your mortal rivals. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then watch Dragons: Rescue Riders Season 2 Episode 1 on Netflix right now. You’ll see what I mean.

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Jacob Hopkins is Building His Own Dragon Army on “Dragons: Rescue Riders.” Photo Credit: Tim Schaeffer at Cellar Door Studios @cellardoorstudios.la.