All Posts By Ashley Bulayo

Andy Grammer Talks ‘Fresh Eyes’ and Pending Album


Sad to say, but it’s rare to find positive messages in songs today. With all the turmoils and negativity around the world, we need something to uplift us now more than ever. Alas, we have Andy Grammer! The singer, who is well known for tracks such as “Honey, I’m Good” and “Keep Your Head Up” is out with a new track “Fresh Eyes,” available now on iTunes and Spotify for your listening pleasure. Although Andy Grammer has come a long, long way from busking on the streets in Santa Monica, he’s still the same humble and positive person since day one. Here, we chat with him about his current tour, his upcoming album, and what his younger self would say to his idols today.

Cliché: What made you decide that this would to be your first single after your small break?
Andy Grammer: Something about this one was different than anything I’d put out before. It’s on electric guitar and feels like I’m whispering into the mic the whole time, but it still has energy. It’s fun to be able to take risks as you go along and put out songs that have different feels.
You seem to have such a positive outlook on life and great high energy. How do you maintain this attitude?
I think I got it from my parents. From a young age, I was taught that tests in life are gifts to make you stronger. I am definitely a serial optimist.
How has your tour been treating you so far? Anything new you’re bringing to the stage this time around?
Touring is SO GOOD FOR MY SOUL. Crowds from Portland to Maine to Alaska to Florida dancing their asses off and singing at the top of their lungs with me is everything. Humans have a deep need to get together and sing. If you haven’t done it in a while, go do it and something deep in you will be like, “Oh yeah, this is important.”
How has it been putting this new album together? How are you going about deciding which songs make the final cut and which songs will have to be cut?
Writing and touring has been pretty amazing and intense. There are many long, creative days where I pretty much pass out in my bunk on the bus as we ride to the next city. Previously, I’ve either been in touring mode or writing mode, so to mash them together and feel it work is really exciting. We have so many awesome songs, so cutting them comes down to which ones make the hair on your arms stand up. If you write 10, you think they are all good. If you write 50, then you realize only five are REALLY good. If you write 100, you just might be blessed with two or three unicorns that make people feel something they haven’t felt in a while.

From a young age, I was taught that tests in life are gifts to make you stronger.

How will this album differ from your two previous albums?
I think since I tend to write autobiographically, my albums will always be different content-wise. I’m a different guy than album two, going through different joys and failures. Also, starting the writing on electric guitar has lead me down some paths I haven’t been on before. Hopefully, like any relationship, you let more and more of your guard down and it gets richer.
Looking back at all your great accomplishments so far, do you think there’s anything you’d do differently if given the chance?
I play a little bit of piano now, but I think I would have liked to have spent more time as a child playing piano. I’ve been in love with Billy Joel a lot writing this third album and I think I’m going to hop into some piano lessons.
You stay really involved on social media as a way to connect with your fans. With so many platforms popping up now more than ever, do you find it a positive or a negative thing having to update all your accounts with what you’re doing?
I think it’s about intention. I use it when I’m inspired. Posting something arbitrary because I haven’t posted today feels like a chore, but sharing a pic of my French Bulldogs because everyone needs to see that they look AMAZING in their Halloween costumes? That’s just pure joy.
Speaking of social media, fans use this a lot to reach out to their favorite celebrities or icons. If you had access to this type of communication when you were younger, who would your younger self try to reach out to and what would you say?
John Mayer: Hey, John, thanks for teaching me how to play guitar through learning your songs. You are a badass and a legend.
Lauryn Hill: Hey, Lauryn, you rap and sing better than anyone I’ve ever heard. You took a high school jock and converted him to a music lover. Thank you.
Coldplay: Hey, Coldplay…take me with you. Wherever you are going…I can tune guitars. Let me come.
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Andy Grammer Talks ‘Fresh Eyes’ and Pending Album: Photographed by Brian Higbee

Eliza Bennett Proves ‘Sweet/Vicious’ is the Show to Watch


Although we’re all still coping with the fact MTV’s Teen Wolf will be ending after this upcoming season, we’ve got a new MTV show to watch. This fall, the network will be premiering Sweet/Vicious starring London-based actress Eliza Bennett. The 24-year-old actress will be taking on the role of a superheroine who fights for justice over a very heated topic: campus rapists. If that already piqued your interest, check out our interview to read more about the show and her character.

Cliché: Since we have many readers who may not know your name yet, can you tell us how you got bit by the acting bug?
Eliza Bennett: Of course! It has definitely always been a part of my life. Ever since I was little, I did every possible acting play or production I could find. I probably drove my parents nuts. Then my first professional job was when I was 9 and I played Jemima in the West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Once I’d gotten a taste for it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Since then, I have worked on a mixture of British films and shows, so I’m very excited for Sweet/Vicious as it’s my first U.S. television series.

Can you tell us a little more about Sweet/Vicious?
It’s set in the fictional university Darlington and tells the story of two girls who moonlight as vigilantes avenging sexual assault victims on campus. Basically, it’s about two unlikely friends who take justice into their own hands and kick literal ass. I play Jules Thomas, one of these vigilantes, who hides under the cover of being a perfect sorority girl by day so she can dish out justice by night. She’s pretty cool.
How similar or different are you from your character?
I definitely relate to Jules. When we meet Jules, she is feeling very out of place with the people in her life and trying to do a good job to fit in and I definitely felt that way for a while when I first came out to L.A.! Luckily now, I have an incredible group of friends and feel very settled, but I definitely related to that feeling of not belonging. The differences are that I’m English, she’s way better at martial arts, and she’s much braver than me.
It’s difficult to say what I brought to the part—I hope a lot! Darlington can seem like a pretty heightened universe at times and so I really tried to keep Jules as grounded as possible and tried to find moments of goofiness and light for Jules whenever I could.

I was so ignorant to this issue before Sweet/Vicious came into my life, so I really hope we can just help in telling this story.

It seems like television is starting to become more socially conscious and incorporating real life events into their storylines more and more. Do you think Sweet/Vicious is pushing the boundaries too much or is it about time we address these topics?
Oh, we are way behind when it comes to telling this story and addressing this topic. Sexual assault victims on campus are far too often silenced and we are only just catching up to it. It definitely is filling our news stations more now, but if we can in any way raise awareness and let sexual assault victims know that they are not alone, I’ll be happy. I was so ignorant to this issue before Sweet/Vicious came into my life, so I really hope we can just help in telling this story.
What were some of the challenges, if any, that you came across while playing this character?
There were definitely challenges! Physically, the role was challenging for Taylor (Dearden) and I as we both were new to martial arts and fighting, but that was also one of the most fun aspects of the show. It was also a challenge to tell this story right and I definitely felt a responsibility to do Jules justice. When you are telling a story about rape, I knew there were going to be difficult scenes, but I was so supported by our creator Jennifer (Robinson), our showrunner Amanda (Lasher), and our incredible cast and crew, so nothing felt too overwhelming.
Will the storylines reflect moments that happened in real life?
Our storylines are definitely inspired by events and incredibly thorough research from our writers, but none of our characters or plot is directly based on real people or news headlines. When it comes to the characters’ dynamics though, I know that Jenn loosely based Ophelia and Jules on herself and her best friend, which is pretty cool.
Lastly, MTV is a huge network to be a part of! What’s it been like being a part of the MTV family so far?
It’s been wonderful! We are in the early stages of promoting the show and the whole journey has been bags of fun. It really is a lovely family environment and we are so excited to be a part of it. I’m forever grateful to them for giving me this opportunity.

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Eliza Bennett Proves ‘Sweet/Vicious’ is the Show to Watch: Photographed by: Faye Thomas

Shaun Brown Discusses His Role on ‘The Great Indoors’


Often times, being a millennial is a curse due to having such a bad reputation. CBS takes a stab at this generation with their new series premiering this fall, The Great Indoors. The comedy show revolves around adventure reporter Jack Gordon (played by Joel McHale) who has spent a chunk of time in the great outdoors. Things take a turn when Jack is given a position indoors in the digital department of his publication. I guess this is the perfect time to mention that he has no real experience with the digital world. (Who doesn’t know Snapchat, am I right?) Rising star Shaun Brown shares the small screen with Joel McHale and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in this new show and we couldn’t be more excited. Here, we discuss Brown’s character in the show, why audiences of any age will enjoy this new series, and his upcoming projects.

Cliché: Congratulations on joining the cast of The Great Indoors. Tell us a little bit about your character Mason.
Shaun Brown: Mason is the playful, digital conversationalist and idea guy at the digital magazine, Outdoor Limits. He’s very smart and incredibly witty when making fun of Jack Gordon and his archaic way of doing things. Mason has a great sense of style that doesn’t fit Jack’s idea of what male heterosexuality looks like, which makes Jack think that Mason is gay.
However, Mason, in a very playful manner, wants Jack to keep guessing and will not give him the direct answer that Jack seeks. I personally love Mason’s storyline in regards to his sexuality because it poses the question of what is “gay” or “straight” and how unnecessary it is to be in a co-workers’ business when it comes to their sexual preference.
Being a millennial myself, I’m so excited for the series. Millennials often get a negative rep in the media, so what was it about this role that made you want to tackle such a controversial generation?
I absolutely love the generational clashing we portray in this show. Being a millennial and having millennial staff writers for the show, there is a huge amount of truth that we convey about our generation. Things I’m personally proud of are the fact that millennials are the most inclusive in regards to sexuality and racial diversity, and being so knowledgeable of social media, which is definitely the wave of the future. Also, it’s fun to poke fun at ourselves and generation X, and even baby boomers (Stephen Fry’s generation). The generational differences in this show make for hilarious scenes, but also there are plenty of “aww” moments at the end of each episode when we all come together and appreciate each other in our differences and help each other out. This, in my opinion, makes a great sitcom.
Why do you think audience members of any age will like this show?
All ages will love this show because of the moment-to-moment truthfulness that reflects where we are as a society, but also where we have come from. Technology has increased so rapidly in the past 20 years. Things that we thought were “high-tech” even 15 years ago appear so outdated now. From dial-up Internet to renting movies at your neighborhood Blockbuster, there are a lot of things we bring up that are now considered archaic that we all can relate to and share in the nostalgia. Jack Gordon represents that nostalgia, but way more exaggerated in his unwillingness to adapt. I still help my mom with her laptop, smartphone, and social media. [We cover different generations] in each episode, which makes us laugh at ourselves and each other. There is an episode about Tinder where we help Jack make a profile. When you break down the silliness of online dating and profile creation, hilarity ensues.
Watching the trailer for The Great Indoors, it seems like being on set is tons of fun and the script seems hilarious. Did you get to bring a lot of your own personality into the character or did you get a chance to improvise certain scenes?
The great thing about this show is that our creators Mike Gibbons and Chris Harris are very much open to feedback with the script. They want it to be honest and not too hokey. That honesty is what makes it hilarious. Our director, Andy Ackerman (Seinfeld), is very open to bringing our own personalities to the character if it fits the confines of the story and the relationships that we are portraying. Personally, I have had instances where Andy has said to me, “Just go to town with this moment,” and as an actor, that’s the dream. You feel like you are very much creating something special and unique and that is something you don’t get to do in, say, a procedural drama.

Things I’m personally proud of are the fact that millennials are the most inclusive in regards to sexuality and racial diversity.

Since this show takes place at an online publication and your character is a staff member, what’s the most unique job position on your résumé before you landed acting gigs?
I’ve had horrible, horrible, horrible jobs. Not so much the jobs themselves but the environment in which the jobs took place. Like every actor, I’ve waited tables. The last restaurant I worked at before I became a full-time actor was the worst experience of my life. The general manager was addicted to drugs, bringing ladies of the night to the restaurant, fresh out of prison and even arrested on the floor for violating a restraining order. The owners had no idea what running a restaurant entailed, so the trickle down to the staff was so apparent. […] So yeah, not so much unique as it was just incredibly draining mentally and emotionally.
The characters are always hooked on some type of technology. Are you actually using your phone on the show texting, tweeting, etc., or is it more of a prop?
While we are doing the actual taping of the show, we use prop phones that are in setup mode (so they are useless) and we are just acting brilliantly to fool you! But in rehearsal, we will sometimes use our personal phones to move the scene along. Me and Christine Ko (who plays Emma) have taken real selfies during rehearsal or checked our Instagram in the middle of a scene. I guess you could call us method actors. [Laughs]
You have some great future projects on the way. Can you tease a little bit about your role in Heart, Baby?
My role in Heart, Baby is my most dramatic role to date. The film is based on a true story set in a Tennessee prison in the 1980s that follows George Lee Martin, a phenomenal boxer that can’t be beat. George is so good that he is offered a deal to leave prison and compete in the Olympics, but turns down the opportunity for a reason that will truly knock you out. I play George’s best friend, Bug, a southern boy with big eyes and an even bigger heart. What I love about my character is that he can throw jokes with the best of them, but at his core, he is very loving and protective of his lifelong friends. Finding the heart of Bug and all of his many layers was very rewarding as an actor and is the kind of work I really gravitate towards.
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Shaun Brown Discusses His Role on ‘The Great Indoors’: Photographed by: Nathaniel Taylor, Stylist: Marni Seabright, Grooming: Patrick Chai

Stone Cold Fox Gives Us ‘Tunnel Vision’


When we say the Brooklyn-based indie rock band Stone Cold Fox gives us tunnel vision, we mean that in more ways than one. Not only have they been added to our soundtrack of the summer, but they literally gifted the world with their EP Tunnel Vision back in July. If you’ve haven’t heard of Stone Cold Fox yet, consider this an introduction.

Cliché: I read that a few of you met through college and during a move to Brooklyn. How long did it take for you to all mesh and find the sound you wanted to create?
Stone Cold Fox: Finding a sound has always been a transforming and shifting thing for us. When we first started, it was just Ariel and I writing acoustic folk pop songs together which was The Young. But by the time everyone else joined, we had more rockier dance aspirations and made an album that still kept a lot of the folk vibes from the first, but with a lot more pushing and pulling in other directions. It really wasn’t until Tunnel Vision that I feel we’ve finally started to hone in on something, so maybe three and a half years?
When did you decide you wanted to pursue a music career?
Listening to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with my dad when I was 9 kind of changed everything. I knew I wanted to play guitar from then on. I didn’t start really diving into songwriting until I was in middle school and listening to Arcade Fire and Radiohead.
So much has happened and so much time has passed since Memory Palace. How have you grown as a band within the last two years?
A lot has changed. Ariel decided to leave the band, so we’re now a four-piece, but we’re all on great terms. Things have shifted in roles, but in doing that, it’s opened up so much more freedom and given us a totally new perspective on our music and what is possible in each song.
How has the transition been from a five-piece band to four?
It was very hard at first. Ariel was a pretty big piece of the puzzle from the get go. It was a major blow for me personally and I had to really reimagine the band’s future entirely. He was always a producer, and essentially that’s why he left. Though it was painful, it’s been a great example to never be afraid of change. We’re now operating at a totally new level and feel more like a unified band than ever before.
What did you envision for the band when you first started? Are you where you wanted to be in terms of the goals you set yourself in the beginning?
Well, we all start our goals a little starry-eyed, right? [Laughs] Really, the best way to gauge it all is the music, and so far that has totally exceeded all my expectations. At the end of each song, I’m always like, “Shit, can I do any better?” And somehow over the course of many months, I ended up with three other ones, and I’m like, “Shit, can I ever do any better?” And the cycle keeps going. As long as we nurture that cycle and keep it going, then we’ll continue to exceed our expectations. I think shifting perspective is hugely important and not being afraid of change.

Things have shifted in roles, but in doing that, it’s opened up so much more freedom and given us a totally new perspective on our music and what is possible in each song.

Tunnel Vision couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a perfect soundtrack to cruise around to. Having said that, besides your own music, what is your go-to summer soundtrack?
That changes a lot. Right now, I’m in love with Mitski’s new album. I think “Happy” is one of the most perfectly crafted songs I’ve heard in a long time. I have a hard time just throwing something on and having fun. Sometimes, my cruises get a lot of backseat complaints in that regard. [Laughs]
Now that you get to go out on stage and finally play your new songs, which track gets you pretty hyped up to perform?
“Firing Squad.” That song came from such an emotional place. It started out very slow and sad, but watching it turn into such a loud triumph song makes it a blast to play live. “Poly” is another favorite though; I love ending on that one.
What problems, if any, did you run into putting together Tunnel Vision versus putting together Memory Palace?
Lots. [Laughs] We had songs that went through five different versions and revisions, and some songs that it took years to really figure out. Memory Palace had a lot less restrictions to it. We were down to explore all different types of songs. Tunnel Vision had a lot more rules attached because we really wanted to hone in on something. It took a lot longer to get those five songs in place than Memory Palace, but it’s paid off a lot.
I feel as if music festivals are getting more and more popular as each year passes. What would be your dream festival to get to perform in?
I saw Radiohead at Lollapalooza in Chicago a long time ago and I set a goal for myself that I would play that festival in five years. Unfortunately, we’ve passed that imaginary time table a bit ago, but it’s still very much a dream of mine.
What are the band’s plans for the rest of 2016?
We’re doing a small tour out in the Midwest and then up the east coast in August. After that, we’ll play a couple more NYC shows and we’re going to record the new album in the fall. We’ve got some label interest right now, but I’ve learned the hard way that you really can’t hold your breath for that shit, you just have to assume that’ll come when it comes and keep going in the meantime. So we plan to get the new album out around this time next year. We’ve also never actually taken a break from playing shows before. We’ve been consistently playing shows since we started and I think the plan is to finally take the winter to learn these new songs, curate a really solid live show, and really hit the ground running next spring.
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Photographed by Shervin Lainez

Fall Music Festivals You Can’t Miss


Say it ain’t so. Summer is officially over and I don’t know about you, but it was one of the best summers I’ve had in awhile. It seems as if there was something to do every weekend or a concert that couldn’t be missed. Didn’t it seem as if this year has been full of great acts? Summer may be done with and so are the summer music festivals, but don’t forget that there are a handful of Fall Music Festivals that you just can’t miss!

Austin City Limits Music Festival
(September 30 – October 2 & October 7 – 9)
The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) will be celebrating it’s 15th year and it’s all starting THIS WEEKEND! I wanted to go to this myself since the lineup is crazy good. From Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar to The Chainsmokers, it’s as if almost majority of artists that have been on tour all year will be here.
Roots Picnic
(October 1 – 2)
This is a picnic I would put serious money down for. What I would do to see The Roots, D’Angelo and the Wu-Tang Clan! I guess I have to watch The Roots from the comfort of my own home when they’re on The Tonight Show!
The Meadows Music & Arts Festival
(October 1 – 2)
And if you’re not into having a laid back picnic with The Roots, why not try to catch Kanye West and Chance The Rapper in New York City? Maybe this time you’ll have a better chance to see Yeezy since the day he was supposed to perform during Governors Ball was canceled…
Desert Trip 2016
(October 7 – 9 & October 14 – 16)
Deemed the “Old people’s Coachella” (Hey, not my words. Just what I heard through the grapevine…), famous acts will be taking the famous Indio grounds for two weekends back-to-back with a lineup that is way too good to be true. Kids, if you haven’t heard of Bob Dylan or The Rolling Stones, ask your parents about them now.
Treasure Island Music Festival
(October 15 – 16)
One of the very last music festivals in the Northern California and celebrating it’s tenth year, we can’t forget the Treasure Island Music Festival. Often overlooked, this year’s lineup has a genre-mixed lineup of Ice Cube to How to Dress Well to Mac Demarco. Sound pretty Bay Area-like to me.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
(October 28 – 30)
What better way to spend your Halloween weekend with some great music, costumes and a little voodoo? Taking place in (I imagine) one the funnest places on earth, New Orleans’ City Park will be filled with craziness and one heck of a memorable weekend.
Sound on Sound
(November 4 – 6)

Any music festival in its inaugural year is worth checking out. This brand new festival takes place in Central Texas with acts in a variety of genres with even live panel discussions.
What festival are you most looking forward to seeing or hearing about? Let us know down below!
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Photos Courtesy of Austin City Limits Festival, Roots Picnic, The Meadows Music and Arts Festival, Desert Trip 2016, Treasure Island Music Festival, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience and Sound on Sound Fest

Aidan Alexander Talks YouTube, Feminism, and New Roles


In the world we live in today, to quote Heidi Klum, “One day you’re in, and the next day, you’re out.” Granted, she’s talking about the fashion world, but this holds true with anything that goes “viral” on the Internet. However, this truth is anything but for actor Aidan Alexander. Sixteen-year-old Alexander is one of many examples that explain why the Internet is a fascinating place. Since starring in his own YouTube channel under the username Maadraad two years ago, he’s moved from the small screen onto the silver screen in just a few short years. With over 200K supporters on his side, there’s no saying goodbye to this star in the making. #TeamInternet for the win.

Cliché: You’ve grown such a huge following over the last few years and it’s amazing. Growing up, what did you envision your life to be like?
Aidan Alexander: I always envisioned I’d be happy doing whatever it might be that I wanted to do. I hoped that happiness would be my acting and making art, and I’m very thankful that it’s happening.
Do you sometimes feel pressure to be a huge influence to those who have followed you since day one?
I’m pretty chill with my followers! There definitely isn’t too much pressure. I do get nervous and excited posting new things because I’m not always sure of the reaction I’ll get.
When you were just starting out up until now, how did you deal with the unavoidable negative comments trolls love to leave on your videos? What would be your advice to someone who is scared to even start a YouTube channel because of the possibility that negative comments may trickle in out of nowhere?
You have to develop a thick skin. Remember that if you choose to start a YouTube channel, the positives often outweigh the negatives and adversity only makes you stronger. 
Do you recall the exact moment where you realized that you began getting noticed by people?
I first noticed when I was close to 13. I was leaving a concert, totally naive to the crowd of girls that had started following. I turned around and was so shocked. It was really cute. I love them.
You’re now involved in more acting roles. Is there a huge difference or difficulty when playing yourself on your personal channel versus getting into character for a different role?
I have always been acting, even before I started my channel. When I’m on my channel, everything I say is organically me. In a movie or on TV, the words are written for me, and then I delve deeper into the character and make it authentically me.

I hoped that happiness would be my acting and making art, and I’m very thankful that it’s happening.

You recently finished wrapping up your first lead movie role in Vikes. Can you tell us about your character and what we can expect from the film?
Vikes was so fun! I play a high school student named Thorvald who organizes a big protest to change the name of the school mascot, all to impress a girl. Thorvald is naive and innocent, but totally hilarious. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
You also just wrapped production for F*&% the Prom, which is slated to be released in 2017. You are on a roll! Where do you hope to see your acting career go in two to three years from now?
Thank you! I love getting scripts and being introduced to new characters. I fall in love with every role I play. They’re all so real. My hope is that I can continue to bring new roles to life.
You’re a strong advocate for Feminism, and I feel as if more and more younger generations have a stronger sense of what it means to be a Feminist. For you, how did the idea of Feminism enter your life?
Feminism has always been a part of my life. I have always agreed with the notion that girls and boys are equal. As I got older and realized some people didn’t feel that way, I knew I had to use my platform to speak out.
What is your definition of the word since there seems to be so many disputes of what it means to be a Feminist, whether it be positive or negative?
Many people assign an angry narrative to Feminists or assume Feminists are out to prove women’s superiority. To me, Feminism is the notion that women and men are equals and should be treated equally.
What words of advice would you give to someone who wants to follow your career path?
Do it. Please! It’s such an amazing way to express yourself. Even if you have the slightest urge, try it. Then, if you like it, keep at it. Success rarely happens overnight, but nothing worth having comes easily.
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Photographed by Ed McGowan

Highlights from the Emmys 2016


It was the biggest night for television… The Emmys! AKA the award show for anyone and everyone who stays glued to their small screens making sure they catch up on all the latest shows. However, after the award show, I realized how behind I am on all these Emmy-nominated shows even though I feel like I’m barely making it through my DVR. But anyways…

Late night, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel hosted the night away on ABC and in true award show fashion, the introduction was a montage of a few nominated series all strategically put together in hopes to get Kimmel to the show on time. From James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” to a Veep, main characters of each show lent a hand to get Kimmel where he needed to be.
From Kimmel’s opening bit to the small but huge impacting comments regarding diversity throughout the night, the Emmys were the one to watch. Why? This is how an award show should be. It’s as if none of the celebrities had a real care about what was coming out of their mouth and pretty sure, 90% of them were all for team Hillary Clinton. If it wasn’t a jab at Donald Trump, it was a cheer for Hillary Clinton, which I loved since what a better way to get your message out about voting than putting it out there on one of the biggest platforms to do so?
Aside from the obvious comments regarding the current upcoming election, there were jaw-dropping/loud cheering/hilarious moments throughout the night and in case you completely skipped out on the show, here’s the SparkNotes version so you could join in on the conversation:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Photo by Invision/AP.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Photo by Invision/AP.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Winning Speech

Julia accepted the award as ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in Comedy Series’ and to everyone’s surprise, or at least to mine, her speech put you through a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. Louis-Dreyfus joked that Veep seemed to be “a show started out as a political satire, but it now feels more like a sobering documentary. So I certainly do promise to rebuild that wall… and make Mexico pay for it.” Then, she dedicated her award to her father, who recently passed away, and I felt my heart drop.


Rami Malek. Photo by Invision/AP.

Rami Malek Wins ‘Best Actor in a Drama Series’ for Mr. Robot

“Please tell me you are seeing this, too.” Yes, Rami. We saw it. The whole world saw it. Malek took the W for his outstanding role in Mr. Robot which he couldn’t actually believe. Believe it, Malek.

Alan Yang (L) and Aziz Ansari (R). Photo by Invision/AP.

Alan Yang (L) and Aziz Ansari (R). Photo by Invision/AP.

Asians Need More!

Very earlier in the night, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang won ‘Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series’ for their episode ‘Parents.’ The other real winner was Yang’s speech when he voiced his opinion that Asians need and will contribute more to the world. The best line was when he pleaded with Asian parents to stop enforcing their children to learn the violin and pick up a camera instead. Ha!

Jimmy Kimmel. Photo by Invision/AP.

Jimmy Kimmel. Photo by Invision/AP.

PB&J + The Emmys

I’ve never been to an actual award show, but I could only imagine that you’d be starving for about three hours. Kimmel knew and took advantage of that moment to have his mom make PB&J sandwiches for everyone in the crowd… And have the kids of Stranger Things deliver it! Celebrities. They’re just like us.

Leslie Jones. Photo by Invision/AP.

Leslie Jones. Photo by Invision/AP.

Leslie Jones Addresses The Real Need for Security

If you aren’t aware of the Leslie Jones situation, you were probably confused by this bit when she walked out with the accountants of the Emmys. Apparently, it’s necessary to have the ballots completely sealed and untouched until the night of the actual show when the winner is revealed. Leslie took it upon herself to address the real need for something to be untouched: Her Twitter account. Back in July, for some reason, a few Twitter users decided to pretty much bully Leslie via Twitter. It was a feud that was unnecessary but being the amazing woman she is, Leslie knows how to handle her own and doesn’t let it get to her. Bye haters.

Sterling K. Brown’s Humble Reaction for HIS Win!

Sorry, John Travolta and David Schwimmer. Sterling K. Brown took the Emmy home for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series’ with his role in The People v. O.J. Simpson. The sheer and utter shock on his face alone was something you couldn’t resist but clap for.

Bill Cosby? Bueller?

In one of the weirdest/awkwardest/unexpected moments of the night, Bill Cosby was introduced by the announcer and there was a look of confusion from almost everyone in the crowd. Joke’s on them! Jimmy Kimmel came out a few seconds after to admit he only did that to see what their reactions would be. AWKWARD!

Transgender Community Got The Voice They Deserved

From Jill Soloway to Jeffrey Tambor to Laverne Cox, the transgender community’s voice was heard thanks to these three. It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL thing to see and just as Tambor noted in his winning speech when he accepted the award for ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series,’ I wouldn’t be mad either if he was the last cisgender male portraying a transgender woman.
A huge round of applause for this year’s Emmys. What was your favorite moment? Let us know below!
For a complete list of the night’s winners, head over to the Emmys Website.
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Image courtesy of Invision/AP

Behind the Mic with Akbar Gbajabiamila


By now, the hit competition television series American Ninja Warrior has become a household name. For eight seasons, competitors have gone through the show with empowering stories along with jaw-dropping physical performances. There to witness it in real time is host Akbar Gbajabiamila, who signed on to co-host the show with Matt Iseman and Kristine Leahy back in 2014. Since then, he’s been a fan favorite—especially with his “Akbarisms,” a term coined by fans of the show who were touched by Akbar’s memorable one liners. We had a chance to chat with the host about his career prior to American Ninja Warrior, moments from the show he’ll never forget, and where he hopes to see himself in a few years.

Cliché: With multiple seasons of American Ninja Warrior under your belt, how do you keep your commentary fresh when you see so many competitors go through the course every year?
Akbar Gbajabiamila: The most challenging part of keeping the commentary fresh is the fact that you have so many competitors who are competing for the qualifying round. We have over 100 competitors who are competing and some of the best lines are used on competitors who may not necessarily make the final show cut. Not a wasted line because it’s appropriate for the time, but it just really is dependent on the time of day. Shooting from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., I use the advantage of speaking under the influence of fatigue; when your brain goes, anything goes. That’s the secret for me to keeping things fresh—just letting the fatigue set in and letting it have its way.
When you were first approached with the idea of co-hosting American Ninja Warrior, what were your initial thoughts about the show? Did you ever expect it to grow such a massive following and evidently become a huge guilty pleasure?
I did not know that it was going to grow. Well, in the beginning when I was approached with American Ninja Warrior, I just knew it to be kind of a ritual thing because I’d seen it on G4 browsing through the channels and there was something that was captivating about it. Some of the commentary would be funny, and you can see these translations and how they do these kinds of things, but I did not know it was going to grow like this. A. Smith Production and NBC came together on this show and it really kind of morphed into telling a great story. The explosion also has to do with the athletes. The athletes are so hungry, so competitive, that they’ve elevated their game. There are ninja gyms up all over the place. You can go from the West Coast to the East Coast and Midwest and you’re going to find ninja gyms. That wasn’t the case three years ago, so this show has really grown to new heights. It’s better because of the athletic skills and [the competitors’] backstories.
There are so many impressive and memorable stories and moments on ANW, but is there one that sticks out to you the most that you’ll never forget?
For me, it was seeing the very first American Ninja Warrior, Isaac Caldiero. In my third season with the show, the one thing that everyone knew about ANW was that there was never going to be a winner. In fact, I did a radio show and I remember one guy said, “Well, I don’t know why they don’t just go ahead and make the prize a billion dollars, because no one is ever going to win it.” I thought, you know what, that is pretty good, I actually like that, I think you might be right! Being there to witness every year that we had done it prior, we thought we were never going to see ‘Stage 4.’ So you didn’t even have to prepare your notes for ‘Stage 4,’ or blink your eyes because it was just that difficult. And Isaac Caldiero changed everything when he decided that he was going to take his game to the next level.
The most memorable moment of that entire thing was the look on his face after he won the million dollars. That to me was the biggest thing. He looked over to me and said to me he had never had more than $5,000 in his account. And that to me was special because I could relate to him, having gone from the inner city, to San Diego State, and then to the NFL. I remembered getting my first paycheck, and I thought, “Wow, this is big money.” I just knew that look and that feeling, and I was genuinely happy for him. To see somebody start the process, go through it, and then end the process in a victorious fashion—that was special. Of course we had two ninja warriors, him and Geoff Britten, but Isaac Caldiero was the prize winner.
With so many competition series in the mix, why do you think American Ninja Warrior continues to be a show viewers will continue to watch every season?
In every person that watches the show, there’s the inner child that lives in him or her. Essentially, American Ninja Warrior is a sick and twisted version of some of your favorite childhood monkey bar experiences. You go to any park and you can see some sort of configuration that looks like an American Ninja Warrior obstacle. It just pokes at you and makes you ask the question, “Can I do that?” And then you start telling yourself, “I can do that.” And then the backstory, where you see and hear about a competitor who has overcome cancer, or who is working and competing with Parkinson’s, or the attorney who has been out of shape and just wanted a shot at the course. And when you see those types of success or even the failures, it really starts to have this cult-like following. I think it has really grown because everybody sees themselves in the competitors. You have ordinary people doing extraordinary things. These are not necessarily the LeBron James or Aaron Rodgers of the world; these aren’t your high-profile athletes. These are just ordinary athletes, competitors, and people coming out there to compete. We have some professional athletes who are out there competing; not all of them do well and most of them don’t do well on American Ninja Warrior. This is like the even playing ground for people, like, “This is my opportunity to show everyone that I could have been a professional athlete with the big lights and the big stage.”
Speaking of the best stories and moments…what is your “Akbarism” that would sum up this new season of ANW?
“Big-time, primetime, showtime, all-time, good time.” I usually reserve that one for a performance that is outside of this world.

To see somebody start the process, go through it, and then end the process in a victorious fashion—that was special.

Are Monday nights designated as an ANW night in your household?
Monday night is definitely an American Ninja Warrior night for the family. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the kids. There are a lot of shows on TV that you can’t watch with your kids. I watch this with my 4-year-old twins, with my 7-year-old daughter, and my 15-year-old son. We all sit there together and we all equally enjoy it. As a parent, it’s not like I’m sitting there watching the same cartoons that we have seen a million times. We can enjoy this as a family, and it’s also a good break from some of the social media that consumes our kids and our family, myself included. You know it’s real when your 15-year-old son doesn’t want to watch the NBA championship, but he will watch American Ninja Warrior with you.
When you retired from the NFL in 2008, did you have a set career path you intended on pursuing afterwards?
Yes—broadcasting. I always knew that I wanted to get into broadcasting and hosting. It’s something I’ve felt since I was a kid. In fact, I went to San Diego State after receiving a scholarship out of Crenshaw High School. It’s very typical when you get a scholarship for a big program or a football program or whatever sports you play that they try to push you towards one of the more athletically friendly majors. And at San Diego State, it was criminal justice. I had no intention of going into criminal justice, and they tried to push me that way, and I fought and I fought. I said, “Look, I want to be in communications with a focus in media studies,” and I was able to get that. I was happy that I stuck with it because if I was going to get a degree, I wanted to get a degree in something I wanted to do, and that’s what I did.
After I retired from the NFL, I immediately pursued it. Knowing that I wasn’t a Hall of Fame player, I knew that I had to take more of a backdoor approach, and that backdoor approach for me was to go back to San Diego and start my career. C.S. Keyes, who was a local anchor at the time, offered me the first opportunity to get my feet wet in the industry. Then NBC, the local affiliate there, gave me the opportunity to co-host the weekly post-game show for the San Diego Chargers in 2006, and that was the leg up that propelled my career forward after football. That led to me doing college football games, hosting at the NFL network, and then hosting American Ninja Warrior, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
What do you like to do whenever you get some time to relax?
Travel, which seems kind of crazy. Between spending time with my family, which is priority, traveling is one of the things I have always liked to do. Many guys like to golf or do whatever. You can find me doing three things in the form of relaxation: working out, traveling, and spending time with my family, my kids, and my wife. [That’s usually] what I’m doing when I’m not on NFL Network, American Ninja Warrior, and my spin-off show, Team Ninja Warrior. I have traveled to 40 countries and I’m trying to reach 60, all by the age of 40.
Becoming a television personality can be daunting for many. For you, how did you become so comfortable in front of the screen?
Well, the secret for me was taking acting classes. In person, without the camera, I’m just me. What I didn’t realize is that when cameras are on you, there’s the pressure to feel like you have to perform. So taking acting classes was one of the greatest tips I received. I used that to become more of me. And that’s what acting really is, just becoming more of you and letting you shine through whatever the character is. But this time I’m not portraying anybody, I’m just being me and this allowed me to relax and to be able to have a relationship with the camera in front of me. And a lot of times I don’t even notice the camera; I’m almost in my own world.
What are some goals that you wish to accomplish over the next few years?
Daytime TV would be the next step for me. I say that because I realize that I have a social responsibility to utilize my platform for positive efforts. What better way to influence culture than to be right at home sharing your thoughts on some of the hot topics going on in the world? You look at the climate of our country today, everything from race and law enforcement to politics, and sometimes you just need to hear a positive spin. We’re flooded and inundated with negative imagery and news, and daytime TV has always been the opportunity to give you a break from some of that, and if you have the right person up there, [you can get] a different outlook on it. I think daytime TV would be a good platform to me to promote positive change in the community.
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Photographed by Bobby Quillard

Good Things Are In Store for After Romeo


Searching for a new Romeo to swoon over? Brace yourselves. We have them, right here. Four of them actually. Jayk Purdy, Drew Ryan Scott, Blake English, and TC Carter make up the Los Angeles-based pop band After Romeo. And before you assume they take on the characteristics of your next average boy band, allow them to defy everything you believed in. Haven’t you learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover?
Cliché: For those of our readers who aren’t familiar with After Romeo, can you tell us how you four came together?
Blake English: Drew and Jayk grew up in Vegas together and moved to L.A. to further their music careers. They met TC at a basketball game and really hit if off. A few months later, I moved to L.A. from Georgia, and TC, who was my childhood friend, introduced me to the rest of the guys. We started writing and recording songs and boom—we were a band!

Growing up, did you know you always wanted to be in the music industry or did you see your life going in a completely different direction?
Blake: I had so many interests as a kid and still do to this day. I’m passionate about everything from acting to modeling to zoology to philosophy. Needless to say, my interests span over a broad spectrum. Music, however, has always been a huge creative outlet for me and I can’t imagine doing something that didn’t involve it.
Drew Ryan Scott: My dad was an Elvis impersonator and I grew up around a lot of music, so I always wanted to do music and nothing else.
Jayk Purdy: I wanted to be an athlete, but fell in love with dancing and singing when I was about 13. I couldn’t get enough of it; it consumed me and took over as my passion.
TC Carter: I grew up playing baseball so I wanted to be a MLB player more than anything, but once I got into dancing in musical theater, I knew that my passion had changed.

When After Romeo was in its early days, how familiar were you with the music industry? Was it all a firsthand learning experience or did you have a bit of guidance?
Blake: I was not familiar with the music industry at all. Luckily, Drew and Jayk had been a part of it prior to me joining the band and were able to teach me things as we continued to grow as a group.
Drew: It’s a lot of trial and error. We moved to L.A. to achieve our dreams and we won’t stop until we do. I think, as with most things, you learn as you go. There’s no wrong or right way to do things nowadays because the Internet has created a new place where anyone can become known with one lucky click.
Jayk: We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of friends and make a lot of relationships within the industry. They took us under their wing and gave us knowledge and we also did a lot of stuff on the fly as well. We wanted to try to do some stuff a little differently.
TC: I definitely had some guidance, but honestly most of it was trial and error for me.
When putting your songs together, how has it been working with one another with so many different ideas, tastes, etc.? What’s the process usually like?
Blake: It took us a little bit to settle into our groove. We all have different tastes in music so it was definitely a process finding the balance that made everyone happy. Truth is, that’s what makes us so different from anyone else. We worked really hard creating a sound that best represents us as a group taking into consideration each individual’s tastes.
What’s the songwriting process usually like?
Drew: It’s complex because we have such an array of tastes between the four of us. Everyone puts in their vibe and style with each song and I think we really show off everyone on our Good Things EP. It has a style of its own. It’s chill, fun, and feel-good all in one. We start with guitar chords and then create melodies. After we have the melodies, we add lyrics. Hours later, you have a new song.
When was the moment you realized After Romeo was gaining momentum and getting noticed by so many people?
Blake: There’s no better recognition than looking out into an audience and seeing 5,000 screaming, adoring fans, which was exactly what happened in Denver, Colorado, a year and a half ago. That’s when we knew we had graduated to the next level.
Drew: Also, the first time we ever did a meet and greet. We didn’t know what to expect and we got there and there were over 500 people and we were like, “Wow! All of this is for us?”
Since your band’s name is After Romeo, obviously based off the epic love story of Romeo and Juliet, which adaptation do you love the best?
Blake: We love Baz Luhrmann’s version, hands down. His amazing visuals and understanding of the details Shakespeare weaves in his writing is what made this version something I think Shakespeare would be very proud of.
Jayk: The styling and creative direction was amazing. It’s one of my favorite movies actually.
You’ve been compared to One Direction and many other bands before you. “Boy bands” sometimes have a stigma in pop culture. What are your thoughts on being labeled a “boy band” and how do you set yourself apart from those before you?
BIake: I think the issue I have with being labeled a boy band is that it has a very contrived perception that goes along with it, like we are a machine created by some all-knowing music guru. For us, that could not be further from the truth. We weren’t put together. We write our own music. We sing live and we dance our butts off. Not because someone is telling us to, but because that’s what we enjoy doing. We are artists at heart, not puppets.
Drew: We have done everything ourselves with our manager, Jonnie. I don’t think any other group has gone through the hard work we have done ourselves.
Jayk: We are obviously flattered to be compared to One Direction, though. They have great music and seem like great guys.
As your fan base is growing more and more, what have you learned so far being in a band or being in the music business that you would have never expected to learn?
Blake: There really are bad people in this world. Seriously, I grew up in a very loving and wholesome environment. That didn’t exempt me from bad people or doing bad things myself, I suppose, but it all came from a place where in the end, integrity shined over anything else. Then I moved into the entertainment industry and you deal with a lot of truly vicious, self-centered people. That’s why it’s been so important for us to make sure we align ourselves with people we trust, and so far, I think we’ve done a very good job at that.
Jayk: It’s a lot harder than it looks and it’s a 24-hour job. There are truly no days off.
With your Good Things EP now out, when can fans expect to hear a full-length debut album or a tour?
Blake: Luckily, we have the album ready. We are still finalizing a release date and tour dates will be out very soon!
TC: We don’t want to keep our fans waiting, but we promise it will be worth the wait.
What track was the most fun to put together? Which was the one that needed more time to work with than all the others?
Blake: Honestly, I love me some club music, so getting the dance mixes of “Good Things” and picking out which ones had the best drops was probably the most fun for me. “Convenience” definitely took the longest to record. It’s a very stylized song and we wanted the vocals to fit that style perfectly!
Jayk: I absolutely love “Shut Up” because we had horn players come into the studio and lay down horn tracks. I’ve never seen that before and it was pretty awesome to watch.
What are your hopes for the band?
Blake: Through all of our differences, the one thing we all agree on and truly bond over is our love to perform. My hope is that we get to perform in some of the biggest arenas in the world to sold out audiences… not for money, but for the rush we all get when we come on stage and do what we love for the people that helped us get there.
TC: We also want to be able to influence people with our music and our success.
Jayk: And hopefully win a Grammy one day.
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Photographed by Michael Becker

SKIPTRACE: The Unlikely Buddy-Copy Pairing


The most bizarre and unlikely pairing came together and made a movie: Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. You have one man who sacrifices himself to be his own stuntman for the art of a movie while on the other hand, you have a man who has been known to do the most ridiculous stunts for the hell of it. So, maybe it isn’t that bizarre after all?
Chan and Knoxville star in the Action-Comedy Skiptrace, directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Covenant). Set in different locations throughout Asia, Chan plays detective Bennie Chan who is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his partner, Yung (Eric Tsang). Bennie spends years trying to catch on the crime lord “The Matador” and pin him behind bars, but fails to do so with every attempt. On the other hand, conman Connor Watts (Knoxville) gets caught in the crosshairs of an organized crime with Bennie’s niece, Samantha (Fan Bingbing). However, Connor gets kidnapped by a Russian kingpin and is taken to Russia. Bennie is now forced to hunt down Connor to clear Samantha’s name. When Bennie and Connor finally cross paths, this eventually turns into a buddy cop movie except this isn’t Chris Rock by Jackie’s side.
Phew. Did you catch all that?
Skiptrace shows a much more relaxed side of Jackie Chan. I mean, for crying out loud we’re given the gift of him singing Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and him absolutely losing his mind over alpacas. It’s rare to see Jackie’s true personality be revealed in movies where he’s not always a straightedge! And that would explain why Knoxville seemed so fitting to be his co-star.  As you guessed it, Knoxville is the comic relief in the movie that counteracts all of Jackie Chan’s seriousness. He successfully manages to get Jackie’s character into trouble time and time again.
At 62 years old, Chan is still out there kicking ass with absolutely no stunt double – all while accepting each painstaking bruise or cut with a smile on his face. He hasn’t lost his stride. As much as I want to praise him for his existence and being the man he is, this wouldn’t be an honest review. My only question to him would be, “Why?”
As much as this movie is enjoyable with hilarious side comments and banter between the characters, it’s clear to see why this isn’t a theatrical release despite having Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville tied to the film. There were just some scenes that didn’t seem necessary or storylines that seemed a bit bleh. For instance, Knoxville’s character was hung upside down on top of a bowling lane so a Russian mafia-like family could determine if he was cheating on one of their family members. Really? I get that this is the whole reason why they needed to travel from point A to point B, but this could have been thought out differently.
If you’re expecting an Oscar-worthy movie, skip out on this. If you’re seeking for a good, wholesome fun movie to kick back to, this can be one of them. Although I’m upset with what kind of movie Jackie Chan chose to star in, I’ll still stand by him and support his work.
Note: To be fair, I cannot really base much of Knoxville’s roles to anything serious that I’ve seen from him other than The Ringer, Bad Grandpa or Jackass.
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Photos courtesy of Saban Films

Why You Should be Watching ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’


This summer, I recently finished binge-watching season one of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I started the series last fall but never had the time to keep up with it–until now. Thanks to the Twitterverse, I knew this was a show I couldn’t simply pass up due to the fact I kept seeing multiple tweets praising it. A weekend and four delivered meals later, I get it. I understand the hype, and I am now a part of it.

First off, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a brilliant show from the brilliant minds of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna. Bloom claims the leading role of the “crazy ex” named Rebecca Bunch introduced in the pilot episode as a lawyer unhappy with her life. This all changes when she runs into her ex-boyfriend Josh Chan from summer camp in 2005, AKA her first love AKA may or may not be the reason she moves to West Covina, California.
After talking to Josh who spilled the beans about his move back to West Covina after living a few years in New York, Rebecca is inspired by that idea and drops her current life to hop on a plan to live on the other side of the country. She ends up landing a job at a local law firm and befriends her co-worker Paula Proctor. From this point on, the audience goes on a crazy ride of Rebecca who denies she moved all the way to California for Josh who just happens to already be in a steady relationship. Oh, did I mention this show is also partially a musical? YES!
Now, think of it as Glee, but not to the point where every five minutes there’s a chorus that breaks out into song. The musical numbers pop up very sporadically, but get this: the songs are not covers, but original tracks that fit with the storyline and end up being freaking hilarious.
If that didn’t convince you to hop on Netflix, like, NOW (and hopefully I didn’t give too much away either), here are even more reasons why you should watch the series.
Girl Power
It’s genius. It’s so beautifully written and it stars a female comedian. Not to get all full on Feminism/Girl Power crazy on you…but c’mon, let’s be real. How often do you see a leading women comedian taking the reigns on a show on cable TV? There was The Mindy Project, but FOX axed that too soon (Bless you, Hulu), but do you see my point? Another thing to point out, Rachel Bloom wasn’t a household name TBH. I never heard of her until the show popped up into my life and now I’m a complete fangirl. She gives me hope that if I work hard enough, maybe I could win a Golden Globe too. Not really, but a girl can dream.
Speaking about the Golden Globes, E! Interviewed Rachel Bloom after she won her prestigious award and answered a question regarding comments on the show being seen as “sexist” (when it’s totally not. “I say watch the show and within the first two minutes you’ll understand the title is a deconstruction—the show is meant to be a deconstruction of tropes and stereotypes and take the stick out of your ass and just watch my show.”
The Writing
The scriptwriting for this series is phenomenal. It’s well put together and not a glitch from scene to scene. Every dialogue between characters or internal dialogue continues to build the character more and more. And the songs! They are not your average songs. They literally are on par with numbers you’ll see during an actual broadway musical. Like said musicals, the songs in the show have nothing to do with the plot, but expand on a certain moment or idea. Don’t understand what I mean? See it here: 

Another great thing about the show is the diversity of the cast. I’m biased because I’m part of the enraged group of people who feel as if some cultures are underrepresented on television, but can we just point out the fact a Filipino plays one of the lead roles? A FILIPINO! That’s a win for my people. We often see so many videos, articles, etc. about how Asians don’t get the same amount of screen time as any other race. Props to Rachel Bloom for breaking social norms.
Give the show a try and if you end up hating it, then blame me.
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Why You Should be Watching ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’: Featured image courtesy of The CW

Highlights from the CMA Music Festival 2016


Last night was Country’s night to rock. Well, that was the slogan of CMA’s Music Festival which aired on ABC. The actual festival took place back in June at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN, but for those of us who couldn’t cash out money for travel and concert tickets, we were able to catch the show in the comfort of our own homes. Singers Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett took the reigns to host this year which gave Little Big Town a break from hosting duties for the night!

As a Country music lover, I’m not sure why I haven’t watched this before. Where was I last year? Nonetheless, the broadcast was just as you expected–musical acts back to back to back! The first to take the stage? None other than Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett, right off the bat. Even now, I’m a bit on the fence about that performance. For first-time Country music listeners, I wouldn’t say this would be the best song or act to introduce them with since it delves into the number one reason why so many people pass on listening to country: it sounds like a Top 40 pop song! But, it did get the crowd at the stadium going!
The night went on with huge names taking the stage such as Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, and the legendary Chris Stapleton, who made his CMA Music Festival debut. Funny, since he swept this years’ award shows with multiple accolades! If you’re still unfamiliar with Stapleton, remember that day when the internet exploded after Justin Timberlake performed a little known song called “Tennessee Whiskey”? Yeah, it was a duet with Stapleton!
You know there had to be a few curveball mashups and songs thrown in or how else would non-country lovers want to watch this? To my surprise, Steven Tyler also made his CMA debut performing “We’re All Somebody from Somewhere” straight from his country album that is set to be released soon. It’s hard to say whether the song fell more into the country genre, or if it was a bit more indie rock. At this point, the lines blur when it comes to what is considered country. At one moment you have a rap segment and another, the song sounds like it belongs underneath the rock genre, which is exactly what happened when I heard Steven Tyler.
Pharrell sang with Little Big Town and pop singer Elle King shared the stage with Dierks Bentley. These random collaborations always crack me up because you never know if it’ll be a hit or miss. For example, Elle King and Dierks Bentley? Not impressed. As much as I love each artist individually, it just wasn’t cutting it for me. Pharrell and Little Big Town? I expected way more.
The ladies had a big win of the night for me. Kelsea Ballerini, Lady Antebellum with Cam, Cassadee Pope, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert did no wrong. Even newcomer Maren Morris was impressive when she came out to sing with Rascal Flatts!
With over 20 performances and several minutes of conversations with the host, the CMA Music Festival was an overall entertaining night. Probably more entertaining to those who were actually at the venue to experience it live, which I hope to do someday in the future. Next thing I’m looking forward to is November 2nd, when Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley reunite for the 50th Annual CMA Award Show. That should be good.
What did you think of the CMA Music Festival this year? Let us know in the comments!
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Highlights from the CMA Music Festival 2016: Featured image courtesy of CMA Country Music Association