All Posts By Dominique Barchus

How Karamo Brown is Making History


From his debut and history-making appearance on The Real World in 2004 as reality TV’s first openly gay African-American, Karamo Brown has been making strides ever since to be a voice for not only the LGBTQ community, but for the gay and bisexual African-American men within it. We sat down with Brown as he took us through his journey of becoming a father, dealing with the harsh misconceptions of society, and how being himself has been his greatest tool to his success.

Cliché: What was that experience like for you being the first openly gay African-American in reality TV? Did it help or hinder you in your career now?
Karamo Brown: Being the first openly gay African-American in reality show history was overwhelming. I never expected the response I received. I would get messages from people around the world who would tell me that my image gave them the courage to be themselves or, in some cases, helped them to make the decision to live. Being myself has definitely helped my career because I am comfortable with myself, and others are open to hearing my story and working with me.

Could you tell me a bit about your non-profit? When did you realize this was something that was needed?
My non-profit is called, and we support the self-esteem/mental health of gay and bisexual African-American men who are infected or affected by HIV. Our goal is to create messaging that supports them in understanding they are worthy of being loved, protected, and healthy. As I saw the CDC statistic rising in the south when it came to gay and bisexual black men, I knew I needed to lend my voice and resources to the fight.

Can you explain how that transition was from the youngest brother to father?
Finding out I was a father was extremely emotional. No amount of mentoring could prepare me to raise my own child, but luckily, I had a supportive family. My son’s mother was so giving, and my child is an angel, so it made the transition easy. There is nothing as special as being a father and watching your child grow into an amazing human being.

Being myself has definitely helped my career because I am comfortable with myself, and others are open to hearing my story and working with me.

Everyone has an opinion and they tend to share it on social media. How do you handle negativity online or on a regular basis in person?
To be honest, I ignore negative comments on social media by deleting it or blocking the person. I look at my social media accounts like a house party I am having. If I invite someone in or a guest of mine invites someone, and they start acting crazy, they will get kicked out of my house. The same goes for my socials. I don’t tolerate negativity or craziness in my life. There is no point in engaging in it.

What advice do you have for young adults in the LGBTQ community who struggle with their identity or feeling alone?
I would tell them to find support in your community. Digital support can be fine, but I encourage you to find a center or youth group where you can be yourself and build your self-esteem. Almost every major city has one and if you don’t know where to start, you can go to to find one.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?
That being myself is the greatest tool in being successful. People relate to what’s real…and by being my authentic self, even when I am scared to be, I always find myself winning because others can connect with me.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about being a gay black man in the entertainment industry?
The biggest misconception is that ‘we’ don’t support each other. Anytime I walk in a room and see another LGBTQ man or woman of color, it’s always love. There is a network of people in front of and behind the camera that want to help you win. Just reach out.

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How Karamo Brown is Making History: Photographed by Odessy Barbu

Dorothy Wang Opens Up About Being on ‘Famously Single’


From Rich Kids of Beverly Hills to Famously Single, Dorothy Wang is no stranger to reality TV. But there’s more to her than meets the eye. From her successes and hardships as an entrepreneur in the fashion and wines/spirits realm, Wang is also passionate about giving back to her community and furthering her goal of sitting behind the camera this time. Here, Wang shares her side of the story and what you don’t see on TV.


Cliché: Everyone knows about your involvement with Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, but now you’ve moved onto E!’s Famously Single. Can you tell us a bit about your experience and how being on this show compares to Rich Kids?
Dorothy Wang: Well, when I was approached to do Famously Single, I was very hesitant to be thrown into a house with strangers. I was very nervous about being taken out of my natural surroundings and having to live in a loft with seven other strangers. In the end, I did feel like this was going to be such a different experience for me and I love to challenge myself. I like to be comfortable, but there’s also a side of me that likes to test myself and challenge myself with new opportunities that come my way.

I decided to do it and I was so surprised! The show harbors a really fun and supportive environment. People are coming on to work together to better themselves to reach an end goal and it really brought us all close together very quickly. I am a little judgmental and I didn’t think I’d get along with anyone, but ultimately I really did. This type of show was really different from filming RKOBH, but it was extremely refreshing. I decided it was a different environment and nobody felt they were in a competition. Everyone went in trying to make the most of the situation. Everyone wanted to support each other and go on this journey together rather than wanting to fight or bring people down or feeling competitive.

What did Famously Single teach you about yourself? Would you say these experiences actually helped you in your love life?
I feel like I learned a lot on Famously Single. You really are forced to examine how you are and how your behavior affects the relationships you are in or the relationships you don’t get in. I think the biggest reality check for me was the first couple of days. It takes a lot for me to warm up to someone. I’m very honest and take my time with people. I am the type of person who you may take longer to warm up to, but once you’re in my life, you’re in my life forever. I’d rather take my time to get to know people instead of being too nice in the beginning and not being genuine. I don’t generally put myself in situations with new people. With the house, it was a shock to people and to me as well. Nobody liked me until the third day! That really taught me a lot because I am so protective of myself that I am unintentionally warding off a lot of potential relationships and friendships with people because of my hard exterior.

Would you say it’s something you would do again?
It was totally exhausting being that vulnerable. It takes a lot to open up about certain insecurities; it was mentally and emotionally draining. I think it was really enjoyable and I did learn a lot about myself and other people. I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t do it again, but I don’t know. I think I’d have to see! It was a lot of fun. I would do it again if I could get my own bathroom.

Let’s talk fashion. You’ve seen quite the amount of success with Fabuluxe, and now I hear that you’re looking to expand? What are some new things fans of the brand can look forward to?
I have wanted to expand my jewelry line for quite some time now. I haven’t gotten around to it yet. For me, and especially with all of the products that I create, I need to make sure everything is perfect and I want to commit 100% of my time to it. I haven’t yet created a second collection for it. It’s on the list of things I want to do! Hopefully, in the next couple of months, I’ll be able to carve out the time I need to in order to create the second line.

I am the type of person who you may take longer to warm up to, but once you’re in my life, you’re in my life forever.

he blinged-out pink and the metallic bottles of your brand Rich and Bubbly are probably one the most stylish champagne bottles I’ve ever seen. Can we expect continued growth from you within the wine and spirits realm?
Thank you! I would love to be able to grow in the wine and spirits realm. I’d love to do champagne glasses or ice buckets. Never say never! To expand, it does take time. It is a blessing and a curse to be so specific with what I want to do and my brand. I need to be involved in every step of the way and there are only so many hours in the day.

Being an entrepreneur has its challenges. What has been the hardest thing about being a #GirlBoss? The most rewarding?
The hardest part of being a #GirlBoss is that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and you have to be the bad guy. It is easy for people to look down on you and say how difficult you are to work with. But I think that in order to be a real #GirlBoss, you have to be passionate and outspoken and get upset when things don’t go how they should! The hardest part is nobody is going to care more about your brand and your business than yourself. You have to keep fighting and pushing and speak your mind and make those tough decisions! The most rewarding part is knowing that it is something you were able to create and achieve on your own. Even being able to wake up every day and being able to promote yourself and your brand it is something to be applauded.

You’ve been fortunate enough to have so much and be involved in so many things, and I know you’ve dedicated some time to giving back. Can you speak a bit on that?
Growing up, my parents made sure my sister and I knew how fortunate we were and that we didn’t live in a bubble where everyone is just like us. We weren’t guarded or sheltered by the real world or how things are for some people. It was something that was very important to my parents to instill in us. Every vacation, we did community service, visited orphanages in China, and worked with the school of the blind and the deaf. From that, my sister and I have always been very aware of how lucky we are, and how much work goes into helping those who are less fortunate.

In terms of philanthropy or community service, sometimes people think it has to be this very serious thing. It can hinder people from doing as much as they can because they feel like they can’t be enjoying their life to the fullest if they want to give back. There’s no shame in living your life in the way you have worked to be able to. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of times, people think community service isn’t fun. I always try to make it fun or do something that’s a fun event people want to go to, like a blood drive or a fun day in the park! When I volunteer with a children’s hospital, I take a group of friends with me. It doesn’t have to be such a serious thing. It makes you feel good and like you’re doing something good for others.

The hardest part of being a #GirlBoss is that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and you have to be the bad guy.

What’s your next biggest venture that everyone should be on the lookout for?
Right now, I am at a unique point in my career. I feel like I am able to pick and choose what I want to do and what is interesting to me and my fans and followers and what they might enjoy the most. I have always been very interested in food, travel, and lifestyle. I want to do something with production as well as it has always been so interesting to me! If I could tell you what my next ONE big venture is, I honestly couldn’t because I have so many potential things that I can’t really choose one. We will just have to see!

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Dorothy Wang Opens Up About Being on ‘Famously Single’: Photographer: Ryan West, Makeup: Arianna Garcia, Hair: David Keough, Styling: Rebecca Gross

Ricky Whittle is Gearing Up for the New Starz Series ‘American Gods’


When it comes to having work you enjoy doing, the British athlete-turned-actor Ricky Whittle is one of the lucky ones. Known for his roles on The CW’s The 100 and ABC’s Mistresses, Whittle is excited for the world to see his next role as Shadow Moon in American Gods, the TV adaptation of the sci-fi novel written by Neil Gaiman. But all dreams—and careers—start somewhere.


“I feel we have all been actors at some point, be it as a kid growing up playing Cowboys and Indians or telling your mother you didn’t steal the cookies from the cookie jar, knowing full well you did,” said Whittle. “So I feel like the actor [in me] has always been there.”

Growing up as an athlete whose father was in the Royal Air Force, Whittle easily harnessed the discipline to cope with the repetitive nature of acting and the ability to manage the nomadic lifestyle of the acting industry. “The hardest thing was just starting a new career in an industry of ‘no’s,’” Whittle explained, “but with the determination and positive mindset I’ve taken from sports, the word ‘no’ was never an option and it was never going to stop me for long.”

Confirming reports of leaving his role as Lincoln on The 100 due to bullying, Whittle didn’t let that setback get the better of him. “[I learned] that it’s always darkest before the dawn and karma prevails. [That experience] proved to me that good things happen to good people, and I will always be grateful for it,” he said. “It helped me grow and realize how strong I could be.”

Shirt: Michael Stars, Leather jacket: Barabas, Jeans: Levi Strauss & Co., Boots: Bacco Bucci

He credited childhood lessons to his ability to surround himself with positivity and remove negativity no matter what. “Since I was a child, my parents have always told me to stand up for what I believe in for myself and others and that’s just what I did. I will never let anybody treat me badly, no matter who they are.” He continued by saying, “A ship only sinks when you let water in. Continue to work hard, keep smiling, and wait for that little bit of luck and take those chances when they come.”

That kind of discipline and motivation was exactly what Whittle channeled for his new role as Shadow Moon in the series American Gods. Whittle plays an ex-con released two days early from prison after the tragic death of his wife Laura, played by Emily Browning. “It was both physically and mentally challenging as I had to put on 35 pounds to give Shadow the large frame described in the book,” he explained. “Training two to four hours a day and eating over 4,000 calories per day was intense and draining, but required to gain such a large amount of weight so quickly.”

Although a challenge, Whittle expressed his excitement for the audience to experience his journey through Shadow’s eyes. “It is my responsibility to inform the audience as to how they should feel throughout [the scenes]. I allow them to feel calm, fear, confusion, and laughter, so I have to be engaged and present through every moment,” he said. “He’s a shadow of the man he was and a shadow of the man he needs to become. He’s broken and empty when Ian McShane’s [character] Mr. Wednesday takes him under his wing, and his world is flipped upside down. He’s not a believer and has to wonder, as an intelligent, logical thinking man: is the world crazy or is he?”

Since I was a child, my parents have always told me to stand up for what I believe in for myself and others and that’s just what I did.

Whittle admits that he’s an all-or-nothing kind of guy, but when he’s not “on,” you can catch him venturing out on his own adventures—on his Harley Davidson, to be specific. “As filming is usually so intense, when I get home, I like to just relax, follow my team [Manchester United], and sit on the beach back home in California and enjoy the quiet sunsets and the sea. I like to disappear,” he said. “I’m a huge adrenaline junkie; I have a racing license, so I like to hit the track. I’m also a qualified skydiver, so I definitely enjoy throwing myself out of perfectly good airplanes.”

But don’t put him in the category of “daredevil” just yet. The actor has deeper passions in life. “Aside from jumping out of planes and racing cars, I’d like to push ahead with some causes that I’m passionate about, such as bullying, the world’s youth, and animals.”

Contrary to the perceived glitz and glam of Hollywood, Whittle has bigger plans for his fame. “I just want to continue to wake up happy on Monday mornings. If you hate Mondays, you hate your job. I love what I do and just want to continue working with great people on great projects such as American Gods,” he said. “It’s such a huge project that one hopes Shadow will become [as much of] an iconic TV character as he is in the book world. [This] will allow me to just enjoy experimenting with other roles in film: Action, Romance, Comedy, and Drama. I just want to enjoy versatility and roles that challenge me in different ways.”

Jacket: Jacob Halston, Shirt: Topman, Jeans: Levi Strauss & Co., Shoes: Mezlan

Although he has big plans to further his career and challenge himself, Whittle has found his own challenges within the entertainment industry. “It’s made me less trusting of people. It’s hard to find people who are in it for the right reasons,” he said. “Everyone has an agenda, so when I find good people, I like to hang onto them. They shine like beacons. It’s also given me a position of responsibility and a duty to further live a good life.”

He continued, “Young eyes are watching, and it’s our duty when in the public eye to not lead them astray and provide a good role model.”

While trying to live his life as good and as honest as possible, Whittle acknowledges his faults and believes that everything happens for a reason. “I’m only here as a result of the culmination of all my good and bad decisions together,” he said. “I’m happy with how I’ve lived my life and I say I live my life like my mum is watching and I don’t want to disappoint her.”

His humble nature and self-awareness help him create a sense of comradery between himself and his fans, even in the most uncomfortable situations, especially when it comes to sex appeal and embarrassing moments. Nominated as Sexiest Male four years in a row at the British Soap Awards, the actor admits, “I have a little body dysmorphia, so I don’t actually enjoy pictures of myself. It’s always an honor to be put in those categories, but I attribute it to self-confidence over actual looks,” he explained. “I know I’m young, athletic, and enjoying my career, so put it down to the package. I think sexy comes from within; belief and being comfortable in your skin shines through. I love seeing that in others.”

Shirt: Topman, Jeans: Levi Strauss & Co.

As for embarrassing moments, the TV star doesn’t get embarrassed too often in life, but one time he misjudged the location of the camera while on set. “I turned suddenly and walked headfirst into the lens. It felt like a right hook from Mike Tyson. I had a slight squint for the rest of the scene,” he said.

Through all the challenges, bruises, and all, Whittle is looking forward to how American Gods will be received by the fans of the book. “It’s going to be exciting to see the reaction from Neil Gaiman’s fans,” he said. “I feel newcomers to his work will just love the show and have their minds blown by something that has never been seen before on television. It will be exciting to see hardcore fans as they have envisaged an adaption for 16 years, but if Neil Gaiman is excited by it, then I’m confident they will love it, too. There’s so much to look forward to as we begin this incredible journey.”

So what’s Whittle’s key to success? “Hunger to be better and to provide for my family, and the joy I feel when proving haters or doubters wrong,” he said. “They hate when you are happy and successful, so I love to inform them of how good life is.”

You can catch the season premiere of American Gods on Starz on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 9:00pm ET/PT.

See more exclusive photos in our April/May 2017 issue of Cliché Magazine.

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Ricky Whittle is Gearing Up for the New Starz Series ‘American Gods’ // Photographer: Quavondo, Assistant: Johnny Martini, Grooming: Ieva Radina, Stylist: Yesenia Cuevas, Retoucher: Katja de Bruijn

Rising Star Phoenix Melody Chats ‘X-Factor,’ Debut EP, and More


Sydney-born singer-songwriter Phoenix Melody is on a mission to give her listeners more than just music, but something with a deeper meaning. From her teary-eyed celebration on Australia’s X-Factor back in 2013 to her eclectic cover songs and soon-to-be-released EP, Phoenix Melody is a name you won’t soon forget. Here, she spills the details on how she’s embracing every twist and turn on her musical journey.

Cliché: When did you find your passion for singing and what inspired you to sing in the first place?
Phoenix Melody: My passion for music and singing developed as a toddler. Seriously, I’ve been singing since I can remember. I’ve always been “that kid” who sang and danced to anything and everything. It was a way to express myself, and I grew up in a musical family, so it was natural for me. I guess what inspired me was seeing how happy it made the people around me, especially my parents.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience auditioning for Australia’s X-Factor?
Auditioning for X-Factor was definitely an unforgettable experience. I had my family and my best friends with me for support since I was nervous. I had never performed in front of such a large crowd before and I was terrified of the idea that three super talented, world-renowned artists (Redfoo, Ronan Keating, and Dani Minogue) were judging my performance. I was thrilled when I received three yeses. The sense of relief and disbelief that my talent had been recognized was overwhelming to the point of happy tears! I knew in that moment from the judges and crowd response that I was in my element and I was there serving my purpose.

Dress: Madison James, Bracelet: Jessica Elliot, Rings: Nissa Jewelry

How would you describe your own sound?
My sound is an infusion of R&B/pop, with soul and rock elements. I love meshing old school with new school, whether it be a drum or bass line or in the lead vocals or harmonies.
Can you give us some insight on some of your original pieces and where they can be found?
My original pieces are pretty much diary entries. They’re very personal to me, but I think they speak volumes to many different people. They’re a representation of my growth as a person over a number of years and a self-reflection of who I was, who I am, and the things I aspire to be. I think most people are going through the motions of life trying to figure themselves out. My music really reflects my personality. I’m laid-back, but also super outgoing. Overall, I’m all about finding that balance and enforcing positivity.

Knowing yourself allows more room for positive thinking and less room for negative energy.

What projects are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished my EP and I am preparing and working on my release in Australia this summer. I’m ecstatic that all the pieces are finally coming together and you guys will be able to hear my original music. I’ve worked really hard for this and put my heart and soul into each of my records. My official launch party will be in my hometown of Sydney, Australia, which I’m absolutely stoked about, before releasing my music in the UK and US. You will hear your girl having some air time giving the lowdown on the record, so keep a listen out because I don’t want to give too much away just yet!
What artists do you look up to the most and why?
I look up to artists who have initiated change within the industry and those who have used their following positively and have done good things with their careers—artists like Michael Jackson, Tupac, and current artists like Eminem, J. Cole, and Rihanna. I look up to people who have been crucified for their authenticity, but continue being themselves, opening people’s minds and hearts, and forcing a change in acceptance. I think it’s extraordinary that artists are able to contribute to a new way of thinking through music.

Dress: Madison James, Ring and cuff: Charles Albert, Bracelet: Jessica Elliot

Who would you love to collaborate with someday?
I’d love to collaborate with Bruno Mars. He’s a living legend, that dude. He’s so incredibly talented and started from the bottom. I’d love to work with Justin Bieber and Drake, as well.
If you had the chance to perform anywhere (award show, event, etc.), where would it be?
Okay, this is a tough one, but I’d probably have to say the Super Bowl. Halftime killing it on stage? Sounds like a great gig, if you’d ask me!
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is to stay true to myself. I grew up with my dad always telling me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, do whatever I wanted to do, and to never let anyone tell me who I am or what to do. Although it may have backfired a little for my poor old man when it came to me doing the dishes, his reinforcing words of “dreaming the inconceivable” by “knowing myself” stuck. This industry is easy to get lost in, but I am so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people who love me for me, support me, and see my vision. They don’t want to change me and my team embraces me for who I am, and that helps me grow. Love is so important. Knowing yourself allows more room for positive thinking and less room for negative energy. I am all about vibes, so I keep my circle small.

Dress: Madison James, Shoes: AMI Clubwear, Choker: Phoenix’s own, Bracelet: Jessica Elliot, Rings: Nissa Jewelry

What are three things you’d want your fans to know about you?
I’m human, just like you. I’m real to the core. I’m honest; I truly do this to connect with those who have ears for my music. I do this because I’m passionate about it and I want to be the voice for those who don’t have the confidence to say, “Hey, I’m me. Do you.” I was rejected because I was different, but also embraced for the same reason and I never let it get me down. I allowed myself to become strong from my experiences and here I am. I’ve made my mistakes, I’ve owned them, and I’ve learned from them. That is so important in life: taking responsibility. I like to think I work on myself daily, to be a good example to those who need someone to look up to.
See more exclusive photos in our Feb/Mar 2017 issue of Cliché Magazine.
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Rising Star Phoenix Melody Chats ‘X-Factor,’ Debut EP, and More: Photographer: Quavondo, Makeup: Golden Shyne, Hair: Cherie Combs, Styling: Yesenia Cuevas

Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Releases Max Styler Remixes


Calling all music lovers! Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak has recently released Max Styler remixes on February 3, 2017. The young American who produced “Heartache” ft. Colt Matthews has come up with a solid remix bundle, including remixes from SMLE, Taiki Nulight and MERCE Remix. You can listen to the latest tracks below. 

Earlier this year, Max Styler thrilled dance music fans and tastemakers alike with his sensational debut album, “Heartache,” which demonstrated his flair for futuristic flavor, haunting vocal samples and multifaceted sonic textures. From its aching lyrics to its catchy melodies, the title track (which features Colt Matthews on vocals) showcases all of the album’s themes effortlessly, and now Max is releasing a remix package of “Heartache” with three fresh takes on the original. The first is a spacey, avant-garde bass rendition by the live electronica duo SMLE that emanates after hours vibes; it is followed by Taiki Nulight’s remix, which is guaranteed to make you transport to a grungy underground party where things are getting wonderfully weird. MERCE comes in for the kill on the final remix with his heavy trap version that will have bodies thrashing on every dance floor. As if the original “Heartache” wasn’t already stellar enough, the remixes take the track to several new dimensions.

Max Styler signed with Steve Aoki’s famed Dim Mak record label when he was only 18 years old, making him one of the youngest producers to be signed on such an esteemed record label at the time. The San Luis Obispo, California native has exploded onto the scene with his first EP, “Aftershock,” which came out on Dim Mak in 2015 to rave reviews; the title track was chosen as a Sirius XM BPM “Breaker.” In 2016, Styler joined Steve Aoki on the North American Neon Future bus tour and played Tomorrowland Festival and Pacha in Ibiza. The Torro Torro remix of Max Styler and Autoerotique’s “Badman” has been nominated for a Juno Award for Best Dance Recording in 2015 and has garnered over 15 million plays on Spotify. 2017 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year so far for Styler; his most recent release “Roller Coaster” rose to number three on the Beatport charts during its first week. With the “Heartache” remix package and several other releases coming out in the next few months, Max Styler is certainly one to watch!
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Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak is Set to Release Max Styler Remixes. Images courtesy of Unfolded PR

Beyoncé Announces That She’s Pregnant With Twins


Hello, February! New day, new month, new baby news?! Not just one baby, but two!

In case you haven’t heard, Queen Bey is carrying twins and Blue Ivy is going to be a big sister two times over as the Carters expand their family.
This isn’t the first time Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z have made the world stop with their baby news. The announcement of Blue Ivy at the 2011 VMAs was one for the books. Beyoncé literally dropped the mic and a baby bomb at the same damn time after her crowd rocking performance of Love on Top.
How do you top that announcement? Simple: be expecting with twins and upload a picture to Instagram.

Now, the question is will they be boys or girls? And what will the names be?
From Cliché to the Carters, congratulations!
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Beyoncé Announces That She’s Pregnant With Twins: Images courtesy of Instagram

Artem Chigvintsev Opens Up About ‘Dancing With The Stars’


After finishing in eighth place during season 23 of ABC’s A Dancing With The Stars with his celebrity partner Maureen McCormick, Russian dance professional Artem Chigvintsev has a lot to say. Here, he opens up about leaving the UK to film in America, his everyday inspiration, and what’s next for him with DWTS
Cliché: How did your involvement with Dancing With The Stars begin?
Artem Chigvintsev: I was doing a world tour for a broadway show called Burn the Floor and I got a call about the UK show Strictly Come Dancing, and I said yes. There was no audition; I just started immediately. After three years, DWTS contacted me to come to the US to do the American version.
What would you say is your most memorable and most embarrassing moment being on the show?
I won a mirrorball trophy on Strictly Come Dancing, so that’s the most memorable for sure! The most embarrassing moments are like forgetting steps or slipping on skirts. Things happen!
If you were not part of this show, where would you want to be?
I can’t imagine a life where I’m not dancing. If I weren’t on the show, I’d still be doing something within the dance industry.
Every dancer has a reason why they dance. What is yours?
My parents wanted me to dance since I was a little kid. I did it because they wanted me to. It just happened to work out for me!
Life is full of lessons and setbacks. What would you say your greatest life lesson or experience has been that has made you who you are today?
Moving away from my parents when I was 15 years old forced me to grow up very quickly. Being able to travel the world and live in different countries has given me a different life perspective. I feel very fortunate.

I can’t imagine a life where I’m not dancing. If I weren’t on the show, I’d still be doing something within the dance industry.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
My mom and dad are my biggest inspiration. They gave everything they have for me to be here: their time, their money, support, and emotions. They are my biggest inspirations.
How would you describe yourself to someone that’s never met you?
I would say I am very simple. I am a regular guy. People can be very intimidated upon meeting me, but I am the complete opposite.
What’s next for you?
The DWTS National Tour, which will run all the way up to the next season of DWTS!
What is the best piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Learn everything you can when you’re young. Strive to be better and strive to learn it all. The older you get, the less time you have.
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Artem Chigvintsev Opens Up About ‘Dancing With The Stars’: Photographed by Vince Trupsin

Lindsay Arnold Cusick Chats ‘Dancing With The Stars’


Going down as the second youngest pro dancer in Dancing With The Stars history, the 22-year-old Utah native Lindsay Arnold Cusick is taking the dance world by storm and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. From favorite performances, toughest eliminations, to life and love outside of filming, Cusick sat down with us and revealed it all.

Cliché: Between being on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars, what do you attribute your success to?
Lindsay Arnold Cusick: I attribute all my success to my family. Without their love and support throughout the years, I truly would not be where I am today. They give me the confidence I need to achieve my goals, and without them, I would have no one to share my success with and it would not be meaningful.
On Season 22 of DWTS, you took fourth place, and just recently on Season 23, you took third. What’s your motivation to keep pushing for that top spot?
Each season, it is my goal to reach new levels whether that means placing higher than I ever have, creating new choreography that hasn’t been done before, or helping my partner become a stronger, more confident dancer/person. To me, winning isn’t about the mirrorball, but about giving my celebrity the best experience and helping them realize something about themselves they didn’t know they had in them. Obviously, I am always striving for that mirrorball win, and I believe that if I continue to do what I am doing, it will happen one day. [Winks]

To this day, what has been your favorite performance?
My favorite was definitely my freestyle with Alek Skarlatos. That was the first freestyle I have had the opportunity to choreograph and it truly was one of my proudest moments as a choreographer. I really wanted to push the boundaries and take risks, which is terrifying, but it paid off and was so worth it.
You married your high school sweetheart in 2015 and even had some of the DWTS cast in your wedding. What does that bond with them mean to you?
DWTS is truly a family and I have gained lifelong friends from this show. Having my closest friends there from the show was so meaningful to me, and I am so glad they were there to share in my favorite day.
What has been your toughest elimination?
My toughest elimination was season 22 with Wanyá. I truly believed he should have been in the finals and to see that not happen was very hard on me as a pro. I wanted him to make it there and I put so much into getting him there, so it was tough when we didn’t quite make it!

I have always felt that dance is where I can truly let go of any and all stresses in life and just be me.

I know you shouldn’t pick favorites, but who was your favorite dance partner? If you could choose you next dance partner, who would it be and why?
Honestly, I can’t answer that because each partner has been a favorite for a different reason. The best thing about the show is that each season is night and day different. You get to learn and adapt to new teaching methods, different personalities, and adjust your approach to the season based on that person. I have always joked that I would love to dance with Zac Efron or Channing Tatum, but that might be wishful thinking. [Winks]
As a dancer myself, we all have a reason as to why we dance. What’s yours?
I have always felt that dance is where I can truly let go of any and all stresses in life and just be me. I can display my emotions through my routine and truly show what I am feeling. I have been so blessed to have my passion become my job.
If you weren’t dancing, what do you think you’d be doing?
I would definitely be in school studying to become a physical therapist. I had a scholarship to go to college before I made it on SYTYCD and was going to study physical therapy.
What quote do you live by every day to get you through?
Not really a quote, but more of a motto. I always try to put things in perspective of what is truly important and what is just extra stresses that I don’t need. I try to focus on the things that matter in the long run, such as family, marriage, friendships, and my career. I try to focus on those things rather than get caught up in the day to day stresses that truly don’t matter.
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Lindsay Arnold Cusick Chats ‘Dancing With The Stars’: Photographed by Jessica Janae

Talking ‘Ballers’ With Adam Aalderks


“Football has a way of making a man feel invincible,” said Spencer Stasmore on a past season of Ballers. This couldn’t be more true for the newest member to the HBO series, Travis Mach, played by Adam Aalderks. The 28-year-old Iowa native gave us an inside look at his preparation to transform into the hot-headed linebacker, his journey from small town acting to working alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the legacy he hopes to leave behind.
Cliché: Congrats on joining the cast of Ballers! Tell me a bit about your character Travis Mach and what it took for you to prepare for the role. Can you see some of yourself in him?
Adam Aalderks: Travis Mach is a linebacker from FSU who has a hard time controlling his erratic, narcissistic behavior. He enters the draft but skips the Combine, and now he must follow Spencer Stasmore’s (Dwayne Johnson) lead to becoming a high draft pick. From the very beginning, Travis’s character wasn’t very hard to tap into. The moment I began reading the audition, Travis was already showing himself. I pulled a little bit of reference from some of my own habits from when I played football and the rest fell organically into place from the great writing in the script.
To get ready for the role, I did have to do a physical change. I have always been a gym rat, but having to portray a collegiate linebacker going to the NFL takes “transformation” to a new level. The moment I learned of booking the role, I began a nutrition and workout program centered around steak, eggs, chicken, broccoli, sweet potatoes, avocados, and white rice. My workouts quickly turned into Olympic lifting sessions spanning anywhere from two or two and a half hours every day. I didn’t take an off day or have a cheat meal for 103 days. This was the span of time from booking the role to wrapping my character on the season.
Who is Adam Aalderks at his core? How would you describe him to someone who has no idea who he is?
If someone was describing me, I would hope they say Adam is a little “old school.” Growing up in the small community of Aplington, Iowa, there are certain values and habits I’ve acquired. I like vintage things—things no one else would stop to look at. I have a love for music from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. I still believe in treating people with respect and going out of my way to help them. I enjoy problem solving, whether it’s working on a vehicle or helping a friend install a backyard fence. I built houses with my father for 12 years growing up, so those skills and that  “figure it out” mindset has never left me. I don’t shy away from the physical labor.
I guess, at the end of the day, I would hope someone would say that Adam is the kind of guy who treats strangers like friends and friends like family. It was the core of where I’m from and I hope I never let go of that. 
You were born and raised in Iowa and are now working with some of Hollywood’s greats. How does it feel? Is this what you envisioned?
To be completely honest, I don’t know what I envisioned. All I knew was I had a burning passion to be an actor and I was at a place mentally and emotionally where I was unfulfilled with the direction of my life. So making the plunge and taking on the entertainment industry was more of a “life or death” type of decision. I am overly competitive, so of course I thought it would be amazing to reach this point. If I’m going to do something, I am all in, but I was hyper focused on the steps along the way. I kept hitting my micro goals and sponging up all the knowledge I could as fast as I could.
It is still surreal for me, but working with Dwayne and rest of the cast at their level of professionalism takes some of the hype away. Everyone is so down to earth and easy to talk to. Moments after meeting these people, I felt like I’ve known them for years. Maybe it was watching them on TV growing up, but they had this simple, humble demeanor that put everyone on the same playing level. This was amazing for someone like me who could have easily felt intimidated. While shooting episode six, we were on a fishing boat in the ocean doing that scene for almost 12 hours. At one point, we were driving to the location and it really sunk in. How cool is this? I’m just chilling on a boat in the ocean with Mark Schlereth, Dwayne Johnson, and Troy Garity filming a major role for HBO. This is INSANE!
I feel so completely indebted to the producers, directors, and HBO network for giving me a chance. These people chose me and put me on a path I could have never gotten on by myself. It is a humbling thing to think about.


©Jeff Daly/HBO

Aside from Ballers, what do you think was the turning point in your acting career?
I really feel that I started making leaps forward in my career once I put value to what I am doing and raised the stakes for myself. I made micro goals along the way that once I achieved those goals, I would never go backwards, even if it meant me never booking again. It started with my transition from doing student film and indie projects for free. Then I started putting $50/day as my rate. Later it was $100/day. Then I said only SAG productions or higher budget Indie films. I started making my agent frustrated because the smaller roles weren’t fulfilling my hunger. So I told him not to send me out on “one liner” roles. Then later I said only multiple scene roles. And I kept climbing the ladder one step at a time and refused to step backwards, even if it meant me never booking again. It was these benchmarks over the last four years that helped push my confidence and commitment that really was my turning point to booking better roles.
Growing up, we are taught we can be whatever we want. What made you fall in love with acting?
It was never people telling me “I could be what I wanted to be.” It was the feeling I got when I was in front of people. I joke about this, but it is true: I have A LOT of apologizing to do to my school teachers. I always thought I was a good student. I enjoyed being funny in class and getting attention, but I truly thought I was respectful and wasn’t doing anything wrong. But one time, I ran into my former teacher, who I hadn’t seen for probably ten years. She walked over to me and didn’t say “Hi” or any form of greeting. She grabbed my hand and said, “Adam! Boy, you gave me a hard time in class.” This definitely came as a shock, but I could completely see her justification for it. I just always felt completely comfortable in front of people and making someone laugh is one of the best feelings in the world. I got a taste of it in school and it continued in my life as I narrowed down my career choices. I knew it was the only thing that every truly made me feel satisfied.

I really feel that I started making leaps forward in my career once I put value to what I am doing and raised the stakes for myself.

What has been the hardest part about breaking into the industry?
For me, the hardest part about breaking into the industry isn’t rejection or sacrificing for the cause. I can deal with people saying “No” or having to eat peanut butter and jelly for supper because I can’t afford food. I can work through memorizing the hundreds of pages of auditions just to never hear anything back. It doesn’t bother me having to drive from Atlanta to Charlotte for an audition, then immediately from Charlotte to New Orleans for a different audition, and finally back to Charlotte for the call back, only to find out you didn’t book any of them. Believe me, this is a very real scenario and all on the actor’s dime. But we will continue to do it because it’s what is asked of us.
No, the hardest part for me is keeping my focus concrete on success while watching the people I love in my life have to sacrifice their lives so I can continue chasing this “mirage.” I am close with my family and it is hard missing birthdays, holidays, family vacations, etc. I usually see my parents about once, maybe twice, a year. I have a great relationship with my father so I hate missing out on the father-son hunting trips or grill outs. Relationships are difficult because this lifestyle is very selfish and I can’t live a “normal” life. So, your circle of friends is small and you get used to people coming and going, but you cherish those who stayed close with you from the beginning.
Are there any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?
I recently learned of an action film shooting soon that I am very excited for. It will require more physical action and stunt work on my part, so I am really looking forward to indulging in that area. Plus, my close friend booked the conflicting character to my role, so I look forward to getting screen time with him and making a great film.  
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Talking ‘Ballers’ With Adam Aalderks: Featured image courtesty of Brad Everett Young

Binge-Worthy Netflix Fall Favorites


Fall is upon us and so is the ever-anticipated cuddle weather! What better way to enjoy the season of change than by spending some time inside snuggled up with your honey…or yourself! Break out the junk food and comfy clothes as I fill you in on some binge-worthy Netflix fall favorites to get you ready for the perfect binge-a-thon for your next Netflix and Chill session.


Short and Sweet
(For the bingers on a time crunch)



Stranger Things (1 season)
For the lovers of the supernatural and mystery, this Netflix-original drama stars Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, a woman who lives in a small Indiana town set in 1983 when her 12-year-old son, Will, goes missing. She makes it her mission to launch an investigation into his disappearance with the local authorities. As they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries involving secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces, and a very unusual little girl.


Making a Murderer (1 season)
For those into the real-life drama, the documentary Making a Murderer may be right up your alley. With season two to be released in late 2016/early 2017, follow the court trials of Steven Avery. Exonerated after spending nearly two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit, Steven Avery filed suit against Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, and several individuals involved with his arrest. Shortly after, however, Avery found himself behind bars again, this time accused of the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach, who was last seen on Avery’s property, where she was to photograph a vehicle. Avery and nephew Brendan Dassey were tried and (spoiler alert) convicted of the crime, but the story doesn’t stop there…


Master of None (1 season)
Feel the commandery with Aziz Ansari’s character Dev in the comedy Master of None as he goes through the trials and tribulations as a 30-year-old New Yorker trying to find his way both personally and professionally in life, love, and career, but getting it all wrong.


Keep Me Entertained
(Committed, but not for the long haul)



Bloodline (2 seasons)
Built on family secrets, Bloodline is a dramatic thriller that explores the demons lurking beneath the surface of the Rayburns. A past full of dark secrets that they hoped would remain buried, paranoia and mistrust build as lies pile up, alliances are shattered, and an unthinkable crime takes place. The tight-knit family’s formerly harmonious relationship deteriorates, and they become good people who are forced to consider doing very bad things.


House of Cards (4 seasons)
The scripted Netflix original, boasting a number of real-life media figures making cameo appearances, follows U.S. Rep. Francis Underwood of South Carolina starting out as a ruthless politician seeking revenge after being promised the post of Secretary of State in exchange for his support and his effort to ensure the election of Garrett Walker to the presidency. Walker changes his mind before the inauguration, telling Underwood he’s too valuable in Congress. Outwardly, Underwood accepts his marching orders, but secretly he and his wife, an environmental activist, make a pact to destroy Walker and his allies. This series is based on the U.K. miniseries of the same name, but the U.S. version offers a look behind the scenes at the greed and corruption in American politics.


Do Not Disturb
(For serious bingers only)



Once Upon A Time (5 seasons)
Coming off the Netflix summer release of season 5 and season 6 airing on ABC September 25, Once Upon a Time takes you through an everlasting fantasy in which fairytale legends and modern life collide. Emma Swan, played by Jennifer Morrison, is comfortable in her life as a bail bonds collector when Henry—the child she gave up a decade earlier—suddenly shows up. He is convinced that she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who sent her away before the Evil Queen could cast a spell, freezing the fairytale world in time and bringing them to present-day Storybrooke, Maine. After taking Henry home, Emma decides to stay in the town to keep an eye on him, and she discovers he may not be wrong after all.


Shameless (6 seasons)
Sex, love, and a lot of alcohol. William H. Macy stars as Frank Gallagher, a single father of six who spends much of his free time drinking at bars. The Gallagher children—led by eldest daughter Fiona, who takes on much of the child-rearing responsibility due to her mother’s absence—manages to raise themselves in spite of Frank’s lack of parenting and unusual parenting style when he does choose to act like a father. This isn’t your typical Chicago family and they have no desire to be.
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How Recipe For Hope is Baking A Difference


In society, there’s a saying: “Actions speak louder than words,” and these two women, Kim and Alina, are the prime example of that. Not only the creators of Pizzscotti, a gourmet baked goods company creating handmade gourmet Italian pizzelles and biscotti, which opened in 2013, the law enforcement officers are putting their money where their mouth is with their non profit organization, Recipe For Hope (RFH).

Their focus is directed toward giving back to victims of domestic violence. Both Alina and Kim have not only see this type of behavior in their profession on a daily basis, but also in their past, as they both have experienced domestic violence in previous relationships. They overcame their abusive relationships and now dedicate their time and passion to help others.
Recipe for Hope provides survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and homelessness a continuum of programs that educate, train, and empower. In addition, the two lead other initiatives, including F2F (Finance to Freedom) and PSP (Protect and Serve Program) self-defense awareness. They are raising funds to help get their programs off the ground, as well as to help pay for equipment, supplies, and space to rent.
Here is where the community can help: The goal for RFH is to have a place of their own where they can teach, bake, and provide these programs to those who so desperately need it. As of now, a portion of the proceeds from Pizzscotti are funneled back into Recipe For Hope. So for every purchase from Pizzscotti, customers are providing hope to these individuals and raising money for the additional programs to get off the ground.  
Together, we can Bake A Difference. To donate, please visit
For more information please contact [email protected] or call (818) 216-8848.
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Featured image courtesy of Recipe for Hope

Artists You Should Know


Artists come in many different forms: singers, dancers, painters, writers, etc., but as wide as this category expands, everyone gets caught up with the Beyoncés, Drakes, Rihannas, and Justin Biebers of the world. It’s time to listen up and shed some light on the creative and talented minds who are cast in the shadows of mainstream artists.

©Lil Dicky/Facebook

©Lil Dicky/Facebook

Lil Dicky
If you don’t know him now, I bet you’ll never forget his name. Rapper and comedian David Burb, better known by his stage name Lil Dicky, got into rapping in hopes to boost his comedic career, but inadvertently fell in love with the art. With one mixtape under his belt,
So Hard, and the debut of his first album released in 2015, Professional Rapper, Lil Dicky came to fame in 2013 when his music video “Ex-Boyfriend” went viral on social media. Growing up in the middle class of the suburbs, Lil Dicky is not your typical rapper as he explains in his song “Professional Rapper” ft. Snoop Dogg, “I wanna do this whole thing different…Traditionally people have been doing the job the same kind of way for a long time…You don’t know if it could be working even better and I think you should look at me as an opportunity to find that out.” From his unpredictable rhythmic flow, storytelling/freestyle skills, and witty punchlines, “…ain’t nobody fucking with Lil Dicky.”
sonna rele

©Sonna Rele/Facebook

Sonna Rele
Discovered and signed to Motown Records by Ne-Yo, Sonna Rele is a London-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist creating a name for herself in the U.S. market. Taking social media by storm with her “Music Mondays” on YouTube and sharing them to Facebook and Instagram, the bombshell does her own rendition of songs that her fans request, and viewers are blown away every single time. Whether a capella, with background music, or playing the song on piano or guitar herself, her soulful voice exudes power and undeniable range. She is truly a musical artist.


©Magali Beauvue/

Magali Beauvue (MakeupMag)
Magali Beauvue may not be a singer or a rapper, but she’s definitely an artist—a makeup artist, that is. Under the name MakeupMag, she takes contouring and highlighting to a whole new level as she transforms herself (and sometimes her daughters) into various singers, rappers, actors, and familiar notables—like President Obama. Sharing the full step-by-step transformations on YouTube, MakeupMag also shares her final product on social media for her fans to guess who she transformed herself into that day, and 9 times out of 10, it’s pretty easy to figure out. She’s giving a whole new meaning to dopplegänger.

devvonn terrelle


Devvon Terrell: The Living Weirdo
Have you ever listened to a song and thought you can make your own version of it? Well, that’s exactly what Devvon Terrell does. The singer and social media sensation, who also goes by The Living Weirdo, will take your favorite song (no matter the genre), switch up the lyrics, change up the beat, and create
something out of this world with his R&B vocals. I bet you’ll love his song more than the original.
rh sin


They say actions speak louder than words, but that just means you haven’t read the words of r.h. Sin (Reuben Holmes). The NYC author is producing content that relates to any life situation you could be going through. Need to read something uplifting? Need motivation? Need to get over a breakup? r.h. Sin has you covered. Tapping into emotions you didn’t know you had and making you feel things you didn’t want, but need, to feel, r.h. Sin has this way of bringing out the vulnerable side in his readers that keep them coming back for more. As a writer myself, having someone feel touched by your words is the biggest compliment and an accomplishment in itself. I guess that’s why he has two best sellers:
Whiskey Words & A Shovel – Volumes I & II.
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