Your Mondays just got so much better! The highly anticipated premiere of the CBS series NCIS: Hawai’iaired on September 20th and it was nothing short of amazing! The series stars Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, the Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor and single mom of her two children Julie and Alex. Her son, Alex Tennant is played by actor Kian Talan. Alex is a moody and exasperating teen who is struggling to cope with his parent’s split and his father’s new family. His frustrations manifest themselves through his outbursts in school as he juggles his growing pains and the responsibility of raising his younger sister.
Being able to portray an authentic Filipino American character is something Kian Talan has always dreamed of doing. Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, Kian struggled with the pressure to succeed at a young age while also feeling like an outsider in his predominantly white neighborhood. As he grew up, Kian recognized the importance of understanding his Filipino roots. However, in an attempt to not stand out more than he already was, Kian set aside his acting aspirations and obtained a degree in Computer Science with the intention of becoming a web developer.
Kian’s struggles are some that are shared amongst many immigrant children and children of immigrants. Sometimes it feels easier to blend in than it does to stand out. But, by doing so, we neglect ourselves the opportunity to follow our dreams. Luckily, following his collegiate career, Kian took acting classes which reignited his passion for a career he never fully realized. The obvious underrepresentation of Asian Americans throughout American media ignited the fire within Kian to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. His driving force is being able to shed light and tell stories of Asian/Filipino Americans, stories that he never got to see growing up.
As his latest role as Alex Tennant hits television screens across the nation, we caught up with Kian as he was filming the show to discuss his upbringing as a child of immigrants, his role on NCIS: Hawai’i, Asian representation, and much more!
Cliché: Growing up as a child of immigrants in a predominantly white neighborhood, trying to ‘fit in’ is easier than risking being a stand-out. How did you eventually gain the courage and confidence to pursue your passion for acting?
Kian Talan:Growing up in a white suburban town as a Filipino brown-skinned kid definitely made me think in a certain way and subconsciously ashamed of who I was. I worked so hard to fit in and didn’t lose that mindset till I moved to NYC. NYC introduced me to so many different types of people, cultures, and other Filipinos who were proud to be who they were. It helped me gain confidence in who I am and my “crazy” dream of becoming an actor. I’m not saying that the insecure little kid in me doesn’t show up occasionally, but I’m working every day just to be me.
Cliché: Tell us about your character Alex on NCIS: Hawai’i.
Kian Talan:Alex Tennant is an average high school kid with a not-so-average mom. He is the son of Jane Tennant, Special Agent in charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor. He is just trying to deal with his mom always working and his parent’s recent divorce. Alex is a good kid at heart, loves his parents, but he feels neglected, which causes him not to make the best decisions.
Cliché: Were you a fan of the NCIS franchise prior to taking on this role?
Kian Talan:NCIS is such an iconic franchise, but to be honest, I wasn’t a hardcore fan. I would watch re-runs from time to time but never got fully into it. However, I’m really excited to be a part of the spinoff NCIS: Hawai’i because I think it will be very different from what viewers are used to watching. Of course, it will be the same vibe as the rest of the NCIS shows, but there will also be a strong contrasting presence showcasing family and the beautiful culture of Hawai’i. Growing up, I never saw a Filipino family at the forefront of a network show. So, it is an honor that I can be part of this movement to tell more Filipino stories.
Cliché: What is it like so far working with Vanessa Lachey and the rest of the talented cast in Hawai’i?
Kian Talan:Before I get to the cast, I want to talk about the amazing crew that mostly gets overlooked. These people are the most hardworking and genuine people I’ve ever met. From the make-up/hair team to production, they have made me feel very welcomed. The crew is also mostly Asian or from the island, which is so rare and definitely makes it feel like home for me.
As for the cast, they are all super talented, and I knew it right away from the first table read. Let’s just say it was very intimating as this is my first big role on a show. But, they are all so supportive and great, humble people.
We just started shooting the season, but I will say Vanessa Lachey has positively impacted my time in Hawaii so far. People think that if you’re the lead of a show that it’s easy, and it’s a life of glamour, but it’s not. Vanessa goes above and beyond to make sure the show will be the best it can possibly be. I witnessed it from my first day on set. She puts in long hours but comes on set with an infectious, energetic attitude. She’s really got to know everyone (cast, crew, background actors) and is a great role model and talented actress.
Cliché: Underrepresentation and misrepresentation for Asian Americans is still an ongoing problem in mainstream media today. How do you think meaningful change can occur to fix this issue in film and television?
Kian Talan:For a long time, the representation of Asian Americans on Film/TV has been either for using a joke, being an object, or supporting someone else’s story. Change will only occur when people realize that we have our own stories to tell. Stories with love, heartbreak, pain, and struggle because we are human beings like everyone else. We’re not fighting just to be seen; we are fighting to be heard and properly viewed for who we are in a truthful way.
Cliché: Do you have a dream role or genre you hope to one day play?
Kian Talan:I’m a big fan of independent films. I really hope I get the opportunity to work on an independent drama that is just honest and stripped down. I want to tell true stories that are eye-opening and create change in how we view Asian-Americans.
Cliché: Aside from NCIS: Hawai’i, what other projects do you have coming up?
Kian Talan:To be honest, nothing really. I just started shooting NCIS two weeks ago, so I’m just getting settled in Hawaii and excited to be diving into the world of Alex.
It’s a rare joy when we encounter someone who not only chooses to walk with us in life, but lights up the world with every step. When Michael Allio met Laura, it didn’t take him long to realize he’d been lucky enough to encounter a true gem of a human, and he speaks of her with fitting reverence. “She was beautiful inside and out and I remember the first time I met her, I was just completely drawn to her smile, her outlook on life, her energy. She was the smartest person I’ve ever met. She wasn’t that type of person that knew she was smart and made you feel small because of it. She did everything in a very humble and very confident way, but always took time to make fun of herself. She loved getting a rise out of people. She was extremely philanthropic, loving, caring, and organized,” Michael recalls of his college sweetheart, smiling softly. The couple tied the knot in 2012 and began planning their life together.
Laura and Michael’s wedding
What really set Laura’s soul on fire was giving back to the community, particularly those impacted by diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. Following a relocation to Michael’s hometown of Akron, it didn’t take long for one local organization to capture Laura’s heart: Stewart’s Caring Place, which supports cancer patients as they face down the daunting myriad of questions that inevitably follow a cancer diagnosis. As Michael explains: “It’s this beautiful resource in Akron and, honestly, there should be one in every single city. What Stewart’s does is it provides free necessary services to help ease the pain that goes along with the cancer diagnosis and that just doesn’t affect the patient, that affects the caregivers, that affects the children, it affects this whole ecosystem. If you do get a cancer diagnosis, the first thing is that you’re overwhelmed, you’re worried about what’s the actual diagnosis? What does it mean? How do I build my healthcare team? But then it’s also what do I do for scheduling? How do I get time off work? Who’s going to take me to these appointments? Are there alternative and additive therapies like holistic approaches that I can do, diet? All of these different things and guess what? They all cost money. And guess what? Not everybody has access to that same amount of resources but everybody deserves healthcare. It is a human right. The last thing people should have to go through when they get a diagnosis is, ‘Oh my God. How am I going to pay for this?’ They’re fighting for their lives, they should not be impacted whatsoever. Stewart’s Caring Place is one of many different places across the country that does provide that hub and spoke model, that resource center where people can go in, get fitted for wigs, made to feel beautiful even when their bodies are changing and find a way to hold onto who they are as a person during this time when everything around them seems to be changing.”
Michael and Laura with newborn son James
Laura’s dedication to cancer organizations became tragically ironic when she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, a discovery that may not have occurred without the help of their infant son, James. “We credit James for finding Laura’s cancer because he actually stopped taking breast milk from one side of the breast,” Michael reveals. “That’s actually what drew the alarms for us to go get it checked out. We went to an OBGYN and she kind of dismissed it as plugged milk duct, which is a typical thing. We didn’t like that answer per se and wanted something more definitive, so we started actually pursuing additional treatment and an additional opinion, which eventually turned into a breast cancer diagnosis.” In a twist of fate, Laura soon found herself relying on the services of the same organizations she had selflessly devoted her time to. “When we moved back to Akron, Laura and I started volunteering at Stewart’s Caring Place and when we first started, we didn’t even really know what they did. We were just working some events, helping with some fundraising and then, literally, two and a half years later, we became very dependent on the services that they provide. It’s just this full circle of how we give back even when we don’t need it because we never know when we will and even if we never do, people do rely on these types of things. ”
Laura was determined not to suffer in silence, instead utilizing social media to show the trials and tribulations of grappling with a cancer diagnosis as a woman in the midst of starting a family. “Laura, from an advocacy perspective, was very vocal about kind of removing that veil of secrecy and privacy on what it’s like to be a newly married wife, a new mother, and a young mother going through a cancer diagnosis so she really didn’t make it look glamorous, which oftentimes [with] social media you go on there and you can’t help but be like, ‘Oh my God, why is everybody living these amazing lives on the beach and in thousand dollar suits here? She kind of made it very human and took people to videos [and] gave a lot of information and educational talks and broadcasted them on Facebook Live and other social media outlets so that if people did not have their support in the community around them that we were so lucky to have, that they could at least tune into her and she would help guide them through their own cancer journey based on just her own experience.” Watching Laura’s fight also prompted Michael to reevaluate his own approach to adversity. “I think in my own experience, when I put myself at the center of my work, every single problem I have is magnified because all I’m focusing on is myself. When I put others at the center of my world, whether or not it’s my son or wife, Laura, or it’s a cause that I deeply care about, I gain perspective, and my little problems that we all struggle with, they calibrate and they go down to actually what they are, which is small little details in the scheme of life.”
What followed was nothing short of a medical odyssey as the Allios travelled cross country, city to city, doctor to doctor, desperately searching for a cure. Despite their Herculean efforts, Laura passed away in January 2019 at the age of 33. The vacuum of her loss was immeasurable and persists into the present. “It’s the adjustment that I’m making now in my life, not having companionship and not having that person, like Laura, around the house that you really start to recognize real quickly all the things that they did, not just around the house and the admin, but just the whole aura and vibe of your house. It all changes and everything’s a little quieter after you lose somebody and it’s a little eerie and creepy and then you start to get used to the new normal and you start to make sense of it and you just try to build and progress at a speed that makes sense for your own self.“ Over the ensuing years, Michael has found that devastation has given way to appreciation for the time he had with Laura, no matter how brief or bittersweet. “The transition is, at first, painful and you look at the relationship that you had, or that I had with Laura, and it just feels painful because it’s no longer there, it’s no longer present, but now it’s starting to feel more like happiness and gratefulness that I had someone in my life that I just miss so much and there’s always this quote that grief is love that has no place to go. ”
But even in the depths of despair, hope springs eternal. Michael vowed that while cancer may have taken Laura’s life, it would never extinguish her light. Through his grief, he remained committed to picking up Laura’s advocacy where she left off, focusing on the cancer community that had given them such strength and love in their greatest hour of need. Michael soon founded The L4 Project, which operates under a simple, concise mantra: live life like Laura. “What L4 does is we raise money for cancer, 501(c)(3) cancer services that provide these vital resources to patients, to caregivers, to family members that don’t necessarily know where to go. The idea with this project is really to keep Laura’s legacy of philanthropy alive. She was such an advocate for the cancer community and by selling clothing online, we can help create awareness while also raising money and trying to find a way to do our small part in something very big,” Michael explains. L4 endeavors to address the emotional and financial impacts of cancer from every angle. “A cancer diagnosis, it’s multifaceted. There’s the emotional elements of it, physical components, it’s this overwhelming sense that the clock is ticking and you’re scrambling for resources, you’re scrambling to build your support team outside of a hospital, your medical team inside, you’re working. You could be a single parent and you’re the sole bread provider for the family, how do you work around your job schedule to facilitate all these treatments and surgeries and how do you concentrate on everything at the same time while raising a child? And then, on the other side of that, you have the caregivers. They’re often people that are left in the shadows, they’re the silent heroes of this whole thing and they don’t ask for anything but it doesn’t mean they don’t need anything. Hopefully, the cancer is cured and you don’t have to worry about that but all too often, it’s not and then you have grief support and then you have follow up and how does this impact children or spouses or parents after losing a husband or wife or a child? There are all of these different components and it could be, like I said before, the transportation, the resources, holistic therapy, all of these different things that just cost money and not everybody has access to, to try to give them access.”
Supporting L4 is easy and more vital than ever in the wake of the pandemic. “You can go online and go to L4Project.com. There you can buy merchandise and all of the profits for the sale of those pieces do go to charities. Actually the money that’s created on L4 Project, because L4 Project is actually an LLC, that money goes up to the Akron Community Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3). It’s managed there and dispersed through that vehicle,” Michael says. Most recently, they’ve teamed up with Akron Children’s Hospital to benefit pediatric patients. “We actually just launched an awesome collaboration with Akron Children’s Hospital Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. During COVID, you imagine how COVID has impacted so many people, but think about kids with cancer. People can’t go and see them while they’re getting treatment. Everything is shut down. About a year and a half ago, our team at L4 went into Akron Children’s and we asked the kids, ‘Help us understand. What’s it like to be in your shoes?’ Not just creating the idea of something that is obvious and sad and something that they shouldn’t have to go through, but they created a bunch of artwork that we drew inspiration from. We actually created a style online called the sunrise T-shirt, and 100 percent of the proceeds of the sale of that T-shirt do go to Akron Children’s Hospital for pediatric cancer. It’s just kind of our way of acknowledging that there’s a lot of suffering in the world, but there’s a lot of hope in the world. When you actually look at the heart on these T-shirts, you can’t tell if it’s a sunrise or if it’s a sunset. You’re not sure if it’s a new day. You’re not sure if it’s possibly getting ready for grief, but that’s what we’re trying to understand. We’re trying to give these kids a voice, and we’re trying to raise money for a noble organization in the process.”
He hopes to honor Laura’s path even as he sometimes struggles to navigate the once unfathomable reality of life without her. “When somebody has actually made such an impact on your life and you’ve learned from them and you’ve adopted some of their beliefs and they go away, you feel a sense of obligation to carry them with you and continue their mission for them. Laura was just very much larger than life and taught me so much that it became difficult to differentiate her and he,” Michael admits. “You end up becoming somewhat of the same person when you have such a good relationship. What I’m trying to do is keep her spirit alive through this project, help cancer patients and the whole cancer community, as she would’ve if she was still here, give something that my son can hold onto and keep his mother close as time kind of creates that distance. Hopefully it turns out to be something great but I don’t put that pressure on myself either. I’m just trying and that’s good enough.“
James is, without question, Laura’s most cherished and lasting legacy. Michael finds himself continuously amazed by the echoes between his late wife and young son. “James looks just like her. He has so many of her mannerisms and everything, which honestly in hindsight, is such a gift because it’s almost as though he’s living through her and I can still see glimmers of her through him. It’s really this kind of beautiful life cycle, even though it’s very tragic that we lost someone so wonderful and beautiful too early.” His greatest wish for James is for him to carve out his own identity. “I think it’s really important that as a parent, you try to guide your children and infuse certain characteristics and morals and pillars into their life and give them exposure to as much as possible knowing that they are their own person and they need to come to their own truth. My goal always is not to turn James into a version of me or Laura, but rather share with him our life experiences and give him exposure to as much of the world as possible so that he can see the larger picture and come to his own conclusion, which I shouldn’t say conclusion because life never really has a conclusion and I don’t want it to. I’m always trying to pursue my truth, but I hope the things that I feel today aren’t necessarily how I feel if I’m blessed to live to an old age. I want to continually grow, maintain that curiosity, and some things with James, it’s really a lot of curiosity, compassion, work ethic, call to action, humility, and loyalty. Those types of things, I think, will, if I can teach him those, he’ll be able to choose a path that will be very, very fruitful and rewarding for himself.” Though single fatherhood can certainly be challenging and the future remains uncertain, Michael is propelled forward by his belief that all roads will eventually lead back to Laura. “I always feel as though I don’t doubt that I’m going to see her again. My big thing is to live life boldly and when I do see her again, we’ll just have a lot of great stories to talk about.” Until then, father and son will walk hand in hand, tackling life together one day at a time, doing their best to live life like Laura.
Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com The L4 Project: One Man’s Journey to Honor His Wife Through Uplifting the Cancer Community.Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michael Allio.
Child prodigy in the field of hair styling, is what defines the beginning of the international career of Coraline Gustave, who followed her passion ever since she was a little girl. By the age of 14, she knew exactly what she wanted to do, and with her hard work, talent and perseverance, she showed the world that she was right to follow her instinct.
All the way from a small town in France, Coraline Gustave followed a regular hair styling education from the age of 16, and worked in a salon to perfect her learning. Very quickly, her talent was noticed, and by the age of 18, she obtained her license with honors. Coraline was determined and wanted more. That’s how she prepared for the most prestigious diploma in the field in France : the Brevet de Maîtrise, a national recognition of the highest qualification in the field, and an expertise in the professional techniques. She only needed another 2 years to obtain the diploma. Confident in her work and talent, the young woman was noticed by one of the most successful French hairdressers in the world, who is behind Haute Coiffure Française, and avant-garde concept, Eric Zemmour, when she won in the hair styling competition he held annually to discover new talents.
The launch of Coraline Gustave’s international career
Immediately hired by Eric Zemmour himself, Coraline worked in his salon in the south of France for a year, and worked on stage in Paris in front of hairdressers from all over the world, to present the new hairdressing collections.
Coraline was then approached by a global ambassador of L’Oréal Professionnel, for a position in Krakow, Poland. There, Coraline worked for about 2 years in a new environment and culture, which allowed her to broaden and perfect her technique and creative skills. And learn to speak Polish.
In 2015, she went back to her native region, in Rochefort in Charente-Maritime, where she created her own color technique, called C-Balayage, which became a reference in all the hair salons around the globe.
“The C-Balayage is the color technique that I created. It’s a technique I use to color hair in a different way. It has to be done in two steps. The first step is to bleach the hair to make it lighter and then tone the hair to give the final color. It’s a technique that is really loved by my clients because you can change all your hair color in one session and at the same time the hair looks really natural. It’s a service I can adapt to every type of hair and every hair color.“ —explains Coraline Gustave.
The success of Coraline and her innovative creativity attracted a lot of attention towards her work, and Jose Eber, the most recognized hairstylist in the world, offered her a job in his salon in Beverly Hills, California. He is famous for styling the hair of Hollywood’s stars for four decades, something no other stylist has ever accomplished.
Living the American dream
In 2019, Coraline Gustave obtained her work visa for the United States, and had to learn to speak a third language, English, very fast. But no challenge is too big for Coraline, and she became one of the top hairstyling artist in record time. She’s worked with French and American celebrities, thanks to her unique background and education “à la française“ : The Four Season’s singer Frankie Valli, Kathy Hilton, filmmaker Kenny Ortega, actor Tom Selleck, tv show producer Sid Krofft, French singer Patrick Bruel to name a few. She also worked for the SAG (screen actors guild) AWARDS In 2020, and recently in March 2021, for the GOLDEN GLOBES AWARDS.
Coraline Gustave surely has more projects coming up, and we can’t wait to see where they’re going to take her next…
Fitness and fun are paramount in Robbi Jan’s life. The Australian model and social media star is bringing these topics – and many more! – to the table in her new interview series, Miracle Mindset, featuring a number of highly prominent guests. She and boyfriend Alex Costa also intend to continue travel vlogging. Next stop? New York Fashion Week! Follow Robbi on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Cliché: Give us some of your favorite healthy summer recipes! Robbi Jan: A few of my go-to recipes for breakfast in the summer have been overnight oats with granola and berries (if you haven’t tried overnight oats, you can thank me later), as well as protein smoothies. For the protein smoothies, I love just using a bunch of frozen berries, some oat milk, and my protein powder. Simple, healthy and yummy. For lunch, one of my favorite healthy/easy recipes is Vietnamese spring rolls. You can add any protein you like to them, such as shrimp, chicken, or tofu. Here is the link to the recipe I use. These are SO yummy, and when you pair them with a little sweet chili or peanut sauce, ooof. So yummy! With dinner I typically will do some kind of lean meat and vegetable, like salmon or tilapia and arugula salad or kale. I also usually do some type of grain on the side like brown rice or quinoa. I love cooking, but as I often run out of time, I prefer recipes that I can create in 15-20 minutes!
With people staying at home more, what is your go-to at home workout routine? I recently created a 3-week Ultimate At Home Booty Guide and it has been my go-to! But I also love doing different HIIT workouts with online videos from YouTubers like Whitney Simmons and Chloe Ting, they’re so quick and following along with a video is motivating so it’s a great way to workout if you’re in a rush or don’t have time to get to the gym or a class.
Tell us about your Ultimate At Home Booty Guide! I created these guides, in conjunction with a personal trainer and we had the lifestyle of a busy woman in mind. The goal is to build your lower body – while still incorporating cardio! The great thing about this workout is that you can do it from anywhere, with no equipment. It’s 3 workouts per week, which is a realistic goal for most people. It’s not overwhelming. Everybody is different, so results will always be different. But if you work hard, then you will LOVE the results. I have had an overwhelmingly positive response from women all around the world, saying that they love their bodies, and that these workouts are fun. I would love to make more sometime in the future!
Why do you think maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit is so crucial to our overall quality of life? My message is simple. Health starts with taking care of your mind. There is SO much power in our thoughts and often we get so consumed with taking care of our physical bodies, that we neglect taking care of our mental health. The two are so intertwined, the body is a system, and that system can’t work to its highest ability if we are neglecting one area. Part of taking care of your mental health is learning to control your mind, and your thoughts. Having a healthy mindset (that leads to me being the happiest, most productive version of myself) starts in the morning. When you wake up, and you’re not in a good mood, our brains often choose to see that negative in the day, because that’s what we are focusing on. The good things are still happening all around us – but our minds are so focused on all the negatives, that that’s all we notice.
You have a new talk show, Miracle Mindset. We want to hear all about that! The concept for Miracle Mindset was originally a podcast, but I have recently decided to instead create a YouTube series focusing on the same topics. It will be the same quality content – just on a different platform. The purpose of the Miracle Mindset series is to explore health, wellness and have conversations about real life things. The nitty gritty. I already have a presence on YouTube, a supportive and incredible community, so for me it’s a natural progression and I am going to focus all my efforts into that. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” reminds me that it’s better to do one thing very well, than spread yourself too thin. As well as the series, I will continue posting health, wellness and personal development and fun vlogs along the way!
In your mind, what makes a strong interview? A strong interview is made with honesty in asking the right questions, boldness in those answers, and openness in the discussion of those answers. My goal is to have guests on the show who will talk about their opinions, experiences and thoughts in an open, safe environment. I want my guests to be honest, and have fun in their interviews, really speaking their full truth. It’s refreshing to see an interview where someone is being real, and I hope for my subscribers to feel encouraged after watching my videos.
Who would be your dream guest to interview? Someone who I’ve admired for a long time is Desi Perkins. I would really love to interview her on Miracle Mindset. Desi is such an inspiration to me -she’s an incredible creator, entrepreneur and refreshingly real on her social media.
You and your boyfriend, Alex Costa, create a lot of travel vlogs together. Where are you headed next after the pandemic subsides? Yes! We will be attending New York for Fashion Week in September, (which we will definitely be vlogging) and I’m so excited! I truly miss traveling, but really I would just love to visit my family in Australia as soon as possible. It’s been nearly two years since I have been back to Australia and I miss my family and friends terribly. I’m hoping and praying for the border to open soon. I’m one of 6 kids, so my family is so important to me, especially my siblings.
Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com Model Robbi Jan Launches New Interview Series “Miracle Mindset.”Photo Credit: Ben Cope.
The trope of playing a villain entails a criterion dating back to silent films. Villains ooze confidence and lack remorse. They carry themselves above the world in which they inhabit. As an actor, setting aside your personal morals and beliefs to justify the words and actions of your heinous character is mandatory. For Olivia Rose Keegan, transforming into a villain has become her trademark. The sweet and endearing tone of Olivia’s voice makes you wonder how the young actress is able to portray wickedness time and time again.
At 11 years old, Olivia Keegan decided to transition from the stage to on-camera. Starring in critically acclaimed projects such as the short film Picture Perfect and the feature film Decoding Annie Parker, Olivia tended to her acting skills. This led to her landing the role of Claire Brady on the beloved and world-famous soap opera, Days of Our Lives. The “acting boot camp,” as Olivia describes it, prepared the actress for her latest role of Lily in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, streaming on Disney+. Lily joins her fellow Wildcats at East High, some of whom include Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo, with the determination to land the leading role in the school’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is currently streaming on Disney+.
As Olivia’s career continues to flourish with every cutthroat line and glaring stare she delivers, we hopped on the phone with her to discuss High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Days of Our Lives, Twilight, and so much more!
Cliché: What inspired you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry at such a young age?
Olivia: That’s a good question! I don’t know what possessed me really, but I was so determined. I started in musical theater when I was about 7 years old, so that’s probably how I caught the ‘bug’. When I was 10, I woke up one day and knew that I needed to pursue on-camera acting and dedicate my life to it. I wrote essays to my parents every day, for almost a year, to convince them. After a while, I wore them down and they let me go and do it. I found myself an agent online in San Francisco and she started sending me to auditions. I think I’m very lucky to have [started] at such a young age. When we’re young, we go through life head first and follow our instincts. We’re less afraid of judgment and fear. I’m very grateful I got into it at the age I did because I don’t know if I would have the guts to do it now.
Cliché: How did it feel to join such a successful show like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and work alongside Joshua Bassett, Olivia Rodrigo, Matt Cornett and so many other talented actors?
Olivia: It has been amazing and a literal dream come true. I used to dress up as Belle as a child and now I get to wear this beautiful Broadway-caliber Belle dress for a Disney+ series. Coming in for season 2 could have been an intimidating situation inherently because the cast was so close. But as soon as I walked through the door, all of those feelings melted away. Everyone could not have been more warm and welcoming. That cast is so incredibly talented in their own way, so I’m just enjoying it all and trying to soak it all in. It is such a dreamy and inspiring environment to be in.
Cliché: Tell us about your character Lily in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series?
Olivia: Lily is a transfer student who comes to East High with her heart set on landing the lead role of Belle in the school production of Beauty and the Beast. She is a very determined girl and willing to knock down anything in the way of what she wants. It has been a really fun journey, with lots of twists and turns and I’m excited people get to see it all play out over this season.
Cliché: Up until last year, you portrayed Claire Brady on the beloved series Days of Our Lives. What was that experience like and what did you learn from your time on that show?
Olivia: I probably learned almost everything I know on that set! I also grew up on that set, so all of my awkward phases were nationally broadcasted! It was so, so great though. Soap Operas really are the best [acting] boot camp. We would shoot anywhere from 60-70 scenes a day with so much dialogue. Usually, on any other show, you would shoot 4 scenes on a ‘heavy’ day. It’s a very ‘sink or swim’ world. It pushed me to new limits and gave me a sense of confidence in what I can handle.
Cliché: A few of the roles you have portrayed in your career have a “villain” undertone to them. What draws you to those roles?
Olivia: It has absolutely been a coincidence! I’ve been reflecting lately and thinking maybe it is time to look inward and see what kind of energy I’m putting out into the universe. It purely is a coincidence, but, with that being said, it is so fun to play the villainous character. It’s a great challenge because my characters, Lily and Claire, are doing some bad stuff and it can be difficult to justify their actions as an actor. It is a beautifully cathartic experience.
Cliché: Is there a role or genre of film/television you hope to explore in your career? If so, what is it?
Olivia: I’ve had an obsession with vampires since I was a kid. So, I’m trying to manifest being able to play a vampire. I’m not sure what hooked me into that, maybe it was seeing Twilight when I was younger, but I’ve wanted to play a vampire for about a decade now. I also recently finished the show Outlander and loved it! It made me want to do a period piece as well.
Cliché: What can fans expect next from you?
Olivia: Well, they can expect some fun stuff from the rest of season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. We’ve got some twists and turns that I don’t think people will expect! Other than that, just trying to manifest a vampire role!
Talk show host Adam Lupis shares his passion for the 80s and 90s eras on his YouTube show “The Up & Adam Show” where he interviews notable artists in the music, film and TV spaces. Some of Adam’s recent guests include singer AJA, actors Charles Baker (“Breaking Bad”) and Lillo Brancato Jr. (Sopranos), creator Butch Hartman (Cartoon Network’s “Fairly OddParents”), television host Carlos Bustamante (YTV, Canadian television), and horror host Dead Meat (4.4M subscribers) — and upcoming guests include Jesse Kove (Netflix’s “Cobra Kai”) and storied super villain Robert Davi (“Die Hard,” “James Bond: License to Kill,” and “The Goonies”).
Who were some fashion influences in your youth?
Ed Hardy was a big influence on my generation growing up. The bright, vibrant colours and the crazy designs always stood out to me. I still love the brand and I have a few pieces that I still wear today! I also admire Puma. Back in 2006, when Italy won the World Cup, I remember buying a whole Puma wardrobe. I think your sense of fashion plays a huge role in your character. I believe that when you look good, you feel good.
When did you discover your personal style?
I think when I was exiting high school is when I discovered my personal style. Before that, I always followed the crowd and never thought for myself. Over time, I broke out of my shell and started to be more confident and expressive in how I dressed and acted around people. I have an old soul, so this plays a huge role in how I dress and act. I admire vintage clothing, bright colours and baggy clothes. However, I really do like looking sophisticated at times too, wearing a nice blazer with dress pants, or nice jeans and a clean pair of shined shoes!
Who do you look to now for style inspiration?
I look to a lot of my favourite actors for style inspiration. I admire Johnny Depp’s style as it’s more edgy and “rocker”-esque. I play a lot of instruments and love rock music, so that’s why I love his style. I also look to Brad Pitt from the 90s, as he was very out there. I remember he did a fashion shoot in a pink dress — and even though I would never wear it, it inspired me to dress however I want. Style is like art — everyone has their own look and it means something different to them.
Is there an item that you collect (like a sneaker collection)?
I collect watches. I have a vast collection of them ranging from Gucci to Burberry to Michael Kors to some local Toronto brands like “Maestro.”
You’ve interviewed some great guests on your show, “The Up & Adam Show.” If you could have anyone on your show, who would it be (a few dream guests)?
I think one of my dream guests would have to be Sylvester Stallone. He is such an inspiration to me because he is always true to who he is and never sold out. He took the biggest pay cut when he made “Rocky” just so he could star in it. It was one of the best decisions he made. That inspires me because it reminds me that sometimes you need to take one step back in order to go two steps forward. Another dream guest would have to be Brendan Fraser. He has starred in some of my all time favourite movies like “The Mummy,” “Airheads” and “Encino Man.” His presence on screen is amazing and makes me feel very comfortable. I know that sounds weird to say, but he comes off as such a friendly guy and I would love to just talk about life with him. I think he is a very interesting guy.
James Corden has really changed the talk show game with his creative side. Do you ever study other talk show hosts?
Yes I do! I watch all the late night show hosts as they all bring something valuable to the table. I think the one thing I study is the overall format. I do love how the late night show hosts have a monologue and then it cuts to the interview. It’s very interactive and I’m a huge advocate for being personable with people. I want to be as relatable as possible to people because anyone can do what I do. Anything is possible.
We noticed your show has a “Tonight Show” feel. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, I grew up watching “The Tonight Show” and I love how professional it looks. I want to have a similar vibe but make it my own. I’ve implemented monologues into my show and have also added different segments in each episode to bring some extra value to people. I also love how my show has the city landscape behind me, though I might update it and change it down the road. My main admiration for “The Tonight Show” is how big it is. It’s truly larger than life. I really want people to watch my show and take it seriously since my team and I have put so much hard work into it.
“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can — that’s what makes all the difference in your life”- Rocky Balboa. I love this quote because it’s a symbol of never giving up, no matter what obstacles you may come across. Life is going to throw you so many curveballs and do everything in its power to keep you from chasing your dreams, but it’s up to you if you want to go that “extra round.”
You’re based in Toronto. What would you recommend we do if we only had 1 day in the city?
I would recommend to visit some of the amazing restaurants. There are so many and I’m a huge food lover, even though I never gain any weight! [laughs] I also would recommend going to the Royal Ontario Museum and visiting the C.N Tower.
Jesse Kove is an actor best known for his role alongside Joseph Fiennes in “On Wings of Eagles” (the unofficial sequel to “Chariots of Fire”). Son of pop-culture icon Martin Kove (Sensei Kreese in “Karate Kid” and “Cobra Kai”), the 6’2” superhero-in-the-making was born in Los Angeles and raised in the world of film, television, and theatre. At the age of 10, he spent his time creating movies using his father’s camera and performing skits for the family. Through his younger years and up into high school, he studied at a variety of performing arts and improv classes, continuing to cultivate his cinematic craft and even venturing off to New York to perform off Broadway. Jesse went on to appear in an array of TV and film projects, and even took on the task of producer for the teen crime thriller “As Night Comes.” In 2019, Jesse led the cast of the film “D-Day: Battle of Omaha Beach” alongside MMA fighters Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, as well as Weston Cage Coppola (Nicolas Cage’s son). And in 2021 he came full circle when he officially joined The Karate Kid universe by bullying a young John Kreese in season 3 of Netflix’s breakout series “Cobra Kai.”
Your dad is a pop culture icon. What was it like arriving to set to play his character’s childhood bully on “Cobra Kai?”
There was something about it that felt just right. And there was also an aspect of nervousness in the right way because I really wanted to do the character justice.
I see you have a musical in your future called “Ask Me to Dance.” Can you tell us a little more about that? Do you sing?
I love to sing in the shower [laughs]. I could definitely use some training. But I think my voice is pretty good. I love to dance. It’s a thing in my family. The Koves are always the first ones on the dance floor.
And then how do you find making the transition (from a musical) to a thriller like “A Deadly Abduction”?
That’s a good question. It’s always nice to jump to different genres as an actor, to play different characters and to go from a comedy to a thriller, but hopefully the comedy is after the thriller so you have something nice to do after a thriller. I love the challenge of the different aspects of these different genres.
What would your dream project be?
It would be so exciting to play a superhero on some series similar to a Batman-type character or Captain America-type character where they use a lot of physical training and hand-to-hand combat and creative weaponry versus being able to fly or bend space and time. I feel that a superhero who’s a little more “Earthly” would be so much fun! I still have my fingers crossed.
How about directors? Someone you’re dying to work with?
I’d of course love to work with James Cameron, who is such a visionary. And Martin Scorsese would be such an honor. But there’s more than that — list is long for sure.
You’re in incredible shape. What’s your mantra when it comes to taking care of your body?
Get the hard stuff out of the way first. It’s always downhill after that. And that goes for life as well.
What does your ideal day off look like?
Being lazy with my girlfriend, Shelby, and our Pitbull, Brody — watching TV shows or going to the movies and eating whatever food we want.
Any travel plans this summer?
Yes, I will be in New York filming, and also Las Vegas filming another romantic comedy. Then I will be back in New York filming again during the summer. And I will also be doing some vacationing in Nashville, Tennessee too.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?
“A Deadly Abduction,” a TV Thriller. I’m very much looking forward to that. Also, series called Gravesend, which I’ll be working on in New York. And of course, “Ask Me to Dance,” the musical, which is very exciting. And several others that I can’t really discuss at the moment.
There are a few achievements in an actor’s career that provide that “I’ve made it” feeling. Landing your first leading role, walking on a red carpet, winning an award are all obvious markers of this. However, one of the most underrated achievements is being able to lend your voice to a character in a Disney and Pixar film. This is an accomplishment that 12-year-old actress Emma Berman can cross off of her bucket list. Emma stars as Giulia in Disney and Pixar’s latest feature film Luca, out now on Disney+.
Luca, has been making a splash since its release on June 18th. Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Luca is a quintessential coming-of-age story about a teenage sea monster boy, Luca, voiced by Jacob Tremblay, who finds a friend in a fellow teenage sea monster named Alberto, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer. Alberto introduces Luca to the world of possibilities that is living on land. The two, joined by Emma Berman’s character Giulia, enjoy a summer of gelato, scooter rides, and ultimate adventure.
While Luca marks the first Disney and Pixar film for Emma Berman, the actress is no stranger to voice acting. Since the age of 8, Emma has been voicing toys for the educational toy company LeapFrog. In addition to voice acting, she has appeared on stage in the Bay Area in productions of “Once” and “Gypsy” as well as in “A Christmas Carol” at the American Conservatory Theater. As a young performer who is dedicated to her craft, Emma’s future is bright and limitless. We were lucky enough to catch up with her to talk about Luca and much more!
Cliché: What made you want to become an actor?
Emma Berman: When I was 8 years old, I asked my mom to enroll me in a 2-week theater camp with the Bay Area Children’s Theater that was staging a production of Annie. I remember there were lots of little girls just like me there and we all wanted to get the part of Annie. It was very exciting to try out and even more thrilling when I got the part. It was the most incredible experience to perform in front of the audience. I got the theater bug and just wanted to keep doing theater from then on.
You’ve lent your voice to so many different projects. What are some secrets you can share about what it takes to be a great voice actor?
Emma Berman: I don’t know if I can really speak to what makes a “great” voice actor. I don’t think of myself as one, or maybe not yet, because there is so much more that I have to learn. But one thing that I really try to focus on with all of my auditions is making sure that I have really clear diction and that I have some specific emotions behind the lines. I always make multiple takes and listen back to see which one I like best. I try to make it funny by finding the beats and playing around with the speed of how I deliver the lines. Adding physicality when I say the lines helps me and I do it standing up. For my very first voiceover project for LeapFrog, I had no training or coaching at all. I just read the script and my mom recorded it on her cellphone. For the last few years, I have been taking classes in performing arts, voiceover, and acting. I think the combination of this training definitely helped to shape me into a more versatile voice actor. I love learning and discovering all the amazing things we can do with our voices.
Cliché: Tell us about your new Disney and Pixar film, Luca.
Emma Berman: I am so excited for everyone to see this film! It is not like anything you have seen before. Luca is about the kind of friendships that change us, make us curious, and help us overcome our fears and conquer our dreams! It’s a story about the unforgettable summer adventures of three underdogs, Luca, Alberto, and Giulia, set on the Italian Riviera in the post-war era (the 50s and 60s time). This film encourages kids who might not be very popular or think they don’t belong to accept themselves and all the aspects that make them who they are. Luca is a very inspiring story, and the main three characters are very unique and empowering. I think the coolest thing we learn from this film is that we should open our minds and hearts and be accepting of others. We can then make new friendships that change our lives in the most unpredictable ways.
Cliché: How do you relate to your character, Giulia?
Emma Berman: Giulia is about my age, 12 years old. She is a bit awkward and goofy, and she really wants to make new friends. She has a great deal of determination, but everyone thinks she is this weird kid who doesn’t belong. That’s how she and Luca connect, they both feel like outsiders. For Giulia, winning is important because that is her chance to prove herself. She really wants to be accepted and be looked at by everyone as the winner. I would say that I am similar to Giulia because she is super outgoing, she loves to make new friends and she has a hunger for adventure. I think I am also kind of goofy and determined and we both follow our dreams. Oh!! And we both have a cat!
Cliché: The story takes place on the beautiful Italian Riviera and your character Giulia is Italian. How did you prepare to voice a character with an Italian accent?
Emma Berman: For the accent, I worked with the dialect coach Bettina Devin. She is a lot of fun to work with! She is really funny and an incredibly talented actress and coach. I also speak Russian at home which I think helps me pick up the accents in general. I also got the Babbel app on my phone to practice Italian words and was listening to Italian songs in the car. Before the recording sessions, my mom would take me out to get Italian food at the Trattoria da Vittorio, our local neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco and I would practice ordering in Italian. There are a lot of Italian food references in Luca and it was really fun and inspiring for me to discover so many pasta dishes and delicious flavors of gelato!
Cliché: How does it feel to be in a film alongside other great actors like Jacob Tremblay, Maya Rudolph, and Jack Dylan Grazer?
Emma Berman: It totally feels like a dream. I feel immensely lucky and honored to have given my voice to Giulia. I have always been a Pixar fan and these are the movies I grew up watching. Not in a million years would I have ever imagined that one day I would hear my own voice coming out of a Pixar character or see my name next to all the incredibly talented actors. It is really mind-blowing. I still can’t believe it!
Cliché: What’s your favorite Disney and Pixar film?
Emma Berman: Ooooh this is the hardest question because I am a huge fan of all Pixar movies! Well, I guess I’ll have to go with Inside Out because it is set in my hometown San Francisco where I was born and raised so it is just a little more special for me for that reason.
Cliché: What can we expect next from you?
Emma Berman: I am currently recording at home for a fun new animated series project coming up soon and I can’t wait to share more when I can!
As an actor, being able to successfully shift between dramatic and comedic roles can take years. However, a vast emotional acting range is something 13-year-old actor August Maturo developed early in his life. Since the age of 3, Maturo has been captivating audiences and casting directors with his ability to bring a story to life. Starring in renowned and beloved films and television shows of various genres, Maturo has become a star in his own right.
Audiences in the United States would recognize Maturo for his role as Auggie Matthews on the hit Disney Channel Original Series Girl Meets World. He also starred in the wildly successful horror movie The Nun as Daniel. Critics worldwide have taken notice of his incredible acting range. Maturo’s latest film Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog is set to release in select US Theaters this Memorial Day Weekend! Based on the novel The Jewish Dog by Asher Kravitz and written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Roth, the film follows Kaleb, a beloved German Shepherd, who is separated from his original master ‘Joshua’ (Maturo) and his Jewish family when the Nuremberg Laws are enacted in World War II Berlin.
Later this year, Maturo is set to star as the lead in the upcoming horror/thriller Slapface.Slapface follows the story of a young boy Lucas (Maturo), who deals with the death of his parents and the physical and emotional abuse of being bullied by creating a dangerous relationship with a monster. The film recently premiered at Cinequest Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Thriller/Horror. As he continues to make his mark on the film industry, we chatted with August Maturo to discuss his blossoming career, upcoming projects, and much more!
Cliché: What made you want to become an actor?
Maturo: When I was very little everyone that would meet me would tell my mom “your kid should be an actor.” She didn’t think much about it until I was 3 years old, and I was in a church play. When it was over, and I had to get off the stage I got really upset and told my mom I wanted to be back up there. She decided then to get me an agent and I started working right away. I guess it was meant to be!
What is a special memory you have from your time playing Auggie Matthews on Girl Meets World?
My favorite memories were filming in front of a live audience. Those nights were so exciting. It’s so cool to hear an immediate reaction to your performance as you do it. That’s the great thing about filming live. It’s instant gratification as a performer.
Tell us about your film Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog.
Shepherd is about a young boy named Joshua and his dog Kaleb during the Holocaust. I play Joshua. I filmed Shepherd shortly after I finished Girl Meets World. It was my first film role. I was 10 years old at the time and I had to travel to Budapest to film it. It’s finally releasing in the US this Memorial Day weekend in select theaters, and I can’t wait for people to see it! It was supposed to be released last year but got postponed because of Covid. I’m so glad theaters are opening back up and people can see it on the big screen the way it was meant to be seen. If you love history and you love dogs, you’ll love this film! And don’t worry, the boy and the dog don’t die!
You’ve starred in some very intense and dramatic films in your career. What draws you to those kinds of roles?
I love them because it challenges me as an actor. I always want to try difficult things. The longer you are an actor, the more you want to push yourself to see what you can do. Most people know me as the character ‘Auggie’ from Girl Meets World. I’m really excited for people to get to know me as different characters now.
Another film you have coming out this year is Slapface. What can you tell us about the film and your character Lucas?
I am so proud of Slapface! Ever since my role, playing Daniel in The Nun, I’ve been obsessed with horror. It was my dream to play a lead role in one, so when I got the offer for Slapface I was so excited. The film is about a boy named Lucas who is abused and bullied by everyone around him, so he ends up befriending a monster that lives in the woods. The monster becomes obsessed with him, so as you can imagine things start to get a little crazy. Slapface will be out this fall, and the plan is to be in theaters. You just never know how things are going to go because of Covid.
Is there a role or film genre you would love to play?
Since I love to try new things, I’d love to be in an action film. That would be exciting. But I think my dream role would be to mix my background in comedy and horror and do a horror/comedy, like the movie Shaun of the Dead or the show What We Do in the Shadows.
When you aren’t working, what are some things you do to relax and have fun?
Over quarantine, I started to ride my bike a lot. I created a small pod of friends that I like to hang out with, and we love to ride together. I also draw, A LOT. If I’m not doing school work, I’m probably drawing. I’ve also recently gotten back into Pokémon Go again and love to ride my bike around and catch them.
What can fans expect next from you?
I do have something exciting in the works, but I can’t talk about it just yet. In the meantime, I hope that everyone goes to watch Shepherd & Slapface and enjoys them as much as I did making them. As an actor, that’s all you could hope for!
Kash Hovey is an award-winning actor, producer, and podcast host. He is best known for producing and starring in Plastic Daydream, in which he shared the screen with Shari Belafonte. Plastic Daydream was an official selection at LA Femme International Film Festival and went on to win four awards at Film Fest LA Live including Best Short Film, Best Actress, Best Writer, and Best Director. Kash can also be seen in Another Blackout, Rebound, Powerhorse, John Fogerty: Mystic Highway, Unusual Suspects, and Edge of Incursion. In 2021, Kash launched his own talk show “On Air with Ka$h” on YouTube where he interviews celebrities about their upcoming film and TV. So far he’s had on such guest as Jesse Kove (Cobra Kai), Swen Temmel (After), Gabrielle Stone (Eat, Pray #FML),” Will Champlin (The Voice), Jackie Moore (Westworld), Samantha Bailey (Just Add Magic, 1 Night in San Diego) and Eugenia Kuzmina (Bad Moms, The Gentlemen.) As a way to give back, Kash mentors and support underserved youth groups working closely with BTCF, Boys & Girls Club & Free2Luv. We caught up to Kash to discuss his work, his new show, and more.
What makes you excited about getting to know [diving in deep with] your guests?
I really connect with artists, and I get inspired being around creative people. Every guest is unique and interesting in their own way. I had my friend Gabrielle Stone on the show recently and she’d written a book titled “Eat, Pray #FML.” I had read her book at the beginning of the Pandemic and her story had really connected with where I was at that moment in time. There were so many parallels that we shared at different moments in our life that were unavoidable to notice. Before the interview, I told her that I had wanted to address certain topics like loss, grief, growing up fast and really go deep in this particular interview. Her response was “Totally an open book. 🙂 Go for whatever questions move you!” I had wanted to have this discussion with her ever since finishing her book, and I felt like our conversation was therapeutic for me — and I was very moved when people sent me DM’s or posted about how moved they were by our discussion.
What sort of research/prep to you do to prepare for you interviews?
Before I interview someone, it’s vital for me to know their work. I watch their shows and movies, listen to their music, and read their books. I watch and read past interviews and articles of theirs. It’s very important for me to have an angle to connect with them on. I want them to know that I am grateful that they’ve given me their time and that I am interested in them, their journey, and their story.
What do you like to do to make it fun for your guests?
When I prepare for an interview, I like to look for something that I have in common with a guest or discover something that I find interesting about them and bring it up in the conversation. I had Kiefer O’Reilly on the show, who plays Logan in the Disney+ series “Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.” We both played hockey and watched the original “Mighty Ducks” film growing up, so that led to a fun conversation.
Who are some of your all-time favorite interviews?
The Jesse Kove interview was one of the first I did and I still get people reaching out about how much they enjoyed it. I had watched his film “D-Day” and his character quotes both of my grandfathers who were World War 2 veterans. I really enjoyed talking with Jesse about his role on “Cobra Kai” and his experience on set. We both studied martial arts and grew up in the industry so I felt the connection in that interview was apparent to the audience.
I also just interviewed Shari Belafonte, which was very special for me since we have known each other for years and worked together on “Plastic Daydream.” She is someone who’s always pushed and encouraged me. I could talk to her for hours and learn so much about life, activism and the industry.
Samantha Bailey is another actress who I have a lot of respect for and had the opportunity to interview about her new film “1 Night in San Diego.” One of my best friends Ron Robinson from “Undateable John.” He has a daughter named Soleil who loves Samantha’s show, “Just Add Magic.” During the interview it came up in the conversation and Samantha gave Soleil a shout-out. Ron said that Soleil watched it 10 times after it aired.
What is your work uniform like these days?
I’ve become a T-shirt and sweatpants guy the past year. If it’s a special occasion I’ll wear jeans and occasionally throw on a jacket.
What about your weekend uniform?
Pajamas when I’m inside the house or outside floating around in the pool wearing swim trunks.
How does your morning routine go?
I get up around 5:00 am, journal, go for a morning run, workout, have my coffee, then check my phone and see what the day has in store for me.
Playlist for your workout?
I mix it up. Some of my current Spotify Playlists are Today’s Top Hits. I love The Weekend, Panic! At the Disco, Sabrina Carpenter, Love Ghost — and of course there are days when I need my 80s rock anthems when I workout.
Favorite TV discovery this year?
“Ginny and Georgia.”
Do you feel a special connection when your guest is a fellow actor?
Absolutely. I recently interviewed my friend Swen Temmel whose career really took off in the past few years with the Netflix feature film “After,” among many others. It was really inspiring to talk with him about where we were 10 years ago when we were both starting out, hanging in Malibu and talking about films that moved us. Then fast forward all these years later and we acknowledge where we are both now. I find that when I’m talking to another actor I respect, we tend to have so many shared experiences in our backstories. Whether it was making films with our parents’ video cameras growing up, or our first time on a movie set. It’s the journey we take that captures the essence of our stories.
Yuchi Tian is an award-winning film director based in Los Angeles who graduated from the New York Film Academy. After she came to America, she realized the conflicts between Eastern and Western cultures and hopes to utilize her artistic expertise to speak for women. She said, I am willing to present female stories that may happen in reality from a female perspective, and I hope everyone can see women’s beauty in different aspects and hear their voices.
Take her work, The Ray of Light, as an example. The film was shot in 2019. In this film, Yuchi conveys her thinking about women’s self-identity and self-consciousness. This work is adapted from a true story – the heroine’s mother died suddenly. She felt her spiritual support collapsed because her mother was the close one who encouraged her and accompanied her to learn piano from her young. She cried day and night, even avoiding touching the piano for a long time. However, her older sister gives her warm encouragement, and the girl has decided to start playing the piano again, even going to participate in a worldwide piano competition.
Yuchi hopes to convey that women will often burst out with incredible abilities when facing major changes and sufferings in life. An ordinary woman born in this world has her own talent. Clichi sat down with Yuchi to learn more about her work, thought process while directing and past inspirations that has helped her become talented and creative film director.
However, Yuchi believes that speaking for women does not mean that we have to stand on men’s opposite side. “I am not a person who advocates myself as a feminist. What I want to show is the inner strength of women,” she says.
C: What kinds of opportunities have inspired you to create works from a female perspective?
It’s because of a discussion with one of my professors in graduate school that inspired truly inspired me. I was told that film production is rooted in the process of understanding culture and sharpening social contradictions. That there are fundamental differences in many basic concepts between the East and the West. Therefore, filming should start from the familiar culture to create work.
C: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing women directors
Credibility. I feel male directors are easier to convince people/staff than female directors. I always contribute more time to communicate with my staff.
C: What film did you enjoy directing the most and why?
The Wasteland. It is my first short film that was shot entire setting outdoor. Weather, lighting, and even scheduling actors are harder to control when we work outside. I learned a lot from this project.
C: Are you currently working on any new projects?
Yes, I am working on a new commercial video and my featured film as well, which will be published next year.
C: Did you have any mentors growing up that inspired you to want to become a director?
The best mentor for me is my grandma. She is a storyteller. I love to listen to her telling stories since I was a little girl, and I read books to find out more interesting things to tell her as well. She always encourages me to meet new people and inspires my curiosity about this world. And also, my professors in my university help me a lot with filming projects.
C: How does it feel to not only be nominated for so many awards but to have won 11 of them?
It is very exciting and encourages me to keep pursuing my dream in this industry.
C: Which award has meant the most to you and why?
Answer: It is hard to tell which one is the most important. They all mean a lot to me. And I appreciate each one of them.
Yuchi Tian has won eight awards for her masterful filming projects and scored twelve additional nominations. She knows that film is where her heart, and will continue this career path with no doubt.
Armani Jackson is the rising teen star who does it all – acting, music, and producing. He’s been in the business since he was 6, landing roles in leading television series and films. Now, Jackson stars beside SNL cast member Nasim Pedrad in the highly anticipated TBS/HBO MAX series CHAD. At just 17, Jackson has created his own production company – Blue Velvet Productions. He aims to create a diverse space for teens to be taken seriously in the writing room. Continue reading our interview with Armani Jackson to see how he constantly pushes the limits of himself.
Q. What can you tell us about the new show CHAD? What is your character like?
A. Chad is about a 14-year-old boy whose main goal in life is to be popular in high school and he will stop at nothing to achieve it. In the process, he makes a fool of himself in some of the most cringeworthy scenes you will ever see. I play Joey – he is part of the friend group that Chad wants so desperately to be in. I’d say Joey is a lot nicer to Chad than most of his peers. I think Joey feels for Chad a little and tries to give him second chances despite everything he does.
Q. What was unique about filming this series?
A. This was a unique filming experience for me. Chad was more of a loose and creative filming process. Lots of improvising from Nasim Pedrad, which made it such a fun set. We were all able to give ideas and even change our lines on each take if we thought something was funnier a different way. I was able to come up with my own lines for my character quite a bit of the time.
Q. You’ve starred in a number of popular tv-series and films – what has been your favorite on-set memory?
A. My favorite on set memory is from Netflix’s Little Boxes where I played the lead role. It was a lot of fun to film in New York and it went to the Tribeca Film Festival, which was a blast because there were a lot of premieres, Q&A’s, and press events involved. I met so many cool people on that set and we’re still great friends today.
Q. When did you begin writing your own scripts? How did horror / psychological thriller become your favorite genre to write?
A. I started writing in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic with my long-time friend who I met on a film set and is now my writing partner. We started writing a psychological thriller script that we finished late 2020 and are getting meetings for it through our literary agent. I have always loved the horror/thriller genre since I was really young. I begged my mom to see Chainsaw Massacre at 7 years old and was always interested in the special effects and makeup for horror films. At 8 years old, I went to my first Halloween Horror Nights, which is primarily for 13 and over. I have gone every year since! When I booked Cooties, it was a dream project to see how horror films were made behind the scenes. Of course, I got work with the King of horror films, Leigh Whannell. He created SAW, Insidious and directed the Invisible Man. I’m looking forward to getting some meetings to pitch my horror concepts to hopefully Blumhouse –
the biggest wheelhouse for horror films.
Q. Tell us about your production company – Blue Velvet Productions? How did you make the decision to start your own production company?
A. We started our own production company this year called Blue Velvet Productions which has always been a family goal. My mom just produced the documentary More Than Miyagi, The Pat Moria Story, which has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, my sister Talia Jackson and I have always been throwing concepts around since we were little. We want to focus our development and stories on young diverse writers, Black creators, and true stories. I think a lot of young adults feel that the narrative about us in TV and film are not often representing us accurately. Mostly due to not having young writers our age in the writing rooms… I recently saw a lot of Twitter comments about this.
Q. What is your favorite lyric that you have written?
A. My favorite lyrics that I’ve written [right now] is probably “I got lots of demons and they’re visiting me daily, and you just might be one of them, Light Yugami’s got one I got a ton of them.” That’s a reference to an anime called “Death Note” that was adapted into a Netflix film. Light Yugami is a character that has his own personal demon throughout the film.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
A. Booking a series regular on a CW show would be super cool. I just tested for two of them. I would love to have one of my horror concepts picked up by Jordan Peele or Blumhouse where I play the lead character. Another major goal for my music career would be a #1 song.
Q. Where can we look for you next?
A. You can expect a lot of new stuff next. More music for sure! I’ve got a lot of songs in the vault that I’ll be releasing monthly and I’m continuing to make new songs. As far as acting you can watch Chad April 6th on TBS. I’m also going to be filming a movie based on a New York Times best-selling book. It’s supposed to be shooting this summer.