Entertainment Interview

Denim Blù Releases Pop Single “Extraordinary Feel”

by

Denim Blù, the Toronto-based pop artist with Chinese roots, released his new single, “Extraordinary Feel (feat. Lizzy Clarke)” a hymnal-inspired pop-rock song. This track will be his first of 2021, following his recent entry into releasing original music that began in October 2020 with his single, “Burn” and adjoining remixes.

“Extraordinary Feel” finds inspiration in the Southern US and vibrant African-American church choirs singing gospel and soul music. Both artists came to find strength in each other’s talents when creating the single through a mutual effort.

The single became a magical amalgamation of song creation– crisp songwriting, a powerful vocal, and satisfying production. The gospel elements include prominent organs and splashes of bells over modern synths and classic electric guitar.

Infiltrating almost every component of the song– the lyrics, the production, and the vocal, with religious elements, Denim Blù is able to carry his message of a love that is almost divine in nature. The use of religious themes throughout the track breathes life and gives words to the once indescribable inner emotions.

“‘Extraordinary Feel’ is about the exuberance of falling in love, a love so hard that you’re willing to sacrifice everything for that person, the lyric ‘made a martyr out of me’ is a perfect example of selflessness that comes with this kind of passion.” – Denim Blù

Denim Blù is an emerging Toronto-based singer-songwriter whose identity and music reflect the cultural mosaic that makes Toronto’s music so universally appealing. He is a Chinese-born queer artist whose inspiration is born out of rebellion. Being Chinese, he is not supposed to be making pop music; he is not supposed to be gay; he is not supposed to emote sex. But, he does, proudly.

Denim Blù’s music training and influence span three continents having studied and composed in China, the UK, and Toronto. The product of his music is pure pop fantasy with emotional intrigue, drawing from blues, dance, electronica, and R&B elements, all while being unapologetically queer. His music delivers new-age pop with a story to tell.

 

No tags

An Interview With Taps On His Release Of ‘Dance All Night’

by

Tapiwa ‘Taps’ Mugadza, known professionally as Taps, is a Zimbabwean soul and pop singer who began his musical journey at the age of 15. Before making his move to America to study at the Musicians Institue in Hollywood, Taps completed in the Zimbabwean Idol competition where he won third place overall. From there, he went on to work with world-renowned producers such as T-Collar, Moose, Pip Kembo, Boi-1da, and Quincy Jones, writing all of his own music.

With his single release ‘Dance All Night’ out now, we took some time to hear more from Taps. Read below to learn more about Taps, the story behind his latest single, and what’s to come.

Tell us a bit about yourself for those who may not know!

I am an artist from Zimbabwe who is now based in Los Angeles.

When did you fall in love with music? On top of singing, do you play any instruments?

I fell in love with music around 5 years old. I play piano and all guitars!

You grew up as a kid in Zimbabwe, at what point did you move to the US?

I moved to the US when I was 20 turning 21.

Tell us about your latest single ‘Dance All Night’

My latest single is a glimpse into what life was like as a kid for me when we would go camping.

Your latest single ‘Dance All Night’ is heavily connected to your story of growing up in Zimbabwe. Would you say living in LA has had an impact on the music you’re creating?

Absolutely, I think your surroundings definitely have a huge influence on what you create.

Living in LA can be very competitive when it comes to the entertainment industry as a whole. How do you navigate that on a day to day?

It is so easy to be influenced by the hype so I try by all means to stay in my lane and do what I am good at.

What is your favorite part about being in the music industry?

My favorite part is seeing the lives that are impacted by the music I make. Personally, I think it’s the best when people tell you how songs have gotten them through certain situations.

What is the message that you are trying to share through your music?

When I think about all of my music, the message I am trying to share is to enjoy life. Enjoy where you are at! It doesn’t need to be complicated.

What would you like to accomplish with your music?

Eventually, I would like to go back and rebuild a couple of homes that I grew up in. On top of that, I hope my music influences people to be their very best!

For those who are aspiring to be a singer/songwriter, what is the main piece of advice you would give them?

Always be true to who you are! There will always be a lot of hype, stay focused, and don’t lose yourself in it.

How soon can we expect some new music from you?

You can expect new music from me in the next couple of months. Keep up with my Instagram @tapsempire for all the latest updates!

Read more music articles at ClichéMag.com
Photo Credits: James Davis II

Wrapping Up With The Kardashians

by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post from @kuwtk Instagram post from interview day.

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

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

Click to read another article.

 

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

by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olivia Keegan

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

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

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

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

Cliché: What can fans expect next from you?

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

Read more Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Images Provided by Katie McGehee

Shelby Surdam is a Rising Force

by

Shelby Surdam is a rising force. Her youth is not a limitation on her already impressive resume of shows. From starring on “Believe Me” to the main role in “SKAM Austin”, an iteration of the SKAM series, she is a force to be reckoned with.

“Cruel Summer” is her latest project, a psychological thriller that centers on the problematic teenhood set in the ’90s where the drama lay bare and authentic, that is without social media. Shelby stars as Tenielle, a “queen bee” whose life is upended by the disappearance of her posse. Learn about her life on set and as an actress at large below. 

Photographer Credits: Anthony Chiang

What was your experience like filming for “Cruel Summer”?

 Everyone was phenomenal! To the writers, actors, crew, everyone is so talented. They are real pros and I felt really safe while filming during these times. It was a blessing to work on this project and I’m really grateful for the friends and the memories made along the way. It was a great time filming!

As Tenielle, how did you channel a “queen bee” persona? Were there any challenges you faced learning her character?

Well, I was homeschooled in high school, so it was a little bit of a challenge finding this “queen bee” persona but we have an amazing team of wardrobe, hair, and makeup that helped a lot as I think if you feel confident then it will show. That’s what being a “queen bee” is all about – having confidence. 

What was it like regressing back to your high school self for the role?

Well, being homeschooled I felt I never got a real high school experience and now I feel like I’ve had one! Especially since at that age I was very nerdy so I never thought I would be playing a popular girl. Playing Tenielle is so different, she’s very much a gossip who tells it like she sees or hears it. 

Photographer Credits: Anthony Chiang

Was there anything you learned from being on set?

There was a lot that I learned while being on set. I’m really just a watcher, just taking everything in. What was so great is that “Cruel Summer” is so women-driven. To the story, but also behind the scenes as well. Seeing Michell Purple, working with Jessica Biel and Tia Napolitano, our showrunner, they are all such hard-working women. We also had two women directors, Kellie Cryus and Alexis Ostrander, and seeing how they do it and taking directions from them was so cool. It was great to see and gave me hope that one day I can do that as well.  

How did you decide to become an actress?

There were a lot of things on why I decided to become an actress. I started in theatre when I was younger and transitioned into a film when I was a teen. With doing that, I found something that I loved doing, that I was really passionate about. It’s a bug I caught because I wanted to learn everything there was to learn and I had this huge curiosity. I know I haven’t learned everything and I don’t think I ever will, but that’s the beauty of it. Finding something you never knew.

What does being an actress mean to you?

Being an actress to me means you’re helping tell a story. The great part is doing the work and the research, all while having fun. There’s also the part where viewers might resonate with it in some way. I don’t know, there are lots of emotions being an actress and that’s why I love it. Because I can feel all of them and that’s okay.

What are the (unspoken) challenges in pursuing acting as a career and in the art itself?

I think everyone knows that there is gonna be a lot of rejection, but an unspoken challenge is that sometimes it does take time, even years, to get that gig or job. I know for me it didn’t come quickly. I went to acting classes, worked at restaurants as a host, and worked in fast food. And still, I don’t think I’ve yet “made it,” whatever “making it” means to you. But everyone’s journey is different and it’s good to remember that.

Who/what motivates you whenever you’re in an acting slump or block?

If you’re ever in a slump or block I think it’s a good idea to talk to friends or family about how you are feeling. That always helps me. Usually, I don’t want to do anything, so I’ll watch movies, TV shows, some comfort films and while watching, it helps me and inspires me. Films and TV shows make me feel less alone. Hopefully one day I can do the same in projects. 

What kind of projects do you hope to work on?

Photographer Credits: Anthony Chiang

I don’t want to put myself in a box genre-wise. For me, I just want to help tell stories that need to be told and matter.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

In five years I hope to still be acting. It will always be my number one passion. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to dip my toes and branch out into other avenues like directing and producing. I’m already writing! I’m writing with a great group of girls and I’m so proud of what we have right now. I would love to get something off the ground and see it come to life. 

If you were given the opportunity to create your own show (reality, drama, etc.), what would you create?

 If I was given the opportunity, I have two ideas. One is more fantasy: it was a book that my friend loved. It deals with life and death and wonders if the monster everyone says is real or is it really humans who are the monsters all along. I and a group of talented girls wrote a pilot for it already.  

The second is more reality-based and deals with being in your twenties.

So that the readers can get to know you better, here’re some fast facts for you to answer!

Favorite animal?

Favorite animals are seals. They’re like dogs of the sea.

Star sign (and do you believe in them)?

I’m a Leo sun. Yeah, why not? It’s fun but I definitely won’t dislike you just because of your star sign.

Favorite album?

Depending on the mood, some albums I like with no skips Rex Orange County “Pony”, Kacey Musgrave “Golden Hour”, and “Ungodly Hour” by Chloe x Halle, Dayglow has some new songs that I’ve been listening to lately! And of course, I like Taylor Swift. I could listen to her music from any album any day.

 Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

Tune in on Tuesdays on Freeform to watch Cruel Summer or the next day on Hulu!

This article has been lightly edited for clarity 
Read more celebrity interviews at Clichemag.com

An Interview with Film Director Yuchi Tian

by

Speaking for Women Is Not Equal to Feminism

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.

Yuchi TianTake 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.

Yuchi TianC: 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.

Email Contact: Vera Zhuang
Website:http://yuchitian.com/

Read more celebrity interviews at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Vera Zhuang

Get To Know Ethan William Childress, in Mixed-ish on ABC

by

Today, I had the pleasure of  interviewing Ethan William Childress from the TV series, Mixed-ish on ABC. Here is the inside scoop.

SOME BACKGROUND ABOUT ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS

  1. How did you first know you wanted to act?

 My parents took on this audition for the chance to participate in this showcase put on by Adrian R’Mante. I went really to see what it was all about. But the minute I stepped into the room to perform, something just clicked in me and I was so anxious that night waiting to see if I got picked or not. It’s probably one of the times I was really nervous.

  1. When did your career take off once you began acting?

I am actually super blessed in that I was able to be cast in Mixed-ish within my first year of acting. My mom had me do background work just so I’d understand what it was like to be on set.  The expectation, the pace. Then I was able to do a couple of short films which were fun and a different experience.  I did go on a lot of auditions in that first year which because I still was living in Las Vegas all the time, meant a lot of road trips. When I got cast on Mixed-ish it really was a dream come true because it just doesn’t really happen like that for actors.

  1. In your free time, what do you enjoy doing?

Right now, I can only really play video games.  I play on my PC, online. I have a few friends that I play with.  Before Covid, I liked being able to go home and play soccer and flag football. I had to give up playing competitively when I was started acting so I miss it. But I’ll go play around with my friends when I can.  And I really like when we get into Nerf gun wars with my brothers and sister. There’s bullets flying everywhere as there’s no teams. We’re all 4 against each other.  I don’t enjoy having to clean up all the bullets when we’re done. And we never find them all. 

  1. What actors and or actresses do you look up to?

Daveed Diggs, Kevin Hart, Will Smith, Michael B Jordan, Dwayne Johnson. I think they’re all very accomplished in what they do and how versatile they are. I’ve also heard really great things about them from other people who have worked with them. I want to be the type of actor that people like to work with and people say nice things about me to other people.

  1. Can you give us a sneak peak into what this season of Mixed-ish will look like?

Well because of Covid things for the Johnson family look a little different. Like you won’t see any school scenes this season. I did think it was really great that they brought back Rainbow’s friends in a very unique way with the phone calls. All the kids are growing up so they are facing different challenges and have new experiences. Johan is of course having himself all kinds of new adventures like the whole skateboarding thing.

  1. Is there a memorable moment that you remembered happening while being on set of Mixed-ish?

 There have been a couple of scenes with Mykal-Michelle and Christina and myself that left the whole crew cracking up.  Like when we were filming tag for the Spades episode.  Anytime they allow Christina to go off script laughter is sure to follow.  Or one scene where they filmed the whole scene, it was like the perfect take and then someone noticed that Christina still had her face shield still on. It was a lot different this year though as we didn’t get to just hang out with everyone.

  1. What is your characters role on Mixed-ish?

I play Johan, Rainbow’s little brother. He’s a fun loving, adventurous kid. He can be a little gullible at times too. But he tends to see the best there is to see in things. 

  1. What do you have in common with your character, Johan Johnson on Mixed-ish?

I would say that we are both adventurous and like to have fun. We both don’t always get along with our siblings but family is everything so we will always be there for each other. And we’ve both been mistaken for being Mexican. My mom has a friend that when she’s with us, everyone thinks she’s my mom.

  1. What is a big challenge you might of had to overcome being an actor?

Getting in touch with certain emotions is a challenge for me. I’m still young so I don’t have all these life experiences to draw from.  But that’s why you have to take classes and work on being able to bring something to life whether you can relate to it or not.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS?

  1. Being a young actor like yourself, what will you hope to accomplish in the near future?

The next thing I’d like to experience is being in a feature film, to see how that differs from TV. I really want to be able to experience all aspects of being in front of the camera. And then as I get older I may like to start looking at the behind the camera stuff. But right now I’m really just enjoying what I am doing and still being a kid.

Read more Celebrity Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Images provided by Paul Gregory 

Mya Xeller is the Next Big Thing

by

Mya Xeller is America’s next big thing. She stars in Amazon Prime’s new reality show “Next Big Thing NYC” which follows the successful yet young lives of thriving teenagers. For Mya, she has made tremendous footholds in the pageant and fashion industry. She has won various titles including 2019 Miss Teen World Connecticut and 2020 CT Royal International Miss Teen. She has also modeled for a variety of designers at New York Fashion Week and numerous magazines. 

Mya is, above all, a person. She has hopes to use her platform for good and to use her voice to help others. Learn more about Mya’s plans for herself and others, for now and later. 

What was your first experience on a reality TV show like? 

This was my first time ever filming for TV, so I wasn’t really used to having all the cameras that like every angle of me catching every single word that came out of my mouth. Definitely had to be careful there because sometimes you say things under your breath and well, that’s on camera now so it’s definitely different for me, but I’m a very outgoing person so it didn’t make me nervous at all. It was a lot of fun the first time we ever filmed. I was definitely more held back then than I am now, because I’m so used to it now since we filmed for a full year.

But definitely has been a dream since I was very little, so having that dream come true and actually being on a TV show now is incredibly insane because I didn’t know that it would come too soon in my life, and I know that this is only just the first step to being really a TV star, and my expectations for filming “Next Big Thing” I didn’t really have any to be completely honest because I didn’t cast for the show. I actually just got reached out to and casted for it, so I didn’t really plan on it to be 100% with you. So going into it, I was kind of just free falling. I didn’t really know how it was gonna be, I didn’t know what it was gonna be like filming, it was really just me walking into it being like, “Alright, I guess I’m doing this now”. 

I went and I filmed and from there we kept getting, you know, emails and stuff that we were going to be filming here and here, doing this and this. It was really cool because I knew everybody on “Next Big Thing” before we filmed, but some of the cast members I didn’t know too well. I just saw them at New York Fashion Week in previous years so filming day one was really like getting to feel everybody out and see, “oh I know you but I don’t really know you, do I want to know you” all that kind of stuff, and I definitely formed, really good friendships with the cast throughout filming. 

In addition to that, did you have any concerns with the camera not really picking up on the entirety of your person? Were you worried about the camera not picking up on other facets of your personality?

Definitely one of my big concerns (after at least the first day of filming) was that I could be portrayed in many different ways. Because once you’re on a TV show and you sign those contracts and you agree to be filmed and put on a show, they can really manipulate and edit that show however they want to, so you have to be very careful about how you’re acting and what you’re saying, on camera for sure. 

One of my concerns definitely was, you know, I don’t want to be portrayed as someone that I’m not, and I don’t want to come off as someone that I’m not because I’m a very down to earth person I like to keep it very real. I like to be very genuine. So when I filmed I really didn’t put on an act at all I just stayed 100% myself, and I acted as I would in my everyday life, just because that’s how I want to be portrayed on the show. I didn’t want to look like I was putting on an act, because that’s not me at all. So throughout filming, I never was trying to be something or somebody that I’m not. I was always just being 100% myself, and I said you know what this is going to go on TV and either people are gonna love me or hate me and that’s just how it works. You just have to accept it that way. 

Photographed by Brett Martelli

What do you think then you’ve learned from your time on this reality TV show? What kind of lessons did you take away from your experience?

From my time on “Next Big Thing NYC”, I’ve definitely learned that friends will always be there. But there are friends that turn family, and those are the people that I will look back at “Next Big Thing” in forty years and be like, “Wow, I remember this time with Isabella and Peter and I remember when I did this with Eden”, and I’m going to look back at that say they were really there for me. And the same goes with the entire cast because we have really become a little family of our own, just from filming and spending so much time with each other because we always were that little support group for each other. And so my biggest thing that I’ve learned from “Next Big Thing” is definitely cherish those moments with your friends because you never know when that will be your last, and you never know when you’re going to want to look back on this and reminisce about the memories you’ve had with your friends that literally turned into your family. It also taught me that there’s friends, and there’s best friends that turn into a family. Friends will say they’re there for you, but it’s different when somebody says it and when somebody shows.

The focus of Next Big Thing NYC seems to be trying to channel your stardom and really achieve your aspirations even at this early stage of life. So my question is what is your definition of being a star?

Well, let me start here: “Next Big Thing”, yes, is defined by teens who are up and coming and trying to reach that all-star level of stardom, but it also is meant to show what goes on behind the scenes, and who we are as people, and the stuff that we do that shows our normal teen side because I think a lot of people see what we all do and they think, “well they’re missing out on you know being a being a teenager and doing all these fun things and they’re all they’re doing is like all this series business stuff”. “Next Big Thing” really does let you get a grasp of us being normal teenagers and just having fun and doing fun stuff that everybody in the world does so, I think that’s probably the most awesome and relatable part of the show because you really get to see relationships being formed or ending. 

My definition of being a star is having a platform that you use in a positive way because I think there are a lot of stars in the world and a lot of people who are considered famous, but not all of them really use it in the right way sometimes. I know for me, with pageants and stuff and holding a big national title, my biggest goal is to use those platforms to be a positive impact on people and be a role model for people that are looking up to me. The platform doesn’t really mean anything unless you’re using it the right way because then you don’t have an army behind you when you’re really somebody who is a role model and inspires other people and you are likeable. That’s what makes you have an army, that’s what makes you have a fan base. I always tell people, my goal is not to be famous and be rich, my goal is to gain a big platform so that I can do what I love and my dream, but also it will give me such a big platform to be able to be the role model and be the leader to younger generations that are looking up to me.

Photographed by LeRed Photography

I know in your pageant days you started All About Pink to support breast cancer awareness, so what kind of positive impact besides, or in addition to that, do you want to do?

Being a role model to me means that you take the platform that you’re given, and you use it to inspire younger girls and boys to be the best versions of themselves and to do good, don’t sit there, don’t allow people to hate on you, don’t allow people to hate on those that you love. Always keep striving for what you want to do, no matter how mean, or, you know, hateful people can be. We live in a really, really sad society sometimes when it comes to things like social media and people having dreams that they’re really working towards. People like to kick people down when they see them trying to do good. 

And so for me being a role model is inspiring younger kids to keep up the hard work, keep reaching for your goal because someday you’ll get there. It might take longer than it does for other people but you will get there it will happen for you, and you know just inspire younger kids and anybody looking up to me, really, to use your talent and use your platform to do good things, not to be famous, not to have money, not to have followers, but to really inspire other people to do the same because I inspire them, they inspire somebody else and that person inspires the next person in the list and it just keeps going on and on. I like to inspire young people and anybody looking up to me, to do good in your community and put hard work into doing community service and all that kind of stuff because it really, it’s a very gratifying feeling to do good things like that and I never used to prioritize that when I was younger but now that I’ve grown up and I’ve been given big pageant titles, that’s something that I really cherish and that I actually love doing, with or without pageants, I’ll always continue to do my community service projects.

Could you tell me about these community service projects that you’re involved with?

Yes. So last year 2019 I was the Miss Teen world America Connecticut, and I placed first runner up for Team World America. I was actually the youngest one in the top five, which was really awesome. And when I won for Connecticut and I was preparing for Vegas for nationals, I decided that I wanted to have my own platform. At this point in the pageantry, you kind of need it. 

And so I was planning and I was thinking what do I want to do, I need something that’s personal to me that I can really connect with on a personal level, because that’s what will inspire me to do it. I lost my aunt when I was younger to breast cancer, my entire family did, so at a young age I kind of got to see how that affects a family when you lose a loved one. I was young but still old enough to realize you know how it was emotionally affecting everybody and I got to see how if you don’t know that you have a gene, or you don’t know that there’s a possibility that you could get breast cancer or any type of illness for that matter, how do you prevent it? You really can’t. Once you have it and you don’t know for a while and you’ve had it, there’s not really a way to backtrack. Starting All About Pink, the goal is obviously breast cancer awareness in the fight against breast cancer, but really to help have these fundraisers and donate the proceeds to bigger breast cancer organizations that work in all different areas: genetic testing, simplifying health insurance difficulties, all of that kind of stuff. Those are the things that prevent other families from losing their loved ones because then they can have the means to find out if there’s a chance that they could be diagnosed with cancer, breast cancer more specifically. 

My grandmother had the gene, my mom had the gene, my mom actually had preventative surgery so that she did not risk, you know, not being here today. And yeah, so I definitely connect with all about pink in the work that I’m doing very personally because it’s been in my own family so I definitely feel that in my heart when I do stuff with that. And All About Pink has recently partnered with a nonprofit More Than Likes, it is run by another local teenager in Connecticut. We’ve teamed up, we actually have our first fundraiser started, Pennies for Pink. The proceeds will be donated to See More Pink, which you might not know but that’s a Connecticut breast cancer organization. I’ve actually done work with them before, I love what they stand for, I love what they do. So yeah, the proceeds will be donated to them, and this is just our first fundraiser and there are many more to come.[The partnership] is basically all about breaking the stereotype of teenagers just being a like or follow on social media and actually having them do good in the community and put hard work into helping others that need it more. We have a lot of fundraisers planned and we are in the works of all of those but currently Pennies for Pink is out and running. 

Furthermore, with my pageantry, I’m currently holding a new title: Connecticut Royal International Miss Teen. I’ll be headed to Florida in July to compete for Royal International Miss Teen, and also the role model competition as well so I’ll be going for two national titles. Royal International Miss the Pageant Circuit is very big on community service work, and, you know, your platform. It’s not just about beauty, it’s not just about the dress, it’s not about money, it’s about seriously the hard work that you put into earning that crown and with that crown and with that title. Every month Royal International Miss has a monthly service project which I’ve been partaking in. I spend countless hours just driving around. We did eyeglass donations that were donated to the Lions Club in Connecticut. We collected toys, I’m grateful to everybody who donated all these things but spent so many hours just driving around and networking on social media posting about all of these fundraisers, and it’s really awesome that this pageant circuit gives me an opportunity to do such good things every single month, as well as the things that I’m already doing on my own with my own platform.

Photographed by LeRed Photography

Well, congratulations. I know you might need a breather after listing all those accolades. It seems like pageantry and activism takes up a lot of your time but how do you wind down and enjoy this normal state of just being a regular teen?

I’m also a competitive dancer, so I dance at a dancing studio and it’s actually competition season right now, like in full swing, so dance is kind of a crazy schedule for me right now more than usual, but I’m actually really happy about it because I’m grateful that we’re able to do competitions, even though it’s COVID style. I’m just grateful because we did miss out on a whole year last year. I dance pretty until pretty late at night most nights that I’m there. 

When I get home, I obviously take a nice shower, I lay on my bed and I find a new Netflix show to binge watch until I just get too tired and I have to turn it off and go to sleep. I also do online school at home so hours go into that as well. But being online actually works so much better for me with my schedule so it kind of worked out for me this year. 

I definitely have a packed schedule. I really wouldn’t have it any other way because everything that I’m spending my time on I actually love doing so I don’t mind being busy with it.

Even though you have so many things going for you now, what do you see yourself doing either in college or adulthood? Are there any concrete goals that you’re working towards now or you hope to achieve?

I am a big makeup and hair junkie, I love everything to do with beauty. I definitely want to get my cosmetology degree so that I can maybe one day have my own salon or be a traveling makeup and hair artist. I love that kind of stuff. That’s definitely something I would do. 

But in reality, my dream and what I’m really working towards is continuing to be in the TV industry and hopefully book more jobs and just get bigger and bigger and bigger, and as well as modeling, that’s something that I hope to carry on. And you know I love performing. I love dancing, I love singing, and that’s stuff that I’ve been training for for years, so I don’t have a solid one direction plan, but I hope to just be able to accomplish all of it. But like I said, I do want to get my cosmetology degree so that I can open up my own business or be a traveling makeup and hair artist, because you know it’s always good to have a plan B for everything. 

School wise, I’ve been thinking about a few different performing arts schools where I could focus on dance, singing, acting, stuff like that because that’s what I really enjoy. And yeah, I mean I always tell people, if it comes down to not doing what I love and working in an office, I might just live in a cardboard box. I cannot see myself working in an office or working at a counter. it’s just not something I see myself doing and I’m definitely not the person that wants to be working a job that turns into a lifestyle when it’s something I don’t love, because I feel like then yes, you’re making money, but you’re not happy, and I’m not somebody that thinks that money makes somebody happy. It definitely can make you happy in the moment but when it comes to your life, definitely is not something that would keep you happy. 

I really have to be doing something that I love and that I have a passion for sure.

I can just tell that your passion is probably not going to lead you anywhere near that carpet box. I know you’re already in the very early stages of your career, but has being in the public eye been taxing on you as a regular teen that’s just going through development?

I think that even though I am only in the first milestone of my career, there is a lot of hate. 

I’m a very, very strong person. I don’t let most words get to me. Yes, it makes you feel down for a second, but I think that I’m very, very strong, so a lot of people’s words they just come in and they go out, because I, I know where I want to be, and I’m not going to let anybody tell me I can’t get there. I know for myself that I just have to put in the work and I just have to wait until it’s my time. I’ve faced a lot of hate, a lot of negative comments, a lot of people who just definitely don’t like me for some reason. And it really hasn’t thrown me off track. I just listen to it, throw it out and keep on moving.

But for a lot of other teens, words really strongly affect them. And I think that’s one of the cons with social media, is that there’s a lot of bullying and a lot of hatred spread on there. Although there is good, there’s also a lot of hate and negativity, and it can be very detrimental to, you know, becoming an adult and growing up because it makes you feel like you’re less than you really are. Being in the public eye and just on social media in general can be, can be very stressful to young teens and young adults because it’s just for some people that can’t handle that pressure that hate being put on them, can definitely put them down and throw them off track of whether where they’re really trying to go.

How did you develop this strong of a mindset, able to deter every hateful comment that you come across? Would you say that it was something you were born with or can you attribute the development of it to something?

I would definitely say that growing up as a little girl, my mom definitely she’s my biggest role model. I love her to death. She definitely taught me how to be strong, and not to let people or my losses get me down. Like I said I’ve been competitively dancing since I was very young, and I never used to be the big winner out of my age group, let’s be honest, I never really won. As a little girl I would always start to cry, and then my mom would grab me by the ponytail and say, “you don’t cry, do not cry one more tear right now”. She taught me that if you’re going to cry over a loss, we can’t do this because that loss might be a win next week. It doesn’t matter because you’re not really losing. You’re just getting the experience and you’re growing and you’re learning, and from that you’re just going to keep working hard. You don’t always win, not the same person is going to win in every single aspect, every day of life and I think that’s what I’ve grown up to learn because of my mom. 

For me, I definitely think it has developed though. I would say definitely through elementary school and middle school even. I was always worried about what other people thought of me, always worried of what other people thought of my clothes, how I acted or even how I talked, just basic anxiety and worry that people might not like me. That always really got in my head, really trying to like change myself to make sure that I was making other people happy or satisfying other people. Now that I’m in high school, I’ve learned that people are going to love me, or they’re going to hate me. As long as they don’t hate me because of me treating them badly, then I don’t worry about it. I’m going to be nice to everybody and I’m going to do me and I’m going to be 100% and whether people like it or not. I just have to leave it because people sometimes just aren’t going to like you just because they don’t want to like you and that’s how it works today 

My mom has definitely been that role model who taught me how to be like that. And I’ll be forever grateful for that.

I think that concludes our time together. Are there any last words that you would like to say, or include in the article? 

Definitely just my instagram handle is ‘at’ myaxeller

This article has been lightly edited for clarity
Read more celebrity articles at www.clichemag.com

Q&A with Alex Jackson, Branding Genius & Advocate for Racial Equality in the Influencer World

by

Media Girls LA Founder Alex Jackson. Photo Credits: https://enspiremag.com/2021/03/media-girls-la-founder-alex-jackson-on-marketing-and-wage-differences/

On-camera media personality, SHEEN Correspondent, and founder of Media Girls LA, Alex Jackson is a pioneer of strategic marketing and a champion of equal representation in the influencer world. Fusing her talent for and experiences in event curation, influencer branding and marketing, and publicity, she founded her own agency, Media Girls LA, in 2018 to help connect influencers with established brands across the country. As her monthly flow of brand deals became increasingly prolific, she learned that her white counterparts were paid significantly higher. The stark pay gap between Black and white content creators with the same following was jarring, and she committed to focusing her work on promoting and advising influencers of color. When the pandemic hit, both brands and content creators experienced insurmountable barriers, which created few opportunities for promotions and sponsorships. Rather than giving up, however, Jackson broadened her approach to strategic brand deals to include a more diverse array of influencers and tactics. With a rapidly expanding network, ultimately, in 2020, she closed the highest number of brand deals since the launch of her company, securing $100 thousand in brand deals for Black content creators. Working with influencers such as Mehgan James, Romeo Miller, Master P, and Miracle Watts, Jackson hopes to continue expanding her network and advocating for equal pay and representation for Black influencers. In this interview, Jackson shares more about the genesis of and mission behind her company, her aspirations moving forward, and the lasting impact of her work on racial equality in the media. 

Please tell us about your career path, leading up to the launch of your company, Media Girls LA. What inspired you to found this company?

Most people don’t know the planning of MGL initially started with 4 ladies working within the media industry.  The initial idea of the organization spawned from a thought on the Soul Train Awards’ red carpet, where we decided to host our first event as a women’s media brunch. What can I say, the strong survive. But seriously, although the event was a success, it was clear the collaboration was not going to work, so after the first event I continued MGL in 2018 as a solo endeavor.

Beauty Meetup with Macy’s. Photo Credits: https://www.mediagirlsla.com/gallery

How did the pandemic affect your work and change the trajectory of your career?

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was very rocky being that all my speaking engagements were canceled, along with my MGL scheduled events. In addition, I was in the midst of launching my t-shirt business, and my media junkets out of town were all placed on pause, as well as all the branding collaborations engagements I had solidified for the upcoming months. Literally, everything I do to make money was at a complete halt, but what’s crazy, I still wasn’t worried. I knew God was going to see me through it; I didn’t know how, but I knew it would be okay. That’s when I went in complete hustle mode. I started to make and sell  E-books, webinar replays, and virtual events and come up with different strategic plans to broaden my reach when it came to influencers and brands.

What is your central goal as a content creator, and how do you work to make space for more influencers of color in the media?

Once finding out that Caucasians influencers were making more money in the industry, my mission has been solely to make sure they get the money they deserve. My primary goal started with me recruiting influencers that look like me and that I knew had  great content to help them run up a bag! I’m very picky as to who I take on my roster now compared to the past. I teach them how they should stand their ground on their pay request and help them with understanding how much they should be charging for their services as well.

Compton’s School District Girl Empowerment Symposium. Photo Credits: https://www.mediagirlsla.com/gallery

What was the biggest challenge you encountered in obtaining sponsorships and brand partnerships? 

I would say for brand partnerships, it has been finding the contacts, and sponsorships would probably be about the same. Either way, I don’t give up easily and quitting is not an option. As I have learned to do more, I’ve become creative in my approach to discovering different ways to find contacts.

In addition to racial equity and representation, what are some of the central issues you see in influencer culture? In your experience, how has the influencer business impacted body image and mental health among millennials? 

It’s definitely a wage gap between races without a doubt, and everyone knows it. It’s really unfair especially being that in a lot of instances those black influencers have more engagement and followers. I have had to give a few pep talks to my content creators when some of them have felt like giving up on YouTube because they feel like they play favorites. It discourages them and leads them to think their content isn’t good enough. A lot of influencers I’m friends with feel like they need to have surgery to keep up their looks, or women who want to be influencers feel like they need surgery to be noticed as an influencer, but none of that is true at all.

Alex Jackson, Champion of Equality for Black Influencers. Photo Credits: https://enspiremag.com/2021/03/media-girls-la-founder-alex-jackson-on-marketing-and-wage-differences/

What are some ways media consumers can contribute to a more equitable and healthy space in the media industry? 

Just like any other industry, we have to let it be known that this behavior exists. For many people,  all this is still new, although it has been around for over a decade. The more consumers understand the dynamics behind what we do and the work involved, they will be able to contribute on a great scale toward equitable measures. In the mean, influencers and content creators need to shed light on this issue to make consumers aware. 

What do you think will be the lasting impact of your work, even in the post-covid era? What’s next for you? 

I think the lasting impact of my work will be the footprints that I have left for those who are interested in getting into the industry. The foundational vision of MGL derived from being a beacon to help others starting out in the business, and it has continued to be our foundation to this day. 

I plan on doing in-person events post-COVD to teach influencers how to make a bag from social media. I’m also releasing two E-books, “How To Make A Bag From The Gram,” and one about how to obtain sponsorships for events, as well as building my tee shirt business “Statement  Tees” @statementtees_    . Media Girls LA is already on track to supersede our number of brand deals from last year and to increase our network. 

Read more lifestyle articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credit: EnspireMag,  Media Girls LA

“General Hospital” Star Sydney Mikayla Talks Joining the Legendary Soap

by

Actress Sydney Mikayla found her breakout role playing the titular Olympian in The Gabby Douglas Story. She recently joined the cast of General Hospital as Trina Robinson, a straight-laced teen whose relationship with her father could be described as complicated at best. Sydney is confident that she can handle anything the acting world throws at her…just don’t ask her to be your apocalypse survival buddy! Follow Sydney on Instagram and Twitter.

Cliché: Do you remember when you got the acting bug?
Sydney Mikayla: I really felt like I caught the acting bug when I did The Gabby Douglas Story in 2014. Even though I had been acting since I was five, when I did this movie, I just felt everything click! Getting to train and meet Gabby herself, working with Regina King, and meeting friends who I would watch grow into major superstars (like Riele Downs) really made me want to continue working within the industry. I knew the memories from the experiences I had in Canada would last me a lifetime and I could not wait to continue having those new and fun experiences in the future.

If you had to pick one moment that you would describe as the highlight of your acting career so far, what would it be and why?
One of the highlights I think would be playing Ashlyn on the set of Fuller House. Live studio audiences are almost extinct in the world of comedy, so being able to do a show with a live studio audience, hearing the cheers and warmth of laughter from real human beings just felt so inviting. This was an experience I was really grateful to have before COVID-19 took over.

You had the opportunity to train under actress Wendy Raquel Robinson. What would you say is the most valuable piece of advice she gave you?
Just one? Wow, that would be entirely too hard to choose. She taught me so much, from how important it is to be timely to each and every job opportunity to dressing like your character in rehearsals and even auditions. I think the most important quality she taught each and every one of her students was how to be professional. She shared that life on set is not always easy, and sometimes requires more patience than you may think. But because of the discipline she provided, her students have gone on to Broadway, to write and produce their own shows, and create their own fashion brands featured in New York Fashion Week. I just hope to continue the legacy.

You’re on General Hospital! How does it feel to be involved with such an iconic show?
It feels absolutely incredible to be a part of the GH family. General Hospital has so much amazing history and it’s so interesting when the writers decide to bring back previous characters on the show. Working here definitely keeps me on my toes and I just love how the fans are so invested in the show.

Tell us about your character, Trina Robinson.
Trina is an 18-year-old straight-A student, with a passion for track and a love for art. She is a great friend, a reliable daughter, and a trusted intern. In Port Charles, Trina finds friendship, an art mentor and her then dead and now alive father. Whether Trina’s being kidnapped or simply going to a school dance with her friends, her determination to find the truth always makes her such a fun and feisty character to play.

 

 

Are you excited about where Trina’s arc is headed?
Absolutely! I really can’t wait to see if Trina will ever forgive her father, and how that will all play out. I know that she has always looked up to her father, and so she feels deeply betrayed and hurt by him. Hopefully Trina will forgive him soon so we can see more of the father daughter bonding time that the audience loves.

How does it feel to be able to work with Maura West?
Incredible! She recently told me to check out The Wilds, a new TV show on Amazon, and watch and learn from the actors on screen. It’s just another example of how Maura always shares her wonderful expertise and inspires me to become a better actor. Her professionalism and beauty makes her truly wonderful to work with and watch on screen.

You also star as Wolf in Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, which is about a post-apocalyptic adventure. What’s your post-apocalyptic survival strategy? Who and what would you bring with you?
This may be a bit morbid, but I think I would just die. Think about it, constantly getting chased everyday by talking animals? I wouldn’t be able to survive like Wolf did. I think I would just try to get some extra food, and if I happen to get eaten, so be it. It seems like too much work to try to outrun everything in order to stay alive. The stress would probably kill you anyway.

What kinds of roles would you want to tackle over the next few years?
Recently, I worked with the director of Disney Channel’s Sky High. He said that one day there might be a sequel to that movie, so I would be super pumped if I could play a leading role in that movie. Besides that, I would love to be in an August Wilson movie adaptation of his work. I just started getting into his plays, and I would love to be in one of those films and work with Viola Davis. I would also love to be on Broadway someday.

Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com
“General Hospital” Star Sydney Mikayla Talks Joining the Legendary Soap. Photo Credit: Jim Warren.

Producer Amber Palson About Extreme Photo Shoots in the Most Remote and Dangerous Places

by

For over 15 years, Amber Palson has been behind the orchestration of some of the top fashion projects in both magazine editorials and major brand advertising. 

You may recognize projects that she’s master-minded in the likes of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Instyle Magazines. 

« Orchestrating » and « master-minding » are two words that define well the role of a producer. 

Today, let’s talk about Amber Palson’s journey to producing some of the most extreme and technical photoshoots.

Early career

Amber Palson worked with the most talented photographers in the world, including Mark Seliger, who was the first to notice her talent. Working in his team for 3 years raised Amber through the ranks to become one of the studio’s top producers.

As a renowned producer, many talents, celebrities such as Amy Schumer, Dwayne Johnson, and brands such as Urban Outfitters, Madewell, Athleta, Air Canada, and Aerie (American Eagle), can’t envision a shooting without her expertise.

She pursued her career as an executive producer in Hawaii, where she produced for Oprah Winfrey on 5 magazine covers.  Although she knew she had accomplished her dream career, something was missing in Amber’s life. As a proud Canadian and an adventurer at heart, she needed more action. !

Amber Palson, a woman and producer of action

“When I’m on a job, I give my everything. My client gets my full attention and devotion to the success of their project. On my days off I live for surfing, snowboarding and keeping my body and mind healthy. All of the aspects of my schedule support each other for life success.” —she says

By 2018, Amber was an established producer in the industry, confident and strong with her successful range of experiences ; but  she didn’t feel complete. 

« I like the seeing my clients’ creative vision and translating that into what’s necessary for locations, crew and logistics to make it happen. Every day is different, every challenge is unique. » – says Amber Palson 

Being a producer involves getting places, convincing people of a creative project, and negotiating with them to secure the best places, the best talents and being surrounded by the best in the industry.

« My job is all about relationships. I need the support of the hotel booker, modeling agencies and a location owner…it’s all walks of life and if I can establish genuine respect and rapport with my negotiations, I can give my clients more options to achieve success in their production. Being a good human is key to any long-term business project. » —she says.

Taking production to the extreme

That’s how she developed her niche and became independent : In 2019, she launched Blue Amber Production, a full service production company based in Vancouver, Canada, in order to take care of her clients wanting to shoot epic high-end city locations, stunning Whistler glaciers and world renowned Canadian Rockies. Once you have two nice photos have customcornholeboards.com make you a nice cornhole board set with them.

Blue Amber Production represents everything that she loves, doing what she’s the best at.  All of her passions took her on an exciting professional path, and that’s Amber’s unique journey to success.

We asked Amber Palson about her latest projects and about her unique production work, in remote places. Here’s the interview:

What do you call “Backcountry Production » ? Is it a generic term for productions in remote places?

Yes, you got it! Really it just describes the nature of location of the shoot. Other shoots are either in-studio, city, or residential/interior environments. Shooting in Hawaii and Canada, often I will be taking a large crew to a remote volcano, jungle, waterfall or secret beach (Hawaii) or a glacier, snow town, mountain top with expansive views (Canada). Production on these is a unique animal and it’s my specialty (and my passion!!).

Why is it different?

– Often there isn’t road access and I’m handling logistics on boats, helicopters, snowmobiles, snowcats, seaplanes, off-road vehicles, anything to get large numbers of crew and equipment somewhere cool. I love a good 4×4 adventure!

– Accomodation closest to a remote area requires unique relationship-building with Concierges and hotel staff. Rapport is everything! If you take care of them, they will go that extra mile for your crew. It makes all the difference in a shoot when things go smoothly.

– The majority of brands coming to Canada to shoot are seeking snow.  And the typical timing for the shoot is in Summer!! So the trick is to get crew and equipment up a mountain high enough for there to be snow in the summer, while having an infrastructure for as close to high-end crew accomodations and healthy meals available.

– Often in active wear shoots, shooting in nature, we are using athletes, which requires experience working with non-model agencies, PR and management representations.

– There’s bears! and mosquitos! I have to anticipate nature! It’s a fun challenge to foresee how the natural elements will affect the shoot and my crew, and put in place safeties and comfort such that everyone is able to put their best work forward.

 

Could you tell us about the Eddie Bauer set and production? We heard it was epic!

We shot in August 2020, on the Whistler backcountry glacier, with helicopter access for full crew (hair, makeup, camera crew, props, manicurist, clothing stylist, + all of our assistants) and equipment. And we flew in a portapotty!! We had to hire a mountain safety guide.

As an active outdoor brand, the location was a pinnacle component to the overall success of the shoot. They wanted epic backdrops to engage their customer. The location was aspirational and featured landscapes that were unique to the region and are specific to an activity. Models were casted to reflect diversity, health and life enjoyment.

Did you encounter any difficulty ?  

Mosquitoes!! We were all wearing nets! Also, we were shooting during a pandemic, so transportation logistics as well as writing and strictly following our Blue Amber Production Safety Protocols was key to keep everyone safe! The other thing related to the pandemic was that the client was unable to travel to Canada at that time. Having systems in place such that the client feels a part of the process, and that the department heads can get direct feedback easily, was an important part of this shoot.

The shoot was epic!! And the shoot made the cover of their catalogue! The shots looked amazing!

 

How about the Urban Outfitters shoot ?

We shot this one in the fall of 2019, in the Canadian Arctic (Churchill, MB) + The Rockies, at a remote backcountry heli-ski lodge.

For the men’s shoot they wanted a small town feel with snow, and for the women’s shoot they wanted a fashion story combining skiing and snow play.

The morning we were scheduled to leave the back country it was snowing so hard, we weren’t even sure we’d be able to fly out! We almost got snowed in. But we were having so much fun that we all secretly wanted to stay.

Meghan Eng, Urban Outfitter’s in-house producer said on Instagram, “This was one of my favorite shoots of all time. Thanks to an awesome team we survived the Arctic cold & the polar bears and had a lot of fun making it happen.”

This shoot was memorable and we were in the “polar bear capital of the world’!! So I had to hire a bear security guard. He watched for bears and kept us safe!

Discover Amber Palson’s complete work : https://www.instagram.com/blue_amber.pro/?hl=en 

on Instagram @blue_amber.pro

Read more celebrity interviews at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Mike Seehagel and Matteo Montanari

‘Tampon Rock’ is Your New Favorite Podcast

by

Have you ever had the craving for a podcast that brings music and comedy together in the most beautiful way? Well, Tampon Rock is here to satisfy that craving and many more. From creators Alysia Brown, Sarah Aument and Sophie Dinicol comes the genre-bending and brilliant new podcast Tampon Rock. This scripted podcast series follows the two lead lesbian characters, Deja and Chloe, as they explore the dating, love and music scene of Oakland. Oh and they’re also in a band called The G.O.A.L (The Greatest Of All Lesbians). 

Alysia, Sarah and Sophie made it their priority to create an inclusive series that would entertain the masses. Authentic representation of Queer POC in mainstream media is a rarity. In the expansive world of podcasting, a show like Tampon Rock is the first of its kind. With lead characters who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as well as a queer Black character, the show looks to not only bend genres but break barriers. 

Tampon Rock is in a league of its own. With a score of all original music, creators and characters from the LGBTQ+ community, and hilarious storylines, this series is guaranteed to keep you entertained. We caught up with Alysia, Sarah and Sophie to discuss their vision for the show and much more! Make sure to stream episodes of Tampon Rock on iHeart Media!

Cliché: Tell us about your new podcast, Tampon Rock.

Alysia: Tampon Rock is a Black, Queer, female driven podcast about friendship, dating and life!

Sophie: What Alysia said! It’s funny and ridiculous and has great music.

Sarah: And as Sophie once said “Tampon Rock is us.” 

Why did you feel that this show would be best suited as a podcast?

Alysia: At the time it was really just access. We had the opportunity to create a podcast and we felt like for us, the best way to get the story out in the public was through a podcast.

Sophie – We had the ability to make a podcast through our own expertise and the support and resources at our company. I also think that by being audio only, this enhances the musical part of the show; our listeners really get to take in the music.

Sarah – In some ways, making a podcast was an easier way to get in the door. I’m sure the show will morph as it evolves but I think the best parts of it were developed because of the audio only experience. I feel like if we make a derivative production we would be able to bring something new to TV or film because podcasting pushed us into creative territories that aren’t intuitive when making TV/film. 

The show is so unique and genre-bending. What inspired you to mix comedy and musicals together to tell this story? 

Alysia: We all work at a production music library company, and I’ve been doing comedy in NYC for a few years, so honestly it came naturally. I think we felt it was the best way to really tell the story.

Sophie: Yeah, I think given our work, and the fact that Sarah is a brilliant composer and Alysia is an amazing comedian, it felt like the natural fit to combine those worlds.

Sarah: It just kind of came out that way! Tampon Rock is the amalgamation of our shared interests and skills.

Tampon Rock

Are the characters of Deja and Chloe influenced by your own personalities?

Alysia – I’d say so a little bit. They’re definitely a version of ourselves when we were younger, but way more exaggerated! 

Sophie I think we took parts of all of our personalities when we wrote them, but also added other traits as well. The whole show is inspired by our lives and personalities in some way, but it’s not directly autobiographical by any means.

Sarah – I feel like I know them or knew them; does that make sense?

What inspired the decision to have all original music as the score to your show? 

Alysia: It was the easiest decision! Sarah is an amazing composer, and again, Tampon Rock wouldn’t be Tampon Rock without our own music!

Sophie: Sarah is so talented and she’s truly the engine that drives the music in the show, so it just made sense to have original music throughout.

Sarah: I’m blushing, love you guys. I just wanted women to be in charge of everything and that included music!

The diverse portrayal of characters in Tampon Rock is rarely seen in mainstream media today. How do you hope your show will impact underrepresented communities?

 Alysia – I’m hoping that this representation will inspire Black, Queer, and POC communities, AND production companies, studios. I think the fact that so many films, podcasts, TV shows, are predominantly cis white narratives, it’s time to break that mold and make stories for Black, QPOC’s, normalized. 

SophieIt’s time to see and hear Black, POC, Queer voices in the mainstream so I think we made the show that’d we’d want to listen to.

Sarah – I always want to watch anything queer and womxn centric, and honestly the more diverse the better. QPOC people in general deserve more content and I’m just glad to be adding to that.

 

Read more Interviews at ClicheMag.com

Images Provided by Sanika Phawde