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Kyle Klaus is not your typical actor

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Kyle Klaus is not your typical actor. He hails from atypical acting roots, from a sector of work entirely unrelated to the screen, that is real estate. His business acumen has lent to becoming a millionaire by the age of 30 and starting a line of successful businesses in the NJ area. This smartly provided the cushion he needed to pursue the acting career he always wanted. Since, he’s premiered in “The Blacklist,” “Billions,” and “Homeland” among others. 

Klaus discusses with Cliche Magazine the intersections of his dichotomous lifestyle. 

Working in real estate was your solution to avoiding the life of the starving artist, but you’ve made quite a name for yourself founding Prestige Properties as well as becoming a millionaire by the age of 30. How do you feel about achieving such success at a young age? What do you attribute this success to?

I attribute my success to an insatiable hunger and drive for greatness. You get to a certain level and you’re still not happy with it. That is because it’s not about a destination, it’s more about growth. You are either growing or you aren’t.  You are either improving or not.  I’ve also always known that real estate was a means to an end  – meaning that if I could keep working really hard and saving up, and making the right investments that it would set me up early on at a young age for later in life.  Then when the acting projects and opportunities came up – I would be able to take those and not worry about what was next, or if it was going to be a hit, or if it was going to make my career take off.  I would always be able to have something else there, and wouldn’t be worried about my acting career, especially since there are so many variables to whether you get a job or don’t, or you have a successful career and are famous or not.

What are some similarities and intersections you’ve found in acting and entrepreneurship? Are there things you’ve learned working in real estate and founding your own business that you apply to acting?

Yes, definitely.  Probably the most apparent is that you are your own CEO.  I know people say that about acting all the time, but I don’t know if everyone really gets it. In acting, you have to make sure you understand your audience, what they want from you, and try to give them some of that.  Also that your “craft” is on point.  That is just like your skills or quality in business.  Also – there are many other things like dealing with people, organization, scheduling, and also hiring/ outsourcing things that will free you up for better uses of your time.

What are surprises about the acting industry that you hadn’t realized before entering as an actor?

I think the biggest thing is that you really don’t need too much to get started and be successful.  You really just need your talent, a headshot that represents you well, and opportunities.  That’s it.  People get so caught up especially in the beginning that you need some amazing reel, marketing materials, all sorts of classes, etc.  There are businesses that prey on the neediness of actors.

You’ve managed to find the best of both worlds in both finance and art, two dichotomous fields. Do you have any advice for those out there who are struggling with choosing between a realistic aspiration versus a creative passion?

This is just my opinion and I may be wrong about this – but I don’t think you have to choose.  I think too many people allow others to affect their thoughts and their actions. I think it’s all just BS. It’s my hope that people can start saying “F.U.” to a stereotype.  I can be an artist and I can be an intellectual.  I can be creative and I can be a finance wiz.  I can be a computer engineer and I can be a painter.  Yes, they might be different sides of the brain you use, but why not work them both.  I think it makes you more well rounded and I also think that you should strive to do something you don’t think ANYONE else has done just because it’s not the TYPICAL way to do things – from what you think or have been told.

You mention to Authority Magazine that you worry about the socioeconomic effects of wealth disparity on vital financial literacy and knowledge. How do you think that we can work towards solving this issue? Do you have any specific plans?

I really don’t yet.  I know that I grew up not learning ANY of that stuff, and just through my own reading and learning have learned more real-world things that many of my friends that went to school for finance or economics or business have.  With all the resources we have handy these days, I actually believe that people can learn and become experts in anything they put their minds on.  Take for instance YouTube.  Years ago we didn’t have this thing that we could just type into a search bar and find tips on ANYTHING you wanted.  I know a lot of guys on there, including myself, teaching real deal type life financial lessons and I just hope that people that need it, find it.  I mean – I just found a video last summer on “how to clean my gas grill” because I didn’t know and I figured I would just “youtube it” – sure enough, I found a perfect video with visuals.  It’s out there and basically, anyone with internet access can watch it.

Are there any future endeavors – anything at all – that you hope to accomplish post-Corona?

Well, I really hope Corona goes away really soon for all the reasons possible, especially for acting. I miss so much being on set.  I really have a lot of things I want to accomplish there and it hasn’t been easy and productions haven’t been going on as much because of corona.

Lastly, to paint a more humanizing portrait of you, I would love it if you could speed run through a couple of “favorites” so that readers get a better sense of who you are.

  • Favorite book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
  • Favorite piece of advice: Don’t talk about it, be about it.
  • Go-to Musical Artist/Album: Empire of the Sun
  • Favorite food: Porterhouse Steak Medium Rare

Is there anything else that you would like to say to Cliche readers?

You only have one life and there is an UNLIMITED supply of information out there at your fingertips. Whatever it is you want to do, but you may be feeling like you cannot do it – find ways to overcome those obstacles and focus on how to bring your dreams to life.  Once you figure out how to overcome yourself, you can do mostly anything.

This article has been lightly edited for clarity

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Images provided by Creative Commons, Flickr, Unsplash, Pexels & Pixabay

Actor Akeem Mair Shares His Story

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Named after an Eddie Murphy character, actor Akeem Mair shares his story on his journey into the acting world. LA-based Mair has been in many award-winning Indie films and takes on smaller roles in music videos and commercials. The versatile actor works in drama, action, and romance roles and dreams of working alongside his inspiration, Denzel Washington. After gaining attention from an appearance on the Ellen Show, Mair was reinvigorated to one day be nominated for an Oscar and threw himself back into the industry. For now, he celebrates an upcoming project he worked on with his father, and hopes to be a motivation to younger generations seeking to achieve their own dreams. 

Cliche: What have been some of your favorite accomplishments as an actor?    

Akeem Mair: My most favorite accomplishment had to be when I was on the Ellen Show. The thing about it is I didn’t book it!! It was all by chance! I remember my cell blowing up in David Rountree’s Phase 2 On Camera/On Set class. Texts were popping up like, “you were on The Ellen Show??? Call me ASAP!” The segment is called “Speak The Lyrics.” A show where one of Ellen’s writers walks up to a complete stranger and begins speaking to them in song lyrics.

I literally had no idea I was even being filmed to be on The Ellen Show. I remember walking into a Barnes and Noble in Burbank. I noticed a bunch of film crew standing outside speaking to one another. So I asked them, “What are you guys filming?” But None of them had any information about what was going on which I thought was weird. I walked inside and still to this day I don’t understand why I hadn’t noticed the cameras before. I looked around at some books and then I decided to leave. But 2pac’s “ All Eyes On Me” record stopped me.. That’s when Lauren quietly walks up to me. She started talking and almost threw me completely off. 

But in the back of my mind I was hearing Coach Mike telling me to not disagree with anything she says. Just be in the moment, so I hit her with some funny humor right back at her. Next thing I know after she walks away, I get swarmed by those same crew members who claimed they didn’t know anything and now they were asking me to sign a bunch of papers. I guess they finally answered my question. 

Then it airs on TV and Ellen Degeneres calling it, “The best episode she’s ever seen!” She put it on her instagram page and boom!!! It generates over 5 million views in one day! Then by the grace of God it lands in my future agent’s feed, Sarah Angeli from Commercial Talent Agency. The Timing was crazy because I had just submitted my headshots and resume to her last week. 

So as I walked into her office for my agent meeting, guess what she was watching?? My episode cued up on her computer screen. She was like, “I just saw this yesterday and here you are!” So we talked and then she played it again and we both laughed at it. I’ll never forget that moment in my life. 

Your resume shows a variety of roles and accomplishments, what is your favorite genre to work in?

Action, Drama or Romance.  Definitely drama because that’s where most of my chances of winning the Oscar will come from and it’s the hardest to perform. I especially love drama roles because they challenge me and bring out the best in me. But I also love playing the hero like Batman or James Bond, with all of the fighting and shooting guns and winning the love interest’s heart at the end. It’s funny to me because my main thing in movies is I want the lead to fall in love and win the main girl at the end. I hate it when he doesn’t because I feel like he failed after going through so much for her. Sometimes I stopped the movie before the big fall and he loses it all just to savor the good times haha. For me, characters are like a living and breathing being and I aim to relate that to my own life as if I’m actually that person. Each role is real to me so when he feels pain I personally feel it. I love roles that bring that out of me. 

Who has inspired you in your acting career?

Denzel Washington and Eddie Murphy. You’ll understand why Eddie Murphy is such a big inspiration to me in the next question but for this question, Denzel Washington. I just love the way he approaches his craft. I mean his confidence, swag, fearlessness, and mental toughness literally screams through the screen. He just has you in awe with a feeling like it’s impossible to act that good. He’s just on a whole different level and I have to get there someday. His role in Training Day as detective Alonzo Harris was just out of this world. He definitely deserves the Oscar he won in 2002. You felt everything about his character from selfishness, greed, carelessness, betrayal, ruthlessness, liar, etc. And yet with all of that going on, you still fell in love with his character. Usually you’re turned off by the bad guys and want to see them lose. But I found myself rooting for him and hoping the best for him. It’s kind of why the last scene was so good, the scene that single handedly earned him the Oscar. When you get the audience to love you no matter what side you are on, you truly won! And that’s the biggest inspiration I can take from Denzel. 

You are named after Eddie Murphy’s role in “Coming to America”, do you find inspiration from him as you have developed your own acting career? 

Eddie Murphy inspires me everyday to pursue my passions to become a legendary actor like him. Being named after his character it seems my parents knew I was destined to be in the entertainment business. My mom, Queen, told me how she and my dad, James, went out on a Sunday evening to see the hit movie “Coming to America” when it came out in theaters on June 26, 1988. She was about 6 months pregnant with me and my parents were still unsure of what my name would be. After seeing the movie, my mother fell in love with Eddie Murphy’s character Akeem.  She talked it over with my dad and they were both in agreement. She loved how he was this African Prince who’s extremely rich but he didn’t walk around like that. He wanted to find a wife who loved and respected him for who he was and not because of his title or his money. He was humble enough to work at a low paying job  and always had something wise to say to people at the right times. He stood up for what he believed in and was completely generous at heart to everybody. When you watch that movie you find yourself saying, “ I want to be like that guy.” I would watch that movie over and over again for inspiration, learning as much as I could to develop into that kind of person. I am so grateful and honored to be named after Prince Akeem.

Who do you hope to work with on a project next?

I really hope to work with Denzel Washington or Eddie Murphy next! Haha I know it’s a stretch but I want to be able to work with those two legends while there’s still time. It kinda reminds me of that rookie season of Kobe Bryant where he went up against Micheal Jordan when he was still on the bulls. That moment was epic! It’s just crazy to me how God had set them up and now looking back you’re amazed by those two legends going head to head. I want to experience something like that, the same epic moment feeling with Denzel or Eddie. To be on set and be able to pick their brains about acting and how they each prepare for their roles. Their tone of voice or gestures…I want to learn what it takes to be an Oscar winning actor from Denzel and how to play so many multiple characters with different personalities from Eddie. Ultimately, the Oscar and to one day be a legend in this game are the only goals I have my mind set on. It sucks that it took me 5 years to get back into my craft but now that I have a new supreme hunger, I’m gonna let go of the past and do whatever it takes to make that happen.

What impacts do you hope to have during your career? 

I hope to inspire the kids throughout my entire career through my movies or commercials. I want my impact to be monumental. I want to be a role model to everyone and I want my movies to motivate, to boost confidence, to build faith, to inspire kids or adults to go after their dreams, to lift people out of dark places in their lives, to strengthen the courage of young people to not let this world push them around, to bring positive energy into a world that is so negative, to change the way people feel about themselves negatively. I want my impact to be global and international. Not just in the U.S but the entire world! When people are trying to find an example of someone who went through adversity and persevere, one of the actors they can think of is Akeem Mair!  

What upcoming projects are you most excited for?

I can’t really tell who it’s from because of the NDA contract I signed but it’s exciting because my dad is a part of it. Kind of like that Kobe-Jordan moment I was speaking about earlier, it has that same epic feeling. It was definitely a surprise to me and my father because the project made me call him right there on the spot. I haven’t spoken to my father in a minute so you can almost feel the tension of calling him and hearing his voice. I love this project a lot because it helped me reconnect with my father and it’s something I’ll never forget. Sometimes in life you need something to push you to do some of the important things in life you keep putting off because you expect it to take care of itself. It’s great we got to talk while we still have that opportunity. Whoever is reading this if you’ve got something you’ve been putting off, I suggest you go do it. Nobody knows when their last day on Earth is, I can say it’s a great feeling when you do it.

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Images by Michael Bezjian, Todd Tyler, Greg Doherty

Actor Ian Chen on Fresh Off the Boat, Asian Representation, and Flying

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Ian Chen is a star on the rise. At just 12 years old, Chen is turning heads in his portrayal of Evan Huang on the hit ABC Sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. He can also be seen in the DC Comics film Shazam! where he portrayed Eugene Choi, as well as A Dog’s Journey as young Trent, both of which were released this year. Chen is among the growing faces of Asian American actors making a positive difference in the way they are portrayed in the media. We chatted with Chen to discuss his mega-hit show Fresh Off the Boat, how he feels about representing a positive change for Asian actors, as well as his love for airplanes and flying.

 

Cliché: First off, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to answer our questions. We really appreciate it!

Ian Chen: No problem at all!

 

Congratulations on all of the success so far in your career. At such a young age, you’ve accomplished so much. How do you feel about that? You must be really proud!

Haha, yeah, sure!

 

Tell me about life at home. You have a younger brother named Max. What do you guys like to do together? What kinds of things do you have in common? Do you two have different interests and hobbies?

We love to play outside together. Max loves to draw and I love to play baseball.

 

So you have decided to become an actor. Has Max decided what he wants to be when he grows up?

It’s up to him to decide.

 

I also heard you want to become an airplane pilot when you are older. What inspired you to pursue that in the future?

Aviation was something that really caught my eye when I was younger, seeing planes fly above me or looking out the window of an airplane.

You started your career off guest-starring in Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy, which are two very successful shows. Tell me about those experiences?

Actually, the funny thing is, I didn’t guest-star in Modern Family, I was in the background. But then again, that experience really motivated me to continue this path and hopefully be like one of the stars on Modern Family!

 

Currently, you are a series lead on Fresh Off the Boat, which has just been renewed for a 6th season! Congratulations! You play Evan Huang, the youngest son of Louis and Jessica. What do you like most about playing Evan? How do you identify with him?

I think Evan and I have way more differences than similarities. He’s more attached to his mom and really upright. It’ll be really interesting to see him go into his teenage years.

What kinds of storylines are you hoping to play on Fresh Off the Boat as Evan?

I’m hoping to see a bigger difference between his younger years and now his teenage years, maybe we’ll see him be less reliant on his parents, etc.

 

You also starred in Shazam! as Eugene Choi. So many people aspire to act in a superhero movie, and you have gotten to do it at age 12! What was that experience like? Were there any moments while on set that stand out to you the most?

Shazam! was actually my first feature film, and it was an amazing experience. It was great working with the cast and crew, we had so many fun adventures together (sleepovers, a trip to a maple leaf farm, etc.)

 

Your latest film, A Dog’s Journey has you starring as young Trent, the love interest of CJ. Why do you want people to see this film and what do you think makes it different from other dog films?

I think that A Dog’s Journey stands out because there are many twists and turns that it make so lovable and funny.

 

Aside from acting, you also sing, play piano, and guitar. Which artists do you enjoy listening to on a regular basis? Would you like to pursue music sometime in the future?

I like to keep an open mind to different songs and stuff, I like to check out the top billboard charts to see what’s popping. I have no idea. It really isn’t one of my biggest interests, but maybe!

What other television shows do you like watching?

One of my favorites is Designated Survivor, I also love watching Kim’s Convenience! (Conveniently, both on Netflix!)

 

How does it feel to be a part of the growing equal representation of Asian Americans on television and film in starring roles?

It feels great to be apart of a “mission” to open the flood gates to more diverse cultures on television and create more roles and jobs for them.

 

What are some dream roles you would like to play?

Again, going back to my aviation interest. I think it would be cool to play a pilot on the big screen, like Tom Hanks in “Sully.”

 

To stay up to date on all things Ian Chen, be sure to follow him on both  Instagram and Twitter @TheIanChen.

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Actor Ian Chen on Fresh Off the Boat, Asian Representation, and Flying: Featured Image Credit: Kelly Balch

Kai Wener Breaks Down His Character on “The Orville” and More

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With his first major role on FOX’s The Orville, ten-year-old Kai Wener is realizing his dream of becoming an actor. For Wener, working on the Seth MacFarlane created show, which is wrapping up its second season, has been both a lot of fun as well as a great place to learn the craft. When he’s not busy acting or working, you can find him playing video games online with his family and friends. We chatted with Kai about his character, Ty Finn, the feeling that he got being nominated for a Young Artist Award and his upcoming projects.

 

Cliché: How did you discover your passion for acting?

Kai Wener: I realized that I wanted to pursue acting as my career path when I was young. I would watch great cartoons on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel and then I would copy the characters from the shows. Besides doing that, I would also mimic the commercials that came on during the shows. Eventually, I realized that acting allowed me to have cool experiences on different sets while meeting some awesome people. I am having so much fun being an actor, it’s a dream come true for any kid.

What’s the experience been like working on The Orville?

The experience working on The Orville has been so much fun and it’s also been a learning experience. I get to work every day with the best cast like Penny Johnson Jerald who plays my mother and Mark Jackson who plays an artificial life form named Isaac. Another great actor who I get to work with is BJ Tanner who plays my brother. Some of the other great actors around me who are apart of the cast are Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, J. Lee, Peter Macon, and Jessica Szohr. Not to mention that I get to learn about things that happen behind the camera from the show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane as well as from director Jon Cassar.

Can you describe your character, Ty Finn? Do you relate to him at all?

Ty Finn is the youngest son of Dr. Claire Finn on The Orville spaceship. He has one older brother and looks up to an artificial life form who is kind of like a robot, but better, named Isaac. Ty has already been through some pretty neat adventures for his age but is still very much a regular kid. He loves his mom and at the same time, will have fun watching his older sibling get in trouble, so yes, I definitely can relate to him.

Why should people watch The Orville?

The main reason people should watch the show is that each episode is like a mini-movie and there isn’t much of that on television at the moment. Each episode has super cool special effects and alien costumes that are realistic and out of this world. The show’s creator Seth MacFarlane makes sure to have a huge orchestra playing the music throughout the scenes. It’s like getting to watch something like Stars Wars or any other great sci-fi movie for free each week.

How did it feel to be nominated for a Young Artist Award?

After season one of The Orville aired, I started to see how many kids and teens loved watching the show and were fans which made me proud. I was able to represent the younger audience the show has by being nominated for an award that is for kids.

What was the best advice about acting that you’ve received and who was it from?

I’ll give you the same advice that my dad tells me. He told me, “As a young man growing up, to never compromise my values for an opportunity. Be patient, success will come.”

What are some types of roles or genres that you’d like to try in the future?

I’ve been working hard on reaching my goal to work on a feature film but I would also love to do some voice over work for a cartoon. I also hope that I will be able to play a superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe…fingers crossed for Miles Morales!

What are some things you enjoy doing when you’re not acting or working?

When I’m not acting or working, I love to play video games. The video game that is my favorite to play right now is Fortnite because it’s a source for me to hang out online with my friends and cousins when I’m not home. I also love to hang out with my parents and older sister at “The “Happiest Place On Earth,” which is Disneyland.

Are there any future projects that you are working on?

I just finished doing a national commercial for McDonald’s that should be airing soon. I’ve also had some great opportunities to read for some awesome television pilots and films. Hopefully, you’ll see me on one of those really soon. Of course, my fingers are crossed for a season 3 of The Orville so everyone can see Ty Finn grow up and go on more space adventures. 

 

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Kai Wener Breaks Down His Character on “The Orville” and More. Image Credits: Birdie Thompson

Film Star Blake Cooper Griffin Discusses ‘Beerfest: Thirst For Victory’ and Weighs in on Bullying

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Let the games begin, especially for the college students. It’s time to revisit Broken Lizard’s 2006 comedy Beerfest with a new reboot of the film, Beerfest: Thirst For Victory, the first original full-length feature film on CW Seed. One of the stars of the new film, Blake Cooper Griffin, is taken Hollywood by storm, having taken on a variety of different roles in both film or television, along with being a strong advocate against bullying, being a voice for some of the victims. We chatted with Blake Cooper Griffin about his character, Scott, and the key takeaways and the message from the new Beerfest film.  

 

Cliché: First off, I can’t imagine the feelings, and especially the vibe that you got, when you first heard of the amazing news that you’d be starring in CW Seed’s first original full-length feature film, Beerfest: Thirst For Victory. What exactly was racing through your mind when you heard of getting a lead role in the movie?

Blake Cooper Griffin: Well, it was funny Justin, because just a few weeks before I found out that I was going to be even auditioning for it, I watched the original by Broken Lizard, and it sort of felt like it was meant to be. When I got the part, one of the things that I was really excited about was that it’s a fun comedy. It is just a pure joy to be a part of this film, the script was fantastic, and the people involved were so great too. Especially getting to work with CW Seed, then with Kids at Play, which were some of the other producers on it, as well as Blue Ribbon Entertainment, all those were places that I always wanted to work with. So the idea that I was getting to do that was really exciting and getting to play Scott was just a dream come true. It was just a really fun part to play.

Were you a fan of the original Beerfest before landing this role? Did you watch it for any inspiration before shooting?

Yes, I was totally a fan. It has some amazing comedic actors in it, it’s hilarious, and it’s about beer drinking. Which you know? If there is one thing that people can agree on is that they like beer drinking. So I thought it was so great. And so many people that were in that movie have had such great careers so I was a total fan of it.

Of course, we are not trying to do the same thing; our whole incarnation of it is inspired by it. It’s the appreciation and love of the movie that we see a new cast of characters picking up the torch and seeing it all in 2018. The thing that I like so much about the original and also our version is the fun of competing with your friends. My character, Scott, is stuck in a rut. He’s the ringleader of the group, and he’s looking to get his mojo back. He’s struggling with what it’s like being outside of college, trying to put his life together, and wondering, ‘How can I make it as an adult?’ and he’s going, ‘This is not that fun.’ I think what he realizes is that he has gotten away from some of the things of college that are really important to hold onto, which are relationships with your friends, always finding ways to have fun in your life, no matter what stage of life you’re in, so I really connected to that part. Every day, life can be very tedious and hard, I knew what that was like right after college, and trying to figure out how to make ends meet. I also had to juggle starting out in an acting career, getting my first apartment, and having to do jobs that you didn’t necessarily want to do. I think what the movie does is that it shows that no matter what you’re going through, if you have your friends, if you’re connecting with things in your life that you enjoy, then you can have a happy life. And I think that’s what Scott finds throughout the movie.

Can you tell me about your character, Scott? Did you relate to him at all?

I did. Oh my gosh. I mean, sure. Scott is goofy. I can be goofy too. I think Scott really loves his friends, which I really love my friends. And like I said, we all have had those moments in our lives where we think, ‘Man, this is not where I want to be,’ so I think Scott is going through that in the movie. I mean, his girlfriend just broke up with him, he is in a job that he really doesn’t like, and he’s trying to figure out how to make things better. I definitely had times like that in my life. Also, one other thing, Scott is very competitive. I have to say, I am pretty competitive too. I love game nights. I play game nights with my friends and it can get a little intense. I like to win. So I connect to that part of Scott as well.

How does he fit into the movie?

I think Scott’s main function in the movie is getting everybody back together. I think that the main core group of friends have sort of strayed a little bit since college, meaning that they don’t see each other every day, or see each other every week. But Scott is the one that realizes, ‘Hey, we have all turned into something that we said we would never be, and I think that is boring.’ I think he’s thinking, ‘Gosh, we have gotten so boring,’ and he’s sort of the catalyst for getting everyone back together. He’s also the person throughout the story who makes a mistake and maybe gets a little too competitive. Then he has to come back to realize that the whole mission of re-entering Beerfest was to reconnect as a group, and I think that was the main function for him in the story.

What do you think the message of the movie is and what are some of the key takeaways that fans should be looking out for in the film?

Well, I think that the great thing about Beerfest is that its pure joy. It was pure joy to shoot, it’s pure joy to watch, it’s a good time. Beerfest is really about reclaiming the fun of college, it’s ultimately about five friends, who reconnect and get together. Scott is also recently single and he’s trying to figure out if he can get back with his girlfriend, Angie. And I think the key takeaway from the movie is that sometimes you have to revisit your past to get your mojo back.

How did you get involved with acting?

I really attribute my ability to enter the career as an actor to going to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I am from a small town in South Carolina originally and I never had anyone in my life who had become an actor or who was involved in the entertainment industry at all. So when I started doing plays in high school and I realized that I really liked it, I had an opportunity to audition for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I think what that did was that it put me in a community of people that were all pursuing the same thing. They were doing it in a very serious way. And you had such great teachers there whose mission was to help you be the best version of an actor that you can be. They would help you figure out different parts of yourselves that you can turn into different characters. So I have a lot of supporters there at the School of Arts, one of which is one of my biggest supporters, an acting teacher named Tanya Belov. She even supports me today. She will call me, and I will be like, ‘Oh, I am stuck on this character,’ I am trying to find a way in or I am trying to figure out how I can find a commonality with this character. Then we would talk about it. And to have a teacher like that, that has been so dedicated to you is priceless. So I really attribute that as to helping me get into acting because at the end of the four years at the School of the Arts, you go and do a showcase in New York and in Los Angeles. And it was there that I signed with my first agent and managers, and then moved out and just started auditioning.

What advice would you give others looking to pursue it?

Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are. Or, don’t let anyone else tell you how big you should dream. I think that no matter what you do in life; your life or my life has always been infinitely better when I pursued the things in my heart that felt important and something that I would want to get up and do every day.

What are some future projects that you are working on?

Well, I just finished a little film project which I am excited about and I did a little television project that has not come out yet. But one thing that I am really excited about is that I am developing some content for a show with an actress named Kim Shaw, which we are very excited about, having the ability to write our own project. Kim and I have worked together in the past on different film projects and it’s really fun for us to get to write something for ourselves. So I don’t want to get ahead of myself by giving away too many of the details, but I can tell you that hopefully, you guys will be able to see that in the very near future.

Over the years, you have participated for charity causes helping people who have been victims of bullying and showing your support. How has dealing with this growing problem today touched you and what pushed you to want to be a voice for these victims?

Well, first of all, bullying is a huge problem. It’s something that breaks my heart, and honestly, it makes me very emotional to think about people who are harassed, victimized, treated unfairly, or don’t feel safe in their school for whatever reason. I got involved in it, when I did a movie called Love Is All You Need? It was a movie about bullying, and I actually played the bully in the film. But it was at that time that I really started to realize by talking to other people when we would show the movie, people would come up to me after the movie and tell me their stories. And after hearing their stories, it really touched my heart, so I decided that I would get involved. One of the non-profits that I work with is an organization called Boo2Bullying. I have been finding out ways to do events with them, to raise money, but also to do practical things, like going out and speaking to a boys and girls home. I would be talking about self-esteem, feeling good about yourself and treating others fairly. I think right now in our country, it is so important that we think about that, that we should treat everyone with respect no matter who they are, where they come from, or who they love. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.

 

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Film Star Blake Cooper Griffin Discusses ‘Beerfest: Thirst For Victory’ and Weighs in on Bullying. Image Credits: Vince Trupsin

Natalie Paul: From Center Stage to the Big Screen

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Natalie Paul is absolutely inspirational. She went from stage acting with theatre groups such as The Classical Theatre of Harlem to writing and directing her own short films, Everything Absolutely and Sweet Tea. Now, she’s an incredible film actor who has taken on roles in Crown Heights, The Deuce, Show Me a Hero, and most recently Heather in The Sinner. Natalie has been impacted by many tough female actors and loves to play strong women with complex personalities. Through her film career and work with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, she hopes to help change the film industry for the better.

   

Have you always been interested in acting? Who’s your biggest inspiration?

Natalie Paul: I’ve always been interested in storytelling- whether it was through acting, writing, dancing. My biggest inspiration has always been the women in my family – listening to them tell stories, hearing them make everyday dramas to be larger than life. I was always in awe of them; I think that was the beginning of it.

What has your experience been like working on a stage compared to working on a film set?

On stage you get the instant knowledge of whether you’ve got the audience or not. In film, you often have to wait months! Sometimes the crew will come up to you and say, “good work” after an exceptionally difficult scene – that can be sweeter than any round of applause at times, because they see you day after day and they’re working really hard right alongside you.

Theater is more athletic; it takes more energy to keep something fresh night after night. I love both mediums a lot though.

How is playing Heather in The Sinner different from any other role you’ve had?

In so many ways, Heather has a lot going on. Our showrunner, Derek Simonds, said to me early on that because Heather’s a junior detective she has to clean up a lot of messes in town. She knows the different sides of people that they try to keep hidden. I’m not sure I’ve ever played a character like that before. But at the same time she’s got things to hide herself, as you ‘ll see in the show. So I guess juggling that professional side with the personal side of Heather has been really juicy and complex.

What goes into acting on a crime series? Do you have to do a lot of research to prepare for such an intense role? How does it affect your everyday life?

Yes – I got to talk to some experts about the investigation process, the criminal justice system, and the juvenile detention system, as well as the personal consequences of the job. As for mindset, I watched some documentaries and read a few personal essays to get inside the head of a police officer and a detective – since Heather is transitioning from one to the other. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that as a woman you have to be twice as tough, you really can show no weakness. They’re waiting of you to fail or get emotional, so you’ve got to be impervious.

As for me, I just had to get really used to being totally contained. I’m a pretty joyful person, I love dancing and singing and sharing a big hearty laugh with my co-stars, so it was always about knowing a police officer might be the same way and they would have to contain all of that as well. Wearing a uniform every day can be a little pampering on your personality but it’s been interesting to really embody that strength and power. So it’s a bit of a trade-off.

Who is your dream character to play? Why?

I would just love to continue to play strong, complex women – full characters that go through a transformation. But if I had to choose a person, I’d absolutely love to play Pam Grier, she is an absolute inspiration to me. She is always so kick ass, strong, intelligent and sexy. To me, she is the full package! Not only that, she also overcame so much adversity. She’s definitely a huge inspiration to me as an actress.

What are some of your greatest challenges that you would like to overcome?

I have to acknowledge that I’m still pretty lucky to be able to do what I love to do. Being an actress was a dream ever since I was a kid, making faces in the mirror with a turtleneck hanging off my head and trying to make myself cry (haha). So I feel really happy to be on the journey I’m on but I do feel that there’s a long way for the industry to go as far as seeing actresses who happen to have a different skin color or ethnicity for who they are and how hard they work. We project possibility onto some people and limitation onto others and it needs to stop. I feel like I’m often misunderstood because people might assume that I’m certain way just because of my skin, or that people might not relate to me because of it. It really goes beyond roles. We have to start seeing each other for who we truly are, past appearances.

What made you want to work with the Epic Theater Ensemble?

Throughout my life there were people there that took me under their wing and mentored me. If it wasn’t for them I have no idea where’d I’d be today. It helped me feel like I had a future and that I could make a difference. So, it’s natural for me to pay that forward, you have to “lift as you climb.” And you can do that at whatever stage you’re at on your journey. Epic is an amazing organization that really changes lives, and it’s really more of a gift to me to be a part of it than it is for the kids. Seeing their faces after they’ve written their own play or performed is priceless.

You have written and directed a few short films (“Everything Absolutely” and “Sweet Tea”), do you want to continue writing and directing in your career? What are some of your top goals?

Yeah! I’d love to keep writing and possibly direct one day. Right now I’m pretty in love with acting so it’s about trying to find time around shooting to really delve into some of my independent projects. I am writing a few things that I want to wrap up soon. We’ll see! Just want to continue honing my craft as I work always.

As far as the future, I just hope to continue telling good stories that move people, that get people to think and that remind people that we’re all connected. I’d love to play a variety of characters, I don’t want to be in a box. And hopefully I’ll help change the real world too.

 

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Natalie Paul: From Center Stage to the Big Screen. Photo Credit: Jai Lennard

Adam Ambruso Talks About His Role In ‘Butterfly Caught’ and More

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Not only does actor and producer Adam Ambruso have a mission to combat sexual harassment in Hollywood and in the workforce, but he also continues to give back and help out other people in his community. His most recent film Butterfly Caught is set to hit movie theaters in September. The film touches on two hot social awareness topics which are human trafficking and sexual harassment. As a supporter of the Me Too movement, Adam hopes the message that viewers take away is that you don’t have to give up your body to get what you want in life. We chatted with Adam about his character, Randy, and his upcoming projects.

 

Cliché: You just finished your latest project, Butterfly Caught. It’s worth mentioning that this film touches on a very sensitive and important topic, which is sexual harassment. What was your experience like making the film?

Adam Ambruso: Overall, the team that was making the film was amazing. Manny Rodriguez Jr., who was the director, writer and the producer of the film, along with his wife, have become great friends of mine. My experience was amazing because I enjoyed the team that was making the film and it was challenging for me because I was also working a lot while making the film. I was working a full-time job. So I would be filming all night and then I would be back up at a job in the morning. I lost weight during the shoot because I got a bit run down while filming. I learned so much about action scenes, quick filmmaking, working with gun control, SWAT, and the fire department. My role required firearms and the team wanted me to look like I have been on the SWAT and on the police force for some good amount of time.

Can you describe your character, Randy?

He is a police officer in the film. The script was handed to me by my acting coach at the time, who is now my mentor and producing partner. The minute I looked at the script and read it, I was like, wow, I really resonate with this character named Randy. Throughout the film, Randy is essentially the good guy. So I totally had to play this guy. Randy is the one redeeming character in the film that you are sort of rooting for in the entire movie. He was a crucial character because everyone’s bad and flawed characters juxtaposed against this central strong character that you have to believe throughout the film. He is just a good altruistic police officer who tries to right wrongs, and at the same time, live a full life.

 

 

Do you relate to him at all?

I think I relate to Randy because I am the same guy in many ways. In life, I’m also altruistic and I have this vision of me helping humanity. I feel the reason why I am in this industry and in business is that I believe that I am supposed to help people in the larger scale. Nowadays, I help people in my local community. But sometimes people will say, “Why am I in this industry? Why am I given opportunities like this?” I believe it’s because there is a responsibility that comes with that and I feel this desire and need to help more people. So I think Randy and I are very altruistic people who try to help society be better.

What’s the message of the film?

There are a lot of messages to this film. I know we call it a Me Too movement film, but to say that, I feel like it shortchanges the film. The film is much more than that. There is a lot going on in the film. For instance, the issues that the characters have as human beings, which people can relate to. But there is a central theme in the movie of one of the main lead characters. Everything sort of centers around her story of giving up her body to get what she wants in the business and a director taking advantage of that. In the end, I won’t spoil it but things don’t work out as she had anticipated.

How do you hope viewers respond to this film and what would you like them to take away from the film?

I hope viewers respond by feeling that this was true. It was real. That this was a slice of life and it ringed true for them and it impacted them. I hope viewers are not only moved by the film but that it’s also shocking. I also hope they feel the pain of the characters and that it resonates with them while watching the film. I always said that I wanted to make movies that moved, touched and changed people. So that is what I think will happen when people watch this movie. What I hope they take away is that you don’t have to give up your integrity, your body, or your soul to a degree, to get what you want in life. You have to stay true to yourself and honor yourself. That’s the right choice. If you make sacrifices in who you are, it will change you as a human being and you will not find happiness that way.

 

 

After you watched the film, how did you react to it and what did you take away from it?  

Well, it’s always hard to watch me on camera in a film. So the first thing I had to get past was watching me in the film. Once I did that, I have seen it several times because I been to a bunch of screenings since I promoted the film all over the country. When I watched the film, the first thing I thought was that this was a good film. We did a pretty good job. It was interesting on the set because Manny is a first-time director so I was not being given a lot of input. When we did a complicated scene, Manny would say, “OK, we are moving on.” Then, I would respond, “Oh wait, did we get what we were supposed to get there? Was that good?” He would just tell me that we are moving on. Also, I didn’t get a lot of feedback when the movie was over, so I had no idea how it was going to end up! 

I found it to be hard to watch these people spiraling out and making decisions that I have seen friends make before in life. I felt the pain of the characters that made me walk away. In the end, I felt that you can survive bad decisions and negativity. But God, wouldn’t it be better if I wouldn’t have made those decisions in the first place?

 

 

Are there any similarities that you saw between the movies Trafficked and Butterfly Caught?

Yes. I remember when I first came to Hollywood, I was deciding what I should do. People would ask me, “What do you want to do? What movies do you want to make?” I told them that I want to make products and movies that moved, touched, and inspired people. What’s interesting is these last five to six years have been transformative in my career and have been a trajectory. People would say to me, “I didn’t even know you were involved in the Me Too movement” or, “I didn’t know you cared about human trafficking.” I think often times the script finds you and the story finds you. The similarities of both films are that they are right in the will house of what’s happening in the world like human trafficking and the Me Too movement. I happen to make movies in the two hottest social awareness movements in the world which are totally coincidental and not something I planned. Those are two awareness movies that are both in alignment with trying to make the world a better place to live.

At this stage in your acting career, who was the person that helped get you to where you are now?

My mentor, Will Wallace, who is a well-known filmmaker. I think he will be one of the big filmmakers of our day. He has been my acting coach as well as my mentor. He pushed me for all of these projects. He directed Trafficked and helped produce it. He was also one of the producers of Butterfly Caught and has definitely been a huge advocate and proponent of mine. We now have a film fund together. So I feel like I earned his respect and he has been transformative in my career and in my life.

What was the best advice you’ve received about acting and who was it from?

I had the good fortune of studying with some amazing people in this town. I have studied with a lot of the big names and they all have given fantastic advice. But I remember one thing that really struck me. As an actor, you can get a little grandiose about your profession. Not to mention there is a tendency to put it on a pedestal, make it larger than life, and bigger than it is. I will never forget what Bob Morris told me, who is my acting coach. He said, “Listen, you are a plumber. Go in, plumb, and get out of the room.” He told me that you are there for a job. When a plumber walks into a room to fix your sink, he opens the bottom door, fixes the sink, and he leaves. There is no fanfare. I remember thinking, “This is just a job.” I do my homework, know what I am doing, get in the room, and don’t make a big fanfare about it. So I found Bob’s advice to really carry me through a lot of situations where you kind of make it larger than life and can trip you up.

 

 

Are there any projects that you are currently working on or will be working on?

Yes. Butterfly Caught comes out in September in movie theaters. But I am actually in preparation for my next film called The Last Mile. It’s an action film with a message. It seems like I am always in movies with messages which are good. We start filming in September. We are still aligning all of the cast members. I will be one of the lead actors in the film. I also am evaluating some other films to see whether I will join the cast and the filming would begin this year as well.  

What are some things you’re involved with outside of acting?

At this point in my life, with the most recent success I have had in my life, I realized how valuable my time is. I always had more time and less money as a struggling actor. But now, I have got more money and less time. I see people that do volunteer work and take on a lot of causes. I actually want to have my own foundation. I would love to do a lot more charity work. I feel like if everybody took care of their local community and we started this trend, then nobody would have to go anywhere to take care of anybody. We would start this domino effect. So I always try and help out people who I know and who are in my community.

 

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Adam Ambruso Talks About His Role In ‘Butterfly Caught’ and More. Image Credits: Philippe McClelland

Lance Reddick Gives us his Experience as an Artist

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Lance Reddick, is the man who can do anything. He’s been in a range of acting positions from comedic roles like the hilarious yet tyrannical Christian DeVille from Comedy Central’s Corporate to dramatic roles as commanding officer Irvin Irving on the crime television series, Bosch. His smooth distinctive voice has made many appearances in video games, animated shows, and of course his classical music. In this interview Lance gives us insight as to what it’s like to be an artist involved with acting and music. Despite his setbacks, Lance is a man dedicated to his craft and a wonderful talented human being. 

Cliché: What has your experience been like working on Bosch and Corporate?
Lance Reddick: It’s been great on both accounts. Obviously they are different experiences because the genre, style and characters are so different. But it’s been great to go from playing Irving, who is so understated, and Christian, who is such a maniac.

How do you handle the switches from working on a drama to a comedy?
Well, in some ways it’s more about the character and the tone of the show than the genre per say. It’s all about finding the truth of who the person is physically, psychologically and rhythmically. Part of what makes Christian so funny is he takes himself so seriously, and he’s fearless in his extreme point of view. In his mind, he is never wrong. Being wrong is for other people.

What have been some of your favorite experiences in your career? Who’s been your favorite character to play?
My favorite experiences have always been working with great people when everybody is committed to doing the best work possible, supporting everyone else to do their best work, as opposed to egos addicted to being the center of attention. Highlights for me have been The Wire, Bosch, John Wick, American Horror Story, and Corporate.

As far as my favorite character to play, I don’t have one. I’ve loved too many of them – although I must say Papa Legba in American Horror Story was so completely different from anything I’ve ever done that it was fantastic, and getting to work with Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange, and Kathy Bates (one of my idols) feels like a once in a lifetime kind of experience – almost surreal.

Image Credit: Comedy Central

Before getting into acting you studied music, and you released an album back in 2007. Do you still try to focus on music in your life?
Off and on. It has been on my mind a lot lately. I was trying to make more time to write and compose after we wrapped season four of BOSCH, but my acting plate has been so full this year, it’s been very difficult to make the time. But it’s still a major part of who I feel I am, and it’s an outlet for my creativity that acting will never satisfy.

How did you get involved with voice acting? What’s that experience like compared to acting on screen?
Well, I think that voice acting for me really started with doing commercials, and then moved into video games and then story form animation. For me the biggest difference between voice acting and on screen acting is how much more input you expect and need from the director to guide your performance in voice acting, particularly in video games.

What is the most important thing you’ve taken away from your career so far?
If by that question you mean what have I learned about life or myself, I would have to say that consistent hard work pays off. But, it’s has to be the right kind of hard work, and it has to be on two levels at once – artistic and business. The business part was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around, and took a very long time, because I just didn’t want to think about it. I just wanted to create and let other people worry about that other stuff. But realizing that the buck stops with me if I don’t want to be a victim of other people’s actions and choices means a constant battle with yourself about the standards for both the quality of the work you do and the quality of the work you are able to have to do, which often means holding other people accountable to their commitments to you as well. For artists, that’s really hard because we want to be liked and we want to focus 100% on our art.

What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge hands down has been race. Spending so much time waiting around for the “black” or “ethnic” roles, so there were just rarely leads to even audition for. And then as the 90’s and early 2000’s progressed watching rappers and stand up comedians being pushed ahead of the line in front of trained actors of color, it was really disgusting and disheartening. And then of course the next trend was to promote train theatre actors from England, instead of those here, claiming it’s because they are better trained after spending so much time not giving a damn how well trained American actors of color were…well… Anyway, that’s my experience.

Is there anything left that you haven’t done in your career that you still want to try?
Plenty. Don’t get me wrong, I have been really fortunate, and almost can’t believe how great my career is right at this moment.

But since you ask, my bucket list left to achieve would be to star on Broadway, to be the lead of my own television series, to win an Oscar, and to do a movie with Meryl Streep.

(Oh, and to cure cancer and be the first man on Mars… 😉 )

 

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Lance Reddick Gives us his Experience as an Artist: Featured Image Credit: Storm Santos, Groomer: Blondie for Exclusive Artists Using MAC Cosmetics

Going Beyond YouTube with Gabriel Conte

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Gabriel Conte, best known for his popular Vines and YouTube channel, is immersing himself in a new role as actor in the Go90 series Mr. Student Body President. Conte caught up with us to chat about growing up, his journey into entertainment, and who he idolizes as an actor.

Cliché: Tell us about yourself growing up. What were you like as a kid? When did you decide entertaining was for you?
Gabriel Conte: Growing up, I was always very active! My older brother and I kind of grew up like twins since we were so close in age and always spent time outside together. We were always obsessed with a sport and the sport constantly changed. We would be obsessed with football, and then soccer, then street hockey, and then basketball, etc. My friends and I always loved filming random silly stories we made up and I learned how to edit from putting the films we made together. That’s kind of where I got my start with filming my own content, but it never turned into anything until much later.
With content creation, you have complete creative control over what is being produced. You’ve recently ventured into scripted content, where your main role was being an actor. Was that transition difficult?
It wasn’t difficult for me to transition into scripted content because I started in entertainment as an actor in middle school. I joined a local theatre program and fell in love with acting and continued all the way into college. I competed through high school and then was pursuing an acting degree at FSU before moving out to L.A. Acting wasn’t really anything new for me, but the business side of the industry took some time to learn and adjust to. But I enjoy every step of it!

You rose to popularity through new media such as Vine and YouTube. What do you like about those platforms? What drew you to them in the first place?
Well, I started growing a following originally on Vine, and it was a great way to put out original skits and videos. It really allowed creators to gain an audience from just using their phone. I look at Vine ending as a challenge for creators to move up to longer videos like those on YouTube and Facebook. I’ve been posting on YouTube for almost two years now and it’s really a great way to show your creativity alongside your personality, as well as simply share your mind with the world.
What was the best experience about being on set? Any funny stories?
The best experience on set is always working with such talented and creative minds to create amazing stories. Also, with the amount of time you have to spend on each set, you really make good friends with the actors you’re working with.
You’ve grown a big following over the past few years. Do you have any touching or funny fan encounters?
Every fan encounter is really an amazing experience. Each new fan I meet is putting a new face to the viewers watching and continuously supporting my content. The best encounters are the ones where I’m told that the content I’ve put out has helped that person’s life in some way. That’s what it’s all about: being a positive impact and helping people.

The best [fan] encounters are the ones where I’m told that the content I’ve put out has helped that person’s life in some way. That’s what it’s all about: being a positive impact and helping people.

Who are some of your inspirations?
One of my inspirations is Dylan O’Brien because I really admire the career he has built for himself and the roles he’s been able to play throughout his career. I also admire someone like Tim Tebow who, through all the fame, was still able to stay true to himself and to his faith, since that is also very important to me.
What’s next for you?
Besides Mr. Student Body President on Go90, you can also catch me in Foursome. New episodes air every Wednesday on YouTube Red! Outside of work, I’m traveling between Australia and L.A. while planning mine and my financée’s wedding!
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Going Beyond YouTube with Gabriel Conte: Photographer: Wes Klain, Groomer: Jenna Garagiola, Stylist: Brandon Nicholas H

Vanessa de Largie Interview

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Vanessa de Largie is both an award-winning actress and a talented author. She was raised in Perth, Australia and attended the Johnny Young Talent School between the ages of 3 and 14. After years of crafting her skills, she landed the lead role in A Nocturne: Night of the Vampire and the film earned her The Best Female Actor award in Melbourne’s Underground Film Festival in 2007. Fast forward to 2015 and she will be starring in an upcoming European horror film called Laundry Man. Below, de Largie was delighted to give us the scoop on her upcoming role and her newest book.

VanessaHeadshot

©John Warren


Cliché: What drew you to become an actress, and what have you enjoyed the most about your career thus far?
Vanessa de Largie: My mother was a film buff, and my father was an avid reader and vinyl collector. I grew up in an environment that encouraged creativity. When I was 3 years old, my mother enrolled me in the Johnny Young Talent School, where I trained in singing, dancing, and acting for a decade. At 14, mum got me my first agent, the late Erica Edgley. My first television audition was for the role of Angel in Home and Away. The role eventually went to Melissa George, another Perth actress (Alias, The Good Wife, Muholland Drive).
In 2006, I got my first lead role in an independent horror film. The film was called A Nocturne: Night of The Vampire (distributed by TROMA). It was accepted into the main program in elite film festivals throughout Europe and I flew over as a guest. Traveling to Belgium, Greece, Ireland, England, and Holland with the film remains the highlight of my career—possibly the highlight of my life.
You play a character named Netty in the upcoming European horror film Laundry Man. Can you tell us a little more about that?
I am very excited to be working with film director Johan Vandewoestijne (who was the executive producer of the Belgian cult classic Rabid Grannies). The film is being shot in Kortrijk, Belgium later this year. I play the role of Netty, a lesbian who gets killed by a serial killer (played by Gunther Vanhuyse). The story is partly based on the crimes committed by American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, as well as the crimes committed by Belgian-Hungarian pastor Andras Pandy.
What drew you to this film and to your character?
The script is AMAZING. Totally fucked up! I have worked on an array of horror films over the last decade. I love being killed on film and getting all weird and bloody. It’s great fun. I think I will be able to do a lot with Netty and push boundaries.
You are also a successful author. When did you realize you wanted to write a book?
Writing is my soul. I love storytelling. I love sharing my truth. I have experienced a lot of tragedy for someone who is only in their 30s. I lost my parents and my brother in my mid-20s. If I stopped writing, I’m pretty sure all my pain (which is lurking under the surface) would engulf me.  When I keep busy and devote myself to my work, I don’t have to think about anything. I don’t have family—I have writing, acting, and myself.
Tantric Afternoons is a personal account of your sensual journey. What inspired you to write this book, and what do you hope people will take away from it?
I am a sexually liberated woman; I am also a sex-positive feminist. I believe that in order for women to achieve true freedom and equality, they must not be oppressed sexually. Men can sleep around and it’s accepted, but if a woman chooses to sleep with an array of partners, she is dealt the shame card. My erotic memoir Tantric Afternoons is unabashed and unapologetic. I talk about my sexual encounters honestly and without shame. Sexuality and sensuality are beautiful things—they should be embraced.
You have said that “strong, sexual female protagonists, both on the page and on the screen,” inspire you. What exactly is it about them that you admire? Is there someone in particular who inspires you the most?
I think to portray females in popular culture as creatures who crave marriage, intimacy, emotion, and children is a massive generalization. There is no doubt that there are many women (perhaps even a majority of women) who do seek these things, but the majority never justifies the whole.  I want to see women like myself represented in popular culture—women with rampant sexualities that don’t crave any of those things. Authors like Anais Nin and Catherine Millet come to mind as people who inspire me most. I also have an incredible amount of respect for courageous feminist/porn star/sexologist Annie Sprinkle. What an inspiration!
image001 dont hit me-03 (1)
Your award-winning book Don’t Hit Me! is also a very personal story, this time about your struggles with domestic violence. What was it like to experience that at such a young age, and what have you learned from it?
One never forgets the first time they are punched; it makes you very wary of men in general. During that time in my life, my journal was my witness—it was the place I went to feel safe. I decided to self-publish my raw journal and titled it Don’t Hit Me! Within two weeks, it was a #1 Amazon Best Seller and went on to win two international awards, as well as receiving critical acclaim from around the globe. In January of this year, it was picked up by Seattle publisher Booktrope and re-released as a paperback and an eBook. I am very fortunate to have survived domestic violence; some women aren’t as lucky. If my book can encourage one woman to leave her deadly predicament, then it has been a success.
How did you feel to share such intimate details with the world? Were you nervous by the reception at all?
My violence happened at the hands of a well-known Australian actor, so I was more worried about him finding out. I do not name my abuser in the book as I feel it is unnecessary. I also don’t think it would be fair to his children, whom I have a great deal of respect for. Writing is a place where I feel safe. I like to peel away all the layers and reveal my truth. They say the truth will set you free. I hope to achieve healing for myself and others through sharing this story.
What’s next for you? Do you have any other books or films coming down the pipeline?
Well, I have just joined The Huffington Post as a writer/blogger, so that is certainly a milestone in my career thus far. My memoir Without My Consent launches at the end of 2015—it is about a ‘sexual assault’ I survived at 20. Next month I go on a blog tour for my book Don’t Hit Me!, so life is certainly busy.
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Vanessa de Largie Interview: Featured image courtesy of Damjan Janevski