Tag Archives Entertainment Interview

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

Leonard Wu Talks His Latest Role in ‘Marco Polo’

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Leonard Wu is a talented actor with an impressive body of work both in film and television. He’s had roles in series such as Workaholics and Marco Polo, as well as appearances in the films 17 Again and Crush the Skull. Wu caught us up on his latest work, as well as what inspired him to be an actor, and why he loves acting. Make sure to catch him in season two of Marco Polo, which comes to Netflix on July 1. 

Cliché: You attended UCLA and received a BA in English. What made you decide to go into the acting field?
Leonard Wu: It’s kind of a strange thing. Acting is something that I had always wanted to do since as far back as I can remember. But growing up in D.C., it was just unheard of among my peers, and so it wasn’t something I really explored. As a teenager, I studied and performed Chinese Opera, and though I wasn’t keen on the singing/speaking roles, the martial arts and acrobatic aspects of it completely fascinated me. That was about the extent of it for me in terms of performing, but it really whet my appetite, and when I graduated high school, it was a pivotal moment where I said to myself, “Okay, I’m gonna get out of D.C. and head to Los Angeles to take a crack at this acting thing.” I think I kind of blindsided my parents with that, but they were supportive and told me to at least major in something that had some semblance of a practical application. So I majored in English, and every single opportunity I got, every free moment I had, I spent it learning and performing on stage productions all over campus.
You have a very diverse body of work featuring both television and film. Is there one you prefer over the other?
I think if you had asked me five years ago where I’d prefer to be working, I would have said “film” without skipping a beat. It’s amazing to see how much the industry has evolved and changed over that time. With the recent renaissance that has happened in TV, it’s just such an exciting space to be in and explore. Basic cable and premium channel shows have really pushed the boundaries in terms of what can be offered, and as a result, there is something for everybody, and at such a high caliber. So for the moment, I’m loving working in the TV arena.
Do you have any projects in the works right now?
I’m currently developing some TV projects, in more of a producing/writing capacity. They’re still in their infancy, but being behind the camera is something that excites me as much as being in front of.
What is your favorite part of being an actor?
This is a tough one. There is so much I love about being an actor, but if I had to pick one thing right now, it would be the characters that I’ve gotten to immerse myself in. It’s always fun to play something that is so far removed from who you are in everyday life, and really explore different aspects of yourself.
Can you tell us a little about your character Orus on Marco Polo?
Orus is a fierce and loyal warrior intent on bringing long-held traditions back to the people of Mongolia. We filmed in Hungary, Slovakia, and Malaysia, and I had to train heavily for the role. Martial arts, weaponry, horseback riding… the whole nine yards. I was very fortunate to be working with stunt coordinator Brett Chan and his amazing Hitz International Stunt Team. They were an integral part of helping me shape Orus.
Your most recent film was Crush the Skull. What experience working on that film did you enjoy most?
My role in Crush the Skull was just a cameo, but I was working with family, so it was an absolute joy to be on set. I had worked with Viet Nguyen (the director/writer) and Chris Dinh (actor/writer) on previous online projects such as Ninja Say What?!, which completely blew up and went viral, and we all had such a great time together that we were always looking for opportunities to collaborate. Fast forward a few years later and Viet and Chris are kicking ass and making their feature debut, and they asked us to come out and play again. I said, “Yes,” with no hesitation. The day we shot, it was like good ol’ times with the buddies. My scene was with Jerry Ying (also in Ninja Say What?!) and Chris, and we were sitting in the back of a car, just riding along this bumpy dirt road in the middle of nowhere, improvising for like three hours straight. I think that’s the thing I love most about being directed by Viet. He’s this master editor, so he’s cutting in his head as he’s filming, so when he knows he’s got what he needs, he lets you just go insane and do whatever. And, for me, I don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to improv in general, so I love it.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become an actor?
I think a lot of aspiring actors come into this town with a romantic notion of how they’re going to find success and fame. I totally get it; I think that a part of you always has to maintain that romantic notion, but it has to be tempered with pragmatism. Everyone loves an underdog story about the actress who had $15 left in her pocket when she got that huge role that changed her life forever. But those stories are few and far between, and the reality of it is, living in squalor isn’t particularly fun. So I have a pretty practical approach in terms of how I handle being an actor: if you can’t afford to eat or put a roof over your head, you’re not gonna be able to subsist and you’ll have no choice but to quit acting. If you’re able to do those two things, then you can keep fighting. The rest of it honestly is just details. Success may not happen in a month, a year, or 10 years, but if you are able to survive and continue to maintain a discipline in regards to how you approach acting, then you’ll find yourself making progress.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My acting coach Stan Kirsch has said this to me on a numerous occasions: “Do not ride the highs and lows that come with success.” At the end of the day, I try to always remember that in order to help me stay even keeled. It’s a good way to keep this industry from driving you nuts.
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Leonard Wu Talks His Latest Role in ‘Marco Polo’: Photographed by Quavondo

Aislinn Paul Interview

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For nine seasons, actress Aislinn Paul played Clare Edwards on the iconic Canadian TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Once only seen as “the younger sister,” Clare entered Degrassi High as a gifted student with a strong religious background and conservative beliefs, but soon transformed into a more mature young adult, experiencing love and heartbreak, a cancer diagnosis, and a teen pregnancy. Now, Paul is taking on a new role in the NBC series Heroes: Reborn. No longer portraying a high school academic, Paul plays Phoebe Frady, an Evo—an evolved human who possesses a supernatural ability. Without a mentor to guide her, Frady explores her unique power of manipulating light and shadow amidst a society that fears the evolved. From high schooler to superhero, Paul proves she can tackle any role.
Cliché: You played Clare Edwards on Degrassi: The Next Generation for nine years. What was it like leaving that character behind?
Aislinn Paul: I was very sad to say goodbye to Clare. You get to know a character almost as well as yourself after playing them for so many years, but it also felt like it was time to let her go, let her live her own life. Perhaps that’s too sentimental, but it’s hard not to be that way after almost a decade.
Were you surprised at Degrassi’s cancellation or were there any indicators?
I was going to be graduating at the end of the season regardless, so right from the start of the shoot, everything gave me a sense of finality. But I think when a show has been on for 14 seasons, you’re always looking for the other shoe to drop. It just seems too good to be true to be on the air that long, especially for a Canadian teen drama. We had a good run, and I think we all feel very lucky.
Did you like how the series ended?
It was a great gift to be able to take time to say goodbye to all those characters and get a sense of where they’re headed in the future. It was a great send-off.
Where do you see Clare in the future?
I think she’ll end up at Columbia eventually, whether for her undergrad or a later degree. I think New York is a great city for her, and she will really thrive there.
Netflix has picked up Degrassi for a new incarnation of the show, Degrassi: Next Class. Any chance Clare will make an appearance?
I don’t think a Clare appearance is in the cards for now. I think it’s important to let this new group of kids find their voices on the show and let these characters grow. As much as the audience may miss the old characters, the rotation of faces is what makes Degrassi special.
Tell us a little about your character, Phoebe Frady, on Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters. What drew you to her?
Phoebe is such a wonderful and fragile character. Her sense of self is really delicate at this point in her life and she really only has her brother and her roommate to lean on. And in contrast, her power is so strong. It’s easy to see how she could be overwhelmed by it. The web series was a great way for the audience and for me to get to know Phoebe’s backstory and hopefully lend a little compassion her way when you see her on the show.
Were you a fan of the original series?
I was a huge fan of the original series. I never missed an episode, and I have the first two seasons on DVD. It was just so original at the time, and I loved that.
What’s it like playing Phoebe?
The Phoebe you see in Dark Matters was pretty easy to find because she’s very relatable, but the Phoebe you meet in Heroes Reborn was way more of a challenge. The hair/makeup really helps me get into character.
I love the strong relationship she has with her brother, Quentin. Will we get to see more of their relationship on Heroes Reborn?
I love that relationship, too. We didn’t realize until we were shooting Dark Matters just how strong a connection Quentin and Phoebe have. You do see some interaction with them in Heroes Reborn, but it’ll never be quite the same.
Your character has the power to manipulate light and shadow. If you could have any one power in real life, what would you want it to be?
Time travel, definitely. I really enjoy history and would love to travel back to some of the biggest moments in history. I’m also chronically late so time-travel would help with that.
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“Aislinn Paul Interview” originally appeared as “Out of the Shadows” in Cliché Magazine’s Dec 2015/Jan 2016 issue. Photo credit: Lane Dorsey