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Shelby Surdam is a Rising Force

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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 
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Freeform Confirms ‘Party of Five’ Reboot, Orders a Pilot

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Joining the list of small screen reboots, Party of Five is officially in the works. Freeform greenlit the series this week and ordered a pilot episode for a Party of Five reboot. The original Party of Five premiered on Fox in 1994 and ran for six seasons. Matthew Fox, Lacey Chabert, Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt all starred in the series as the orphaned Salinger siblings. The reboot has been in development since January. The ’90s Fox drama follows the Salinger kids after losing their parents in a drunk driving accident. From there on, the show deals with difficult life issues like drug abuse, cancer and death. But will the new drama just be an updated take on the same story? Probably not.

Freeform Confirms ‘Party of Five’ Reboot, But What Will Change?

As with any series that is signed on for a reboot some years later, the new Party of Five will take a more modern focus. Instead of the Salingers, the family will be the Buendias children. Like the Salingers, the Buendias will lose their parents, but not due to a car accident. The new Party of Five will shift focus to the current deportation issues, as the kids struggle to keep the family going after their parents are deported. Executive producers Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser discussed the reboot recently, stating “this new iteration of Party of Five isn’t a retread of the original; it’s a whole new look at kids trying to parent each other in the wake of circumstances beyond their control, yet learning a similar lesson: that families persist no matter how great the obstacles.” With this modern, relevant twist, odds are the new Party of Five might have a chance at becoming as successful as the original series. After all, Party of Five won a Golden Globe in 1996 for Best Television Drama.

 

Read the full article at Entertainment Tonight.

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Freeform Confirms ‘Party of Five’ Reboot, Orders a Pilot. Featured Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television.

Noelle Renee Bercy Discusses “Cloak & Dagger” and Why Representation Behind the Scenes Matters

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Noelle Renee Bercy still can’t believe she’s in the MCU. She currently plays Evita on Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, which just wrapped up its first season and has been renewed for a second. Evita is Tyrone’s love interest, but she’s far from a passive damsel in distress, using her aunt’s connection to Voodoo to help Tyrone understand his powers. Back in the real world, Noelle is a New Orleans native proud to authentically portray her hometown onscreen – and happy to work at home and enjoy the perk of her mawmaw’s cooking. She shared her insights on Tyrone and Evita’s relationship, researching Voudon, and the need for representation behind as well as in front of the camera.

 

Cliché: What was your reaction to learning you’d be playing Evita? Were you excited to join the Marvel universe?
Noelle Renee Bercy: Initially, I had no idea that I was even auditioning for a Marvel project. It was labeled Untitled Freeform Pilot. Once I learned that it was it was Cloak & Dagger, I completely freaked! Correction, freaking* as in an ongoing situation. I still can’t believe I’m a part of the MCU. God is good.

You’re a New Orleans native. Cloak & Dagger is set in New Orleans. What’s it like being on a show that’s both set in and filming in your hometown?
As an actor you’re often taken away from your loved ones, being able to work on a project that shoots in the heart of my hometown was amazing. Being a New Orleanian, one of our biggest pet peeves is when shows come to town and they don’t hire any locals, they don’t have a diverse writers room, and our city, our culture, our people, our home ends up turning into this caricature on screen. I’m proud to be a part of a project that focuses on authenticity. And also, being home and eating my MawMaw Lucas’ food was clutch.

Evita’s aunt is a Voodoo Priestess. How much familiarity did you have with voodoo? What have you learned about it, if anything?
I grew up hearing stories but they were typically about several generations prior. Once I learned that Evita’s family practiced, I dove deep into it researching. I learned that Voudon started in Haiti and was the result of a combination of multiple religions practiced by the enslaved that originated in different west African countries. During the Haitian revolutions, many came to New Orleans bringing their voodoo culture with them.

What role does voodoo play in helping Tyrone better understand his powers?
I believe that voodoo is used as a guide to assist not only Tyrone, but Tandy as well to achieve their fullest potential.

Describe Evita and Tyrone’s relationship. There’s a romantic element there, but it also quickly evolves into something more complex.
Ty and Evita aren’t the typical superhero/damsel in distress boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Evita isn’t the one that needs saving. I think she’s a natural healer and recognizes that Ty is in need, and does everything she can to aid him.

The show focuses on the bond between Tyrone and Tandy, but would you argue that the dynamic between Evita and Tyrone is just as important? How so?
I think both relationships are crucial to the success of Ty’s well being and the saving of the world. Ty is very closed off and Evita is one of the few that he lets in. She pulls him out of his shell, and has proven to be trustworthy. Evita puts his best interest at heart at all times.

On Twitter, you pointed out just how much diversity Cloak & Dagger has both on and off screen. Why is it so important to you to work on diverse projects and why is representation on and behind the camera so crucial?
Representation is everything. Being able to see someone that looks like you accomplish their dreams makes you feel as though your dreams aren’t just dreams, but tangible and attainable goals. It is so important to me too that diversity isn’t only something we see on screen but behind the scenes as well. It all starts behind the scenes. Who is in “the room” is so essential to achieving adequate representation on screen.

Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger just got renewed for season 2! What are your hopes for Evita next season? And for Evita and Tyrone’s relationship?
Eeek!! I want to see Evita delve deeper into her spirituality, both Catholicism and Voudon. I want  to learn more about her powers and her family. As far as Tyvita, I would love to see their trust grow even deeper. I want to see them work together to heal Ty from his loss, and heal the world of its troubles.

You’re a firm believer in “preparation proceeding blessings.” What does this mantra mean to you and how do you go about applying it to your daily life?
“Preparation precedes blessings” is something my MawMaw Bercy says on a regular. We have to prepare ourselves for the blessing we want to receive. If you aren’t ready for a blessing, once it comes it’ll either look like a curse or a missed opportunity. I am constantly working on myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. to ensure that I am ready for whatever life brings. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

 

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Noelle Renee Bercy Discusses “Cloak & Dagger” and Why Representation Behind the Scenes Matters. Photo Credit: Shots by Topnotch.

Amber Coney on “Dead of Summer”

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Best known for writing the script for Lifetime’s film Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?, screenwriter and actress Amber Coney is back this summer in the new hit Freeform show Dead of Summer. We caught up with Coney to chat about her love of acting, absolute dream role, and experiences so far in her career.

Cliché: Where you always into entertaining?
Amber Coney: Growing up, I used to imagine myself as different characters that I’d read in books or think up on my own. I was actually pretty introverted as a kid, but I got hooked on acting once I discovered that my playing pretend could actually translate into something meaningful. I started doing plays at a pretty young age, which helped me to not only come out of my shell, but also to better understand the world around me.
You have a lot of projects coming out this summer. What was the experience of working on a movie like versus the series?
The series is shot over an extended period of time (around five months), while each movie I have acted in thus far has been filmed in two months or less. For the series, each character’s storyline can be much more drawn out, and in the case of Dead of Summer, audiences get to learn backstories in addition to the present day arcs that are revealed throughout the season.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character Carolina in Dead of Summer? Carolina, better known as “Cricket,” is one of the former campers turned counselors at Camp Stillwater. Like the rest of the counselors, Cricket thinks she is in for a summer of fun, and possibly even romance…but as the dark mythology of the camp awakens, her hopeful expectations of a carefree and exciting time at Camp are completely shattered. In terms of personality, she is warm and snarky on the surface, qualities that she uses to hide her insecurity and need for acceptance. I don’t want to give anything away, but all in all, there is more to her than you might expect at first glance.

My ideal role will probably be the one in my career that is the most creatively challenging.

What is your favorite memory from set?
My go-to funny story is when my cast-mates were in between scenes and started using the face swap filter on Snapchat. We were pretty looney from being on set so long, and we couldn’t stop laughing hysterically over how deranged we looked with each others’ faces.  
You’ve worked with James Franco a lot. Have you learned anything important from either him directly or watching him work?
James is not only incredibly experienced, but he is also unbelievably focused and driven. Through my collaborations with him, I have gleaned a perseverant mentality, and have been inspired to not let anything stop me from doing my work.
If you could be cast in any role on this planet, what would it be and why?
That’s a tricky question, because I would want to play something that hasn’t been done before, in which case, the role probably hasn’t even been written yet. It would be something of substance, of course, interesting and multidimensional…My ideal role will probably be the one in my career that is the most creatively challenging. When I see it, I’ll know.
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Photographed by Lesley Bryce

Gavin MacIntosh Chats ‘The Fosters’ and ‘American Fable’

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Gavin MacIntosh is a guy’s guy. He is athletic, charming, and handsome. He is confident in the humble way you can’t help but love, and he’s passionate about LGBT rights. MacIntosh is all of these things, but he is also an actor to keep an eye out for. His role as Connor Stevens in Freeform’s The Fosters, opposite Hayden Byerly’s Jude Adams-Foster, showcases the maturity and talent that is making him a household name. Now, MacIntosh is spreading his wings and giving his fans new characters to fall in love with, and we couldn’t be more excited to watch him soar. 

Cliché: Why do you love acting?
Gavin MacIntosh: I definitely love acting more and more as I mature. I’ve come to understand the subtle nuances and the research that goes into a character to really make it a compelling performance. The subtle body language, natural emotions—these things are all important. The artistic side of acting is addicting. Now that I’ve experienced being a part of a really great film and interesting character, I want to continue to challenge myself. Having to step into a character, sometimes 100 percent opposite of your actual self and portray that character so well that viewers actually believe you are that person, is an awesome experience.
What was your first job, and what didn’t it teach you?
My very first audition was also my first real job. What it didn’t teach me was most of the time, you have to audition a lot before even landing a job. At the time I thought, “Hey, this is easy. Just audition and get a job.” I quickly learned that is not how it always works. Hard work, lots of persistence, and the right timing is more like it. And lots and lots of auditions.
What is a cause that means something to you?
Definitely continuing the fight for LGBT rights and awareness and, in particular, helping to spread awareness to stop homophobia and accept people for who they are. Hating someone for their sexual orientation is just wrong, and when I read about stories that kids are beat up or kicked out for coming out, it really makes me want to help any way I can.
Can you tell us a little about your character, Parker Booth, on Bones?
Parker is the son of Booth. He lives in England with his mom and goes to school there. Since he is far away, he doesn’t get to spend very much time with his dad, but they Skype and spend the summers together. We will see Parker in Season 11. How much? I am still not sure.
You’ll be playing Martin in the movie American Fable. What is your favorite thing about him? What does it take to prepare for a “fairytale thriller?”
My favorite thing about Martin is he is a smart, cunning character with a strong physical presence. He’s also very diabolical. He is sinister yet caring, a scary combination depending on what he is trying to accomplish. The director, Anne Hamilton, had me prepare by watching several films and studying characters such as Hannibal Lector. But what was really cool about this film is it was set in the ‘80s, and the town we filmed in was very similar to the actual movie town. We filmed several scenes on a 100-year-old ranch, and we used an actual silo that wasn’t a prop. There were farms everywhere, and often, we had no phone service and definitely no Internet. There were also majestic horses on the ranch. The townspeople were so nice, and things were much slower; it was like stepping back in time. I think if we had filmed somewhere not so authentic, the outcome wouldn’t have been so dramatic or realistic.
On The Fosters last season, your character Connor moved in with his mom. How much of Connor will we see this season?
Unfortunately, Connor did move, and how much we will see him in the future all depends on the creative directors and producers.
What can we look forward to from you this year?
American Fable premiered on March 13 in Austin, Texas at SXSW, and it was really exciting. I am also working on several projects that are not quite ready to be released yet. I’m just super stoked for the future, since there are so many exciting things out there.
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Gavin MacIntosh Chats ‘The Fosters’ and ‘American Fable: Photographed by Sierra Prescott