Tapiwa ‘Taps’ Mugadza, known professionally as Taps, is a Zimbabwean soul and pop singer who began his musical journey at the age of 15. Before making his move to America to study at the Musicians Institue in Hollywood, Taps completed in the Zimbabwean Idol competition where he won third place overall. From there, he went on to work with world-renowned producers such as T-Collar, Moose, Pip Kembo, Boi-1da, and Quincy Jones, writing all of his own music.
With his single release ‘Dance All Night’ out now, we took some time to hear more from Taps. Read below to learn more about Taps, the story behind his latest single, and what’s to come.
Tell us a bit about yourself for those who may not know!
I am an artist from Zimbabwe who is now based in Los Angeles.
When did you fall in love with music? On top of singing, do you play any instruments?
I fell in love with music around 5 years old. I play piano and all guitars!
You grew up as a kid in Zimbabwe, at what point did you move to the US?
I moved to the US when I was 20 turning 21.
Tell us about your latest single ‘Dance All Night’
My latest single is a glimpse into what life was like as a kid for me when we would go camping.
Your latest single ‘Dance All Night’ is heavily connected to your story of growing up in Zimbabwe. Would you say living in LA has had an impact on the music you’re creating?
Absolutely, I think your surroundings definitely have a huge influence on what you create.
Living in LA can be very competitive when it comes to the entertainment industry as a whole. How do you navigate that on a day to day?
It is so easy to be influenced by the hype so I try by all means to stay in my lane and do what I am good at.
What is your favorite part about being in the music industry?
My favorite part is seeing the lives that are impacted by the music I make. Personally, I think it’s the best when people tell you how songs have gotten them through certain situations.
What is the message that you are trying to share through your music?
When I think about all of my music, the message I am trying to share is to enjoy life. Enjoy where you are at! It doesn’t need to be complicated.
What would you like to accomplish with your music?
Eventually, I would like to go back and rebuild a couple of homes that I grew up in. On top of that, I hope my music influences people to be their very best!
For those who are aspiring to be a singer/songwriter, what is the main piece of advice you would give them?
Always be true to who you are! There will always be a lot of hype, stay focused, and don’t lose yourself in it.
How soon can we expect some new music from you?
You can expect new music from me in the next couple of months. Keep up with my Instagram @tapsempire for all the latest updates!
“I began acting when I was three years old recurring on Daytime Drama Series THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS playing Summer Newman. This is where I fell in love with acting, and the rest is history.”
2. Who/what inspired you to become an actress?
“I continue to be inspired by so many incredible actors in this industry—Jodie Comer, Zendaya and Scarlett Johansson.”
3. Do you prefer acting in movies or television shows?
“I love them both so much! What I love most about acting in movies is there’s more flexibility with adlibs. What I enjoy most about working on television shows is watching my character develop over time.”
The acting process explained
4. Which types of acting do you feel you are most suited for?
“I wouldn’t say I’m most suited for any specific role as I feel that I’m a well-rounded actress and enjoy playing a wide variety of roles. From comedy for Nickelodeon to Criminal Minds I enjoy all opportunities given to me.”
5. What is the first thing you do to research and approach a role?
“For me, I study the script and review it several times. Then I look up the director to see what other things they have worked on. If it is a television show, I will watch some episodes to see the tone of the show.”
6. Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
“Yes, and to be a director !! That’s all I ever want to do.”
7. Have you ever gotten starstruck by any of the actors/actresses you have met and/or worked with?
“Recently, I worked with Elizabeth Banks whose work I admire tremendously. Her ability to work as both an actress and director is something I’m in awe of, as I also hope to do both in the future.”
The Challenges of being an Actress
8. Describe your most challenging role to date.
“Definitely, Frankie! I play her on the Daytime Emmy winning Series , THE BAY and spin off yA. Frankie goes through a lot of emotional ups and downs throughout both shows. I have to dig deep into my emotions to bring her character to life.”
9. Do you find it more challenging or comforting to have an identical twin sister in the same field as you?
“My sister is my best friend and biggest supporter. It’s comforting to have someone understand the ups and downs of this business going through it with me. I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.”
10. How were you discovered for “Call Jane,” and can you elaborate on the casting process?
“Every casting is different; however, this audition was done via self-tape, which has become the new normal due to COVID.”
When two prominent artists come together, magic is bound to happen. With the soon-to-be-launched single, D.R.A.M.A, Stonebridge and K-Syran collaborate on creating a power-packed single which brings to the forefront a flair of vibrant energy and vigour.
Launching this summer and bringing a much needed dose of joy and zesty spirit in darker times, this is the track to have on your radar for the upcoming season.
Since tapping into the musical mainstream with his remixes for Robin S, Sia, Usher, Missy Elliott, Taio Cruz & Ne-Yo, GRAMMY Award nominated Artist, Producer & DJ StoneBridge has not slowed down. With his music regularly playlists on BBC Radio 1 & Kiss FM StoneBridge’s presence on the airwaves is as familiar as ever. It’s this ability to stay current that has led to StoneBridge hosting his weekly StoneBridge #bpmMix radio show on Sirius XM/BPM as well as his weekly StoneBridge HKJ show.
Meanwhile having started her career on an exciting note by opening the UK Tour for the prominent Blue, K- Syran has since been receiving the love and praise of music connoisseurs across the globe. Releasing two albums (Smoke In My Veins and Dizzy), topping several billboard charts and even having one of her singles being nominated as the anthem of International Women’s Day 2016, K- Syran’s journey continues to demonstrate an exciting path.
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 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.
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!
Avianna Mynheir is the modern-day Wonder Woman. There is nothing to stop her in the quest for female representation and empowerment in the vast sectors of STEM, business, and media. She literally does it all.
Acting is a delight and a difficulty of its own for Mynheir, but her time on the hit show “The Walking Dead” has inspired one of her greatest passion projects: “Uprising”. She sought inspiration and where she found a lack of it replaced it with her own voice and interviews actors, chefs, entrepreneurs galore so that others won’t find the same challenges she did.
Read about her journey as an actress and a champion of women empowerment and inspiration in our interview with her:
What are some of your favorite moments working on “The Walking Dead”?
Gosh! It’s tough to choose. Many good times are had in the Georgia forests at 2am working on pure adrenaline and caffeine. One that comes to mind is shooting the season 10 finale. I got to shoot an explosion scene with Seth Giliam, who plays Father Gabriel, and I had such a blast (pun intended) working out that stunt.
What differentiates your podcast from other inspirational ones?
The diversity of guests. I really try to ensure that there is something stimulating for everyone. I chat with Forbes CEOs, Michelin star chefs, Tony winning actors, professional athletes, modern architects, tech entrepreneurs— the whole gamut.
Do you find it different now working on set with your inspiration podcast? Has the job become easier at all?
Has my podcast affected my acting? No, I don’t think so. They’re different beasts. But some of my friends on set appear as guests on the podcast, so there is some crossover in that capacity!
What inspired your change from a secure future like science technology to a riskier one like acting? What motivated you through this change?
Goodness, good question. This might sound crazy, but it was instinctual. Deep-rooted passion for storytelling got me through.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Ooof. Big question. To me, being a woman in this era means championing modern womanhood, even when it’s daunting or inconvenient. It means striving toward gender equity with an understanding of the past and a vision for the future. It means celebrating every kind of woman and doing my part to help all women, myself included, find self-sufficiency if we choose it. It also means loving and honoring the vessel I’m in.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have no clue – and that excites me! I am best when I’m following my passions real-time.
What do you hope for America in the future?
I hope for unity, open-mindedness, integrity, empathy, responsibility, and inclusion. I hope for anti-racism, gender equality, scientific understanding, and basic human rights for all. I hope we humanize each other, even when it’s hard, and begin to paint a more tolerant future for our country.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
The road is long, winding, and unexpected. It’ll rain, but also shine. You won’t get to drive the whole trip, so let go and enjoy the ride.
So that the readers can get to know you better, here’re some fast facts for you to answer! Favorite album?
Bad Self Portraits by Lake Street Dive
Educated by Tara Westover
Cows have regional accents. BBC released an article about it. I find that hilarious.
Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
Readers can check out my podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or Stitcher! Just type “Uprising by Avianna Mynhier” into the crazy web and things will pop up.
Have you heard of the hottest new sustainable fashion brand?
Introducing Lazy Hype, the next generation of sustainable fashion. The newly launched brand offers lounge and activewear ethically-made from recycled materials. Through transparent practices, green manufacturing and promoting eco-conscious lifestyles, Lazy Hype is aiming to spread the word about sustainability through fashion.
Q & A with Lazy Hype Founder, Lizeth Hernandez
What made you want to start a sustainable lounge & active wear clothing line?
“Living in San Francisco changed my perspective on a lot because it’s such a progressive and innovative city. I clearly saw the need and demand for sustainable products. Also, I noticed the power of marketing and how proclaimed sustainable brands were selling products at extremely high prices, so they could spend a lot of dollars on marketing initiatives. I didn’t want that strategy for Lazy Hype because I wanted it to be accessible to everyone, for a bigger impact on our planet, which is why prices are affordable. I’ve always loved active and loungewear, so I thought why not try to make a sustainable version of what the masses like to call “lazy” attire and organically create “hype” around it.”
Are your clothes featured in any stores and if not is that something you would be interested in?
“The clothes are not in any stores at the moment. We are more interested in positioning ourselves in workout studios, gyms, and small boutiques, due to the fact they we are still a small business. We also want to make sure that the growth is truly organic and that is super protected, we plan to be extremely selective.”
How long has Lazy Hype been in business?
“Lazy Hype just launched on April 2, 2021. We are super excited to branch out into more categories like baby and men’s, hopefully very soon.”
What is your favorite item from your collection?
“My favorite item in the collection that took me the longest to create is the leggings. Who needs denim?! When you can wear leggings! For me leggings are my everyday uniform/essential, so I wanted to make a comfortable legging, that really held everything together, no muffin tops haha, sustainable, and affordable. I’m pretty proud to be able to check mark all those personal needs in the Lazy Hype High Rise Legging.”
Do you plan on expanding your collection to even more sustainable products? (if so what?)
“1000%. I have a little godson coming in August so I need merch for him ASAP! I don’t know we will be able to hit his delivery date, but we will be working on it. Men’s is also a category I would like to expand into and maybe one day even shoes!”
What is your mission statement?
“There’s no such thing as complete sustainability. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to making an eco-friendly effort- any attempt is better than none at all. Even if it’s a lazy one, but let’s get started and create hype.”
Questions about Lizeth’s inspiration for her brand
What do you look for in models/ influencers to represent your brand?
“I try to make sure the models don’t represent any specific race, look diverse, and have a unique social media presence because I want everyone to feel a part of the brand. Also, diversity in body types and sizes. This brand is for everyone.”
Can you elaborate on the recycled materials you use to make your active wear & accessories?
Most of the garments are composed of a high percentage of recycled plastic bottles. The plastic from the bottle is collected to make mini chips that then create the yarn, which is mixed with recycled or organic cotton, spandex, or rayon; depending on the garment, and then turned into fabric. The accessories are bags made from jute plant or cotton, socks composed of organic cotton, candles hand-poured into a glass container, and the jewelry is handmade from new brass which is recycled scrap.”
Who/ what was your inspiration to become a designer?
“At first, I mainly just wanted to fill a need out in the market. Coming from a fashion background I knew the steps I needed to take just wasn’t sure how to get there. As I built my team, I developed a crazy amount of respect and love for them, so now they are my inspiration, along with just wanting sustainability initiatives top of mind for everyone.”
What advice do you have to young aspiring fashion designers?
“I would say be humble, patient, kind, and be ready to work really hard. It’s important to stay humble and patient so you can fill and understand anyone’s shoes. Fashion is all a network, so kindness goes a long way and 12hour days are a no brainer… I still have them everyday.”
Armani Jackson is the rising teen star who does it all – acting, music, and producing. He’s been in the business since he was 6, landing roles in leading television series and films. Now, Jackson stars beside SNL cast member Nasim Pedrad in the highly anticipated TBS/HBO MAX series CHAD. At just 17, Jackson has created his own production company – Blue Velvet Productions. He aims to create a diverse space for teens to be taken seriously in the writing room. Continue reading our interview with Armani Jackson to see how he constantly pushes the limits of himself.
Q. What can you tell us about the new show CHAD? What is your character like?
A. Chad is about a 14-year-old boy whose main goal in life is to be popular in high school and he will stop at nothing to achieve it. In the process, he makes a fool of himself in some of the most cringeworthy scenes you will ever see. I play Joey – he is part of the friend group that Chad wants so desperately to be in. I’d say Joey is a lot nicer to Chad than most of his peers. I think Joey feels for Chad a little and tries to give him second chances despite everything he does.
Q. What was unique about filming this series?
A. This was a unique filming experience for me. Chad was more of a loose and creative filming process. Lots of improvising from Nasim Pedrad, which made it such a fun set. We were all able to give ideas and even change our lines on each take if we thought something was funnier a different way. I was able to come up with my own lines for my character quite a bit of the time.
Q. You’ve starred in a number of popular tv-series and films – what has been your favorite on-set memory?
A. My favorite on set memory is from Netflix’s Little Boxes where I played the lead role. It was a lot of fun to film in New York and it went to the Tribeca Film Festival, which was a blast because there were a lot of premieres, Q&A’s, and press events involved. I met so many cool people on that set and we’re still great friends today.
Q. When did you begin writing your own scripts? How did horror / psychological thriller become your favorite genre to write?
A. I started writing in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic with my long-time friend who I met on a film set and is now my writing partner. We started writing a psychological thriller script that we finished late 2020 and are getting meetings for it through our literary agent. I have always loved the horror/thriller genre since I was really young. I begged my mom to see Chainsaw Massacre at 7 years old and was always interested in the special effects and makeup for horror films. At 8 years old, I went to my first Halloween Horror Nights, which is primarily for 13 and over. I have gone every year since! When I booked Cooties, it was a dream project to see how horror films were made behind the scenes. Of course, I got work with the King of horror films, Leigh Whannell. He created SAW, Insidious and directed the Invisible Man. I’m looking forward to getting some meetings to pitch my horror concepts to hopefully Blumhouse –
the biggest wheelhouse for horror films.
Q. Tell us about your production company – Blue Velvet Productions? How did you make the decision to start your own production company?
A. We started our own production company this year called Blue Velvet Productions which has always been a family goal. My mom just produced the documentary More Than Miyagi, The Pat Moria Story, which has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, my sister Talia Jackson and I have always been throwing concepts around since we were little. We want to focus our development and stories on young diverse writers, Black creators, and true stories. I think a lot of young adults feel that the narrative about us in TV and film are not often representing us accurately. Mostly due to not having young writers our age in the writing rooms… I recently saw a lot of Twitter comments about this.
Q. What is your favorite lyric that you have written?
A. My favorite lyrics that I’ve written [right now] is probably “I got lots of demons and they’re visiting me daily, and you just might be one of them, Light Yugami’s got one I got a ton of them.” That’s a reference to an anime called “Death Note” that was adapted into a Netflix film. Light Yugami is a character that has his own personal demon throughout the film.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
A. Booking a series regular on a CW show would be super cool. I just tested for two of them. I would love to have one of my horror concepts picked up by Jordan Peele or Blumhouse where I play the lead character. Another major goal for my music career would be a #1 song.
Q. Where can we look for you next?
A. You can expect a lot of new stuff next. More music for sure! I’ve got a lot of songs in the vault that I’ll be releasing monthly and I’m continuing to make new songs. As far as acting you can watch Chad April 6th on TBS. I’m also going to be filming a movie based on a New York Times best-selling book. It’s supposed to be shooting this summer.
Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ethan William Childress from the TV series, Mixed-ish on ABC. Here is the inside scoop.
SOME BACKGROUND ABOUT ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS
How did you first know you wanted to act?
My parents took on this audition for the chance to participate in this showcase put on by Adrian R’Mante. I went really to see what it was all about. But the minute I stepped into the room to perform, something just clicked in me and I was so anxious that night waiting to see if I got picked or not. It’s probably one of the times I was really nervous.
When did your career take off once you began acting?
I am actually super blessed in that I was able to be cast in Mixed-ish within my first year of acting. My mom had me do background work just so I’d understand what it was like to be on set. The expectation, the pace. Then I was able to do a couple of short films which were fun and a different experience. I did go on a lot of auditions in that first year which because I still was living in Las Vegas all the time, meant a lot of road trips. When I got cast on Mixed-ish it really was a dream come true because it just doesn’t really happen like that for actors.
In your free time, what do you enjoy doing?
Right now, I can only really play video games. I play on my PC, online. I have a few friends that I play with. Before Covid, I liked being able to go home and play soccer and flag football. I had to give up playing competitively when I was started acting so I miss it. But I’ll go play around with my friends when I can. And I really like when we get into Nerf gun wars with my brothers and sister. There’s bullets flying everywhere as there’s no teams. We’re all 4 against each other. I don’t enjoy having to clean up all the bullets when we’re done. And we never find them all.
What actors and or actresses do you look up to?
Daveed Diggs, Kevin Hart, Will Smith, Michael B Jordan, Dwayne Johnson. I think they’re all very accomplished in what they do and how versatile they are. I’ve also heard really great things about them from other people who have worked with them. I want to be the type of actor that people like to work with and people say nice things about me to other people.
Can you give us a sneak peak into what this season of Mixed-ish will look like?
Well because of Covid things for the Johnson family look a little different. Like you won’t see any school scenes this season. I did think it was really great that they brought back Rainbow’s friends in a very unique way with the phone calls. All the kids are growing up so they are facing different challenges and have new experiences. Johan is of course having himself all kinds of new adventures like the whole skateboarding thing.
Is there a memorable moment that you remembered happening while being on set of Mixed-ish?
There have been a couple of scenes with Mykal-Michelle and Christina and myself that left the whole crew cracking up. Like when we were filming tag for the Spades episode. Anytime they allow Christina to go off script laughter is sure to follow. Or one scene where they filmed the whole scene, it was like the perfect take and then someone noticed that Christina still had her face shield still on. It was a lot different this year though as we didn’t get to just hang out with everyone.
What is your character’s role on Mixed-ish?
I play Johan, Rainbow’s little brother. He’s a fun loving, adventurous kid. He can be a little gullible at times too. But he tends to see the best there is to see in things.
What do you have in common with your character, Johan Johnson on Mixed-ish?
I would say that we are both adventurous and like to have fun. We both don’t always get along with our siblings but family is everything so we will always be there for each other. And we’ve both been mistaken for being Mexican. My mom has a friend that when she’s with us, everyone thinks she’s my mom.
What is a big challenge you might of had to overcome being an actor?
Getting in touch with certain emotions is a challenge for me. I’m still young so I don’t have all these life experiences to draw from. But that’s why you have to take classes and work on being able to bring something to life whether you can relate to it or not.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS?
Being a young actor like yourself, what will you hope to accomplish in the near future?
The next thing I’d like to experience is being in a feature film, to see how that differs from TV. I really want to be able to experience all aspects of being in front of the camera. And then as I get older I may like to start looking at the behind the camera stuff. But right now I’m really just enjoying what I am doing and still being a kid.
Haley Kalil is a model, scientist, and an activist. She was just announced as a returning model in the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for the 4th year in a row. She has published award winning immunology research, is a winner of the first ever Sports Illustrated Swim Search, and now she is launching her very own organization called “The Nerd Herd”. The organization was created to empower women to love their bodies and their minds, while working to educate the new generation of women in STEM. Haley will be releasing a collection of Nerd Herd loungewear later this year, donating 100% of the proceeds from the first launch to organizations that help get young women involved in STEM at an early age.
You graduated with a 4.0 in Biomedical Sciences and Psychology with a minor in Chemistry. What drew you to the STEM field?
I have always been fascinated by the human body. I was also raised by two mechanical engineers. Almost everyone in my immediate family is in a STEM based field – so passion for science runs through our veins. I was drawn to math and science for as long as I can remember. My friends would dread chemistry class… while I secretly loved it!! My friends would complain about Physics… but it was one of my favorite courses. I just knew science was my calling because it came so easily to me. I also love that science is a field where there are no limits to what you can learn. There is so much out there to still be explored, investigated, and studied. I wanted to be the person doing those things.
You started your modeling career on a whim in 2017, when you decided to submit a video via Instagram for Sports Illustrated’s open call. Before you were modeling you worked in an immunology lab, what was that like?
Working in a laboratory setting is a LOT different than working as a model. Although the process of discovery is exciting….a lot of the time, years of hard work on a project can result in no significant findings. I always enjoyed the lab because it was a place where I felt “in my element.” …But, I won’t lie…. there was nothing more disappointing than when your hypothesis did not end up being accurate – especially if you spend a lot of time working on the project.
Photo By: Derek Kettela
Sports Illustrated saw your submission video for their open call and messaged you about being in the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. You treated the shoot like a big test and you studied. Can you share with us what that studying looked like?
Oh man… I watched every single “Making of SI Swimsuit” I could find online. I STUDIED for that shoot. I watched old school videos of Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Tyra Banks… you name it… I watched it. I practiced their poses in the mirror. I would film myself posing and making facial expressions – trying my best to mimic the powerhouses of the industry. I thought of modeling the same way I viewed anything else in life…. it can be learned. It just takes a lot of hard work and dedication…. and I definitely put in the endless hours because this was my one shot!!
Do you have someone who acts as a role model or inspiration?
My mother is my greatest role model. I know a lot of people have celebrities or social icons they look up to…. and I completely understand why. But for me… I don’t know those people on a personal level. I haven’t seen them at their worst. I’ve only seen them at their best. I’ve seen my mother go through some of the hardest times and she still handled herself with grace, humility, and kindness. I aspire to be as good of a woman and to have as kind of a heart as she does.
Modeling has always been something that has interested you. Now you are modeling for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition for the 4th year in a row. Can you share a little bit about the process of shooting the issue?
Shooting for SI Swimsuit is one of the most exciting things I have ever done and I am honored every single year they invite me back. SI Swimsuit has become a second family to me. Being on set with them is fun, goofy, empowering, and inspiring. I can truly be myself and feel my most confident.
The one thing many people don’t know about SI Swimsuit is that the team is made up primarily of women. The editor and assistant editors are women. The social media, head of PR, and many set assistants are women. It’s a very empowering feeling when you get to stand in front of a group of powerhouse women in a bikini and they cheer you on and build you up!! Because, as a woman, sometimes it’s very hard to stand in front of a group of extremely powerful people in a bikini and not second guess something about your body. When I’m shooting with SI Swimsuit, I have never once had a negative thought go through my head. I feel like they truly see me and celebrate me. Shooting with SI Swimsuit is like shooting iconic, mind blowing images with your best friends.
Photo By: Nick Suarez
Traveling is something you love to do in your free time. You have been in Miami Swim Week and have shot in Belize and Kenya. Where has been your favorite place that you have traveled?
Thailand is absolutely magical. I think it may be one of my favorite places on earth because the natural beauty of the environment is so striking. Kenya was incredible because I never envisioned I would ever get the chance to travel to Africa. The people, the food, and the culture were beautifully intoxicating. I didn’t want to leave.
You are launching “The Nerd Herd”, an organization that empowers women to love their minds and bodies, as well as empowering women in STEM. Can you tell us a bit more about “The Nerd Herd” and what inspired you to create this organization?
The Nerd Herd is my passion project. What started as a social media hashtag has grown into a movement. It is a way I am hoping to give back to a community I know and love dearly. Science was once my entire life. I came from a world where I was respected for my mind….and entered a world where I was respected for my body…. and it made me aware of the incredibly stringent rules that have been placed on women in the sciences and in society as a whole. Society tries to place women into categories. If you embrace your intellectual abilities, you can’t embrace your body and vice versa. Our society puts women in boxes based on their choice of swimsuit or the length of their skirt. But women are incredibly multifaceted and embracing both one’s body and one’s mind at that same time should not be deemed inappropriate. The Nerd Herd is a place for women to feel safe expressing their passion for knowledge, science, math, etc. while also loving and embracing every curve of their physical bodies. It is also a place to encourage young women to pursue their passions in STEM – despite many of the fields still being male dominated.
What are some inspirational words that you live by?
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie (the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her studies in radioactivity)
This interview with actress Dominique Druckman, explores her experience getting discovered filming her new show and what’s she is up to now. Dominique plays one of three influencers in the HBO documentary, Fake Famous, which premiered February 2nd on HBO. First-time director Nick Bilton explores the industry of social media influencers through an innovative experiment, taking an actress, fashion designer, and real estate agent, and demonstrates how easily an online personality can launch to Instagram fame. Dominique studies with the Groundlings in Los Angeles and is originally from Miami, Florida. She graduated from Florida State with a BA in Theater. Thanks to Fake Famous, Dominique now has over 300,000 followers on Instagram.
Q & A with Dominique on Fake Famous
How were you discovered for Fake Famous and can you elaborate on the recruiting process?
– “Somebody actually DM’d me asking if I would be interested in sending in a self-tape! This never happens to me, so after sussing it out and it felt legitimate, I sent in my tape. Turns out she is an intern for the production company, I’m so glad she found me!”
What was it like working with first time director Nick Bilton?
– “Nick is amazing, he is just so intelligent, which is really inspiring when it’s not intimidating. He was always very understanding of our lives outside the social experiment and I couldn’t be luckier that my first big project was with him as our captain!”
What was your favorite and least favorite part of being on Fake Famous?
– “I’d say my favorite part of being on Fake Famous would have to be all the free gifts, coming home every day felt like Christmas! Being around the crew, calling out sick from work to go film definitely wasn’t bad either. My least favorite part would have to be online bullies and trolls.”
Do you look at influencers different now after experiencing the ins & outs of being one?
– “I look at influencers a little differently, and feel like Fake Famous reveals what is behind the curtain for a lot of them. I admire influencers who hustle every day to make this their full-time job. It’s a lot of work to keep up with!”
Tell me about the adjustment of becoming an influencer from working in retail.
– “I still have my day job of working in retail, I’m currently waiting on Steven Spielberg to cast me in his next project so I can quit! I never found my niche that felt believable to an audience, which made it difficult to fully portray an influencer.”
Did participating in this show make you realize you want to be an influencer or is acting still the main goal? – “Acting is still the main goal and I am working at it every day.”
Interview with Dominique on Life After the Show
7. What acting genre do you aspire to be a part of? Are you more interested in TV roles or movies?
– “I love comedy, making people laugh just warms my heart. I’d love the consistency of working on a TV show but at the end of the day I just want to act full-time so will take either TV or Film.”
Are you afraid this show will give you a reality TV/ Instagram model stigma?
– “I was a little worried being perceived as an influencer for Fake Famous would keep me pegged as an influencer. No disrespect to the hard-working people in that industry. However it’s not for me and never want to lose sight of acting as my main priority.”
How has life been after the show?
– “Life has been fun and interesting. Now that the show and my secret is out, I have real engagement on my Instagram. It is weird to wrap my head around. I also have some trolls and internet bullies whose words can be harsh. I wish that if they didn’t have anything nice to say they just wouldn’t say it at all.”
What are your plans for the future and are you currently working on any projects that you wish to share?
– My plans are to be able to get out of having a survival job. I want enough time to work full-time towards becoming an actress this year. I’m manifesting that for the year 2021.”
WandaVision is the latest installment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series follows Marvel Avenger characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision living a seemingly perfect life as a married couple in the suburban town of Westview. The show is produced as a satire of classic television sitcoms with a marvel twist. Each episode is set in a different decade beginning in the 50’s, jumping in and out of present-day. The show is both a glance at life for the MCU post Avengers End Game, and the backstory of how Wanda became the “Scarlet Witch” – Wanda’s official title announced for the first time, only previously used in the comics.
Dottie is introduced in episode two, played by actress Emma Caulfield, as the Queen B of the Westview housewives. Caulfield says about shooting the series, “It was a blast capturing the different decades. The authenticity level was well, next level. Everyone working on this project is a master of their craft.”
Historically, comic books have captured a primarily male demographic, but the MCU has expanded their demographic to women by giving female superheroes leading roles and dynamic backstories. WandaVision is a great example of this. Speaking with Caulfield, I asked why she believed WandaVision was successful at capturing a female audience:
“It gets super boring to see women in distress or inconsequential, or one dimensional. At the heart of this show is a fierce, complex and interesting woman who is complimented by her male counterpart, not overshadowed by him. I want to watch that show. I’m on the show and I want to watch that show.”
The show came to a close in typical Marvel fashion with cliffhangers and suspense, toying with the possibility of a second season. And good news for those who are new to Marvel – you don’t have to be familiar with the entire MCU to understand and enjoy WandaVision.
Ava Jules is a 20-year-old lifestyle and beauty Youtuber based in O’ahu, Hawaii. She is an advocate for Environmental and Oceanic Preservation, as well as Body Positivity. Ava has 1.3-Million subscribers on Youtube and over 100-Million views on her main Youtube Channel alone. She has balanced College classes, launching a jewelry line, and designing her own sustainable fashion brand.
What was it like growing up in Hawaii?
Growing up in Hawai’i was filled with beach days, island fun, and lots of good memories. I definitely feel very connected to the ocean and nature because I grew up learning to love and care for it.
You began your Youtube Channel in 2013 in an effort to show your love for Justin Bieber. How has your content evolved and what are some of your favorite videos to create?
Unfortunately I do not make Bieber fan videos anymore. My content now is very much a representation of what my life currently is like, so it’s bound to change as I change as a person! I love creating vlogs that bring people along into my life and tell a story. Lately, my favorite videos to make have been a new series on my channel called “Home in Hawaii”.
What is something that you enjoy about creating content whether it’s on Youtube, TikTok, or Instagram?
I love seeing the comparison between the raw videos and the final edited version of the videos I create for YouTube. It’s absolutely hilarious to me that I’ll sometimes have more than two hours of footage, then end up with a seventeen minute video.
You act as a role model to many by using your voice to shine a light on body positivity and environmental preservation. Do you have any role models, or someone who acts as an inspiration to you?
I’m really inspired by Blake Lively because she’s spoken up about issues she cares about in a very informative and empowering way. It inspires me to use my voice and platform to do the same.
Photo by: Sienna Morales
What is a piece of advice you would give to someone about body confidence?
Speak to yourself the way you would speak to a dear friend.
Fashion has always been a part of your life, and now you are launching your own sustainably-designed fashion collection. Can you share a little bit about what the creative process was like?
Everything starts with a “vision”, as dramatic as that sounds. I love coming up with designs and (very roughly) sketching them on my iPad is probably my favorite part. It’s a long process to create clothing, with a lot of back and forth and re-designing, but to see the final product is well worth it.
Being a college student, content creator, and fashion designer, what does the average day in your life look like?
No day is really the same because there’s always different things that need to be done and things tend to pop up out of the blue. BUT, I do have a steady morning routine that I do pretty much daily. I start off by waking up, drinking water, and I’ll either workout or take my puppy for a walk. Then I’ll have some breakfast, shower, do my skincare, and get ready for the day. After that, it’s really unpredictable.
Photo by: Sienna Morales
You met your best friend, Hannah Meloche, through the Youtube Community. She is now in Hawaii and you guys just collaborated to create the “Ava x Starlite Village” jewelry collection. What was it like working with your best friend? How did the idea of the Jewelry collaboration come about?
Working together to create something that represents a piece of our friendship was so much fun. The best part was probably launch day, and seeing the little dots pop up on the world map of where in the world people were on the site. The idea to do a jewelry collaboration randomly happened when we were in LA together in February of 2020. Hannah and I were chatting and she looked at me and went “We should do a collection together.”
What can we expect to see from you in the future? What are some goals that you have?
Oh man.. who knows? Between you and me, I don’t think too far into the future because it’s so unpredictable and gets me kind of anxious. However, I think the future will bring a lot of changes in my life and my career online since I still am so young and have lots of life ahead. One of my biggest goals is to create something that is bigger than myself and helps/inspires others.
Where can we follow you?
You can find me on almost every social media site if you search up my name, Ava Jules