“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.”
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!
Isabella Barrett does it all! This former Toodlers and Tiaras star is taking over the world from skin care to TV to jewerely! The 14 year old self made millionaire talks to us today about how she made it all happen.
Maya: How did you go from Toddlers and Tiaras to where you are now?
Isabella: It’s hard to believe Toddlers & Tiaras marked 8 years since the show this past June. It was an amazing launching platform for me and I went on to be on Bravo TV Game of Crowns, Get Made Global, Kid entrepreneurs, the movie EIGHT, and now I am just finishing a new show coming out on Amazon Prime called Next Big Thing NYC. I also have had my companies Glitzy Girl, Bound by the Crown & House of Barretti.
M: Can you tell us about Amazon Prime’s new show Next Big Thing NYC
I: Next Big Thing NYC is about 8 Teens who are on their come up in different fields. The cast ensemble consists of a rapper, an R&B singer, Miss Teen CT, An Olympic aspiring figure skater, A famous teen DJ, A millionaire, an actress, and an influencer. The cast is all connected in some way like a family and with family comes drama. Don’t miss the full season premiering September 25th.
Photo: Jared Siskin
Wearing House of Baretti
M: You’re only 14 and have accomplished so much. How do you handle it all? Do you make time to just be a teenager?
Photo by Brett Martelli
I: Everything that I do really revolves around being a teen. From my clothing line to my skincare to my character on the show everything is Teen-based. Aside from business and travel, I love jet-skiing, 4-wheeling, acting, and modeling. I was cheer captain last year for my school and ran track, but now with COVID we don’t really know how sports will go this year.
M: What’s the number 1 piece of advice would you give to other teens trying to make it?
I: My number one piece of advice is if you’re passionate about something and want to try it, DO IT! Being young gives you the opportunity to try and fail many times. The best way to describe that is there is a lot less at stake when you’re young.
M: What’s in store for you in the future?
I: I really think we are living in a time of change and I can see myself definitely continuing to make or invest in brands, concepts, and ideas that move me. I see college in my future and just so many amazing experiences to learn and grow from.
I also really want to adopt my first dog. I am hoping for a Lab or a golden retriever. I am very annoying when it comes to animals just ask all my friends. I can’t help but stop and talk to every dog I see and will definitely be joining a dog park walking club when I get my dog.
If you don’t know Lesa Wilson, you will soon. With three projects coming out in July alone, this southern belle is one to watch. Wilson, known for her role as ‘Bobbie Burman’ in CW’s “Stargirl,” is moving into film with her roles in “Coins For Love” and “Stars Fell On Alabama.” Today, Lesa talks to us about everything from her new movies to her southern roots, to her passion for the environment. This well-rounded actress does it all!
Maya: July is a huge month for you, with three projects coming out, what has it been like transitioning from role to role?
Lesa: It’s been a lot of fun! I find a piece of each character that I can relate to and I lean into that. Humans are complex so the variety of characters has just allowed me to explore a lot of emotions and experiences on screen.
M: That being said, what is your favorite kind of character to play?
L: I love playing characters that are up to no good; the troublemakers. It taps into the part of me that wants to be more of a rule-breaker because I’m so much of a rule follower in real life.
M: Through these various projects, you’ve got to work with so many different people. Who do you feel like has influenced you the most?
L: Meg DeLacy – primarily because we worked so closely together during Stargirl and became friends. Her approach to the work is casual and relaxed. I think that’s something that most actors miss. You do your best work in a relaxed state. She’s really mastered that. It’s fun to watch and it makes for a fantastic scene partner.
M: “Stars Fell on Alabama.” is premiering in July 2020, what type of person is going to love this movie?
L: Anyone who loves a feel-good, family movie. It’s a project that I’m proud to be a part of. I know my parents will really enjoy watching it. I’ve always wanted to do work that my family can watch and enjoy, so this one is really special for me.
M: Director V.W. Scheich described the film as ‘a love letter to the south.” I know you’re from the south, were Miss GA USA, and you’re an activist for Environment Georgia. Did your love for the south influence your role as Rachel?
L: Of course! I’m a born and raised Georgia girl so Southern hospitality and warmth is in my bones. Rachel is the kindest, most southern sweetheart that you’ll ever meet. She’s the girl that you know you’ll come across if you live in a small southern town, and you will probably want to be best friends with her.
M: You also have the movie “Coins For Love” coming out in July 2020. Could you tell us a little bit about that film and your character?
Angela Murray Photography
L: Coins for Love is the sequel to a film called Coins for Christmas, which is also on TV One. The story follows Madison (Essence Atkins), a single mother, and her boss Alec (Stephen Bishop). There’s the potential of love between them, but my character, Shellee, is running interference. She’s Alec’s ex fiancé and has her sights set on winning him back. Madison’s ex-husband is also trying to get her back so there’s plenty of drama, some tears, family, love and a heartwarming resolution.
M: What kind of work are you looking forward to doing in the future? What is your dream role to play?
L: I am excited to play characters that are complex and have layers that unfold throughout a season or throughout the course of a film. For me that would look something like Erin Brockovich. That would be a dream role for me to play especially considering my passion for environmentalism.
M: What is next for Lesa?
L: Once we get beyond Covid-19, I’m jumping right back into acting, but right now I just have to wait until it’s safe to work again. In the meantime, I’m working on creating a web series of short segments on environmentalism. It’s called Going Green. I’ll be sharing small changes we all can make to help preserve the health of our planet. I hope it encourages people to think about the greater impact their individual choices have on the environment.
In the season finale of ‘My 600-Lb. Life,’ Steven Assanti returned to the show and got scolded by Dr. Now for not bathing enough. His body odor was making people in the waiting room and office literally vomit.
Junior is tangled in a complicated web of secrets. HL spoke with Shane Harper about Junior’s fight to stay clean and how he’s ‘capable’ of more than people think. Plus, watch an exclusive preview of episode 3.
Even the casual NBA fan has heard about Michael Jordan’s ‘flu game’ on June 11, 1997 — Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz. MJ went off on a tear, despite being gravely ill. He revealed the truth in ‘The Last Dance’ on May 17.
Michael Jordan was brought to tears while reflecting on the close relationship he shared with his father, the late James R. Jordan Sr. He addressed his father’s murder and the speculation that it wasn’t a random act of violence.