Actor Profile: Poland’s Diana Matlak

Diana Matlak
Polish Actress Diana Matlak shot by Luis Ruiz

In the world of show business, success in one discipline is never easy to accomplish. Yet for Diana Matlak, success has come her way in two very demanding performance arts: dancing and acting.

Early on in her life Diana made her mark on the performing world as an international competitor in Latin dancing, before going on to be recognized as a versatile actress in both Europe and the United States thanks to the multitude of leading roles she has landed in high-profile films, television shows and commercials.

Diana resembles the classic beauty of yesteryear. Her natural looks are reminiscent of the classic cabaret era where a woman’s beauty could shine through from her talent and stage presence, not needing flashy costume or hair to make a scene.  Whether fully dolled up in makeup and a dress or made to look like a poor villager, she emanates a look that gives the viewer an ability to relate and empathize with her characters.

As a dancer in Poland, her native country, Diana excelled to the top ranks of competitive Latin dancing, an area of performance that she competed in for over 15 years. Her remarkable reputation in the industry established her as a highly sought-after performer where she was respected for her precision and determination to be one of the best.

After stepping away from the world of competitive dance, Diana’s love for performing remained strong; and, after landing a few standout television roles in Poland including the country’s longest-running primetime drama Na dobre i na złe (For better and for worse), Diana decided to take her acting career to the next level.

She moved to Los Angeles shortly after where she has not wasted any time making a name for herself. Over a relatively short period of time she has landed spots on network TV shows such as Bones, Scandal and American Crime Story. She has also starred in several American films playing everything from a flirtatious girl to a depressed woman and a challenging role in the film Red House by the Crossroads where she played Deena Kravitz, a young woman struggling to keep her family together.

Diana is also continually seeking better knowledge, and has sought the best mentors in LA to help her succeed. She has studied the Meisner technique extensively, a style of acting that many of the greats from Anthony Hopkins to Robert Duvall, as well as more contemporary veteran actresses such as Helen Hunt and Hilary Swank rely on in their craft. She is also currently studying at Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Los Angeles.

Matlak says, “Ivana Chubbuck is a great teacher who has been in the business for years. She used to coach stars like Charlize Theron who won the Oscar Award for Monster, Brad Pitt and Halle Berry who won an Oscar for the Monster’s Ball.”

The intense physical training necessary to be an accomplished dancer helps set Diana apart from other actresses. Aside from the obvious physical benefits of being in shape, mastering her dance skills was no easy feat. Rising to the top of any field takes hard work, discipline, and relentless passion. For Diana, these qualities are long instilled and have carried over to her acting career where she has excelled in roles that are diverse and impactful. In addition to her accomplished dance background, Diana has a multidisciplinary athletic background, having earned certifications in snowboarding, skiing, and even combat training – allowing her to train and perform for many demanding roles. She can also speak Polish, German, and Russian in addition to English.

Recently Diana has been working with director Aditya J. Patwardhan on several projects, the most notable being Red House By The Crossroads, a drama that premiered at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival. She also starred in the music video “Katra, Katra” directed by Patwardhan, which allowed her acting and dancing talents to seamlessly collaborate.

Diana continues to stay busy. Coming up next for her is the the lead role of Lotta Ditsy-Flirt in the film Maneater, directed by Stephanie Moningka, set to release in January 2016. She is always seeking new challenging roles that can push her craft further, inspiring audiences around the world.

Q & A with Leading Canadian Actor Ian Fisher

Fans of the hour-long action-packed crime series Covert Affairs will probably recognize Canadian actor Ian Fisher immediately from his recurring role as Patrick on the fifth and final season of the Golden Globe nominated series, which aired internationally on USA Network last year.

While Fisher undoubtedly displays his capacity for drama in the fast-paced series, an aspect of his craft that he has shown through his performances in multiple other high-profile productions as well, the actor is also equipped with an unparalleled sense of humor and incredible comedic timing—something that easily shines through the text over the course of the interview below.

Last year Fisher both co-wrote and starred in the acclaimed production of “World Pride and Prejudice,” which ran during the 2014 World Pride Festival in Toronto at The Second City. He also recently wrapped production on the film Glory River directed by Black McWilliam, who produced the film The Little Deputy, which was nominated for awards at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival earlier this year.

Fisher’s unique upbringing, which he reveals in the interview, has allowed him to understand some of the most challenging characters and bring them to life on both the stage and screen with seamless precision. To find out more about this dazzling star, make sure to read below!

You can also find out more about his work through his IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3965339/?ref_=fn_al_nm_2

 

Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

IF: I’m originally from Vernon, a small town in the mountains of British Columbia. I’ve lived in Toronto for the last six years though.

I was always a pretty big dreamer. When I was a kid, I wanted to do it all. I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a spy, even being a jewel thief looked pretty intriguing. I was pretty disheartened when I learned that even in a best-case scenario I’d likely have to pick only one of those things to dedicate my life to, since pursuing any of them would take so much time. So I decided if I wouldn’t be alive long enough to do everything, why not just pretend to do everything. Plus I didn’t really know what any of those jobs really entailed outside of what I saw on TV, so I guess the answer was in front of my face the whole time.

My father died when I was three. He was this local legend in terms of athletics; he was one of those guys who was good at any sport he played. We had tons of photos of him skateboarding, surfing, skiing, playing baseball, and that’s pretty much all we knew of him, so growing up, my younger brother and I had this desire to become that in a way. And my brother was, he was the best natural athlete I’d ever seen but unfortunately for me, I wasn’t. I really had to work hard to get good at things. Eventually, by persistently practicing I got decent enough at most of them that I could compete but on the way up I was on a lot of losing teams, if I even made the teams at all. In university, during a pick up game of basketball or something, I heard someone describe me as a natural athlete–I kind of scoffed at that. None of it was “natural.” It was all hard work. I was never really a natural anything until I started acting.

I’d always done voices and accents for as long as I can remember, and once I started doing plays, it started to all come together. I finally knew what it felt like to stand out in something. I quit the high school basketball team to do a play and since I’m not 6’8, I haven’t really looked back.

I booked my first paid job in 2009, the first TV audition I ever went to, and within a few years I was working consistently, so I guess that’s when I became a professional technically.

Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?

IF: My most prominent role was a recurring role on the fifth and final season of Covert Affairs where I played a young CIA agent named Patrick who was the personal assistant of the director of the Domestic Protection Division, Calder Michaels (played by Hill Harper from CSI: New York, Limitless.) At first I approached the role with the mentality, and I stole this line from Ocean’s Eleven, but it stuck with me: “you want him to like you, but forget you.” So I’d always enter the room with that in mind. Since there are so many classified conversations in a CIA office, I wanted to get in, and get out before I heard something above my pay grade. My main job on the show was to show up and deliver bad news.

During the later episodes, since my character was so involved in his boss’s life, I was one of the few characters who knew that Calder was having an affair with an escort. So in addition to managing a CIA director’s professional life, I was also juggling his personal one. Since so many characters get killed on that show, I was always nervous that I would get a script and it would say that my office would get blown up or a stray bullet would come through a window. Unfortunately for everyone, the show ended on a cliffhanger so we’ll never really know the fate of Patrick. But I like to think he’s out there in an alternate universe, stressed out and delivering bad news perpetually.

I’m very excited about a film I did recently called Glory River, which is about a small town obsessed with its hockey team. It’s kind of along the same lines of what Friday Night Lights did with football. The film, which is actually intended to expand into a series after the festival circuit, shows that even if you’ve been the best on your team your entire life, the odds are still so small at actually making it professionally. I play Noah Gallagher, the town’s star player who, for as long as he’s been able to walk, has been told he’s destined to make the NHL. He has the entire community’s hopes and dreams on his shoulders, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to pan out after all.

As good as he is, he’s still not good enough. It’s tough since there’s never been a back up plan for him, if he fails at this then he feels he’ll have nothing else left, which is a lot of pressure for a teenager. My character has a working class single mother whose played by Rachel Hayward, who’s sacrificed her entire life for this goal for him by working a brutal job on the oil rigs up in northern Alberta, so if he fails, he also feels like he’s failing her. She’s a drunk who’s relentless in the pressure she puts on him to succeed, so there’s also that weighing on him on top of everything else.

I had worked with the film’s director, Blake McWilliam, on another film called Camp about a year ago, and when I heard about this project I was really interested. I never actually played hockey myself, nor did I really follow it, but it’s still such a part of Canadian culture that it’s impossible to be completely removed. The fictional town, Glory River, for which the film is named after, for me that was my hometown of Vernon. I knew these people, I knew this world, even if I wasn’t directly involved in it.

I was also very interested in Noah’s relationship with his mother, since I was raised by a single mother myself, this really resonated with me. Initially there was a concern about casting me since they wanted someone who had actually played hockey, since there would also be a lot of in-game footage. Because I had this relationship with the director from our last film, I was lucky enough to have a line to talk to him. So as I was testing for the part, I was also able to talk to him about the story, and I was able to share with him my personal experience with my mom. I think that really helped me get the role, because even though hockey had never been a part of my life, I knew this character better then anyone. What he was going through was similar to what I had gone through in my own life in a way. Hockey can be learned, what it feels like to be raised with one parent cannot.

A lot of my training has been method based, and I always like to draw from my own life for my characters. This character and I shared so many similarities that I already had a head start, and I was really dying to bring him to life. After I booked the part, I actually hired an All College Hockey America player to work with me privately on my own hockey skills. I knew I’d never really be able to become a great skater or hockey player in only a few weeks, however I wanted to be able to cheat it enough in between stunt double footage that I didn’t look like a complete idiot. So I got her to make sure I was never holding a stick in a way that looked awkward, or doing things that they would never actually do. I still have a little scar on my ankle from skating in brand new skates as much as I did during those prep weeks. I’m very proud of this film and excited to see what happens with it, and if it does become a series, I would love to remain involved with it in some capacity. It’s currently playing at the Calgary International Film Festival on Sept 29th and Oct 4th.

The Epitaph is a film I co-wrote and produced with funding from the BravoFACT foundation and Bell Media. It’s directed by Kris Holden-Ried (The Tudors, Lost Girl) and will air on Bravo. The main concept of the film is: “What would you do if you knew the day you were going to die, but not the year.”

It’s a unique twist on a story about fate. This was a very cool experience because it was the first time that something I had written, was being produced and will air on a major network. Plato Fountindakis, who was an executive producer on the SyFy series Lost Girl for five seasons, came onboard early as our executive producer and was a really great mentor for me. I had produced small films and web series’ before however this was the first time I was involved in something this big.

I initially had the idea for the concept while bored at a bar one night and I turned to my friend and asked “If you could know the day you are going to die, but not the year, would you want to know?” It all grew from there. My co-writers Jason Gosbee, Scott Cavalheiro and I really started exploring that concept. Since we use a 365-day calendar, I’m fascinated by the fact that every year we pass the day that will eventually be our last without giving it a second thought. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, all these days with so much meaning, but the one that will have the most effect on us and our loved ones, remains a mystery –until it happens. Your kids or friends or family will be aware of a day that you pass blindly every year, that right now means nothing to you, but they’ll never forget. So in the universe we’ve created with our film, this day is no longer a mystery. We get to see the effect that knowledge of your own fate has on the world. Ideally, we want to expand it into a full-length feature or TV series. I do also make a cameo in the film. My own little ode to Hitchcock.

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

IF: I’m often excited to play all kinds of characters, and I’m confidant playing a range of different people. What’s harder for me is putting my ego aside and turning things down when I’m not right for it. I think as young actors we sometimes just want to be working or we feel like we can do anything, even if the character is not right for us. So sometimes I have to reevaluate a script, or a project and say, “No, I’m just not the guy,” even if I really want to be. It’s way more beneficial than trying to force something that isn’t working. A great script or a great director can be a game changer too. After Glory River, I’ll do anything Blake McWilliam wants me for. He’s truly an actor’s director and I did some my proudest work on that film because of the freedom and environment he created on set.

Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?

IF: The last live show I did outside of comedy clubs was a sketch show called “World Pride and Prejudice” at The Second City. We wrote and performed it over the course of a year through the Second City’s signature style of writing through improv. It ran during the World Pride festival in Toronto in 2014. That was lots of fun. Being on the same stage that John Candy, Dan Akroyd, Eugene Levy, all these great comic actors have been on, that was really an honor.

For the most part, outside of comedy, I stopped doing live theatre a few years ago. I’m such a big fan of film as a medium and the spontaneity of doing it authentically or differently take to take. Once you do it once, you don’t have to try to recreate anything, the camera’s already captured that moment, so you have room to play and try new things. I find that happens in the rehearsal process of a play, but is often lost in the performance since you might find something great once, but then you try to hit that again 8 times a week for 3 months. Too many actors make the mistake of trying to get it right again, instead of just working moment to moment. There are actors who can pull it off and love doing it but for now, I want to work with the camera.

What has been your favorite role so far and why?

IF: That’s tough. I don’t know about a favorite but right now my top 3 would be, Covert Affairs, Glory River, and Reign. All for different reasons. Playing Patrick on Covert Affairs gave me an opportunity to work with some great actors who really knew their characters. I came into that show for the final season so by the time I was there some of them had been playing these characters for four or five years, so it was really valuable to see how they would talk things over with the writers or directors. Because the nature of episodic TV, almost all of the episodes have a different director, so that gave me an opportunity to see a range of styles and work with a variety of different people. Even though we were the same characters, on the same sets, each director had their own take and vision for their episode. It was also cool because by the time I got there the crew had been making this show for five seasons so it was such a well-oiled machine. They already had a system in place, I was coming into their world and they really made me feel welcome.

I loved playing Noah in Glory River because of the personal connection I felt to him, we came from very similar worlds. We were both raised by single mothers, both from small towns and both have big goals. I knew I could do him and that story justice. It’s a story that is so engrained in the lives of Canadians, and I was really excited to be able to bring it to the screen. That was a really great set experience and it gave me a chance to see parts of the country that I had never been too before. We shot it in Red Deer, and Edmonton Alberta, two cities I had never been too prior to doing this film. It was great to work with these local crews and seeing Alberta’s film industry first hand. Working with the director Blake McWilliam and the Director of Photography Mike McLaughlin is always a lot of fun. Because we’d already done one film together in the past, it was like being on set with your friends. Both of those guys are so good at what they do; it was really great to not only have respect for them as filmmakers, but to also enjoy being around them as well. Because we know each other, and each other’s work, we already have a trust built in. We never have to doubt what the end product might look like, so it’s one less thing on the mind. That gave us all the freedom to take some risks and find some really nice stuff for this film.

Reign was a great experience because that was the first time I got to play a character from a different time period, so even on the level of costumes and accents it was unique to me. It’s not everyday that you show up to work and there are horses and castles everywhere, at least it’s not for me. I’m a big history fan and this show allowed me to go back in time for a little bit, or as close as I’ll ever get to being able to actually do that. Director Jeff Renfroe was really easy to work with, he really trusted what I prepared with for the character, which gave me the confidence to just go to work.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

IF: Drama and comedy are my favorites; I’m lucky enough that I happen to be a strong dramatic actor, who is also funny. In a perfect world I’d love to do what Jamie Foxx or Robin William’s can do and have done. These guys are Oscar Award winning actors, who are also great stand ups and have done great comedies. You’re telling me Ray is that funny in Horrible Bosses? The fact that that’s the same guy is very impressive. Two very different skill sets and to be a master of both is incredible. I love making dramatic movies. I’m a big fan of subtlety and working with people who live as truthfully as possible under the circumstances. But comedies are also great, and they seem to stay in people’s consciousness in such a lasting way. I love going to the movies in the fall when all the Best Picture nominees are coming out, those are my favorite type of movies to watch, but comedies touch people in a different way. People from my generation still quote Anchorman, Mean Girls, or Superbad. Those are the movies people watch over and over again. So I’d love to be able to have a career in both. I’d love to be in the kind of films Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson make…maybe I just have a thing for Anderson’s…

What separates you from other actors?

IF: I’m not afraid to work for it. A lot of actors I know sit around and wait for the phone to ring. Which is so deadly. I did that for about 2 months after I got my first agent and I started to go crazy. That’s when I first started taking classes. Now I’m always training because whether or not I’ll get auditions or offers is out of my control, but if I’m always practicing, then I’m always getting better, and when those opportunities do come up, I’m even better and more prepared then I would have been. Actors are often entitled and they feel like they don’t need to work for it. If a musician never worked on their strings or a basketball player never took shots outside of games they would be awful, but often actors think they’re an exception. If I’m not shooting anything then I’m taking a class, writing or doing stand up, or producing my own stuff; but I’m never sitting around. I don’t want to look back in ten years and think that I could have done more or blame anyone else for how my career went. If I’m up against someone for a part, they better have done their homework, because I definitely did. I’m also in a smaller boat because I’m not a comic actor who also does drama, or a dramatic actor who also does comedy. It would be hard to box me into one category. It’s two separate stands for me and I’m lucky enough, or have practiced enough to be exceling at both at the moment. In a dream world, I’d love to have careers like Marlon Brando & Dave Chappelle. I guess Jamie Foxx pretty much did that…and he also sings right…that guy’s a talent.

What would you say your strongest qualities as an actor are?

IF: I’ve been told that it’s interesting watching me think. Which I think is a great compliment for an actor– that there’s lot happening behind my eyes. Whether we’re doing a comedy or a drama, if we’re doing a scene together I’m going to really be listening to you. I’m also an experienced improviser, which allows us to go off script and improvise dialogue or situations if desired. Comedy and drama are obviously different but at the same time, they aren’t, so much of it is about good listening.

What projects do you have coming up?

IF: The Netflix original series Between has been picked up for a second season, I guest starred in one of the last episodes of the first season and it looks like my character is potentially coming back for season 2. I play John, a devout Mennonite who finds out one of the lead characters, Gord (Ryan Allen) has been having an affair with my wife Hanna. (Rebecca Liddard.) My character shows up and creates quite a conflict and we haven’t seen how it’s resolved yet. It ends on a cliffhanger, and I’m very curious about what happens next and am excited about the possibility of coming back and exploring that further.

A new episode of my series The Party Show will be coming out soon. We’re always in a state of making one of those when we can.

What are your plans for the future?

IF: Planning to move to L.A for 2016, in addition to TV & films, I’d like to take some UCB classes and to start doing stand up regularly in L.A. And also surf a few times a week. It’s been awhile since I’ve surfed without a wetsuit. In-N-Out Burger, that’s on the list.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

IF: I have some big goals, but at the end of the day I want to make the kind of movies or TV that I like watching. When I was a little kid my mom used to dress up to watch the Oscars. I would love to be able to take her there someday.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

IF: Being funny is like having a super power. I was never the bravest, best looking, fastest or strongest, but I’ve always been able to make people laugh. That separated me and gave me something special. I attribute so many of the good things in my life to my sense of humor. Most of my friends or my relationships, professional and personal, wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for that. I don’t want to just be a really funny stockbroker, or the funniest guy at the party. If I don’t do something with this it seems like it’s such a waste. Quite simply, I’m good at this, I love doing it and I work very hard to be better and better. I truly believe I’m not suited better for anything else. Oh and the money.

Q & A with International Star Aleksandra Kovacevic

Aleksandra Kovacevic
                              Aleksandra Kovacevic in the film “Bertilda” shot by Anup Kulkarni

Over the years actress Aleksandra Kovacevic has made a lasting impression on audiences with her spellbinding performances in a wide range of films and stage productions; and, as she prepares to lend her talents to several upcoming productions including Tony Aron II’s series Crackerjack, and Magaly Monterroso’s film Sebudai, we anticipate the opportunity to see some of the actress’s new work!

Kovacevic’s emotional range is unmatched, something she’s proven through her roles in films including Hush, Room 007, Bits of Glass, Bertilda, A Fistful of Films and many more. Kovacevic is also featured in South by Southwest Film Festival Audience Award winner John Suits’ film Viral, which wrapped production earlier this year, as well as Rachel Yingxaun Zhou’s Web series Life is Horrible and the new Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer directed by David Wain.

Back home in Germany, Kovacevic starred in several theatre productions in Cologne including “Top Dogs” where she took on the challenging role of a man, Mr. Yellow, and “The Bond that Keeps Us Together” where she played the starring role of Lisa.

She also recently finished an incredibly successful run of the theatrical production of “4.48 Psychosis” at the Hyperion Lyric Theatre in Los Angeles where she took on two drastically roles as both the therapist and her patient’s other personality.

To find out more about this inspiring actress, make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about Aleksandra Kovacevic through her website: http://www.aleksandra-kovacevic.com/#!home

LG: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

AK: I was born in Sarajevo, but I grew up in Germany. By the age of 16 I joined our theater group in high school and ever since then I’ve continued following my passion.

LG: Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?

AK: I’ve worked on films like Hush, Room 007, Bertilda, Bits of Glass, A Fistful of Film, Caged: How to clip your birds Wings and the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer. In Hush I portrayed the judgmental, negative thought of a man’s mind. In Room 007, I played a Russian spy that is looking for her partner in crime. In Bits of Glass I portrayed a warmhearted manager that can’t let go of her dead sister, but is forced to deal with the reality of the loss during one painful day. In A Fistful of Film I played a director that is taking her divorce out on set with her director husband. In Bertilda I played Bertilda, a marionette. The story portrays the social standards of a woman, Bertilda, and how she breaks free from the norm. In Wet Hot American Summer I portrayed a ventriloquist puppet that is auditioning with her friend for the camp talent show. In Caged: How to clip your birds Wings I played Justice, a young female that falls in love with her military girlfriend Serenity. She is not the only one who has romantic feelings for Serenity, her Boyfriend wants to marry Serenity as soon as possible. On her weeding day Serenity has doubts about getting married. Justice tries to opens her girlfriend’s eyes, and guides her to find herself and develop courage. But Serenity decides to live the lie, which Justice can’t accept.

LG: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

AK: I like to be challenged. If I personally feel that a role brings me to my limits and makes me discover a completely new journey—if it makes my imagination glow and provokes people to think, then I will participate in that project. Also, if I feel the script is well written and there is a great connection with the director, or a strong connection between the whole cast and crew, then I believe a project can have a better end result as well.

LG: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

AK: As an artist you should affect people. It could be positive or negative. This is how I feel as well when picking a role. If the character affects me, evokes certain emotions in me and I feel this is a new challenge I would like to face I’ll pick the role.

LG: Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?

AK: I’ve participated in plays like “Top Dogs,” “The Bond That Keeps Us Together,” “Freak Show,” “The Shape of Things,” “All In” and “4.48 Psychosis.” In “Top Dogs” I played a rich, snobby manager that cares more about his lifestyle and bank account than about anything else. He was greedy for more power, more money and more influence. Until he gets fired. With the help of the New Challenge Company and six others who are in the same boat, he tries to find a new job.

In “The Bond That Keeps Us Together” I played Lisa. The play revolves around a girl and a boy from different religious backgrounds falling in love. In “Freak Show” I played Irene, a manipulative businesswoman who is always hunting for the new circus sensation for her own show. She knows what kind of affect she has on men and that she can get everything she wants with her charm.

In “The Shape Of Things” I played Evelyn, a manipulative graduate art student that makes a human transformation to her thesis masterpiece. In “All In” I played the eccentric showgirl Victoria Lichtenstein, who accepts that the Casino owns her. However she is a feisty one and has built up her rank at the Casino.

And recently in “4.48 Psychosis,” I played Sarah Kane’s psychiatrist who wants her to get better. I also played the patient that she meets in the hospital after her attempt to commit suicide. There is a connection between them, which is both heartbreaking and funny at the same time. 

LG: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

AK: One of my favorite roles so far was Irene in “Freak Show” and the therapist and patient in “4.48 Psychosis.”

I loved embodying Irene, because I saw her as some sort of a goddess, an object of desire that no one can have. She is independent and knows how to survive in a man’s world. She is smart and charming, and the fact that she owns her own circus attraction made her even more appealing to me. The oddness in her life path and her way of life was fascinating.

I also liked playing the psychiatrist and patient in “4.48 Psychosis” because it gave me a spectrum to discover and gain more knowledge about the extremes that the play contained. The play itself is an emotional marathon. Since it was an in your face theater piece and it is dealing with every extreme, it was really important for me by the end of the shows to in a sense “take off the shoes” and get back to my usual every day. It was interesting to learn more about the psychology of the human mind and body, and to understand the body’s functions and the complexity of the mind.

On the other hand the role of the patient was a paradox, like a free spirit trapped in her own prison. She suppresses her path and tries to reflect her fate on others. She is Sarah Kane and still can’t except that she is ill. If she dies both of them die. My character is basically telling her not to give up on herself. It was also a very fascinating journey and great experience for me to portray two completely different roles in one play and see myself growing. We had a fantastic crew and very talented people on board, which made this journey incredible. Everyone put so much hard work and passion into this production that I’m fortunate to have had the chance to work with such great people, which made the experience for me even more unique.

LG: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

AK: I don’t really like to narrow myself down to one specific genre, but my old time favorite is Sci-Fi and fantasy genre. I can definitely see myself doing more in this genre, but I like to keep myself open to all other genre as well.

LG: What separates you from other actors?

AK: My imagination. Each and every imagination, the spectrum of the unknown is what separates us all from one another. Everyone has unique ideas and is unique in themselves.

LG: What would you say your strongest qualities as an actor are?

AK: Listening and observing. I’ve always liked to hear other people’s stories or the way they talk, the sound of a unique voice. I also like to observe and be aware of my surroundings. No matter if human, animal or just the flow of the nature. For example just observing people sitting at the bus station, at a restaurant or waiting in line, observing their habits, seeing different manners, behaving differently and reacting differently to situations in everyday life. Everyone is unique and everyone carries their own story, which makes everyone interesting in their own way.

LG: What projects do you have coming up?

AK: I have a new series coming up, which is called Crackerjack. It’s about a woman who sees art in the murders of a serial killer. I will be working with filmmaker Tony Aaron II. Season 1 will be released in a few months and I will be in season 2, which will begin shooting this winter.

I will also be working on a play called “Florescene” written by Cassandra Shea. “Florescene” is the journey of a young girl with a wild imagination who grows into a world where it’s hard to express that imagination. She believes she holds an ocean inside her and doesn’t know how to express the immense depth of her feelings until she meets a boy who believes he was created from the earth. When they meet the question is posed: can they sustain a steady relationship or are they destined to be separate elements?

I’m also cast in the feature film ALA (animal lovers anonymous) written by Cassandra Shea, and preproduction starts September 2016, shoot dates are scheduled for late 2016. It is a comedy film in the style of the TV show The Office and Parks And Recreation. It centers on an anonymous group meetup that doesn’t understand what it means to be anonymous. The leader of the anonymous group decides to hire a team of filmmakers that films the journey of the 7 members of the group over the span of three days. As problems arise from the introduction of the film crew and new members, the leader begins to wonder how long the group will last together.

I will be also working on another film Sebudai written and directed by Magaly Monterroso, which is slated to shoot this winter. It is a fairy tale for grownups that follows a young girl named Samantha who becomes friends with the monster under her bed. Growing up in a foster home, her foster mother isn’t really amused by Samantha’s stories. But Samantha loves to read Dracula, Frankenstein and all the other classics. When an unfamiliar creature visits her one night, she fears him at first, but they quickly become friends. He seems to be the only one she is able to share her passion for stories with. When Samantha is visited by a social worker to move to another home she knows that she won’t see her friend anymore. As Samantha grows into a young woman she decides to visit her old home. It is shabby and there is a “For Sale” sign in front of the yard. As she indulges and reminiscences, her old childhood friend appears, and she finally can finish telling him her own story.

LG: What kind of training have you done?

AK: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Film& Television. I did Comedy and Improve, Scene Study, Acting Techniques (Konstantin Stanislavski, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, etc.) Audition Techniques, Master Class for Actors with Matthew Modine; and before coming to LA, I participated in a Theatre Workshop at Stage Studio Cologne.

LG: Who are some of the people who have inspired you over the years?

AK: Some of the people that have inspired me and my work include Tim Burton, Federico Fellini, Marina Abramovic, Robert Wiene, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp and Tom Hardy.

LG: What is your favorite film?

 AK: My favorite movie is Pan’s Labyrinth. I love Del Toro’s combination of Fantasy and historical context in this movie. A well done horror fairy tell for grown-ups, which keeps a thin line between reality and fantasy. The visuals are magic and the build of the movie is incredible. A movie you can get lost in and be ready to experience all emotional ranges.

An Interview with One of Canada’s Hottest Actresses, Sarah Jurgens!

Sarah Jurgens
Actress Sarah Jurgens for “In the Tub” photography project in support of Breast Cancer Research

Over the last five years UK-born actress Sarah Jurgens has amassed an impressive repertoire of work on both the stage and screen; and as she continues to grow her artistry with new projects and diverse roles audiences around the world can rest assured that we will be seeing a whole lot more from her for years to come.

Jurgens landed one of her first television roles as Gaia on the hit Gemini Award winning series Lost Girl, followed up by her role as Karina Vost on the Golden Globe nominated series Covert Affairs. 

A breath-taking beauty by anyone’s standards, what makes Jurgens so special, aside from her aesthetic appeal, is her emotional range. Her ability to get inside each and every one of her characters and seamlessly bring them to life regardless of the genre has made her a sought after actress for roles in the international entertainment community.

The actress recently wrapped production on the TV miniseries Green-ish directed by multi-award winning filmmaker Matthew Kowalchuck, and she is slated to star in the upcoming film Country Time, which will be directed by Jonathan Bensimon.

To find out more about Sarah Jurgens make sure to check out our interview below. You can also check out some of her theatre work through her production company’s website: http://www.bloodprojects.com/

PLM: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

SJ: I was born in Epsom, United Kingdom. My family is from Cape Town, South Africa. We immigrated to Canada and I grew up in British Columbia. I was hooked on the power of theatre the day my dad took me to see “Cats” on Broadway in London, England when I was 5. I got involved in musicals in high school for fun, and then decided to train as an actor through the acting conservatory at York University.

PLM: Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done? 

SJ: I played the Russian wife of a big time business man in Two Hands To Mouth, a drug addicted photographer who loses all sense of reality in The Man In The Shadows, and the girlfriend of a Trailer Park Boy driven mad by jealousy with an obsession over an ex-punk rock star in Swearnet.

Two Hands To Mouth is a dark, comedic, politically-driven feature film where eight blind folded guests assemble at a secret pop-up restaurant. Chef Michael Bradori is back, sober and ready to reclaim his former glory. Food, wine, greed and lust fuel the appetites in the room. Things take a shocking turn when the dining room is transformed into a minefield of political and personal danger where the characters come under threats of guns and violence. I played Anya, the Russian wife of a business man named Frank, who was played by Joe Pingue from the films Drive, The Book of Eli, Pompeii.

Working with a Russian dialect opened up a very specific emotional range for me. It was incredibly fun to play a woman so secure in her sexuality and power. It was also an invaluable learning experience working with veterans like Kate Trotter, Ernie Grunwald, and Vincent Walsh.

In The Man In The Shadows I played Rachel, a photographer addicted to prescription drugs who starts to lose her sense of reality as she grapples with her broken marriage and her nightmares. The most challenging thing about this project was arcing the character’s decent into delusion. It was a small team of people, so we were able to get to know each other well and had a ton of fun. It opened at the Dances with Films Festival in LA, Cinefest and Scare-A-Con in New York where it was nominated for Best Feature and Best Actress.

Filming Swearnet was the most fun I’ve ever had on a set. Mike Smith, Rob Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Tom Green were constantly improvising, keeping the scenes fresh and hilarious. I played Julie, the girlfriend of Rob Wells, who is consumed by jealousy. The director, Warren P. Sonoda, created a working environment that was fast-paced and creatively freeing. We were often encouraged to stretch the boundaries of the characters actions, and the improv elements kept me on my toes. Julie spends the majority of the film making her boyfriend’s life a living hell. I anchored her destructive behaviour in deep insecurity and an insatiable desire for attention and drama. It was such a blast to be able to run wild with her. The amount of laughter and playfulness that surrounded the set everyday was an uplifting environment to be in. I developed some life long friends on that set.

PLM: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

SJ: Two Hands To Mouth allowed me to work in the world of money-laundering, power-plays and female politics in a mans world.

The Man In The Shadows gave me the permission to explore the experience of being haunted, hunted and stalked. By playing the character of Rachel, I was given the opportunity to live in a state of mental unraveling. I enjoyed the challenge of playing a character that was wrestling with truth and illusion, experiencing the slippage of her sanity.

Playing Julie in Swearnet gave me a chance to play with jealousy and extreme insecurity in a world of over-the-top comedy. Her unpredictable behaviour made her a loose canon, and the working environment allowed for much improv and play.

PLM: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

SJ: I choose roles based on challenge. If any sort of fear bubbles up when I encounter the script, I know it’s because the material is resonating with me, and whatever the character represents is a chance to explore that aspect of myself. I also get really inspired when the creative team is composed of artists who are equally passionate about telling the same story, and taking risks with it.

PLM: Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?

SJ: One of my favourite theatrical experiences was acting in the play, “The Bewitched.” Set in 17th century Spain, “The Bewitched” is the story of the last of the Hapsburg royal line, a family of rulers so inbred that their diseases prevent them from producing an heir to the throne.

The physical manifestation of corruption mirrors the appalling deterioration of the state and church, in an interpretation of the irrational fanaticism that led to the War of the Spanish succession. I played the role of Queen Anna through Theatre @ York directed by Nigel Shawn Williams. It was an incredible experience playing a historical figure. Maria Anna of Neuburg was Queen of Spain from 1689 to 1700 as the second wife of King Charles II. It allowed me to explore her explosive anger, resulting in seizures and phantom pregnancies.

Since then I’ve acted in and produced new Canadian plays with my production company The Blood Projects.

In “Little Tongues,” I played Tessa, the jaded daughter of a broken family. The production received extraordinary reviews from several outlets including Now Toronto and Mooney on Theatre.

I also played Eve in “This Is It,” a young woman navigating her way through a relationship guided by a broken heart, which received rave reviews as well.

PLM: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

SJ: My favorite role to play so far was actually in a Nightwood Theatre’s Director’s Summit Workshop. It was a short theatrical experience, but one of the most profound I’ve ever had. A group of actresses were gathered together for a workshop where a team of female directors were guided by world-renowned director and playwright Yael Farber. We explored Margaret Atwood’s play, “The Penelopiad,” Atwood’s daring response to Homer’s “The Odyssey.”

It was empowering to work with an inspiring collective of female artists, because everyone in the room was willing to take risks under the leadership and artistic genius of Yael Farber. I would love to work with her again in the future.

PLM: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor? 

SJ: I find myself fluctuating between drama and comedy. Drama is usually my preferred genre to work in, but comedy provides a fierce challenge that I respond to as an actor because as everybody knows, it’s incredibly difficult to pull it off successfully.

PLM: What separates you from other actors?

SJ: I’m passionate about character exploration and really enjoy using different techniques to approach the work. Because I grew up with the gift and privilege of traveling to different areas of the world where my extended family resides, I developed a keen ear for dialects and accents. I really enjoy dialect work, it often opens up an entirely new inner-landscape for me to draw on as an actor, and it brings an edge to the character that I otherwise may not have found. I am also inspired by painting, singing, boxing and dancing, so I try to bring whatever alternative artistic experiences I have at the time into the project I’m working on as an actor. My goal is to continue growing, and for my work to come from a place of spontaneity and authenticity.

PLM: What projects do you have coming up?

SJ: I’m currently writing my own feature length script and am about to work on a film called Country Time with director Jonathan Bensimon and producer by Evan Landry.

PLM: What are your plans for the future?

SJ: I want to keep creating the type of theatre and film that I’m interested in. I work to write and act from a personal place. I’m currently working on a feature length script as well as a photography project about the relationship between a woman and her body.

PLM: What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

SJ: I would like to play strong female characters who aren’t written as stereotyped or defined by patriarchal ideas but rather deeply human. I would like to work with Xavier Dolan, Lena Dunham, Patty Jenkins and Yael Farber. I would like to work on film and theatre that isn’t afraid to engage audience members and ask pressing questions about the nature of our humanity. Some films in recent years that have shaped me as an artist include The Tribe, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Mommy. I hope to get to a point where I can strike a balance between acting in and producing my own projects.

PLM: What kind of training have you done?

SJ: I trained in the acting department at York University and graduated with my BFA. I continued to study with David Rotenberg (pro-actors lab) and Michèle Lonsdale Smith.

PLM: Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

SJ: I chose acting as my chosen passion and profession for selfish reasons really. It was the art form that I found most challenging and demanding in terms of self-exploration. As I grow as an individual, I also grow as an artist. It is an ever-evolving process and it’s one that keeps me asking questions, and keeps me engaged with life. I have been profoundly shaped by fellow actors, directors, writers, theatre-makers and filmmakers. It is a world where I feel the most at home, and the most alive.

Actor Spotlight: Canadian Star Rebekah Miskin

Rebekah Miskin
                                                                               Actress Rebekah Miskin

Rebekah Miskin was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and knew right from the start that she wanted to be a performer. At age three she hit the stage as a dancer, and ever since she’s been inspired by the arts. Acting, writing, producing, and DJ-ing are just a few of her talents. Aside from performing as a dancer for 18 years, Rebekah is most widely known throughout the entertainment industry for her diverse acting prowess. Over the course of her career Rebekah has performed in a myriad of  theater productions at some of the most prestigious venues for performing actors, including The Second City. Rebekah honed her skills in the comedy genre by doing impov-based sketch comedy at The Second City, which has been referred to as “A Comedy Empire” by the New York Times, and is known for turning out artists like John Candy, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Sedaris, and countless others.

In the multi-award winning film Pooka, Rebekah played the role of Kate, the not so nice high school nemesis of Pooka (Katie Boland), a teenage outcast who seems to be inept at making friends. Directed by Maurey Loeffler (Supernatural Investigator, Malcontents), the film received international praise winning the awards for Best Drama and Best Original Screenplay at the Dixie Film Festival, as well as the Golden Sheaf Award for Best Drama at the Yorkton Film Festival.

Most recently, Rebekah played the starring role of Maggie in the film Records for Maggie. The film tells the story of a young woman whose father suddenly dies, leaving behind a slew of unanswered questions and a world-renowned record shop. Co-writer of the film as well as lead actress, Rebekah describes Records for Maggie as, “a coming of age comedy that deals with a lot of the most relatable and universal issues that young women face today.” The film is scheduled to be released next year.

For Rebekah Miskin, 2014 has been one incredibly busy year. In addition to starring in Records for Maggie, Rebekah guest starred in an episode of the award-winning television series Mayday. On the show Rebekah played the challenging role of Nicole Williamson, a real life heroine who single-handedly rescued two other surviving passengers after their plane went down in the Arctic. Rebekah admits, “I guarantee you it was much easier playing the TV version of Nicole than being the real Nicole rescuing two people from a burning plane but it was so enthralling.”

The actress is also currently working on season two of the successful Hulu series Long Story, Short. Award-winning actress and one of Rebekah’s longtime collaborators, Katie Boland, originally created Long Story, Short in 2013. The duo also worked together on A Subsequent Life, a film that Rebekah and Katie both co-wrote and directed while also working on the series for Hulu. Rebekah guest stars as Anna, in Long Story, Short, a cool DJ who befriends a quirky trio of young women who comedically weave their way through the ups and downs of early adulthood.

Rebekah’s passion for performing, and her drive to create also led her to collaborate with award-winning director Bobby Roth, who is best known as the director of the television shows Grey’s Anatomy, Prison Break, and the Mentalist. Rebekah played the critical role of Lainie in Bobby Roth’s film Reviving Ophelia, which was nominated for a Humanitas Prize.

With a flourishing creative career, Rebekah has created a repertoire of work over the last few years that is both remarkable and diverse, and this is just the tip of the iceberg as this young actress has many more upcoming projects under her sleeve.

Actor Profile: Australian Heartthrob Andrew Steel


Andrew Steel
Andrew Steel shot by Az Jackson

Andrew Steel is the latest Australian actor for Hollywood to watch. With a background that includes Australia’s leading TV shows such as Home and Away and Deadbeat Dads, The Justice Lease as well as internationally renowned films including Twisted, Little Lies, Bargain and Super Awesome! Andrew has even graced the stage performing in major theatrical productions, including the rugby-themed 10,000 Beers and Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

Andrew is setting his sights on even bigger things, as he is set to star as the lead role of Stephen in the highly anticipated Picture Park Entertainment film, 10 Things I Hate About Life. 10 Things is a romantic comedy about a young woman and a young man falling in love with one another just as they are about to kill themselves. In this modern re-telling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, our star-crossed lovers’ crazy shared experiences and similar emotional state forms a bond that draws them both into happiness and takes them on a rollercoaster ride of young love.

Actress Marine Lanctuit Steals the Screen and Stage

Actress Marine Lanctuit in "The Book of Days"
                                           Actress Marine Lanctuit in “The Book of Days”

Like many actors, Marine Lanctuit knew she was meant to be on stage from a very young age. Unlike many actors, however, she has put in the time and effort it takes to reach an astonishing level of success in the entertainment industry.

On film, Lanctuit has contributed her talent toward many projects. Some of the most recent productions she has led include: Creed and Lost Angels by writer and director Stan Harrington, Red Poppies, produced and directed by Yaitza Rivera, and Heroines by director Travis Geiger.

During her time on Creed and Lost Angels, Lanctuit was able to deepen her relationship with multi-award winning producer, writer and director Stan Harrington. Harrington is currently known for his management of the Stella Adler Theatre, where actors like Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Harvey Keitel, and Gary Ross all received guidance and instruction early in their careers.

It was at the Stella Adler Theatre where Harrington met Lanctuit, captivated by her diverse abilities as an actress in theatre and on stage. Lanctuit played Isadora in Lost Angels, a story about what a young actress will do to “make it big” in Hollywood: and the peril that can come with this search for fame and fortune.

Red Poppies achieved widespread critical acclaim for it’s depiction of war and the

political, physical and emotional violence it wreaks upon victims. In the film, Lanctuit gripped the emotions of the audience in her portrayal of Margaret Thomas, the cousin of Iris, a victim of a violent assault during wartimes. The 2013 film was nominated for best dialogue by Action on Film International USA.

Lanctuit leads as Aurore in the film Heroines, which tells the harrowing story of a woman being brainwashed by her psychiatrist as he carries out his highly unethical psychological experiments on her – without her knowledge or consent.

When it comes to theatre, Lanctuit is just as qualified as she is on film. In Paris, where she began her career, she starred in a variety of plays, includingThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, and The Marriage of Figaro by Beaumarchais, “a play with a cult following in France,” Lancuit described.

In the United States, Lanctuit further developed her theatrical abilities in several productions directed by Oscar-winning producer and director Milton Justice. 

Lanctuit expressed that she learned an enormous amount about how to deepen her talent as an actress during her time working with Justice. Considering his long list of accolades, this is not surprising: in addition to winning the Academy Award in 1987 for Best Documentary, Down and Out in America, Justice has produced innumerable titles in television and film.

The plays in which Lanctuit partnered with Justice include: Our Town by Thornton Wilder, Book of Days by Lanford Wilson, and Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov.

Of these plays, Lanctuit said that her role of Irina in Three Sisters was, “without hesitation,” the favorite of all the roles she’s ever played.

“It’s not with every material that you get to develop a character so much,” she explained in an insider interview. “There are 2 to 3 years between each of the four acts, so you see her evolve from a naïve young girl into a woman.”

During her theatrical career, Lanctuit has also worked closely with award-winning actor, writer, producer and stage director Tim McNeil, best known for his work in the film Forrest Gump. McNeil admired Lanctuit’s talent so much that he cast her for the lead role in two of his plays: Orange Flower Water, and The Odd Couple. Additionally, the film Red Poppies was adapted from McNeil’s script.

Currently, Lanctuit is working on Wandering Stars, directed by James Zsignmond. After wrapping this production, she has already booked film work for the next three years!

Marine Lanctuit has accrued quite an array of accomplishments during her prolific acting career, and there is no end in sight to her extraordinary level of success. We look forward to seeing where this spotlight takes her next.