‘Billy Elliot’ star Alexander Loxton on Acting and Dancing His Way To the Top

‘Billy Elliot’ star Alexander Loxton has managed to do what few performers do: master skills across different mediums in stage and screen. The combination, he says, has actually helped him excel in both areas because he’s constantly challenging his craft and ensures that he does not become complacent in one area.

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Alexander has had to maintain a high-level of athletic discipline in his performing career, as his roles as a dancer and actor often require copious amounts of rehearsals.

“There’s a tendency sometimes as an actor to get a little lazy, because there’s a perception you need to be natural on camera, or just say words, but I think I’ve been lucky with my background and training as a dancer as I feel that it has helped to give me a foundation and structure for staying disciplined,” he offers in our interview.

Indeed, Alexander has been working on his skills as a performer since a very young age. In a path ironically similar to Billy Elliot himself, Alexander hails from a working class background and ended up training at the Royal Ballet School. These life experiences clearly offered Alexander inspiration to draw from when it came to performing as a dancer and actor onstage for over a year, calling on the highest degree of discipline. The production, performed at The Victorian Palace Theatre on London’s West End, was sold-out on a regular basis and received rave reviews in The Sun Newspaper and Guardian. 

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Alexander performed on numerous occasions at the famed Victoria Palace Theatres on the West End in London.
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Alexander on-stage as ‘Billy’ in ‘Billy Elliot’, dancing with the younger-version of his character.

Indeed, sources advised our editors that dancers and performers in a high-profile production like Billy Elliot have to be of the highest standard as they are intended to show the greatness of what Billy can be one day potentially become. As Alexander played the role of older Billy, he was tasked with carrying the show on his literal and proverbial shoulders in showcasing to the audience how masterful a dancer Billy turns into.

“It was daunting to say the least, but I was definitely up for the challenge. There is a long routine with only young Billy and Older Billy on stage with an incredible aerial acrobatic section. The role requires very advanced classical ballet ability as well as highly skilled acting and singing skills throughout the rest of the show.”

Alexander speaks with affection when discussion how the show was a rewarding experience for him, not only professionally and commercially – as he was able to command a high-salary for the privilege – but personally too.

“It’s very rewarding to inspire a younger generation. And the whole show felt very close to home for me because it was obviously a role that I related to – I felt pulled towards dancing as a youngster but not many people understood my interests because of the town I grew up in. Now that I’m also an actor working in TV shows and films people sort of understand and love it more even if they don’t understand the industry completely’ he adds with a laugh.

The other bonus of performing in such an acclaimed production was the audience who would would enjoy Alexander’s performances on a nightly basis.

“It was pretty cool – Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher came to watch once, as well as members of the Royal Family.

The high-profile success of Alexander’s role in Billy Elliot helped reinforce his reputation as an in-demand performer known for a compelling screen presence as much as he is employed for his athletic stage presence. The by-product of having such a positive name in the industry, and being a master of multiple skills, is that Alexander has been selected for huge commercial campaigns.

For a Marks and Spencers special Christmas campaign, Alexander was selected from over 500 auditionees.

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Alexander featured front-and-centre in a campaign for leading department store Marks & Spencer, which called on Alexander’s talents as both dancer and actor.

Alexander explains. “This is a huge event as every year all the major supermarket chains release very high budget Christmas commercials. I was featured on TV and online for my dancing and acting. We were lucky enough to film at Warner Bros studios in London (in the same studio they shoot the biggest productions such as Harry Potter.)”

“British artists should support each other, especially as we continue to make headway in the United States – I feel lucky to be considered a valuable part of a small and supportive community of working artists, performers and dancers.”

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Britain’s Dionne Neish on timely new podcast ‘Purple Panties’

As a child, when Dionne Neish was being read to, she would imagine she was the main character in the stories, becoming a hero and fantasizing of traveling in spaceships and seeing other worlds, playing warriors and princesses and anything else she could imagine. It was a natural transition to go from playing a role in her head to playing one in front of a camera. She sees her job as an actor as a method to leave a lasting impact on her audience. She has known since the age of five that she was meant to get into acting and has spent every day since in love with the craft.

“I wanted to go into acting to entertain people. I loved the way I could affect another person by not being myself, by playing a role,” she said. “I wanted to be an actor as I felt characters were far more interesting than myself, why not live in another person’s shoes for a while.”

Neish is now known for her tremendous ability to captivate an audience, sometimes with just her voice. She has done just that in renowned productions, such as ABC’s long-running soap opera General Hospital, the 2018 Golden Globe nominated television series Better Things, and more.

Earlier this year, Neish also began working on yet another celebrated project, the podcast Purple Panties. The series, the first of its kind, is a scripted fictionalized erotic drama whose characters were Black female leads from the LGBTQ community, which drew Neish to the show.

“I wanted to be a part of this project because of the interesting and fun storyline, and it highlighted part of the community that I believe hasn’t been given enough main stream platforms. I’ve been lucky enough to work with several female led projects in the past. Being part of an all-Black female cast was refreshing and exciting. This is a story written by a Black woman, told by Black women. Representation matters and when you get to be a part of that it’s like coming home, and the camaraderie is electric. We need more stories from these and other POC perspectives. This is a story about the LGBTQ community without the stereotypes. It’s sexy, it’s funny and you’ll be hooked once you listen to it,” said Neish.

Created by New York Times Best Selling Author Zane, the podcast is based in Atlanta, telling the story of Maddox, Loren and Stephanie, who go against the grain when it comes to sex. But as relationships shift and physical needs change, can they keep up with the facade? This is about the sacrifices people make, the mistakes they make because of pride, and trying to find love in a world where the characters are seen as less because they are women, black, and gay.  Listeners follow them on their journey as they navigate their professional and personal lives.

In Purple Panties, Patricia is a vital role in telling an important and timely story. She is a self-made business woman who thinks she has the upper hand with Stephanie, played by Melissa Williams. Patricia soon realizes that Stephanie is smarter than she looks and isn’t going out without a fight. Professionally, she is big wig in the entertainment industry. She is a successful showrunner with lots of hands in different pies. She’d worked hard to be at the “big boys” table, a space occupied by only white men. She’s had to prove herself time and time again and now she is in a position where she gets offers from attractive women.

STITCHER_COVER_PurplePanties_3000x3000_Final“Obviously with the #MeToo movement, it reminded me of the stories that we’ve heard over the last few years of people abusing their power. This was an opportunity to get inside that mindset, what makes this person tick; why would someone with so much to lose take those chances? It was interesting to explore,” said Neish.

While recording the podcast, Neish found a sudden and unexpected source of inspiration. She walked into the same recording booth that Michael Jackson had recorded his ‘Bad’ album in the eighties. As a massive MJ fan, Neish was immediately taken aback. Knowing she stood in the same place that her idol had once stood, she was excited and inspired to work even harder.

Purple Panties premiered on Stitcher.com, which also premiered Issa Rae’s Strange Fruit, on October 11th 2018, followed by an episode every Thursday. The final episode was December 6th, but the entire series is now available to binge on Stitchers.com.

“I love having the opportunity to tell stories that inspire. Fans have reached out to me on Instagram, telling me how much they love the show and how juicy it’s getting and that warms my heart. That’s really all you wish for as an actor, that the audience is enjoying and coming along for the ride,” said Neish.

The next year promises to be very exciting for Neish. She has two projects coming out that she still can’t discuss. All she can say is that she got to work with two different Oscar winners on two highly-anticipated projects. One will be released soon, and the other on Netflix later in the year.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Purple Panties.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Walt Disney Animation Studios Hosts Bali: Beats of Paradise

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In a moment that mirrored the artistic exchange of the film Bali: Beats of Paradise, Walt Disney Animation hosted the talent of the film for a screening at their studio. Director Livi Zheng, Executive Producer Julia Gouw, and gamelan composer Nyoman Wenten viewed the film with some of Disney’s most creative forces, including the producer of Moana and the Head of Story for Frozen. Disney’s invitation is yet another indicator of the recognition Bali: Beats of Paradise has been receiving since its US release on November 16, 2018.

Beyond exploring the culture that created Balinese gamelan music, the film displays western artists being influenced by its character; integrating gamelan into modern day western musical styles. A question and answer session followed the screening in which Wenten, Gouw, and Zheng discussed filmmaking and Indonesian culture. Nyoman Wenten remarked, “It is amazing how quickly like-minded people attract each other. I can already see the start of a beautiful relationship between Livi and the creatives at Disney. I don’t know if any other Indonesian before Livi Zheng was ever invited to show their movie in front of the top brass in Disney. This is amazing and it makes me proud today to be an Indonesian”

Receiving a hospitable tour of the Disney Animation Studios, Livi revealed, “Disney is  remembered fondly by many children around the world. I remember so many happy memories from watching Disney movies; I am very glad that today I was able to be here and introduce my unique culture to the hardworking artists at Disney”. Executive Producer Julia Gouw noted during the film’s premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills last November, “Crazy Rich Asians put Singapore on the map, so we hope that Bali: Beats of Paradise will put Indonesia and Bali on the map.”