Category Archives: Actor Interview

Q&A with Leading Colombian Actress and ‘Therapy’ star Juliana Betancourth

Juliana Betancourth, industry-leading actress in Colombia, is known for her talent and versatility. She has starred in countless acclaimed productions, from Bite! to La Reina de Sur. Her most recent project, Therapy, allows worldwide audiences to once again appreciate her outstanding acting capabilities.

After the great reception that the short theater play Terapia had, winning several awards of the Short & Sweet: Hollywood 2017, an adaptation of the script was made. Betancourth in the lead role of Marina, is a self-sacrificing wife who during couples therapy is discovering disturbing secrets about her husband, which causes a turning point in the story to show us a darker side of this character. Each one has a secret to reveal that seems to indicate that there is no way to fix the marriage, but the perverse sexual hobbies and fetishes of both end up uniting them and committing the greatest monstrosities; impacting the life of the person who tried to help them: their therapist. Betancourth develops an exquisite multidimensional, sensual and violent character.

The film crew is composed of successful filmmakers in Los Angeles, such as director Jhonatan Tabares, director of photography Jaime Salazar, Producer Yaniv Waisman, among others. A group that has been developing different audiovisual pieces for the Latin American industry in Hollywood.

The premiere was at the Panamanian International Film Festival, where the film took home the top prize. It then did the same at the Panamanian International Film Festival 2018 and the ELCO Film Festival, with many more expected this year.

We had a chance to sit down with Betancourth to talk about the making of this critically-acclaimed film.

IFR: Why did you want to work on this project?

JB: I already had an emotional connection with the project, and with the character of Marina who had allowed me to access very deep places acting wise.

The premise of this artistic piece was wonderful. It had a completely unexpected turning point, which was exciting for me, and as an actress it allowed me to play practically two roles in one.

I also liked working with the team involved that was composed of producers, director, cinematographer, and actors whom I’ve always admired.

IFR: Why did you want to work on this project?

JB: Therapy started as a theater play, and was directed by Jhonatan Tabares. Due to the great success it had, the Super Hero Latina production company run by Tanya Mordacci wanted to turn it into a film.

Everyone involved in the project already knew my acting work. They had seen me in the lead role in the Virginia Casta movie, and many other projects that were seen in Mexico and the United States. Also, with Jhonatan, we had already worked on previous pilots for TV shows. He knew me personally. We had already worked together in the stage version of Therapy.  It is very important when accepting a project to not only like the script, but also the quality of people who are part of it.

IFR: What do you like about the story?

JB: The story of this project is one of the most interesting in which I have worked. It is fiction, but it is an experiment that brings us closer to the understanding of human psychology. To that infinite universe of our mind, of the decisions we make and our behavior towards society.

I love that the story is transgressive. That it is perpetuated in the mind of the audience. That they want to stop seeing it, but they cannot look away. I am fascinated by social experiments.

This is why the premise of this story is important, it is also not far from reality. Within our communities are these types of dangerous individuals that are the product of our shortcomings as a society; of our injustices and oppressions; but each viewer is free to draw their own conclusions.

IFR: What was it like working on this project?

JB: The process with the director Jhonatan Tabares was special. There were many hours of rehearsals, finding the characters, their motivations, their actions, and their arcs through the written words and physical work.

I studied the behaviors of the most dangerous serial killers in world history, especially couples like Charlene & Gerald Galician, Raymond Fernandez & Martha Beck, Bonnie & Clyde, among others. I wanted to know the reasons why they killed their victims, the way they did it, and the satisfaction they found in it.

One of the things that I liked most about this project was working alongside my colleagues Ramón Valdez and Fernanda Kelly, two great Mexican actors. Also, the producer Tanya Mordacci, producer Yaniv Waisman, and the always supportive Vange Tapia. Director of photography Jaime Salazar, still photo Elena Rojas, and all those who were part of this family made this an unforgettable experience.

IFR: What was your character like?

JB: Marina is a supposed self-sacrificing woman. A Latina who lives in the United States, and who depends economically and emotionally on her husband, but this is just an act and part of a macabre game she carries out with her partner. At the turning point, we will see the real Marina, a psychopath, who finds sexual pleasure in seeing her victims die.

It is a dark character, with complex psychology, special motivations and very different from conventional characters. Marina all the time is playing at being another woman different from who she is. She is a kind of actress, but her performances hide macabre intentions.

It was very interesting to work on this character because the unexpected turning point leaves the audience surprised based on how Marina was from the beginning.  She plays the role of a sheep beautifully, but in reality, she is a hungry wolf.

IFR: How did your character fit into the story?

JB: There are only three characters in the whole movie. Marina, although initially playing the role of victim in therapy with the couple’s psychologist, crying and accusing her husband of being abusive, ends up being the mastermind with a criminal plan.

Driven by her desires and impulses, she mentally dominates her partner to commit the homicides while she enjoys the process and destruction it causes. It is an incredibly complex character, one that generates uncomfortable feelings from the audience when they realize the true objective of the two main characters.

Without Marina, there is no Therapy.

IFR: What did you like about working on this project?

JB: Working on this project has been one of the best experiences of my life. Connecting with so many talented people, who have become my friends, and will be people I plan to work with again in my future projects. It was great to work and build this character, to keep experimenting until we found what worked best, and have direct and honest communication with the director.

Art projects fascinate me because it is not about business and how much money we can make, but more about character, story, and connections with the cast and crew to make a film or TV show that moves people and makes them think. That is always a beautifully motivating factor for me.

IFR: What else did you like about working on this project?

JB: We filmed in one location. The office of the psychologist. The final scene was exhausting and dramatic, that we could only film in two sequences. We both were spent when the director finally called cut.

In the play, there was no character of the psychologist. It was just a voice, and we broke the fourth wall when speaking to the voice, which made it feel like to the audience that we were speaking with them. In the film, Fernanda Kelly played the role of the psychologist, and she was marvelous in it. It was amazing to act opposite her, and it lifted our performances to another level.

IFR: How does it feel knowing the project has been such a success?

JB: I knew it would be a resounding success since I had first read the script, and saw the reaction when performing it as a theater piece. I fully trusted the director’s work, and my own. I had no doubt about the success it has had and will have for the next few years.

When you do a project, you do not think about prizes, you know if the project is good or not regardless of the recognition or criticism you receive, but I would be wrong if I said that it is not rewarding to receive the accolades.

Each time we have received these awards for Therapy I have celebrated them. I feel proud. It fuels my fire, and I long to do more great work with excellent projects.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee
Photo by Vinny Randazzo 

Actor Elvira Sinelnik Makes Dreams Come True

Actor Elvira Sinelnik has perfected both the art and science which her profession demands. As a raw, expressive emotional conduit and precise, impeccable technician Sinelnik is an unrivaled practitioner, one capable of presenting wholly convincing, on-target characterizations. And while her native Moscow has deep roots in the dramatic arts, Sinelnik’s early career path was something like a fairy tale with a modern twist—the naturally talented golden girl caught in the corporate web of Russia’s monolithic bureaucracy who made a surprise Hollywood elopement live out to follow her dreams.

“I was born and raised in Russia, Moscow,” Sinelnik said. ““From my childhood I dreamt of becoming an actress, attended acting classes, dance classes, took part in a lot of plays in camps during summer holidays. When I was 16 I was cast as a host for a show on a very famous TV channel, but due to some personal and family reasons I had to reject it.”

Despite pressure that pushed her in the opposite direction, the tenacious Sinelnik refused to give up.

“Regardless of my education in economics at the State University of Management, followed by prestigious and well-paid job in the upper chamber of the Russian Federation parliament and a number of private companies, I always dreamed, studied and prepared to become an actress. It required time and effort but I finally moved to Hollywood to pursue my dream.”

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Photo by Maria Artos (Top Photo by @K.i.n.o.f.a.c.e)

In Southern California, Sinelnik immersed herself in the craft seeking out some of the leading forces in the field, studying at the prestigious Los Angeles campus followed by courses with the leading educators.

“My acting education continued at well-known Broadway actor-writer William Burns’ Actors Gym,” Sinelnik said. “Also James Franco’s Studio 4, the Bernard Hiller Studio theatre by, and classes with award winning instructor Anthony Montes where I learned the Meisner technique.”

The skilled young actor was a natural and she thrived in the studio setting. “Elvira is a very special person,” Hiller, one of Hollywood’s top Acting and Life Coaches, said. “I wassurprised at how quickly she understood all the latest acting techniques I taught her. She has a unique ability to become the person she is playing in a role and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be lucky.”

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Photo by Justinia Romanova

Montes was equally enthusiastic: “In my 30 years of teaching Elvira is one of the most talented, hard-working actors I have ever encountered. She constantly sought out more work than was given her. She was always prepared, on time and supportive of her classmates. She has a passion for the work that is unmatched. She is not one to idly wait for her phone to ring in hopes of getting an audition—she is someone that will create her own opportunities.”

Sinelnik quickly moved on to independent shorts and the grind of the audition circuit.

“I audition for a feature movie where I played mafia boss, a cold-blooded, cynical, power-hungry woman,” Sinelnik said. “I became so caught up in the character that even my husband didn’t recognize me when I came back from the audition. I got the part, but for some financial reasons the film wasn’t shoot. But that experience was truly amazing.”

In short order, she began to appear in such feature films as Franco’s dark,intense “The Institute,” Kasra Farabani’s thriller “The Good Neighbor,” Jaden Hwang action film “Bloody Hands,” all fabulous opportunities for Sinelnik to gain additional exposure and work alongside stellar cast featuring luminaries like Franco, Orlando Brown and James Can.

“Being on set with James Franco for ‘The Institute,’ was wonderful,” Sinelnik said. “I was playing a nurse, but felt more like a fan. It was a really incredible experience to observe how he becomes immersed in his character and always be absolutely truthful on camera.”

None of this was lost on Sinelnik, whose depth of talent and ability, taken with an acute regard for, and total absorption of, her particularly rich resume of dramatic training, qualifies her as one of Hollywood’s fastest rising assets.

As Willow Tree Entertainment Films producer Elena Bleskina said: “I met Elvira when I was casting for a feature film project based on the novel ‘A Hero of Our Time.’ I saw something very special in this pretty girl with the beautiful blue eyes, and now she is a part of our team at Willow Tree. Elvira is sensitive and sensual actress willing to train hard to become the best she can be.  I am proud to know her and I know there are lots of successful projects in her future.”

Look for her next in dramatic forthcoming feature “City of Stars,” further evidence that the ambitious, charming Sinelnik is up for just about any conceivable role the dramatic spectrum can throw at her.

“I’m interested in challenging characters,” Sinelnik said. “Roles that force me to leave my comfort zone, immerse into my deep fears and overcome them through the role. I’d love to play a really bad character. I would find inside of myself one of her negative features, even the smallest one, and develop that into a full-fledged personality. I want to create inspiring films that can change people’s thoughts, and give even more hope to this fantastic world.”

 

 

Actor Jolie Chi’s Rising Star

Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, actor Jolie Chi is now internationally recognized for her award-winning roles. She is currently featured in the Sony family adventure feature “Destined to Ride,” 0pposite award-winning Hollywood talents Denise Richards and Joey Lawrence, the latest step in an impressive career.

A highly talented actor, Jolie Chi has established a reputation for being an invaluable asset to every production she takes part in—and many of these projects have received awards specifically because of her involvement and exceptional performances. Chi’s lead role as the title character in offbeat indie release “My Lunatic Lucy” accounts for more than half of awards which the film received, including Best Actress at the Independent Short Awards, Best Actress at the Top Shorts Film Festival, Best Actress in a Comedy at the Actor Awards, and Best Actress at the LA Short Awards.

Despite some fierce competition, Chi’s appealing charisma and high energy style practically guaranteed her being cast as “Destined to Ride”’s Amy Tsai. The character was written as much younger than Chi, a challenge which the skilled actor eagerly rose to.

“The key to portraying a character that’s younger than me was to review every little thing I went through when I was growing up,’ Chi said. “While doing that, I would write down my emotional state—excited, spoiled, easily embarrassed—and also, of course, go through the changes I have made since I have grown. I sat down, closed my eyes and thought back to how I was as a kid because I was a wild and fun one so I thought playing my younger self will make Amy stand out the most.”

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“Destined to Ride” represents a critical upshift in Chi’s already fast-moving career, one where she worked alongside, held her own and learned from a stellar roster of established stars. It was a golden opportunity which the ambitious young actor definitely made the most of.

“The interaction between Madeline Carroll and myself was so much fun,” Chi said. “She’s so positive and really inspired me. Madeline taught me to really learn about every human being so that you’ll know how to specifically mimic them.
A remarkably versatile actor, Chi also recently made a music video appearance in pop sensation Justin Timberlake’s 2018 hit single “Filthy,” and has also played lead roles in numerous high-profile commercials, including Momo (a Chinese instant-messaging service) that was featured in movie theatres and on billboards across China. Expect to see much more from Jolie Chi.

Award Winning Actor Missy Malek’s Midas Touch

British actor Missy Malek is a remarkably self-possessed artist, one who takes her craft so seriously that even as a teenager she aggressively pursued a life in acting. Becoming a member of the renowned National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, Malek’s dedication and natural skill allowed her to reach an elevated level of creative theatrical expression starting when she was just 14. Adept at manifesting vivid, wholly identifiable characterizations, the multi-faceted Malek is so driven that after completing the script for her award–winning 2017 short Laughing Branches, she felt compelled to personally oversee almost every aspect of the production.

“I didn’t actually intend to write, direct and produce it, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing,” Malek said. “I had a clear image in my head of what I wanted it to be like and didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t go ahead and direct it myself.”

The offbeat project, starring Tom Hanson, Leo Suter and Malek, is an engaging, philosophical comedy-drama with a fantasy/sci-fi twist, and relates the stories of two struggling actors who contemplate—and live out—alternative futures both together and apart.

“It was obviously really challenging—I had no directing experience whatsoever,” Malek said. “But my cinematographer, David Raedeker, and my co-producer, Oliver Page, really guided me. Tom is also a really amazing actor, so he made the acting side of directing much easier. It was a very collaborative process.”

Malek’s sure-footed ambition and audacity gave Laughing Branches a unique depth, one rooted in a very personal experience.

“I came up with the idea at a time in my life where everything seemed to become a lot more ‘real,’” Malek said. “I was barely out of my teenage years and I, along with all my friends, suddenly realized that the choices we were making were very important and would have an impact on the rest of our lives. As a result, I found myself panicking, questioning every choice I was making and tried to control my future as much as I could by not allowing myself room to make mistakes.”

By the time she completed the script, written at Oxford University where she was studying philosophy, the unusual concept had grown into a thoroughly engrossing premise.

“’Laughing Branches’ is primarily about the anxiety of being young and ambitious, incorporated with a philosophical theory about infinite universes that have always fascinated me,” Malek said. “I’ve always been attracted to mind-game films that have an element of groundlessness and irresolution, yet still maintain a sense of heart and lightness.”

That twist of cosmic fantasy enabled Malek, who divides her time between hometown London and Hollywood, to really challenge herself as an actor.

“Out of all my film work, my character in Laughing Branches probably had the most range,” she said. “The element of parallel universes in the film means she goes through so many vastly different outcomes and we get peaks into the most dramatic and intense moments in those universes, so there was quite a lot to do.”

Malek’s training and experience provided an ideal context for such far reaching perspective, particularly her rich resume of live theater— at the Chelsea Theatre, she played Beatrice in Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ followed by  Brecht’s ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle,and, at the Burton Taylor Studio, in ‘The Lesson’ and as lead character Myra in ‘Deathtrap,’ along with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at The Simpkins Lee Theatre—affording her the skill to craft a persuasive series of tangible personae imbued with the full spectrum of nuance, traits and emotion as her character caroms through disparate scenarios.

“I wanted to convey the message that if you’re an ungrateful person, you’ll always look at what you don’t have and nothing will ever be enough,” Malek said. “If you’re miserable in one universe, there’s a high chance you’ll be miserable in any universe. On top of that, I wanted to show how as much as we may try to control our future and make the right choices, it really isn’t possible to do that. There’s nothing you can say and no way of intellectualizing things that will make you happy. Happiness is a perspective.”

Reaction to the film brought everyone involved a great deal of happiness—it took multiple awards at festivals around the globe, taking the Best Short awards at the Mexico International Film Festival, Lady Filmmakers Film Festival and Key West Film Festival’ best short awards and the IndieFEST Film Awards Award of Excellence for Malek’s performance as leading actress.

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“The IndieFest award I got for my acting was a huge honor,” Malek said. “Because, at times you really don’t like my character, she can be really vindictive and has a lot of anger and conflict in her. But despite that, at other times you do empathize with her.

Personally, the most rewarding experience of making the film was the confidence it gave me. To receive such a positive response from people high up in the industry meant so much. It’s a big step forward in an artist’s career to get that reassurance, to have people say ‘you’re good, keep going.’ That was the most rewarding thing.”

Professional Heavyweight Boxer Turned Actor Larry Olubamiwo is a Knockout On Screen

Larry Olubamiwo
Actor Larry Olubamiwo shot by Karen Scott

As a former professional heavyweight boxer Larry Olubamiwo knows a thing or two about knocking opponents out in the ring; but the successes he’s become widely recognized for in recent years have actually taken place outside of the boxing ring as Olubamiwo’s continued to show what he’s made of on the silver screen.

At 6-foot-4, Olubamiwo looks outwardly dominating, something that undoubtedly lent itself to his benefit in his boxing career and intimidated opponents before the first punch was even thrown. While that naturally strong aesthetic has also led him to be the first choice for a number of commanding lead roles as an actor, his collective work in film and television have revealed his capacity take on multi-layered roles that extend far beyond that of the stereotypical tough guy.

In projects such as Verona Rose’s 2016 dramatic film “Fabric of the Royals” where he stars alongside Alice Fofana from Benjamin Rider’s multi-award winning film “Seven Devils,” and the series “Life of Hers,” which won the Best Ensemble Award at the 2014 Screen Nation Awards, the emotional range and vulnerability that Olubamiwo brings to his characters draw us into the story making it hard to peel our eyes away.

Despite earning extensive praise for his on-screen roles, Olubamiwo remains admirably humble about his career and his talent, but knowing his strengths and capitalizing on them, as is the way for any actor who wishes to ‘make it’ in such a competitive industry, have been imperative to his success.

“My sensitivity and vulnerability as an actor despite my physicality sets me apart,” says Olubamiwo. “I have been told that I’m able to convey a range of emotions with just my eyes, which I am grateful for as acting, a lot of times, is about stillness.”

Though Olubamiwo had a passion for acting during his youth, at that time boxing was where his heart and mind were focused. He spent years undergoing the intense training required of a professional athlete, eventually going on to become a powerful heavyweight competitor in the ring. In 2012 his boxing career ended abruptly, which brought understandable challenges, but in a way came as a godsend as it opened the doors for Olubamiwo to devote himself fully to his work as an actor.

While he’d already played key roles in films such as Jim Dickinson’s comedy “Rough and Ready,” as well as several commercials including a BBC Sport promo for the Rugby World Cup where he played a featured rugby player, and the popular 2007 ‘Bungee’ commercial for the Electoral Commission in the UK, which continued to air during every election until 2013, Olubamiwo was finally in a position to fully immerse himself in his acting training and take his work to the next level. Bringing the same fervent dedication and focus that he gave to his work as a professional boxer, the actor quickly became a sought after force in the entertainment industry.

He explains, “My love for acting and my natural work ethic I have as a boxer allowed me to excel in the training. And while I was training, I was very proactive in searching for acting work and an agent. And the rest is history as they say.”

After landing representation with Imperium Management, Olubamiwo’s captivating talent immediately struck a chord with “Fabric of the Royals” director Verona Rose, who aside from her work as a director, is known for numerous performances on hit series such as the multi-award winning series “EastEnders,” the two-time Primetime Emmy nominated series “Hustle,” and most recently, the Golden Lion Award winning dramatic film “Our Little Haven.”

Rose says, “It was such a pleasure to work with Larry. I had seen his work previously and it’s amazing what range he has despite his size and skills as a fighter. He is able to show such emotion without even saying a word which is true acting. I learned alot from him on set and want to work with him again.”

Nominated for Best Film at the 2016 Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards, a prestigious awards ceremony in the UK that’s often referred to as the ‘black Bafta’s,’ “Fabric of the Royals” tells the powerful story of a family who leaves their home in Jamaica to start a new life in the UK in the 1980s. Taking on the starring role of Derek, the head of the family, Olubamiwo gives a captivating portrayal of a man struggling to assimilate to a new culture and rise above the racism and violence he experiences in his new country, in hopes of giving his children a better shot in life.

Told through the eyes of his youngest daughter, “Fabric of the Royals” offers an impactful insight into the many challenges minorities face upon emigrating to a new country.

Revealing Derek as both the strong backbone of the family who commands respect from his children and the fun-loving dad who makes everything alright when they experience truly horrific treatment from the outside world, Olubamiwo endows his character with multiple layers. His performance on screen not only makes his character easy to love and root for as the film unfolds, but it also serves as a testament to his impeccable acting ability.

While Olubamiwo nails the mark in the powerful father-figure roles he plays in both “Fabric of the Royals” and “Life of Hers,” not all of his characters are as easy to love, but they don’t have to be. In the 2016 dramatic horror film “Cat Face” he took on the starring role of Kaka, a priest with mystical powers that brings a murdered woman back to life and gives her the power to track down a violent cult of serial killers and take bloody revenge.

Olubamiwo sends chills down the spines of viewers with his performance, and “Cat Face” went on to be awarded at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) in 2017. Revealing yet another area of the actor’s widespread skill set, Kaka speaks Yoruba in the film, a language Olubamiwo is not only fluent in, but one that makes the character that much more mysterious on screen thanks to the way the actor portrays him.

Larry Olubamiwo is one uniquely talented actor who embodies the beautiful contradiction of being the polar opposite of what outsiders tend to assume at first glance. And while his imposing figure has made it easy for him to play the intimidating, sometimes even criminal role, like Reynolds in the 2015 thriller “Honour Amongst,” it’s Olubamiwo’s incredible emotional depth, dedication and magnetism on screen that makes him someone worthy of the spotlight and international praise.

Up next for this talented actor is the dramatic crime film “The Middle Man,” which is written and directed by Philip Howard and is slated to begin filming late this year.

An Exclusive Discussion of Award Winning Actor Christopher Capito’s Best Work

To be an actor is to be an expressive, fearless storyteller; Christopher Capito has been one of these since he was seven years old. Over the past fourteen years, it is a job he has fully embodied.

Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Capito initially got his start in a theater troupe before making the transition into film. Since then, his work has been viewed by a wide range of audiences and has been nominated for and won numerous awards at a variety of film festivals.

In the 2017 short film Rotten Grapes, directed by Marc-Ivan O’Gorman (The Black Magic, A Kiss and a Click, and Blood Coloured Moon), Capito plays Andres De La Vega, a grandchild of a Latino woman who is recently deceased. “The film won more than two festivals, and I won the award of best ensemble with the rest of the main cast,” Capito stated.

Rotten Grapes is a sitcom that follows the De La Vega family after the loss of their beloved grandmother. With the promise of leaving the entire fortune to only one of her grandchildren – the one who holds the most family values – the story delves deeper into the lives of each grandchild, revealing their individual troubles along the way.

The cast was lead under the guidance of experienced acting coach Michael Aspinwall, who’s known for his acting work as Dr. Shelby in the 2012-2013 TV series WWE Raw, and has also worked for companies such as Titan Sports Productions, USA Network, and World Wrestling Entertainment. Given the film’s comedic tone combined with Capito’s prior experience in both short and long form improv, the pair worked well together in training. Expanding upon this, Aspinwall said, “While the other actors had trouble bringing the characters alive, Capito didn’t have to make any effort. He has a natural timing for comedy, and that’s something you can’t learn. Capito was born with that.”

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Actor Christopher Capito

Also in 2017, Capito co-wrote and starred in the three-time award winning short film Milk Fang. “In Milk Fang, I played the main character named Andrew. The project is about a young vampire who lives in a conservative vampire family. In this world of vampires, there are two types: blood drinkers (who represent the societal norm), and the milker (who are vampires who drink milk instead of blood, and are an analogy to gay people),” Capito explained. “In the story, the young vampire Andrew comes out of the coffin with his parents, and has to face the prejudice of the rest of the vampire society.”

Ultimately exemplifying its success, Milk Fang was awarded with the titles of Best Screenplay, Best LGBTQ Film, and Best Sci-Fi Short Film at three different film festivals. It was directed by Nicholas Joseph Cunha (Red Souls, Outdated, and Daisy) and written in a collaborative effort. Two-time Daytime Emmy Award winner and Primetime Emmy Nominee George McGrath (Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, On the Television, and Tracey Takes On), who also worked as one of the three writers of the film, speaks highly of his writing partner and actor Capito, affirming, “Christopher has a special talent when it comes to writing and acting out real, human stories. He also has the ability to play multiple races, such as Latino, Italian, and Iberian, as well as a wide age range of 13 to 20 years old.”

Aside from his natural talent, this criterion played a crucial role in casting Capito as the main “Chambelan” named Santiago in one of his first U.S. based short films back in 2016, Terintañera. The story of Terintañera revolves around the Quinceañera party, a celebration that is a vital part of Capito’s culture. The film was based in Los Angeles, ultimately showing how the Latin culture is a growing minority. Additionally, the role of Sebastian provided Capito with the perfect opportunity to show his ability to connect with both the American and the Latin cultures.

Elaborating on this, Capito said, “For me, playing Santiago was an amazing experience. Not only was I challenged as an actor with having to revert back to thinking as a younger version of myself in order to pull inspiration from my Latin roots via experiences from a much earlier age, but I was also given the chance to rediscover my culture and ultimately revel in the nostalgia of growing up in it.”

 

For more information on Christopher Capito, please visit: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7462667/?ref_=tt_ov_wr

Argentinian Actress Yamila Saud Wows Audiences with the Film “Hypersomnia”

Yamila Saud
Argentinian actress Yamila Saud

As the only South American country to win not just one, but two Academy Awards, it’s no surprise that some of Latin America’s most talented film industry professionals hail from Argentina. Born in the bustling city of Cordoba, actress Yamila Saud is a shining symbol of Argentine contributions to cinema.

In her most recent role, Saud grabs audiences and pulls them down into a dark and unsettling place where human depravity has no limits. That film is “Hypersomnia”– a powerful 2017 thriller about human trafficking and the tragic toll it takes, both physically and psychologically, on the trapped women who are literally living in slavery.

Saud delivers a captivatingly meta performance as Milena, an actress who is playing a character named Laly in a theater production that takes place within the film’s storyline. Laly is a prisoner in a brothel, a victim of the human slave trade, and she lives in constant fear of the men who treat her worse than livestock. Milena, like Saud, is intensely serious about her craft. Determined to fully capture the essence of Laly, Milena begins falling deeper and deeper into character.

“[Milena’s] character [Laly] is a sex slave who falls in love with one of her captors. During rehearsals Milena begins to experience trances, in which she seems to live the life of her character,” Saud described. “What begins as an acting exercise ends up becoming a dark reality.”

Because of its layered narratives, the film’s impact is felt on several levels. Beyond the subjects of sex slavery and Stockholm syndrome, “Hypersomnia” also deftly tackles a social issue that has dominated the news of late — sexual harassment and assault by powerful men in the industry. As an actress, Saud’s character Milena endures advances and threats of retribution from the play’s director.

“[The story is also about] the abuse of power by men, where women are manipulated to do what is asked of them in exchange for getting work,” Saud said. “In this case, the director subjects [Milena] to a number of rare requests.”

It is no small task for an actress to believably capture the trauma of Laly, the worsening psychosis of Milena, and the effect it has on Milena to be exploited by powerful men. But Saud was able to expertly take on both characters, a testament to her versatility.

“My most challenging roles were Milena and Laly in ‘Hypersomnia,’” Saud recalled. “The character of Milena is a girl who has a dream, but to achieve it she has to submit to the director’s ‘requests.’ … It’s something that really happens every day, not only in the artistic fields but in all industries.”

Disturbing, enthralling and extremely relevant, “Hypersomnia” is a brilliant social critique presented as a haunting psychological thriller. “Hypersomnia” is available to stream for free for Netflix subscribers.

Saud’s upcoming film “Solo el Amor” is slated to begin shooting in 2018, and is about as different from “Hypersomnia” as a film can be. Lighthearted by comparison, “Solo el Amor” is the timeless story of two mismatched young people discovering an unlikely romance.

“I am very happy to be a part of this film,” Saud said. “I think every actress dreams of making a love movie, and I’m not the exception.”

At its core, “Solo el Amor” is a classic tale of the heart wanting what the heart wants. Saud plays Ana, a straight-laced and serious woman who begins falling in love with a young man named Bruno.

“Ana is a young lawyer who lives in a world that is as structured as it is unexciting. Bruno is a bohemian and an irresponsible singer-songwriter who dreams of reaching success with his rock band,” Saud explained. “Despite their differences they fall in love, leading them to understand who they are — and to go for what they really want at whatever cost.”

The heartwarming story of love conquering all, “Solo el Amor” will begin filming next year and will likely begin screening to audiences in late 2018 or the following year.

Yamila Saud’s versatility and empathy form the foundation for the career she has built. Whether playing an unstable stage actress, a victim of human trafficking, or a lawyer on a collision course with true love, Saud is capable of understanding her characters on a truly deep level. That intimate connection to her characters that Saud naturally possesses is a rare gift that no amount of training can teach.

Actor Jeff Parazzo’s Artistic Authenticity

While Jeff Parazzo first made his professional bones in children’s television, the ambitious young actor unfailingly projects a forceful dramatic presence. The Canadian-born Parazzo imbues each role with an impressive mix of skill and instinct, and whether it’s a soul-searching dramatic feature like The Waiting Room or the dark science fiction of powerful short film Celsius 486, Parazzo deftly creates convincing characterizations that unfailingly display a rich measure of nuance and emotion.

It’s a striking combination of deft technique and natural instinct that Parazzo realized was his vocation early in life

“I was always fascinated by films and found myself enjoying drama class way back when I was in school, “Parazzo said. “When I finished my studies it just felt natural to start taking professional workshops.”

Born and raised in Toronto, he has been acting for the better part of two decades and has a strong resume of professional training.

“I’ve continually trained in Canada and Southern California,” Parazzo said “I was fortunate to work with the acclaimed Canadian coach David Rottenberg in Toronto and, in Los Angeles, with Michelle Danner from the Larry Moss Studio, as well as the Edgemar Centre for the Arts in Santa Monica.”

Early in his career, Parazzo jumped right in with a recurring co-lead in a very popular, action packed series. “I’m best known for my work as Trent Mercer, the White Dino Thunder Ranger on the Hit kids TV show Power Rangers Dino Thunder,” Parazzo said. “I went on to do the critically acclaimed Canadian indie Late Fragment as well as many more TV and film credits over the years.”

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The ease with which Parazzo transitioned from the Power Rangers glossy, fantasy adventure into the eccentric, innovative Late Fragment significantly raised the actor’s professional profile and his subsequent, fast rising stack of credits is a testament to the both his talent and broad appeal.

“For The Waiting Room, I just got a call from my agent saying they were interested in meeting me.”  Parazzo said. “At the audition the lead actor and I just played around and improvised a bunch of different thing, and a few days later I was booked. It was so fun, I’ve always loved doing indie films. There’s a freedom that comes with working on an indie that’s hard to experience on bigger studio productions—I’ve got an indie heart, so working on these types of films, with creative filmmakers, is all I could ask for.”

Parazzo’s skills once again allowed him to craft a wholly believable performance.

“I worked with Jeff on The Waiting Room, which tells the story of a once successful actor, Jasmin, who struggles in his older age to find roles,” actor-director Jordan Barker said. “Jeff played the role of Teller, who has an endearing conversation with Jasmin and comforts him in his current situation, He was so focused on the material that it didn’t feel like acting at all—just another character existing.”

Next up for Parazzo was grim sci-fi thriller Celsius 486, set in a distant overpopulated future where a government mandated sterilization program targets males  arbitrarily deemed  undesirable.

Celsius 486 was demanding but creatively fulfilling because we were working on such a tight schedule,” Parazzo said. “Everything had to be shot over a 2 day period and, as the lead whose eyes you see the story through, I was basically in for every scene.”

Typically, Parazzo not only exceled but also enhanced the production.

“Celsius 486 is where I first worked with Jeff Parazzo,” writer-producer Christos Petsis said. “Jeff flourished in this role which was a very demanding character. It was amazing to see how real he made the role feel, adding a deep strength to the character that we had not seen on the page.”

Here, Petsis’ aptly summarizes the actor’s approach; a gift for creating a comprehensive dramatic presentation which Parazzo, who can currently be seen in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain, unfailingly achieves. It’s an essential quality for any onscreen portrayal—a subtle, particular brand of aesthetic sensitivity which Parazzo very consciously nurtures.

“I enjoy doing projects of all genres,” Parazzo said. “But I do seem to be drawn to roles that are offbeat and stylized, dealing with interesting themes, and characters that are slightly off center. I just want to continue to learn and communicate my work truthfully, authentically, while never forgetting that I am just one piece of the whole story telling puzzle.”

 

Canadian Actor Donald Heng Faces the Supernatural in SyFy’s ‘Ghost Wars’

Canadian actor Donald Heng followed a downright unorthodox route to break into the business, but it’s definitely working for him. The Vancouver-born Heng’s recurring role as Deputy Larry Foon on the new SyFy network fantasy/horror television series Ghost Wars encapsulates the Heng story, an offbeat, pan-professional mash-up of career choices that has placed him alongside some high profile stars.

“Quite frankly, I never felt I was attracted to acting for necessarily the right reasons,” Heng said. “I grew up admiring the police I saw portrayed in films and I wanted to be a police officer. I studied criminology in university. In the end, I figured being an actor would provide the positive aspects of being a cop without having to deal with the public pressure and boring administrative work.”

Born in Vancouver B.C., Heng had flirted with acting as a teenager, but after graduating high school and studying for a Bachelor of Arts Degree for Political Science and History at Simon Fraser University, he decided to obtain representation and study the craft in earnest.

“Despite that initial ambivalence, I fell in love with acting for all the right reasons. I acquired an agent and jumped in headfirst,” Heng said. “I studied acting with Jeb Beach for the next 5 years. And also worked with Matthew Harrison, Robin Nielsen and most recently, Andrew McElroy.”
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“Initially I just wanted to be on TV,” Heng said. “I can pinpoint the exact moment I decided I wanted to be an actor and that I was in it for the long run. My second class ever with Jeb Beach coincided with a deeply depressing moment in my life and Jeb helped me channel that energy into something I was able to illustrate through acting. I realized that I could take all the bad things I’d experienced in life and turn these into something good. Meryl Streep articulated it best as she remembered Carrie Fisher, ‘take your broken heart, and make it into art.’”

Heng swiftly parlayed that emotional breakthrough into a successful television career, with a small but memorable role in Disney’s T.V movie Girl Vs. Monster, a string of appearances on such series as Supernatural, Ransom, Arrow and, most recently, the elegantly terrifying Ghost Wars.

“This was a project that checked so many boxes on my list,” Heng said. “First off, I got to play a police officer which has always been a dream of mine. Secondly, I deeply respect the actors on this series. It was a wonderful experience to work with Vincent D’Onofrio [Full Metal Jacket, Netflix’s Daredevil], Meatloaf and Avan Jogia. I had some challenging experiences working on this as my character goes through some traumatic events in the series premiere. But it was a challenge that I welcomed and deeply appreciate the opportunity to have experienced it.”

His co-stars agree. “Donald was an absolute pleasure to work with,” Ghost Wars lead Avan Jogia said. “It’s so nice to act alongside someone who understands what each individual character brings to a scene and then, ultimately, the entire piece.”

Heng is also fully invested in his new role. “I am very excited about Ghost Wars,” Heng said. The horror/fantasy has experienced revitalization in recent years and demand for quality stories in the genre is at an all-time high. New shows have to meet that demand by integrating a very human story into the horror and develop a show that can stand on its own and be mainstream without just catering to a niche market. Remove the ‘creepy factor,’ and there’s still a very human story beneath it. By attaching that human component, it becomes easier to think about the character’s relationships and also about what might be at stake because of that ghostly entity.”

Heng stands at the cusp, savoring a rich, loaded professional moment in a fast moving career that has already come far and is poised to reach full bloom

“I just want to make good movies and TV,” Heng said. “And I want to do it for the same reasons that I fell in love with acting—I want to continue to push that goal of consolidating all the bad that is in my life and make it into something beautiful.”

Donald Heng will next appear as a guest star on episode 2 of the 4th season of The Flash airing on the CW, Tues., Oct.17th.

Q&A with leading Canadian actor Darren Eisnor

Originally from a small town in Ontario, Canada, Darren Eisnor did not grow up aspiring to be an actor. It came to him suddenly, in an epiphany of sorts, and since that moment, he has never wanted anything else. Now, he is one of Canada’s top young actors, and he is quickly taking the globe by storm.

In many captivating performances, such as the films Holiday Joy and Early Release, as well as the acclaimed television show Anne with an E, Eisnor has gained fans from all over the world., and audiences are looking forward to his performance in the upcoming Syfy horror flick Never Knock. Currently, he is starring in the popular Blackpills series Skal, an enthralling story about the water disappearing across the planet overnight. To read more about the series, Eisnor’s career, and his life, check out the interview below!

IFR: What do you like about being an actor?

 DE: I get to be super cool. When people ask me what I do, and I say that I’m an actor as a career, they automatically assume I’m a cool guy. So that’s pretty cool. Really though, if you can get some lucky breaks and manage to carve a career out of the whole thespian thing, it is a ton of fun and incredibly liberating in a few ways. I’m the kind of guy who bounces around from friend group to friend group, and I’m always diving headfirst into new interests, as I like to keep things fresh and experience as much as possible in this life. Acting meshes rather well with that state of mind, because I get to become all sorts of different people in all sorts of different lives, and if I convince the right people that I’m really like those people – then I get paid for it!

It can be a great life experience for me to look at the world through all these different perspectives, even if it’s just for an audition or two and I don’t end up getting the part. We humans are such interesting and multi-faceted creatures, but I don’t think everyone gets the chance or has the courage to explore all their dimensions. Of course, there are some dark and dangerous sides to us as well, that are probably best left for the actors (and the Mixed Martial Artists). It really is a privilege to even have the opportunity to compete for all these roles that I go out for, and I am grateful for that.

When I first started training as an actor, it actually helped me in a therapeutic way. I didn’t realize how many emotional walls I had built up over the years, and I think this is especially prevalent among young men, and even more so for young men like me who were competitive athletes for most of their life. I actually think there is a fair argument for the building of these walls, because life is almost always very hard to tackle, and the battlefield of life can be easier to navigate if you are able to have a firm grip on your emotions. However, acting is a forum for the human condition to express itself, and to be successful and great at this profession, it seems to me that one must truly elevate emotional intelligence to a higher level of understanding and vulnerability.

IFR: Why did you want to work on Skal?

DE: Skal piqued my interest with its post-apocalyptic world, something that’s fascinated me in stories like The Walking Dead, or the Fallout video game series. At first, I auditioned for the role of Arthur, the outright leading role of the series. Arthur is a bit of a nerd, but he’s charismatic enough to operate a YouTube channel with three million subscribers. I submitted a tape that I really nailed down in terms of performance, and was really excited. The scenes they requested for the audition helped a lot in that regard, ranging from comical and cool, to raging and teary-eyed. I got a callback for it – but for the role of “Ylane”, which was a soon-to be-changed French name from the original French short film the series is based on. The character is Arthur’s best friend and manager, and an integral character within the series.

My agent set up a Skype session with the writer/director who is from France, Benjamin Cappelletti, who explained to me that my original audition was great, but I didn’t look enough like his vision of Arthur. He went on to say that I looked like a great “Ylane.” Luckily, I was able to flesh out this character into someone with some dark humanity, and they casted me! They even renamed the character “Darren” which was pretty cool, since I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to play my own name again.

IFR: What was it like working on Skal?

DE: Working on Skal was an outstanding career experience for me. Living in Montreal for about a month during this shoot really made me feel a sense of independence. Of course, it came with the great responsibility of carrying a lot of the burden of the show’s success on my shoulders, which was more than welcome on my end. This was exactly what I’d be looking forward to, and I wasn’t about to back down now that it was staring me down.

Darren was an interesting character to play. In the first episode, before the apocalyptic world is born, Darren is a bit of an arrogant showman, talking all sorts of big game to the hottest girls in the room. That said, he felt relatively happy and content in his materialistic world. But when all the bodies of water in the world dry up, he immediately adapts a “kill or be killed” mindset. While it’s easy to condemn that sort of regression, it’s easy for me to understand why someone would fall into that way of thinking in that sort of world. Although there are times when it seems Darren is being overly aggressive, often it’s hard to disagree with his sentiment in a world where you can’t trust anyone, or take any chances.

Every villain is a hero in the story of their mind, and that’s how I took ownership of Darren when he makes decisions that may seem wrong on the surface. There is one particular part of the series where I wish Darren were a little more heroic, but I remained entirely understanding of his motive of self-preservation. I think there’s also an automatic connection with a character when he has the same name as you – and when the other characters address me as “Darren” there is an added element of personalization.

I also tried to get into character for one particular series of events by going without food for a day or so. It was definitely tough turning down lunch that day on set, but at least the last meal I had before all that was a delicious all-you-can-eat sushi brunch!

IFR: What was your character like?

DE: The role of Darren is important to the story, firstly as Arthur’s best friend and Emma’s romantic interest. There’s an awkward love triangle going on where Arthur lusts for Emma, but never makes any moves on her. Darren is far from low on confidence, so him and Emma have been going at it for a while, and it really irritates Arthur – even after all the water dries up, and the apocalypse creeps on in. After survival mode kicks in, Darren and Emma clash often. Emma has an empathetic desire to help as many people as she can, but Darren understands that there is too much danger to risk the group, especially after they come across a huge stash of water bottles that could keep them alive long enough to figure out what the hell’s going on in the world.

The group runs into two other people named Frank (a police officer) and Malika (a nurse). Frank misleads the group when he comes into first contact with them, and Darren never trusts him again after that. There are many fiery exchanges while they try to escape the dangerous city, but as the season crosses the halfway point, tragedy strikes, and the pack is split up. Darren becomes a prisoner of a violent gang of brutal men. With his life fully in jeopardy, his every action has extremely high weight to it. In season two, I think I will be exploring an even darker side of Darren if we keep the fun rolling.

IFR: What was it like working with such an all-star cast?

DE: It’s important for there to be a good chemistry between cast members, especially when a group forms in the show and your characters spend a lot of time interacting with each other. Everyone got along really well, and really put their best foot forward with their performances in Skal.

In terms of performance, it was superb. Evan Marsh (who plays Arthur) was a consistent rock in the center of the production, and there’s one particularly powerful scene where we really pushed each other to emotional peaks. Oliva Scriven (Emma) managed to tolerate an intense make out scene with me, so kudos to her for that. She’s very popular on social media for her role on Degrassi, so it was nice to have her bring some viewers on board with that. Trevor Hayes (Frank) and Mariah Inger (Malika) were playing characters that “Darren” viewed as outsiders, and didn’t trust, and there were some great heated interactions between us on screen – especially Frank, the hard-nosed cop who doesn’t take too kindly to Darren’s big mouth.

Shawn Baichoo played a late-season villain named Pablo, who is a leader of a violent gang. I only got to work with him for a short period of time, but he really brought his A-game and played a convincing madman. They gave him a contact lens that made it look like he had a white “dead eye”, which added to the aura of evil. We had some intense scenes that he totally owned and showed a possession of confident power. I should also mention that little Chelsea Goldwater, who played a young child prisoner, helped add to the creepiness of the scenes.

This project was Benjamin Cappelletti’s “baby”. He’d been pushing this story for a while as a young filmmaker in France, and it was great to help bring his vision to life. His passion for Skal was evident, and even though there were a few moments of language barriers, we were able to communicate together and get the scenes done to his satisfaction.

IFR: The series premieres on the streaming app Blackpills. How do you think streaming websites have opened the doors for actors such as yourself?

DE: Well, obviously there is more opportunity than ever for an actor with all these new avenues of distribution. In the past, films were limited to festivals and cinema, while television series were limited to cable and satellite subscriptions. Now there are all sorts of streaming avenues out there for episodic series and films alike, and the opportunity to get quality productions made has never been greater.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have a leading role in Skal, and it will be interesting to see how Blackpills performs overall as a company. It seems they are aiming to get a firm grip on the mobile-streaming game, as their app is currently only available for mobile devices as opposed to TVs. I haven’t had the chance to observe many of the other shows on their app, but they have already granted out several second season renewals for some of them, so there is certainly a chance for us to get back at it. At the very least, the show is of high-quality and makes for solid demo footage to show other productions what I can do with a meaty role.

Blackpills also stands out with the brevity of each of their shows’ episodes; the average runtime for an episode of Skal was about nine minutes long. Today’s generation operate very much from an extreme lack of attention span, so this format is designed quite well with that in mind. Here’s hoping it works out!