Category Archives: Actor Profile

Actor Shvan Aladdin’s Role in Hollywood Promotes Cultural Diversity

Playing a character that not only hits close to home, but also marks a time in history when cultural conversations are needed most is a rare and powerful opportunity for any actor.

Establishing success as one of the only Kurdish actors in the industry today, LA based actor Shvan Aladdin’s Middle Eastern heritage and colossal talents have helped bring a stronger sense of multiculturalism to Hollywood.

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Kurdish actor Shvan Aladdin shot by Bjoern Kommerell 

Capitalizing on his Kurdish roots, Aladdin has landed numerous leading roles across film and television productions in stories that are fundamentally relevant to today’s society.

His creative approach to depicting stories of substance on screen have helped to ensure individuals from around the world are seen and heard in a more authentic way.

“First and foremost, it’s an honor to know that I am one of the first to represent my country in a place like Hollywood,” Aladdin proudly shares. “But I really hope there will be many more than me in the future. And I hope that by me being here, it’ll open up the doors for many more who start to believe in themselves.”

Societal issues such as racial profiling, gender equality and women’s rights continue to surge news headlines. Cultural diversity amongst the entertainment industry however is a whole conversation on its own.

With independent studios and progressive filmmakers pushing the boundaries to expose stories of truth, cultural conversations are now the storyboard for many award-winning mini series and Hollywood blockbusters.

“I want to tell stories that are not out there. I am from Kurdistan and it’s so rare we see Kurdish stories being told to the greater audience,” Aladdin shares. “I want to be one of those who brings those stories to life. Aside from that, I want to work with stories that hopefully teaches me, the actor, and the audience something new.”

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Shvan Aladdin in the hit film “Martyrdom”

Despite seeing some movement in cultural diversity across Hollywood of late, many will argue that we still have a long way to go to achieve equal rights.

Recent studies from a 2019 report shows that out of 3,895 speaking or named characters had an easily identifiable race or ethnicity. Of those, a full 63.7% were white, 16.9% Black, 5.3% Latino, 8.2% Asian– but, only 1.5% were Middle Eastern/North African.

Focusing on roles behind the camera, the report also indicates that out of the 112 directors from the 100 top films of 2018, a mere 3.6% were Middle Eastern/North African.

Evidently these stats show great room for improvement, there’s no denying that. However most recently we’ve bared witness to change as some of the industry’s most reputable sources are praising diversity.

The 2019 Korean drama “Parasite” won the award for Best Film at The Oscars earlier this year, marking Hollywood history as the first non-english film to take home the prestigious award.

Arab-American star Rami Malek earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the incredible biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Malek became the first ever Arab-American to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his outstanding performance in 2019.

And although Egyptian born Mena Massoud skyrocketed to Hollywood fame for his role of Aladdin in the 2019 box office smash remake, the star has struggled to land auditions ever since.

Thus leads us to question, why is there a continual lack of diversity in Hollywood? And why is there still a misrepresentation of cultures in film and television today?

Being one of the only Kurdish actors in Hollywood, Aladdin recognizes the demands for further diversity, adding, “the truth of the matter is that there aren’t any Kurdish actors out here, and it’s a pity. I hope that we will get to a place where tons of other Kurdish actors move out here and get the opportunity to work in this town.”

He continues, “It’s crazy when you think about how big this city is and yet there are no Kurdish actors in it. I really hope for a change in that section.”

So how does one man from Kurdistan implement such change in Hollywood? By moving away from the stereotypical roles which questions the accurate representation of the Middle East.

A 2018 study showed that 78 percent of all Middle Eastern and North African actors were cast in villainous roles, such as terrorists or tyrants, something that Aladdin has personally experienced.

He shares, “I used to get many auditions for stereotypical roles. But then it got to a point where I just had enough. There are only so many terrorist roles you can do before you feel drained.”

Being one of the only Kurdish actors in Hollywood has come as an advantage to the talented star, who is leaving behind the typecast roles to depict characters of substance and truth.

“There have been many times where directors have been looking really hard for Kurdish actors and it’s just impossible to get a hold of them.” Aladdin continues, “I was in a film ‘Noise’ by Michael Aloyan and it took us weeks to find a Kurdish actress. The girl we ended up finding wasn’t even an actor but it worked out.”

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T.V. Carpio and Shvan Aladdin in “Noise”

The final casting was flawless, and the engaging film gained widespread viewing via Amazon Prime and was nominated for Best Short Film Award at the 2018 Austin Film Festival.

Aladdin’s genuine performance as the young Kurdish immigrant in the touching film is a character that hits close to home. He reflects, “My mother immigrated from Kurdistan to Sweden in the late 90s, so growing up being a child of an immigrant, I have enormous respect for immigrants.”

He proudly continues, “I know that no mother or father immigrates just for fun. It’s all about giving your children the opportunities you didn’t have growing up. All I am today, I have my mother to thank for.”
“Noise” tells the story of two unique individuals who find love in the most unexpected form with a deaf American woman and a young Kurdish man developing a connection based on sensory touch and vibrational rhythms. Using a notebook as a translator, the characters prove that when you remove language, communication really has no limits.

Their connection becomes tested when the pair are introduced to alternative characters who, according to societal comfort appear to be more suitable. But after a brief moment of contemplation, the two trust their instincts and find their way back to each other.

The optimism shown in the final scene proves that love can exist in all forms, with Aladdin adding, “It’s beautiful. It shows that there’s no limits when it comes to love… I’m so proud to have been part of it.”

Emerging far beyond the stereotypical roles, Aladdin’s career was inspired by the comical pleasures he gained from watching sitcoms as a young child.

Describing his upbringing as “organic,” Aladdin was born and raised in Slemani, Kurdistan. Looking back on his early childhood he reflects, “It was very interesting, sometimes it feels like I’ve gotten to live two very different lives. In Kurdistan, we didn’t have water or electricity 24/7, this was in the 90’s.”

Having water and electricity for most young children is a thought barely to even be considered, however for Aladdin and his brothers this was ultimately a different story.

“I remember having a water company on my street and huge trucks would come and fill them with clean water,” he continues. “Once they drove away, water would keep running down for some minutes before it completely turned off. My brothers and I used to run and fill buckets with clean water so we’d have it for the days to come.”

Reflecting on his past, Aladdin shares, “These are things we take for granted today but there was a time where I didn’t. And it’s interesting thinking about living life then compared to now. “

After migrating to Sweden with his family at age nine, Aladdin became absorbed in the world of network television growing up on classics such as “The Nanny,” “Family Matters,” “Friends” and “The Golden Girls.”

Influenced by these sitcoms Aladdin found direction. “Naturally after a couple of years I just realized that I wanted to do what those actors that I looked up to were doing,“ he shares. “The TV was my best friend for many years…it also taught me Swedish and English.”

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Film poster for “Akeda”

Profiting from his Middle Eastern background, Aladdin scored one of the lead roles in 2018’s “Akeda” directed by Dan Bronfeld. The award-winning film tells the story of a young orphan boy who, whilst filming a movie has his humanity tested when the director pressures him to give a violent performance that blends fiction with reality.

Aladdin plays the role of Mustapha, a filmworker who also lost his parents at a young age. Filled with empathy, Mustapha is torn between professionalism and succumbing to the relatable pressures that the young boy feels.

After reading the script Aladdin became riveted with the storyline, adding, “I think that viewing the world through a child’s perspective makes us question ourselves a lot. We forget that this crazy world we live in and witness, the children witness as well. They look up to us to reach a solution to all these problems. And at times we hand over the responsibility to them. I think that is the core of what the story [Akeda] is about.”

“Akeda” earned critical praise winning Best Film and Best Screenplay at the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival, Catalina Film Festival and Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, as well as a further 13 nominations across global festivals.

Aladdin’s strong ability to paint a character’s depth and sorrow was proven in the 2018 drama “Martyrdom,” a dark film about a radicalised Middle Eastern man struggling to adapt to a society he sorely doesn’t fit in to.

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Shvan Aladdin in “Martyrdom”

Feelings of defeat takeover when the character’s heinous acts of crime result in the accidental murder of his wife and son, and the repercussions that follow will haunt his remaining years.

When preparing for the grieving role Aladdin shares, “It was a lot of responsibility but I worked day and night preparing for this character and making sure that I knew who he was completely. I ‘knew’ my son, my wife. I made sure to create a full background for the character so that even though I was alone in the short, I still had the life of the character out there to play around with.”

Being the starring actor in the movie, Aladdin was the driving force behind the film premiering at the Montreal Film Festival along with its nomination for Best Short Film.

Reflecting on these outstanding performances and the achievements which followed, it’s obvious that the plethora of skills Aladdin has on offer have helped establish the successful and influential career he has today.

“Thankfully, these past years I’ve gotten to play many well rounded characters that tell deep and beautiful stories.” He adds, “and that’s something that means a lot for my creativity and the vision I have of what I want to do as an actor. I’m not here to play a terrorist.”

Using his Kurdish roots as an accurate representation of the Middle East, Shvan Aladdin is turning heads and changing minds of those who drive diversity in Hollywood. Although a long way to go, multiculturalism is on the rise as more and more industry heads, much like Aladdin are paving the way for change.

Trans Actor Jesse Todd Shines Light on Gender Non-Conformity through the Films “Parry Riposte” and “We Forgot to Break Up”

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Actor Jesse Todd shot by Jessica D’Angelo

Jesse Todd is more than just a great actor, he is at the forefront of a movement that embodies the most misunderstood and underrepresented people in Hollywood: the transgender community.

The ability to express yourself freely without judgement or criticism of others is a lifelong journey that Jesse has experienced his whole life.

“When I started questioning my gender it really opened the door for me to reflect on all aspects of myself and who I want to be. To me acting is all about honesty and lending your truth to the character you play. Understanding myself and my truth through transitioning has allowed me to approach every character I’ve played with a deeper level of empathy,” Jesse explains.  

On screen his rare ability to translate both vulnerability and resilience through his performances, such as those in the hit films Parry Riposte and We Forgot to Break Up, have continued to pull at heartstrings around the world. His leading role in We Forgot to Break Up has no doubt brought the film to become recognized as an award winning work of art. It was the winner of the 2017 Best Canadian Shortwork Award at the Whistler International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival, and a Grand Jury Nominee at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, to name a few. 

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As a trans actor Jesse taps into the important yet sometimes uncomfortable conversation of change, especially in terms of the way one’s physical transformation alters their previous world entirely. We Forgot to Break Up, as well as numerous other films he’s been apart of, unravel the many emotions people might have towards this type of change, even when they claim to “accept” you. This conversation has made Jesse a source of inspiration, something that led him to be invited as a panelist at 2018 Trans Summit at Outfest in LA. For Jesse, sharing his experience at the summit was a way to give-back and it’s one that he was proud to have been apart of. 

The best part of the trans summit was speaking with the mostly trans audience. After a Q and A with the panelists, there was an open forum discussion. It was a safe space to talk about the experience of being a trans artist in an industry that has historically excluded us and created problematic narratives and depictions of us,” explains Jesse. “I was able to talk about some of the challenges I faced with a group of people who had had similar experiences.” 

Many of Jesse’s roles to date have shed light on the transgender community and the daily trials they face in their world. To no surprise Jesse’s leading role as Evan Stroker in We Forgot to Break Up left an unforgettable mark that carried the film to its fullest potential. The film portrays the reaction of characters of a rock band and their unresolved conflicting emotions towards Jesse’s character, who goes through a gender affirming transition and returns to meet the band after a long absence. The interactions between Evan and the band members leave the audience feeling uncomfortable, raw, and emotional.

“Evan Strocker shows up to a gig of a band he used to manage but hasn’t seen in years. These are people that he grew up with and eventually walked out on. He has written a memoir and is hoping to leave it for the guitarist, his ex-lover,” explains Jesse. “Before he’s able to sneak out the way he came in, he’s found by the current manager. Tension is very high as Evan faces each band member; they’re not exactly happy to see him.”

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Jesse Todd in “We Forgot to Break Up” by Cabot McNenly

Evan Strocker was the manager for the band “Heidegger” for years and was somewhat responsible for their fame. The tumultuous relationship between himself and the band members give rise to feelings of dread, shame, rage and despair. Jesse carefully goes in and out of his pain using his own experience to drive home Evan’s emotional experience in a way that is real and powerful. 

“To bring this character to life I really focused on those relationships of the past. I drew upon my own experiences with letting go of relationships in order to find my truth. It can be very painful and jarring to finally put your own needs first and separate yourself from people who are holding you back, especially when you love them.”

Beyond the physical aspects of transitioning, the film focuses on how other people respond and reconnect with someone who returns in their new, more authentic state. The story depicts the layers of unprocessed and uncomfortable emotions that everyone involved faces and provides the audience with a raw and palpable perspective on the journey many within the transgender community face. It’s no wonder it was the Winner of Best Canadian Shortwork.

“I like to tell stories about people who feel real and allow themselves to be vulnerable.There is nothing in this world more strange and interesting to me than people. I’ve always been interested in trying to figure them out,” explains Jesse. 

“I hope that my work can help viewers look inward and feel something deeply. I hope that I can fill viewers with creative energy that motivates them to work on their own art, whatever that may be,” 

Jesse’s natural talent coupled with his depth and courage to portray his character’s unapologetic and most authentic self on screen holds the capacity to change the hearts and minds of viewers.

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Jesse Todd in “Parry Riposte” shot by Goldbloom Micomonaco

In the film Parry Riposte Jesse takes on the starring role of Liam directed by Goldbloom Micomonaco, a QueerTrans Jewish writer, director, and producer of projects under Goldbloom Films and Made By Muses. They have created powerful films like Wet (2018), an Official Selection of TiffxInstgram, Twigg Drive Freestyle (2018), and Hunger (2017), an Official Selection of the Toronto New Wave Film Festival. Their work has permeated into community spaces such as LIFT and the Trans Collective RSU

In Parry Riposte Jesse’s character grapples with the fact that he must guide a group of traumatized teenagers who have been victimized by a traumatic transphobic event at their school. Jesse delves into his leading role in a dynamic and believable way, and leaves a memorable impression on audiences.

Parry Riposte revolves around a fencing team of gender nonconformists who have to learn to stand together after their practice studio is vandalized by transphobics within their community. 

Jesse explains, “Each member of the club deals with the traumatic events in their own way. And my character, Liam, the senior athlete, is trying to pick up the pieces.”

The story is about finding ones community and chosen families, and the lengths trans and non-binary people go to in order to make space for each other. Conjuring up the endurance it takes to face adversity against the odds and inspiring those in pain to do the same, Jesse beautifully embodies his role as Liam on screen.

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Jesse Todd in “Parry riposte” by Goldbloom Micomonaco

“Jesse has an acting skill that is nuanced and advanced… The role of Liam was originally very angry and loud, but Jesse’s interpretation of the role grounded the performance and brought Liam to life in a way that was unlike anyone else we considered for the role,” explains Parry Riposte director Goldbloom Micomonaco. “Jesse’s reputation as an actor in Toronto preceded him, and I had known his work beforehand from other film productions… Working together was an amazing opportunity.”

In the wake of his own journey Jesse’s ability to deeply connect with the characters he takes on make his performances more than realistic, they are magnetic. His honest connection with his roles establishes the same honest connection with the audience. 

As is the case with most great actors, Jesse’s background has helped lay the foundation for him to tap into the raw and authentic emotions of his characters. 

Born and raised in Ontario, Canada with a single mother and two siblings, Jesse’s family endured many hardships with a lack of money and a lot of bad luck. However, these trials did not harden Jesse’s spirit but instead, made him a more self aware and empathetic human being. Through the arts, he found a positive environment where he could utilize his talents and escape his troubles at home. 

“It was my dream to be an actor when I was a kid, and I was always performing, I was such a ham. It helped me to feel free and have an escape from my reality,” Jesse recalls. “It was what I wanted to do with my life.  But as I got older, it didn’t seem like a possibility for me anymore. I wasn’t comfortable in my body and I didn’t want to be under any spotlight.” 

It wasn’t until his transition in his 20’s that Jesse felt more comfortable and confident moving throughout the world. His journey into self awareness and the courage to allow his truest and most authentic self to shine through, allowed him to connect with his life in a deeper way; and in finding himself, he was led him back to his first love, acting.

Jesse says, “I hadn’t thought about acting in years but an opportunity presented itself and I fell in love with performing all over again.  I see acting as an opportunity to reflect on all of my experiences and apply what I’ve learned throughout my life. It’s the best job in the world.”   

Jesse’s ability to not only represent and take on the weight of a suppressed community is, in a way, heroic. He has reached the root of his authentic self in a way that takes courage and deserves recognition. The transition process of reflecting on all aspects of himself and coming to terms with who he is has made Jesse a better actor, one that is able to carry heavy roles with vulnerability in a way that is familiar and even comfortable. 

“What I have to offer is myself, my experiences and my outlook on life. I have spent a long time trying to find strength and value in myself. I’ve figured out that everything I’ve been through has given me the tools to be a great actor,” explains Jesse. “My strongest qualities are my ability to listen, empathize, and respond thoughtfully. I see every acting job as an opportunity to both learn about myself and celebrate my life experiences through the character I’m playing.”

Multi-Award Winning Actor Hugo Diego Garcia Dazzles International Audiences

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Actor Hugo Diego Garcia at the Beverly Hills Film Festival

Actor Hugo Diego Garcia possesses a talent that is exceedingly rare among even the most seasoned of his peers. He’s able to transition between wildly different characters and roles with the effortlessness that others might walk from one room to the next. A great deal of his uncanny ability to embody virtually anybody onscreen is no doubt due to his upbringing, immersed in three distinct cultures.

“I was born in Oyonnax, France, a small city lost in the mountains,” Garcia described, “to a Spaniard father and a mother of Italian descent.”

His upbringing in that idyllic, yet isolated, town didn’t initially afford Garcia the opportunity to see as many films as he might have had he grown up in a big city. The collection of movies he did have, however, included some of the most influential and universally-acclaimed works in the history of film. Once he’d devoured the classic films he had at home, Garcia developed an insatiable need to watch every movie he could get his hands on.

“We didn’t have many films at home, but we had some of the best. The first VHS tapes and then DVDs we had were from Cimino, Leone, Scorsese and Coppola,” Garcia recalled.

“I then watched most of the American movies that were screened on TV, I would go every week to the French version of Blockbuster and rent plenty of DVDs. Together with my best friend we’d see every movie at the local cinema in my little city. And somehow, I got lucky enough to watch some of the best cinematic works ever at a very young age.”

That early exposure to such a vast number of films and filmmakers left an indelible mark on Garcia. As he entered adulthood, he became certain his calling lay on the silver screen. For Garcia, living in such a remote part of the world was an obstacle he was determined to overcome. With unbridled determination, he began studying every book and taking every class he could find to learn and master the actors’ craft.

“It was so far from our world, both geographically and metaphorically, that I couldn’t envision it,” he said. “I bought books from masters, studied and read just about everything, tried classes everywhere, and ultimately moved to Paris where I studied full-time in three schools — including one where I was offered free tuition after several rounds of auditions.”

After years of tireless dedication to improving his craft and growing as an actor, Garcia has achieved his dream. He’s deftly honed and refined his unique style with years of devoted practice, study, and insights gained from a lifetime spent observing the greats. As a result, Garcia’s become a commanding onscreen figure, delivering powerful performances in an ever-growing number of roles.

Among Garcia’s most definitive roles to date is the forthcoming film “Cagnolino.” Beautifully written and performed, the tragic drama tells a story of loyalty, violence, and deferred dreams.

“‘Cagnolino’ is about appearances and social determinism. It talks about the fascination for violence, particularly in the ‘hoods, through the music, pop culture, cinema, TV, and other media,” he described. “It is the story of a bad encounter, based on multiple true stories.”

The film follows the young members of a small-time criminal group as their egos and hotheadedness inevitably lead them toward the tragic consequences of a fateful mistake. Garcia stars in the leading role of Dario, a member of the family torn between his familial loyalty and his desire to escape this life and build a real future.

“My character wants to emancipate himself and get a better life for himself. He wants to do what’s right and leave the family business to pursue his own life and dreams, as well as being motivated by his girlfriend,” Garcia explained. “He struggles to leave because of the weight of the family ties and the love and admiration he has for his family, including his cousin. He has this life in his blood.”

Its story unflinchingly honest and its actors’ performances unequivocally human, “Cagnolino” captures the raw and universal truth of the struggles between right and wrong, power and weakness, and loyalty and self-determination. Garcia’s performance as Dario is masterful and moving, a testament to his strength and versatility. Further illustrating his commitment to his craft are the lengths to which he went to ensure a perfect performance in the film.

“In the sequence where my character gets beat up, we were shooting by night and at 6 a.m. I had to finish the night on the floor being kicked by the other characters,” he recalled. “I got bruises all over my body, but the adrenaline and pleasure of filming got us through it.”

With filming and post-production completed this year, “Cagnolino” will begin screening at festivals soon. Also set for release in the coming year is “Death Before Mourning,” a profound film which examines the often-silent and stigmatized effects of mental illness. Impressed by Garcia’s exceptional work in other roles, “Death Before Mourning” director Ruperto Luis Sanchez handpicked Garcia for the lead role in the film.

“After seeing his work and collaborating with Hugo on several projects, I had no doubt he would be the best fit for the lead role in my movie, Death Before Mourning. Ayala, his character, is complex and dark and Hugo possessed every quality required to play such a tortured role,” Sanchez said, explaining his deliberate choice to cast Garcia.

“His charisma, rugged good looks and ability to speak perfect English and Spanish made him my first choice directly. Ayala is also a boxer and so is Hugo, which made it even more interesting.”

The film takes an appropriately dark approach to its subject matter. With mental illness becoming a more and more prevalent topic in today’s news and culture, “Death Before Mourning” is a timely film that accurately portrays both the effects and stigmas facing those who suffer from invisible diseases like depression. Garcia, a trained boxer himself, disappears into his role as a boxer fighting against a different kind of opponent within his own mind.

“‘Death Before Mourning’ is a complex, ambitious black-and-white movie about PTSD, depression and the cycle of life,” Garcia described. “I play Rene Ayala, a great prospect in boxing, who sees his dreams destroyed when he loses a fight he was supposed to win, destroying his self esteem, future and all-time dream.”

Garcia’s performance in “Death Before Mourning” is undoubtedly one of his most powerful to date. As he steps out of himself and into the character of Rene Ayala, he brings such life to the role that it becomes nearly impossible to say for sure that the struggling boxer onscreen is a work of fiction rather than a living, breathing man in his own right. That is precisely where Garcia’s greatest strength lies. Much more than an ability to become somebody else, Garcia is able to persuade audiences that his characters are alive and that he was never really there at all.

“Acting, for me, is pure pleasure. It might be cliche, but I have a passion for storytelling,” said Garcia, explaining what draws him to acting and what makes him such a superb onscreen presence. “To quote De Niro, acting is ‘living someone else’s life, without paying the price.’ It’s using part of yourself that you wouldn’t or couldn’t explore in society for any number of reasons.”

Precious few actors in cinema today can hold a candle to Garcia. Fluent in three languages, a professionally-trained boxer, and unmatched in his onscreen versatility and range, Hugo Diego Garcia is among the most talented and devoted actors to grace the screen in years. Just as he’s spent his life studying the greats who came before him, there will be a day when a new generation of actors do the same — and they will undoubtedly turn to the iconic performances of Hugo Diego Garcia.

Swedish Actor Matti Leinikka Shines on the Screen and Stage

Matti Leinikka
Swedish actor Matti Leinikka

Matti Leinikka may have grown up surrounded by the stoic, chilling beauty of northern Sweden, but the warm laughter and bright smiles he inspires in audience members has made him familiar to countless fans across the globe. Few actors possess the diverse range of talent needed to establish a successful career in both television and film, as well as live on stage, yet Matti has proven his ability to cross between the mediums with ease and continually showcase the diverse scope of his talent.

In the hit Swedish television series “Amira Time” Matti kept viewers hooked by connecting diverse plot points together through the power of humor. This Swedish sitcom would never have taken off without his ability to effortlessly bolster the chemistry that his fellow co-stars shared with one another. His magnetic energy on set has proven key to the success of numerous productions so it comes as no surprise that his co-stars continue to heap praise upon his talents. 

Fellow actress Johanne Jung, who acted alongside Matti in the theatre productions “Morbid Curiosity” and “Stop Kiss,” as well as the film “Blottad,” fondly recalled the safe, creative, and collaborative environment that Matti fostered when she worked with him.

Jung says, “Matti is very professional and kind. He both gives and receives feedback gracefully. He is willing to go the extra mile for both his role, his co-stars and the show as a whole… He is professional and creates a safe and creative environment for his fellow cast and crew members.”

Though Matti has revealed his power as a comedic talent, he has also illustrated his bone-chilling capacity to play a convincing villain on the big stage in front of a live audience. In the interactive theatre performance of “Morbid Curiosity,” he got a rare chance to enchant viewers with the tantalizing prospects of a murder-mystery. Sold-out shows attested to the fact that audience members couldn’t get enough of Matti’s hit performance, which he enjoyed in no small part because of its interactive nature that permitted him to connect personally with audience members as he took the stage.

By taking on the role of Josef, a tailor accused of murdering his business rival, Matti capably demonstrated his ability to deliver audience members to an imagined past wherein they could lose themselves in the setting of the story.

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Actor Matti Leinikka in “Morbid Curiosity”

His strong voice, fine control of on-stage movements, and effortless ability to meld well with his fellow stage performers are doubtlessly why director Elin Hagelberg cast him to take on a lead role in her upcoming film “Exposed.”

“Exposed” is a notable project for a variety of reasons, not least being the fact that it was shot in one take. Matti didn’t merely play a role or camera, either, but contributed to the creative process throughout the film, helping deliver hilarious comedic moments that punctuated an otherwise serious plot. 

Embodying the role of Mike, a shy introvert who’s dragged to a group therapy session by his employer, was no small feat, yet it was one that Matti undertook with gusto. He felt immediately connected to the role of Mike when reading the script, when he noticed that the shy character nevertheless contained hidden layers, one where audiences can bet on the fact that Matti gave a sterling performance. Shot in Matti’s home town of Umeå, “Exposed” earned a coveted grant from Film i Västerbotten, and is slated to release next year.

Matti has long understood that being an excellent actor is about more than delivering when on stage or in front of the camera – it’s also about interlacing well with the crew, contributing to the creative direction of the entire project, and making a lasting connection with viewers so that they can remember what they’ve witnessed for years to come. The diverse breadth of Matti’s professional experience renders it easy to achieve all of these things regardless of the medium he’s presented with.

Regardless of how skilled he is when it comes to serious productions or dramatic performances, though, Matti’s true love has always been centered around comedy. His strong sense of timing is a rare gift and it is undoubtledly part of why audiences are so enthralled with his ability to generate knee-slapping moments. Furthermore, his ability to fluidly switch from goofing around to acting with the utmost seriousness helps him effortlessly navigate the complex layers that go into comedic productions.

Many of Matti’s favorite comedic memories revolve around his lead appearance in “Superbowl of Love, an independent film that was so hilarious it was announced as one of the official selections of the Prague Independent Film Festival in 2019. When a small-town radio host decides to offer a prize of $1 million to whomever can prove they have the worst life, the male lead Tom strives to demonstrate that his enduring virginity makes him the butt of everyone’s jokes. Matti’s spirited performance in the starring role of Tom in this dark comedy spoke to the strange and bizarre ways that our diverse lives challenge us all differently, leaving audience members holding their stomachs in laughter all the while.

Matti’s excellent work in that film ensured his professional future would be replete with additional work, and he’s already preparing to work with renowned Ukranian filmmaker Mariya Somova in her upcoming film. Given that his work on “Exposed” and “Amira Time” has bewitched the hearts of countless fans, it’s safe to say that his future productions will be just as eagerly attended and boisterously cheered on as his lasting accomplishments. 

 

Karen Mitchell: Owning the Screen with Magical Presence

Karen Mitchell
Actress Karen Mitchell shot by Chris Jon Photography

It’s not every day that an actress with the scope of talent Karen Mitchell has comes along. The Australian actress is not only skilled on screen, she has the magic that draws viewers in, bringing her character to life, no matter who it is she’s playing; like the recent role as Linda in the soon to be released romantic drama “If I Were You.” Other upcoming parts she’s championed are Alexa in “Just One More Day,” Tina in “The Margin of Things”.  She can just as easily turn around and seemingly effortlessly play detective roles in projects such as the three-part series “Ice Cold Blood,” and the award-winning television series “Starship One.” She not only skillfully plays the character, she truly is the character.

Perhaps it is the former years she spent as a classic ballet dancer that gives her the ability to glide into any character she graces on screen. Or, perhaps it’s her vast experience and portfolio of masterpiece performances that gives her that special touch.

Throughout her career, Karen Mitchell has built quite a portfolio, bringing to life character after character in a long list of award-winning films, well-known television shows, and nationally-aired commercials. She’s especially drawn to the investigator crime drama roles, beginning with her debut as Twila Busby on “Facing Evil,” a Discovery channel hit.  Her success in the show gave way to many others in the same and similar genres, like playing Catherine in the thriller “Nameless: Blood and Chains,” Tracy in “Deadly Women,” and the unforgettable Carmen on the crime drama series “Behind Mansion Walls.”

Karen Mitchell
Karen Mitchell shot by Sagar Beleka

Karen could have easily become comfortable in her convincing crime drama roles; but, she’s not one to be pigeonholed into playing one type of character. The substance she’s made of radiates way further than that. She excels in stretching herself, playing both good characters and not-so-good ones, which is even more evidence of her elevated skill and talent, a trait that has earned her fans from around the world.

The ability Karen has to take command of any role she plays, captivating her character’s every action and emotion, is unfounded. Over the years she’s expanded her repertoire to include a number of comedic roles in projects such as the hit television series “It’s a Dole Life,” the AACTA award winning television series “Black Comedy,” the two-part Australian satirical AACTA award winning television series  “Double the Fist,” the Australian television comedy series “Legally Brown,” the American adult Netflix sitcom “DisEnchanted” and the action comedy movie “The Tail Job.”  Not many could pull such a feat off but she did, and royally so. In addition, she nailed her performance as Sally in the thriller “Fearless Game” and was a stellar Angela in the family drama “About a Husband.” “The Hand that Feeds” would not have been the same without her in character as Mum and she rocked the role as Deedee Banks in “Torn Devotion” as well.

Karen is at her best when it comes to playing controversial characters that are immoral and conniving like her unforgettable role as Tracy Grissom in “Deadly Women.” She can go from being the lead protagonist to the despised antagonist in a heartbeat. She just has that magical ability to pull any character out of her hat. She can easily master an intense criminal investigator and whip right around and bring those criminal characters we love-to-hate to life. Those are the very attributes that are at the helm of her magnificent journey on screen.  

Karen is not only a highly talented actress and an exquisite dancer, she’s also a voice actor, model and presenter– we’d expect nothing less from the multi-faceted, multi-talented star who is one of those rare individuals that just seems to have it all.

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Karen Mitchell plays the lead in a National Commercial for The Commonwealth Bank

Her talents have caught the eyes of the corporate world, who practically stand in line to offer her roles in promoting their wares and services. Commonwealth Bank, Colosyl, Shark Sonic Duo, Thin Lizzy make-up, Coles, Marasilk and Biophysics are just a few of the big names that have sewn her talents up to represent them in commercials.  

Even her voice sets Karen apart. She has been the vocals behind a number of pieces. At present, she is the notorious voice of the children’s entertainment company, Party Pirates.  

Karen’s accomplishments don’t stop there either.  She was a finalist in the Miss Australia beauty pageant.  She’s a Screenwise Film and Television graduate and proud member of the Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA.  Her passion for acting was realized at the tender age of three years old.

It is clear to see that Karen enjoys each and every part she plays. Her passion for what she does is contagious, radiating from the set to the emotions of the audience, whether it be a loveable, despicable, intelligent, or funny part– she sinks into the characters and makes them her own, and it is hard to tell where they end and she begins. Yes, she’s that good!

 

Actor Tennille Read’s Award Winning Style

Actor Tennille Read’s rising star is powered by a very particular brand of creativity, one that’s equal measures sensitivity and swagger, a super-charged dramatic formula that spans the entire emotional spectrum with undeniable in-the-moment veracity. Read truly inhabits her characters, always delivering a performance subtly imbued with the full depth and breadth of the human experience. Her award winning performance in the dramatic 2018 short “I Lost My Mind” is as ideal example of her impressive natural talent, a rich gift which, ironically, she almost didn’t take seriously.

“I did a lot of school before I could accept that I actually wanted to be an actor,” Read said. “I did my undergrad in film and theatre at Queen’s University, and then a Graduate program in Communications at Concordia University. But acting always called me back. So to step up my game, I did a three year Acting Conservatory in Toronto. That was where I learned how to approach my work with discipline, unending curiosity and playfulness, and where I really committed to being a professional actor.”

Tennille Read photo by Hamish Birt 2
Tennille Read photo by Hamish Birt

Try as she might to resist the impulse, the seed had been planted years earlier. “I was about 10 and I was watching a re-run of Growing Pains—the season where Leonardo DiCaprio is on the show,” Read said. “In that episode, he has this huge emotional scene that I was spellbound by. He just seemed so raw and vulnerable. I had a lot of pre-teen hormones bubbling up inside me at the time and acting seemed like the perfect way to let them out. I remember asking my mum if I could get an agent—I’m sure that made her heart stand still for a moment. So, instead I started doing little skits and storytelling performances for my grade five class.”

With a solid grounding in live theater and on-set film experience, the Toronto-based Read specializes in spiritually liberated, audacious characters. “I’m excited by female-driven stories and a lead character that overcomes big obstacles by discovering their own potential,” Read said. “There’s a common thread with the films I adore. They usually explore different dimensions or alternate worlds, be it space or expanding possibility. I’m a bit of a nerd about that stuff. I love the idea of tapping into something that is bigger than ourselves but that is still in harmony with us when we get out of our own way—that sparks my imagination in every way.”

This distinctive approach made her an ideal choice for “I Lost My Mind”’s leading role.

“I played the character of Penelope who facilitates a community workshop on filmmaking,” Read said. “One of her students, Wolfy, becomes fascinated by her and finds his thoughts objectifying her in her class. Penelope is pure intelligence, aspiration, with a vast knowledge of her craft, based on her own directing experience. But Wolfy is stuck on her appearance and he can’t focus on what she’s teaching the group. His thoughts get LOUD, but Penelope’s intuition and smarts have him figured out and she puts him in his place with one elegant move.”

“It was easy to relate to Penelope,” Read said. “Her situation was of a woman being objectified by the male gaze. I think every woman can relate to that in some capacity. I’ve been that woman—feeling like I wasn’t being heard and but instead being seen through a narrow lens. I loved playing Penelope because she’s firm and steady in front of this group of young filmmakers and genuinely wants to teach them and have them realize their own potential. Even when she calls out Wolfy at the end, she does it from a place of kindness and good humor, but with enough pointedness to drive her message home.”

Read’s formidable skill as a dramatic interpreter significantly elevated the film’s impact and made “I Lost My Mind” a popular entry on the busy North American film festival circuit. Along the way Read was honored with the Hollywood North Film Awards 2018 Best Actor award. Director Michael Tobin sunned up the actor’s artistic essence “Her perspective on the story that I wanted to tell was invaluable to the final cut. My process has always been a collaborative one, and Tennille brought so much of her own experience to the table that not only fit the role she played, but also enhanced it beyond my expectations. Tennille brings a compelling depth to the characters she plays that I think is a result of her own authenticity.”

That authenticity has become a professional calling card for the n-demand actor. “I recently did a season on ‘Workin’ Moms,’” Read said. “It was my first fleshed-out character who had her own multi-episode story arc. Television shoots move fast and I really like the pace—you don’t have time to get stuck in your head. But I would also like to do more film, on top of the TV work I’ve been booking.”

As an actor, Read has the perfect attitude: “The simplest way is usually the best way. Try something different with each take. Use the nerves to fuel the preparation and then let go of the work.”

From “Intrusos” to Hollywood Cinema: Actress Nazarena Nóbile

Nazarena Nóbile
Argentinian Actress Nazarena Nóbile

Argentinian beauty Nazarena Nóbile will be making her debut in U.S. cinemas later this year with roles in the upcoming feature films “Summer Night” and “Intolerance: No More.”

Directed by Satellite Award winner Joseph Cross “Summer Night” stars Victoria Justice (“Victorious,” “Zoey 101,” “The First Time”), Justin Chatwin (“War of the Worlds,” “Shameless”) and Analeigh Tipton (“Manhattan Love Story,” “Two Night Stand”).

“Joseph Cross is amazing. He is such a wonderful person. I mean, I knew him as an actor but he surprised me as a director,” says Nóbile. “He is such a nice guy. And his wife and his little daughter Amelia is a sweetheart. In fact, she played my baby daughter in the film.”

Prior to making the move to the U.S. with her husband Juan Baldini three years ago, Nóbile  established herself as an actress through featured roles on several popular Telemundo series such as the multi-award winning show “Silvana Sin Lana,” as well as “Quien es Quien” and “Eva la Trailera.”

Aside from her onscreen reputation in Latin America, Nóbile emphasizes the help of producer and fellow Argentinian, Angel Cassani (“Never Surrender,” “The Pastor”), in connecting her with the right people in the states and sparking her transition into the U.S. film industry.

She explains, “I met Joseph Cross and producer Tara Ansley thanks to Angel Cassani. We met through a skype conference because I was in Buenos Aires at that time, my father had health issues and I had to keep him company for a few months last year. And suddenly they told me there was a part for me. I played Harmony’s sister… It was a small part but I was so happy to be involved in that movie. It was my first important project in LA and I truly appreciate they had thought of me for that.”

In the upcoming film “Summer Night” Nóbile’s character is the disturbed sister of the lead character Harmony who is played by Victoria Justice.

“It’s about growing up…. And how difficult it is to go from adolescence to grown up life,” says Nóbile about the film.

Intolerance: No More
Poster for Sergio Guerrero’s “Intolerance: No More”

In the upcoming film “Intolerance: No More,” a cop drama directed by Sergio Guerrero who earned the Cartagena Film Festival’s  Golden India Catalina Award and the Gramado Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for the film “A Day Without A Mexican,” Nóbile will be taking on a larger role as Lucy, the wife of a cop who’s struggling with concepts of life, death and justice. Produced by Yeniffer Behrens (“The Power of One,” “Encounters,” “Between the Lights”).

Nóbile says, “The film is about the abuse of power, which is in the spotlight a lot these days. It’s a very interesting movie. And it is filmed in a very interesting way. I think it’s gonna be a great surprise for a lot of people.”

Nóbile also has a producer credit on the upcoming film “On the Other Side,” a film that centers on immigration and is currently in post production. Clearly this multi-talented Argentinian has been busy making moves in the states. She is also planning to relocate from Miami to Los Angeles very soon.

I’m so happy living in the US. I love this country, Miami, New York, Chicago, but Los Angeles is my favorite place in the world. I feel most at home there.”

Though Nazarena Nóbile began acting as a child, it was actually while working as a journalist in Argentina that her name first became synonymous with ‘celebrity’ across Latin America. She admits, “I started to work as a journalist for very important Argentinian newspapers and TV networks. I mean, even though acting was my first and true love, journalism was my first important job in the entertainment industry.”

And it was upon landing a recurring role on the entertainment show “Intrusos,” Argentina’s version of “TMZ,” where she was a regular entertainment journalist and panelist for several years, that Nóbile such a well-known figure across Latin America. Though she says she doesn’t regret the decision to move to the U.S., that doesn’t mean leaving her home country and her position at “Intrusos” behind didn’t bring some sadness.

“‘Intrusos’ is one of the most important TV shows in South America. It was very hard for me to leave” she explains. “I love my country so much. It’s such a beautiful place to live. And the people are amazing there, Argentinians are very special people. I miss a lot of things.”

But it seems as though she’s adapted to stateside living quite quickly as well. And with both “Summer Night” and “Intolerance: No More” in post-production and expected to be released in the upcoming months, it’s safe to say audience in the states who didn’t know Nóbile before, will definitely know her after.

 

Actor Chris McNally’s Dramatic Trip to ‘Heaven’

Actor Chris McNally’s easy going, amiable demeanor is completely genuine, but the Canadian-born performer is capable of utterly transformative characterizations, fraught with subtle psychological nuance and stark, emotional depth,  It’s an attribute that’s served him well in a fast-moving career which  has taken him from aspiring supporting player to major lead roles, and his striking portrayal of Cal Dennison in Lifetime network’s forthcoming adaptation of the celebrated VC Andrews novel Heaven is a prime example. For McNally, landing the film’s second lead was the almost inevitable conclusion of a lifelong passion. “I just have always wanted to be an actor, ever since I can remember,” McNally said. “I’m not sure what initially prompted my interest, but there really was nothing else I ever thought to pursue.”

 Heaven, which sparked an entire series of best-selling novels, is a sort of glorious throwback to mid-century Peyton Place-era tearjerkers, loaded with melodramatic moral and social conflicts and fraught with scandal and hopelessly romantic entanglements. In the case of titular character Heaven Casteel, a comely teenager who finds herself sold off by her abusive father to a childless couple only to reluctantly submit to the male head of her new household’s seduction, the story line definitely pushes some boundaries.

 As McNally explains, “Heaven follows a teenage girl and her difficult journey through adolescence. The story begins in a dark place—Heaven lives with her alcoholic father, pregnant stepmother, grandmother and siblings in a small, dilapidated house in the mountains. When Heaven’s stepmother loses her baby, it triggers a tragic chain of events, ending with her father selling all his children and separating them. Heaven ends up with Cal and Kitty Dennison, who seem great at first, but life becomes even more complicated when Kitty begins having schizophrenic, abusive tendencies and Cal falls in love with Heaven.”

 To call the role of Cal a challenge would be a tremendous understatement, and McNally approached it with a characteristically canny mix of dramatic craft and emotional restraint.

 “Things become complicated when Kitty begins mentally and physically abusing Heaven, not letting her outside the house, forcing her to clean all day,” McNally said. “Cal finds himself trying to shelter and protect Heaven from Kitty’s actions. During this process though, Cal starts to develop romantic feelings for Heaven. This was the most difficult part to navigate, because we didn’t want Cal to come off as a predator.”

 McNally’s natural, persuasive approach to a role is so convincing that, in fact, he got the part despite the fact that he had to audition remotely, via a tape shot in a friend’s apartment—hardly an ideal circumstance. “I couldn’t attend the audition since I was out of town,’ McNally said. “So I asked a friend for help taping it. We got together in his tiny kitchen and made do with what we had. When I got back to Vancouver, I had a callback, so I went in for a session with the director and producers, and a week later was told that I’d gotten the job.”

 

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After landing the part, McNally got down the very serious business of making his character sympathetic.

 “I tried to prepare for this by using the relativity of the circumstances as structure,’ McNally said. “I doubt anything would ever have transpired between Cal and Heaven if they were in a normal situation. Their reality, though, is that they both find themselves as prisoners in this house arrest-like jail that Kitty has created. So within the walls of the house, we have this warped reality, separate from the real world. In that world, I looked at Heaven as my ally, and I protect her, we bond, and her earnestness and kindness begins to authentically fill a void in my heart that I hadn’t realized, until then, that Kitty never did. I’d say that was my main prep—understanding how and why these feelings came to be, and making it work for me.”

 This precisely reasoned motivation—calling back to Stanislavski’s famed dramatic admonition to “play the life”—is key to McNally’s appeal and success, artistically and professionally. In just over a decade, his continually rising profile has led to a formidable resume of on-screen achievements, with numerous roles, both on television series and small-screen movies and 2018 looks to be a banner year for the actor—he not only has Heaven coming out soon but also a recurring role in the highly anticipated Netflix original series Altered Carbon, already making a significant Hollywood buzz for being one of the most ambitious and highest budgeted series in television history.

 All of this was earned solely by McNally’s dedication. “Chris has a lot of talent and passion which he brings to his work,” co-star Julie Benz said. “He’s disciplined, reliable, passionate about his craft and he really delivers when the cameras are rolling. It was refreshing to work with a young actor who is more interested in the craft of what we do than how many Instagram followers he has.”

 It’s an exciting time for the perpetually driven McNally, who remains a down to earth, affable guy with a winning, attitude.

 “I believe you only have one chance at life, so if you really want something, you need to do everything in your power to make it happen,” McNally said. “I use that philosophy every day and it inspires me to keep going after my goals, to keep training, keep auditioning—and working.”

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

From High Tension Thrillers to Cutting Edge Emotional Dramas, Actress Daniela Junko’s Range Continues to Impress

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Actress Daniela Junko

When an actor brings a character to life on screen with such seamless believability, we’re sometimes led to wonder– is this character really just a natural extension of the actor’s off screen self? It’s when we see actors take on characters that are the polar opposite from one another and still deliver that same flawless authenticity (those such as Charlize Theron in “Monster” compared to “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” series compared to “Silver Linings Playbook” and Denzel Washington in “Training Day” compared to “The Magnificent Seven,” to name a few), that is when we know the true strength of an actor’s craft. One such actor who boasts an undeniably impressive range that places her in the upper echelon of the world’s most skilled actors is Daniela Junko.

Tall, exotic and beautiful, Daniela Junko’s look gives her the coveted ability to easily portray leading ladies on screen ranging from the femme fatale to the damsel in distress and everything in between. Her physical attributes aside, it is what she brings to the table in terms of talent that has really made her a powerhouse in the industry.

Over the years Junko, who is originally from Brazil, has become known for her starring roles in films such as Frank Lopez’s (“Tangerine Sky”) award-winning crime drama “Three Kings Down,” the twisted thriller films “I Am Tommy Talbot” and “The Incision” with Delpaneaux Wills from the two-time Golden Globe Award winning series “American Crime Story,” the hit feature film “Rough Mix” with Asian Television Award winners Kay Tong Lim and Rebecca Lim, and most recently the emotional drama “Alone,” which screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

When asked what drives her as an actress, Junko explained, “As funny as it may sound, humans. We are such beautiful and complex creatures, even if we were capable of living for hundreds of years we would still not go through all the emotions and experiences that life has to present us with. To be able to study, understand and portray those different emotions, perhaps even help someone open their mind is a gift.”

From her body of work it is easy to see Junko’s interest, aptitude and dedication to discovering and experiencing the wide spectrum of emotional responses available and the many ways each individual character’s past experiences frame those responses.   

Two of Junko’s projects that really shine a light on her inimitable capacity to bring two completely different characters in two totally different genres to life are the films “Alone” and “The Incision.”

In Tekin Girgin’s thrilling crime drama “The Incision,” which centers on an organ trafficking ring led by an unscrupulous entrepreneur looking to expand his business, Junko gave a chilling  performance as Jessica, the point person who leads potential victims (or ‘organ donors’ as her character might refer to them) into situations where they are drugged and operated on. The leading lady of the film, Junko carefully imbues Jessica with multiple layers that make her intriguing and scathing simultaneously. The way she initially comes across, mesmerizing victims with her beauty and appearing affable and trustworthy, to her true essence as an evil power hungry woman with no identifiable value for human life, Junko’s performance on screen is difficult to peel our eyes away from as we wonder what her character is going to do next.

Whereas “The Incision” proved Junko’s flare for playing the villain, her role in the 2017 drama “Alone” directed by Angelo Perrino (“Dirty Spaghetti,” “The Lost Samurai”) revealed the actress in a very different light.

Riddled with vulnerability and emotional turmoil, her performance as Emma, a beautiful woman struggling to cope with debilitating depression, earned Junko a prestigious Best Actress Award nomination at the Madrid International Film Festival– and to anyone who’s seen the film, it comes as no surprise.

Starring opposite Swell Soubra, who is known for his work on the multi-award winning film “Lost Angels” and plays Emma’s boyfriend in “Alone,” Daniella powerfully depicts the paralyzing struggles those diagnosed with clinical depression face on an everyday basis. The on screen chemistry between Soubra and Junko is evident throughout the film, which is understandable considering their a couple off screen as well.

I love working with [Daniela], she is a tireless worker who demands the most from herself and everyone around her and she’s always great to be around. She is an incredible actress and storyteller,” explained “Alone” director Angelo Perrino. “The whole film would not exist without her… She is the film.”

Incapable of being typecast, Daniela Junko is one actress who has managed to defy all genre limitations and pre-existing expectations concerning the kinds of characters she takes on. Up next for Junko is the film “Killer Issues,” which will be directed by Jonathan Cocco (“Abduction,” “Twice Blessed”) and is expected to begin filming in 2018.