Category Archives: Actor Profile

JAPAN IS A STATE OF MIND

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Everyone knows that person; the one who goes on vacation and returns with an affect. It might be a foreign accent or a way of dressing, possibly even eating patterns or mannerisms. The trait is off-putting to most of us. It can however, be a source of amusement as in the film JAPAN. The film is the brainchild of Canadian comedy group Tony Ho. One of JAPAN’s stars is the affable and amusing Adam Niebergall. Adam plays Marty, a character that all of us know. Niebergall’s performance, along with that of Roger Bainbridge [Nolan] and Miguel Rivas [Pat Dunkling], remind us of the interplay amongst a key group of great comic actors. Whether watching Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, or modern teams like Adam Sandler and Kevin Hart, the joy is always in witnessing their overcompensation towards the mundane and reminding us to laugh at the reflection of ourselves. Comedic greats allow us to remove the weight of things off our shoulders no matter what the setting. Niebergall and his costars fully achieve this goal in a hilarious take on office politics and the idea that the Rolling Stones expressed, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”

Any fan of either the British or American versions of TV’s The Office will readily be amused by JAPAN. An overly eager, somewhat politically incorrect boss like Pat Dunkling will seem incredibly familiar to fans of either show. Pat is not derivative of David Brent or Michael Scott but he is an archetype of this manner.  He is overly exuberant and we get the feeling that he very easily falls in and out of love with anything that he can take on as a persona to make himself more interesting, often to the discomfort of those around him. When Dunkling returns from holiday in Japan, he decides that he will have two interns compete for a paid position with the company via a karaoke battle. Rivas’s performance as Dunkling is well contained and not over the top, which is difficult considering his Japanese stereotype infused wardrobe, hair, and makeup. The true belly laughs are delivered courtesy of Marty and Nolan. While preparing for the competition, we see both men have a glimpse of their past as well as their future. The hyperbolic visions of both are there to tell us how we all invest a little too much of ourselves in every small event that occurs, or at least the ones we have deemed to be truly important.

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Niebergall has shown a wide range in films, although all have comedy at their core. In films like WANDA he plays a man who is at times threatening and quick to become violent; passionate and somewhat menacing. In Dissection it was fear; in Giordano it was desperation, but Marty in this film is a genuinely likeable and harmless guy. Viewer’s get the sense that Marty wants to do well but doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes in the process…unless he is pushed, which happens in JAPAN. Niebergall (who won a Canadian Comedy Award in 2015) describes his character stating, “Marty is an unmotivated, classic privileged white male. He’s 25 years old and he’s never had anything to be afraid of except for maybe hard work. He comes from a long line of very successful men and he represents the apple that really did actually fall pretty far away from the tree, if trees could throw apples instead of dropping  them. However, when Marty’s sedentary bubble is burst by Pat Dunkling’s offer of a potential promotion he is suddenly willing to put his all into winning the competition. He feels he can make up for his whole life by trying hard for the first time in this moment. He’s a great character because he reminds me of myself and a lot of people I know who don’t really know or appreciate how good they have it sometimes.” Marty shows us that he is willing to do things he would not normally do because of his fear of failure. This includes copying Nolan’s choice of a Sophie B Hawkins song for the Karaoke battle as well as a hilarious attempt at a very uncomfortable lap dance in the work place. As with other Tony Ho films, it is the chemistry even more than the premise of the film which makes it so amusing and entertaining. Miguel Rivas [Dunkling] gives a large amount of credit for JAPAN’s success to Adam’s approach and improvising commenting, “I had a blast working on Japan with Adam and I love working with him in general. He’s super creative, energetic, and really odd in all the best possible ways. I just love his choices. I remember a point in the movie when his character (Marty) gets embarrassed so Adam stuck his whole torso in a filing cabinet drawer like an ostrich would do in order to hide. That’s such a funny way to express his shame. He’s great at adding stuff like that; stuff that isn’t already in the script. Sometimes he would do even more subtle things, like the way he wears his tie just a bit too short. It all comes together to round out a really weird, funny character. He has a really vibrant personality and it shows in his work. And his singing?? Those high notes!?? I think I remember the main reason we used Sophie B. Hawkins in the Karaoke competition was because Adam would go around singing “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” all the time as if it were a normal thing to do. Then we thought it would be so funny if both songs were by Sophie B. Hawkins so we chose “As I Lay Me Down” for Roger.” Roger Bainbridge confirms, “Working with Adam on the movie Japan was awesome. His voice was crucial for the piece, because he’s excellent at playing sweet, confused oddballs. He completely nailed the Marty character, this child struggling to be a grown up. His performance helped to set the tone for the entire film. Japan was one we never seemed to stop writing. Adam came up with some of my favorites, like having the misinformed Pat Dunkling character thinking that ‘massages in Japan are just sex’. We had to cut one of his favorites from the movie about Marty and Nolan venturing a guess that ‘Saki’ was ‘soccer for babies.’

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No spoilers here. Adam’s character Marty both does and does not win, you’ll have to go see JAPAN to truly understand. The film’s conclusion is not what the viewer takes away for the experience, rather it is Adams’s performance as Marty that endears you and causes you to hope for his success in spite of himself. It is easy to see the adult that is struggling to break through Adam’s stunted emotional growth. It’s the characteristic that Niebergall most enjoys about Marty. He reveals, “You can’t amuse someone if you can’t amuse yourself. I think the more personal you can make your comedy the funnier it will be. The best comedy often bares some horrible secret. If it draws people in because they are surprised to relate to something or it wakes someone up to how great it is that all people have something strange about them, it creates a feeling of sharing.”

 

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Veteran Film-TV Stunt Performer and Actor Carson Manning shares his story

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For more than 25 years, Carson Manning has brought his stunt performing and acting talent to film and TV productions.

 

The inspiration was sparked for Carson Manning when he was growing up watching films and TV shows in Toronto with his grandfather, Frank Billing. Manning was raised by Billing and by his mother, Pixie, after his father left when he was born. Manning and ‘Grandfer’ took it all in together, from classics to sitcoms to reruns, and everything in between. The magic of moviemaking and television stirred an irresistible urge to be a part of it all.

“As a small boy, I never missed watching the Academy Awards, even till now,” Manning said. “I always dreamed I would work and act in the film industry. I always enjoyed the amazing talent I would see and how actors could become someone else.”

What started as a boyhood dream would materialize into a rare reality. Manning’s destiny wasn’t to view from the audience, but rather to be an on-screen figure entertaining them. He tapped into the perilous world of stunt performing and is also a formidable actor of praiseworthy merit nearly 30 years experienced.

Manning has braved car and motorcycle stunts, fight scenes, hard falls and hits in Fox’s box office smash, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” Columbia Pictures’ “Pixels” starring Adam Sandler, 2014’s “RoboCop” reboot starring Joel Kinnaman, Sony’s “Pompeii” starring Kit Harington and New Line Cinema’s “Shoot ‘Em Up” with Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti, to name a few.

This year, Manning served as stunt performer, stunt driver and stunt rigger for the highly anticipated “Suicide Squad” from writer-director David Ayer. Warner Bros. is releasing the picture globally August 5 and it features a star-studded cast including Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and others.

Manning has collaborated with and engaged his talents alongside a list of names analogous to the Hollywood Walk of Fame including Oscar winning actors Denzel Washington, Rod Steiger, Timothy Hutton and Halle Berry. Other notables Manning has worked with include the late comedy legends George Carlin and John Candy, as well as the famed Second City “SCTV” cast, Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey, Oscar nominees Will Smith, Hugh Jackman and Sir Ian McKellen and “Star Trek” icon Sir Patrick Stewart.

First showing a flair for performing when he was going through public school, Manning was inspired by classic comedy shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” the Dean Martin Roast and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” He actually went to St. Clair Jr High School with Kiefer Sutherland in Toronto and developed a reputation as a class clown who found himself in trouble often for disrupting lessons with improv and mime skits of his own creation. When the charades caught the attention of Manning’s school principal, he was made to go from class to class performing the skits that otherwise resulted in discipline. Manning would go on to take improv and comedy classes, but never ventured into the world of stand-up. His performing future laid elsewhere.

Many stunt performers come from a martial arts background that allows them to deliver the needed action sequences on film with authenticity. Manning’s path instead included stints in athletics that proved similarly befitting. He exceled in track and field, and has played hockey since he was 4 years old. When he was young, his grandfather gave him a unicycle that sharpened his balance early on, and Manning also participated in dancing, horseback riding and dirt biking.

“I used to love driving anything and fast,” he said. “So with all that, it gave me some very great skills that I learned to perfect for what I ended up doing later in life.”

Acting, though, came before stunts. Manning was initially steered to break into the business by taking extra work. One of his very early roles came in 1987 where he played a gang member on the award-winning CTV crime drama, “Night Heat.” A year later, Manning played a rioter on an award-winning CBC series called “Street Legal.” That inception to filmmaking was all Manning needed to discover his true passion.

On TV, he would go on to act in William Shatner’s “TekWar,” Paul Haggis’ “Due South,” HBO’s Golden Globe nominated “Gotti,” Fox’s hit “Goosebumps” series, the Stephen King, Emmy-winning mini-series, “Storm of the Century” and more. Manning got his start in film acting in 1994 when he played prisoner characters in both “Car 54, Where Are You?” with David Johansen and John C. McGinley, and in “Trapped in Paradise” with Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey. He would go on to act in the cult comedy classic “Half Baked” starring Dave Chappelle, in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” and in “The Hurricane,” from seven-time Oscar nominated producer-director Norman Jewison (“Fiddler on the Roof,” “Moonstruck,” “Jesus Christ Superstar”).

In “The Hurricane” – that stars Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was wrongfully imprisoned for murder – Manning played a prison guard and shared scenes with Washington. In one on-screen instance, Carter meets Canadians in prison for the first time who are trying to help him. Carter gets mad and tries to leave his table when Manning’s character gets in his way and assures him to relax.

“It was a nice, moving scene,” Manning said. “It was a pleasure to work with him and of course having Norman Jewison direct me. It was a big thrill working and acting for Mr. Jewison.”

Manning’s stunt performing career is littered with coveted credits both on TV and the big screen. He got started with stunts in 1993 on CBS’ Gemini-nominated action series, “Top Cops.” Since then, Manning has performed, rigged, coordinated and doubled stunts for shows such as FX’s “The Strain,” the CW’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Syfy’s “Defiance,” History’s “Gangland Undercover,” the CW’s Emmy-nominated “Nikita,” Syfy’s “Alphas” and more. Manning has most recently performed stunts for the independent action film, “Gridlocked,” starring “Prison Break” star Dominic Purcell. He’s also done stunts for and plays an assassin in NBC’s forthcoming “Taken” prequel series based on the film franchise that starred Liam Neeson.

Stunt coordinator/performer Brian Jagersky has worked on more than 100 different films and TV series including “The Incredible Hulk,” “300” and “X-Men.” Jagersky and Manning have collaborated in delivering stunts for several productions, namely “Shoot ‘Em Up,” “Pompeii” and for the Emmy-nominated CW action series, “Nikita.”

For “Nikita,” Jagersky served as stunt coordinator and said, “Carson performed stunts in many key scenes in the show, demonstrating his extraordinary prowess in precision driving and fighting skills. One of his most notable action scenes was a scene where he breaks into a house to look for someone. After stepping into a kitchen with all-glass windows, machine guns and explosions begin bursting the windows and Manning gets hit causing a big chest explosion, and then gets jerked across the room backwards into a large gas stove. This scene was incredibly performed and demonstrated his exceptional technique.”

Training and fine tuning the body is a necessity for stunt performing, but it doesn’t stop there. “As a stunt man, you always have to be training and keeping your body in tune and you have to have the skills to accomplish stunts that you are called upon to do,” said Manning.

Those types of skills showed up again with Manning’s work with TJ Scott, a 30-year, Canadian Screen Award winning director-writer-producer. Scott has directed hit shows such as “Orphan Black,” “Gotham,” “Spartacus,” “Longmire,” “Dark Matter” and many more.

Scott directed Manning in episodes of “The Strain” and “12 Monkeys.” “In “The Strain,” Scott said, “Mr. Manning performed wonderful stunt acting that totally brought the episodes to life with his natural way of simulating action. He played a father being harassed by a group of marauders who ends up getting away in a car with his family and crashes into stuff along the road. On the episode of “12 Monkeys,” Carson played a scientist who gets killed in a cross fire of an important scene. Mr. Manning is a stunt performer who has done wonders in both the film and television industry, and is certainly well-known and revered to come out of Canada.”

Manning has stunt doubled for many actors throughout his career including talents such as Hugh Jackman, Joe Penny, Graham Greene, Tim Daly, Victor Webster, Colm Feore, Scott Highland, Jay O. Sanders, John Shea and others.

“As a stunt double, I work very close with actors so they feel confident that they have a double who is going to make them look good, as well as be there for them when they need me,” he said. “Sometimes the lead actor will do his own stunts, so it is my job to make sure the actor is safe along with the stunt coordinator. I will make sure the actor is padded in case they have to fall down or if the actor is throwing a punch or taking a punch, I demonstrated the proper way to execute that without actually getting punched in the face, but make it look like it did happen.”

Combining Manning’s dual talents – stunt performing and acting – makes for an invaluable qualification when it comes to film and TV production that’s few and far between. It’s not often casting decision makers elect stunt performers for character roles, but the paradox is one defied by Manning’s career achievements. He brings a wealth of know-how from stunt perspectives and has also proven to be a talented asset as an actor, a notion that makes budgeting sense for producers.

“Being a good stunt performer who can act is great for a production,” Manning said, “as they save money by having an actor who can do his own stunts, as well they do not have to spend more money bringing in a separate double for the actor too.”

In looking back from when he was a boy watching movies and TV shows with his grandfather to where he’s ascended to today, Manning says, “All I can say is I love the business, I feel very fortunate and to be a part of it has been a thrill.”

The journey continues for Manning, who has been attaching to act and perform stunts for forthcoming projects in 2016 including writer Sebastian MacLean’s feature film, “Tuff,” writer-director Travis Grant’s “Time Man” and other exciting projects that are presently under wraps.

Actor Profile: Veteran Actor Cory Dagg

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Canadian Actor Cory Dagg

 

Over the years Canadian actor Cory Dagg has brought his unparalleled talent to a pretty astonishing list of film and television productions. Becoming known for his roles on hit television shows like “The Andromeda Strain,” “Top Cops” and “Street Legal,” as well as films such as Primetime Emmy nominee Brad Turner’s “The Inspectors,” Michael Kennedy’s action-packed crime film “Hostile Force” and “Bond of Silence” acting alongside Kim Raver from “24” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” Dagg’s proven that he has a unique gift for playing authoritative roles just as easily as he plays the underdog.

With a character list spanning the likes of government officials, sly detectives and frustrated public defenders, Dagg’s way of communicating with his eyes is something that has made each and every character he’s taken on to date unforgettable. His role as Detective Peters in the series premiere of Columbia Tristar’s thriller series “The Net” is one that not only helped carve out his reputation for portraying multi-layered characters in the crime genre, but also set up the basis for the show.

While out for a run early one morning, freelance computer programmer Angela Bennett (played by Brooke Langton) is arrested by federal agents only to find out once in the interrogation room that her identity has been erased and replaced with that of a wanted felon. Dagg’s character Detective Peters comes down hard on Bennett who is both baffled and afraid as Peters threatens her with a lengthy jail sentence for crimes she didn’t commit.  

“Whenever I get a new role, I get to know that character as if they were going to be my new best friend. I try to think of every aspect of them – how they feel, how they would respond in certain situations, what they would say,” explains Dagg.

“With Peters being a cop, I knew I could handle that since I ‘ve done a lot of cops and military roles. But Peters is a bit of a dirty cop, so I had to dig deep to bring that out in him. Really, it comes down to immersing myself in the character, finding something – anything – I might have in common with him, and playing on that.”

Another of Dagg’s authoritative style characters that has left an indelible mark in the minds of viewers is that of General Michaelson on the seven Primetime Emmy Award nominated series “The Andromeda Strain,” which was adapted from Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel and produced by four-time Oscar nominee Ridley Scott. The four-part series follows a group of highly trained scientists as they work to find the source of what killed the inhabitants of a small town and a way to stop it, and the military team tasked with keeping the disaster under wraps as a matter of national security.

Acting alongside Benjamin Bratt (“Miss Congeniality,” “Despicable Me 2”) who plays Dr. Jeremy Stone and Golden Globe Award winner Ricky Schroder (“Get Him to the Greek,” “NYPD Blue”) who plays Major Bill Keane MD, Cory Dagg gave a brilliant performance as General Michaelson, the military leader who is charged with quarantining the affected area from the mysterious virus, and keeping the rest of the population safe.

Interestingly enough, Dagg originally auditioned for a smaller role on the series however, after director Mikael Salomon (“Hard Rain”) saw Dagg’s performance, he was given a much meatier role and his character went on to be featured in three of the series’ four episodes.

“The director said later he was surprised I didn’t have military experience, that’s how convincing he thought I was,” recalls Dagg. “It’s the dramatic roles I love the most, when the stakes are really high I’m able to separate myself from other actors and usually get the role.”

As an actor Cory Dagg effortlessly stands out in a crowd thanks to his magnetic presence both on and off camera, his rare versatility, and his ability to breathe life into the most complex characters, all of this and more have been crucial factors in the impressive career he has created for himself over the past 30 years, and we can’t wait to see what he takes on next!

 

From Australia to Hollywood, Award-winning Actress has shown who is ‘Next,’ what ‘Love Is’ and a whole lot more

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Kayla Strada is an award-winning actress from Australia known for her standout roles in the films “Next” and “Love Is…”

 

Kayla Strada, an Australian actress known for her award-winning performance as Chelsea Johnson in the short drama film, “Next,” has been dazzling international audiences for years for her refined character portrayals in film, TV, commercials and theatre. The enticing Strada has a track record of swelling success. With demanded talent, passion for the craft and a look tailor made for a career in front of the cameras, Strada has risen to international prominence for her standout acting facilities.

Strada’s star quality was recognized in no time by the ultra-competitive industry that is acting. When she was just 17 years old, Strada was cast among thousands of auditioning actors as the beloved character, Betty Boop, for Universal Studios Singapore.

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Kayla Strada was cast as Betty Boop for Universal Studios Singapore.

She’s since gone on to act in films championed by award-winning filmmakers such as Stan Harrington and Tessa Blake. Strada has acted in “Home and Away,” a 28-year running soap opera that’s the most awarded show in Logie history (Australia’s version of the Emmys), in commercials for Universal and Fox and in theatrical productions of quintessential shows such as “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “West Side Story” and more.

Strada was tabbed for a coveted scholarship at the McDonald College — Australia’s top performing arts school headquartered in Sydney — and also perfected her craft at Australia’s National Institute for Dramatic Arts.

After moving to the U.S., Strada attended Los Angeles’ renowned Stella Adler Academy of Acting, which boasts famed alums such as Oscar winner Benicio del Toro (“Traffic”),  Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (“Spotlight”) and Golden Globe winner Henry Winkler (“Happy Days”), among dozens more.

“The real art of acting, I feel, starts from theatre,” Strada said. “The theatre background shaped me as an actress because of the amount of work involved in the collaboration with others. Working with other people’s ideas and your own brings what’s on paper to life. With theatre, you’re never really finished. It’s taught me it’s an ongoing learning experience.”

Strada hails from the city of Gosford that is situated on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, just outside of Sydney. Part of her initial lure to acting came after watching Universal’s 2003 reimagining of an iconic story that’s moved audiences for decades.

“The story all began after watching Peter Pan,” Strada said. “And no, it’s not the story of ‘I never want to grow up, so that’s why I act.’ I think I was about 13, kinda when I thought of myself as a woman. I had a child crush on Peter Pan, then played by Jeremy Sumpter, and really wanted to meet him. The only way to meet him was to be an actor myself. Obviously, my inspiration for acting changed, but that’s where it semi-started.”

Strada’s early taste in film and TV was influenced by her mother, Mary, who made a point to have Strada and her brother, Joseph, watch movies based on true stories.

Added Strada, “I am a big fan of Cate Blanchett. She is a big inspiration because she still goes back to her foundation and still does a lot of theatre, as well as the film side. She knows how to juggle both really well.”

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Actress Kayla Strada reflected on performing the character, Chelsea Johnson: “She taught me to never give up.”

Strada’s own performing began on the stage. Her first big role came in the Gosford Musical Society production of “West Side Story,” where she played Anybody’s, the stubborn tomboy who joins the Jets gang in the story.

“It was super funny for me because I was probably the most European looking girly girl playing the part of an American tomboy, but I had a blast exploring that character,” she said.

It was another character, however, that Strada first performed on stage who holds a special place in her heart and has served as the catalyst for recurring success. Strada debuted one of her favorite characters — Chelsea Johnson — for a memorable high school theatre project. She developed and performed the character, who was a familiar someone that hit close to home.

“Chelsea Johnson’s secret is the same as mine,” Strada said. “We both share the fact that we are dyslexic.”

And both equally brave. Chelsea is a character Strada describes as a bubbly, bright go-getter who has her sights set on being a star actress, despite her impediment. “Cold reads are her obstacles and she is motivated to prove to herself and to others that she can do it.”

Effectively performing a monologue brings its own share of challenges, but delivering one all the while overcoming dyslexia is a feat of remarkable merit. That’s precisely what Strada did.

“To have the audience laughing at me at the beginning, then to not hear a pin drop by the end of my monologue was the most satisfying feeling as an actor,” said Strada. “To have a judge who was examining my performance tear up at the end of my high school performance exam was more then worth it.”

What was gained beyond acing the dramatic test?

“She taught me to never give up,” Strada said.

And Strada didn’t give up the character either. She reprised Chelsea Johnson for a short film called “Next,” whereby this time Chelsea auditions for Hamlet, but has unwittingly memorized the wrong lines and is asked to cold read for the part in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

“Chelsea is forced to face her fears and insecurities to reveal her hidden secret,” Strada said.

Strada’s groundbreaking performance in “Next” was recognized with a Best Actress award at the 2016 Nova Film Fest (Virginia) in April. “Next” was also nominated for Best Short and was the runner-up for Best Dialogue Short at the 2015 Action on Film Festival (Monrovia, Calif.).

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For her role as Chelsea Johnson in “Next,” Australian actress Kayla Strada won the Best Actress Award at the 2016 Nova Film Fest.

Stan Harrington directed “Next” and is a multi-award-winning director, producer and actor known for “Lost Angels,” “Perception,” “The Craving Heart,” and many more.

“I asked Stan if he would film it. When he said, ‘No,” I asked if he would just read the script first. He came back the next day and said, ‘We’re filming it this weekend,’” said Strada.

The pair would collaborate again on the short romantic drama, “Love Is…” with Harrington writing and directing, and Strada starring in the role of Maddie.

The film follows Nick (Bryan Lee Wriggle) and Maddie, who fall in love at first sight, but find their relationship stalling and themselves searching for the true meaning of love.

“The nature of a shoot required to make a movie like “Love is…” is exceptionally trying, so getting to work with actors that not only come prepared, but also have incredible talent and insight, like Kayla, makes everything just that little bit easier,” said Harrington.

Strada described her character as a relatable girl with universal themes including wanting her boyfriend to show his love instead of only saying it. The story picks up where Nick and Maddie are at a routine stage in their relationship, but Maddie is trying to change things because she doesn’t believe Nick has been trying to show Maddie he loves her, even though he has and his efforts went unnoticed.

“It has been a privilege to work with someone like Kayla Strada,” said Wriggle, who has also acted in Harrington’s “Bella” and Relativity Media’s hit “21 & Over.” “She brings a professional attitude and great work ethic to set each day. I feel honored to work with actors that take control of their work and ‘bring it’ on set each and every time!”

Actress Daphne Tenne (“Monkey Say, Monkey Do,” “Vort”) co-starred in the role of Liz. “This project has been an amazing journey,” she said. “Kayla is extraordinary at what she does, truly a professional at work. Acting alongside Kayla in this film was a journey that I will take with me forever. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of the project and I learned a lot about myself and about love.”

The “Love Is…” story had thematic elements inspired by events from Strada’s life. “My uncle passed away and my mother, back home in Australia, was noticing all these five cent coins all over the house. She started to put things together that it was my uncles’ way of telling my family that he his around watching them and things are okay. It may sound strange, but I have had other people come up to me after watching the film, saying they have had similar experiences, so although this is based around a couple, the inspiration came from my uncle.”

“Love Is…” became an Official Selection at the Nova Film Fest, is expected to screen at forthcoming film festivals and will be shot as a feature film adaptation. “The team we had…it became a real family and I love that,” Strada said. “It’s a project that we have worked so hard to tell a story that we are all passionate about.”

Strada’s other film roles include playing an ER Nurse in “Upended,” a short drama directed by the award-winning Tessa Blake (“Election Night”). The film tells the story of an unstable single mother who looks after her young son, who is rushed to a hospital after eating what he though were acceptable brownies. Strada’s character enters the plot and tries to help the boy survive.

She also acted as Nancy in the Nick Seabra-directed film, “Cold Milk.” The role saw Strada carry out the victimized Nancy, who is taken hostage by an unfamiliar, crazed man who wants Nancy to impersonate his daughter, who was taken away from him.

For TV, Strada performed in the role of Gypsy for the Discovery Channel’s “Deadly Women” docu-crime series that chronicles true crime stories of female killers, and in writer-director-producer Sophie Webb’s, “Same Sex.” She’s also acted in Australia in the Nine Network’s “Underbelly” and 7 Network’s hit soap opera, “Home and Away.”

Strada has acted in the music video, “Here’s to the Sunrise,” for the pop/hip-hop group, Kicking Sunrise (Right Coast Music), and co-hosted on YouTube’s popular “The Naked Traveller” adventure series with Tyson Mayr. She most recently presented at the 2016 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival with host Mena Suvari, star of “American Beauty” and “American Pie.”

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Actress Kayla Strada presented with Mena Suvari at the 2016 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival.

We’re looking forward to seeing Kayla Strada in many more exciting roles to come! For all the latest, visit her official site, www.kaylastrada.com.

Spotlight on Canadian Actress Cecilia Deacon!

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Canadian actress Cecilia Deacon

 

Often, the pursuit of one’s dreams takes a leap of faith, and this is especially true for prospective actors. To get one’s foot in the door as an actor requires a great degree of luck; to actually walk through the door and find lasting success requires charisma, poise, and most of all, talent. Cecilia Deacon has all of those qualities in spades, and the actor’s long list of diverse credits speak volumes to her enormous dedication.

Her leap of faith began with her journey to New York at 17, to attend the prestigious acting conservatory, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As an AADA alum, she is in the company of Hollywood giants Robert Redford, Danny DeVito, and Lauren Bacall, among countless others. Shortly after graduating in 2013, Deacon was featured in the hit comedy “Delivery Man,” starring Chris Pratt (“Parks and Recreation,” “Jurassic World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Vince Vaughn (“Wedding Crashers,” “The Internship,” “Old School”). The decision to cast Deacon in the star-studded and uproariously hilarious film is a testament to her talent as an actor.

Deacon just finished work on her most recent project, “The Transcendents,” in May. Directed by playwright Derek Ahonen, the film tells the story of a group of people who were once tied together by the music scene, but now find themselves at odds. Faced with a range of obstacles, each must either overcome their personal challenges or be crushed beneath the adversity.

“[The film] is essentially a Rock n’ Roll, PTSD driven, film noir,” Deacon described. “There are so many different elements to it.”

Deacon was cast in the role of Cecilia, the film’s protagonist, whose true love has been long-absent in her life. Tragedy, heartache, and disability have shaped Cecilia’s life; however, despite arguably having the most reason to be upset with her circumstances, she remains a steadfastly optimistic beacon of hope to those around her.

The story, at its core, is essentially about people trying to overcome – to transcend – the painful experiences that have shaped them,” she said.

In addition to her work in film, Deacon has also been featured in a number of television and serial roles. She was cast in the lead role of a particularly chilling episode of the popular Investigation Discovery series “Deadly Sins.” For the young women before her, becoming romantically involved with the episode’s antagonist proved to be a death sentence. Deacon played Stormy, the sole survivor of the homicidal adulterer’s dark machinations.

In the more light-hearted series “Catch-30,” Deacon played the lead role of Sandra, a well-to-do young woman making her own way in the world. Sandra is the core of a tight knit group of twenty-somethings who find their friendships with one another tested by life, love and sex in the adult-world.

“Sandra was the privileged one in her group of friends, all glamour and gold. For all that she For all of her overt confidence, she was intensely vulnerable.” Deacon said. “She hid it behind the mask of what everyone expected her to be. ”

Playing Estelle in No Exit with Christopher Wharton and Regina Blandon; play directed by Derek Ahonen
Cecilia Deacon (L), Christopher Wharton & Regina Blandon (R) in “No Exit”

Her experience acting in film and television is extensive, but Deacon has never strayed far from her roots in theater. Prior to her starring role in “The Transcendents” she had the opportunity to work with the film’s director, playwright Derek Ahonen, in his 2011 play “No Exit.” Deacon played Estelle in the production, which was an existential examination of the limits of human resilience in the face of unimaginable strain.

“It challenged me as an actor in a way no role has since,” recalled Deacon. “It was an exercise in despair; discovering what was each our own personal hell. But the most difficult thing about playing Estelle was not even that we were in hell; it was that the character herself found safety in all the places that I myself do not.”

Whether on stage or in front of the cameras, Deacon has proved herself to be an immensely talented actor whose versatility knows no bounds. With a charisma that most people only dream of, she is a born performer; and her audience eagerly awaits her next move.

Legend of the Fall: Russian-Australian Actor is an ‘energetic fulcrum’ when it comes to performing

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Russian-Australian actor Peter Fall has excelled in his roles in international film, TV, commercials and stage productions.

Actor Peter Fall has been wowing international audiences for his outstanding character portrayals spanning action-adventure, mystery, drama, comedy and more. The Russian-Australian talent — who formerly went by Igor Fall — is classically trained and owns a myriad of specialized skills that make him recognized, praised and sought after by Hollywood movers and shakers.

Fall, 30, parlays his personal experience into an exploration of character in each of his performances. While growing up, Fall spent time living in Europe, Asia and Australia. He speaks English, Russian and Korean, and has mastered dialects including Australian, British, Irish and South African, among others. Fall embraces physicality when it’s demanded of his roles and is a skilled sportsman and former Australian National WTF taekwondo champion.

He’s been living in Los Angeles since 2010 and underwent training at the renowned Stella Adler Conservatory and Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Whether for the stage, award-winning short and feature films, TV or commercials, Fall has stood out as a gifted actor with dynamic range, engagement and authenticity.

“I’ve always had a great love of acting,” said Fall, who started performing seemingly since birth and signed with his first talent agent at the age of 10. “I’ve studied the art of acting with some of the world’s finest practitioners. I’ve had the chance to act alongside some supreme talents and for some world-class filmmakers. Through it all, I’ve applied the strategy of absorbing and implementing effective technique, and more than anything, being a positive presence on set and in production.”

Fall’s first role on TV came in 2000 in “Beastmaster,” a fantasy series about an adventurer (played by Daniel Goddard (“The Young and the Restless”) who can communicate with animals. As child actor, Fall performed a featured role for Season 1 Episode 10 — “Riddle of the Nymph” — that was directed by the award-winning Brendan Maher.

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Actor Peter Fall (far left) made his TV debut on the fantasy adventure series, “Beastmaster.”

“This was an immersive introduction into the world of television,” he said. “It was an exciting time and great chance to be a part of a series that found international success. The opportunity to act for “Beastmaster” fueled my drive to pursue a performing career at an early age.”

The series ran for three seasons with 66 total episodes and broadcast in America, Canada and Australia. It was derived from MGM’s 1982 film, “The Beastmaster,” and was nominated for awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films and the Australian Film Institute.

Since his move to Los Angeles, Fall acted in “Perception,” a feature mystery film written and directed by Stan Harrington. The movie tells the story of a man who questions his sanity when reality blurs with his own imagination.

Harrington, a 25-time award-winning filmmaker and actor, starred in “Perception” alongside R.D. Call (“Waterworld,” “Into the Wild,” “Murder by Numbers”), Kely McClung (“Blood Ties”) and Blythe Metz (“Nightmare Man”). For “Perception,” Fall acted in the key role of Hoges.

“Perception” tells a great cinematic story and I was thrilled to work with a brilliant filmmaker and terrific cast,” said Fall. “The character, Hoges, is a bit of a catalyst who drives the story. He introduces Athena, played by Blythe Metz, to Marcus, played by R.D. Call. Athena takes on a poor relationship with Marcus and Hoges tries to interject and reason with her. I felt we delivered a solid film that’s a callback to the story-driven approach.”

Harrington said, “It takes a certain kind of excellence to enter films and spin the story like Peter did. It is the best proof of his immense talent and range as an actor to see him do so superbly. His performance was honest, appropriate, and above all excellent.”

Fall thereafter played a soldier in the short drama film, “Red Poppies,” directed by Yaitza Rivera. The film follows the story of a woman (Zulivet Diaz) who was sexually assaulted, but finds a chance at happiness when she meets the love of her life while attending her father’s funeral.

“Red Poppies” was written by the great Tim McNeil, an actor-writer-producer known for his work in “Contact,” “Forrest Gump,” “Starship Troopers” and many more.

“It’s a powerful film with strong thematic elements,” Fall said. “There’s drama and conflict aplenty, but it’s also a touching story of hope and perseverance. I played the solider who attacks the lead, Iris. My part in the story is dark, grim and detestable, something that’s a real performing challenge. It’s difficult to go that far against the grain of who you are as a person, but that’s what acting’s all about. If I can make the audience hate me and root for the leading lady, I’ve done my job.”

The notion vaulted into fruition as “Red Poppies” received a Best Short Film nomination at the 2013 SoCal Independent Film Festival. Diaz was nominated for Best Actress at the festival, Rivera won Best Director and the film was also up for award consideration at the Action on Film International Film Festival.

Film festival judges weren’t the only ones who noticed the captivating acting displayed within “Red Poppies.”

“Peter’s ability to play such a dark and unforgivable character was key to the film’s ability to affect an audience,” said McNeil. “He portrayed the soldier with such a gruesome reality that everyone cringed in their seats and was immediately empathetic toward the struggle of Iris. The technique of an actor is often lost by the non-professional, especially in scenes of such intensity. Only the best actors can work honestly under such duress and employ years of technique to excel in such a despicable character.”

Fall has also routed his cut-above-the-rest acting talent for TV commercials. He acted as a young guitar player in Ubisoft’s “Rocksmith 2014” commercial and as a German protestor for a Sony Mobile spot from Tarsem Singh, director of hit blockbusters “Mirror Mirror” starring Julia Roberts, “Immortals” starring Henry Cavill, “The Cell” starring Jennifer Lopez and others.

The Sony commercial is titled “Always with You” and advertises the global electronics manufacturer’s waterproof Xperia Z smartphone. The spot shows Sony products throughout history and Fall’s role featured him taking a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall to the delight of a crowd rallying behind his protesting action.

“Peter’s performance was the energetic fulcrum in the ad, bringing the excitement to the screen and loading the audience up for the new product reveal,” said Fall’s agent, Martin Herrera, of the Sherman Oaks, Calif. headquartered Baron Entertainment. “The ability to not only lead a commercial of that magnitude and work with a director of such prominence is exactly why we put him up for that part.”

For the Ubisoft commercial that branded their hit video game, “Rocksmith 2014,” Fall played a young man who selects his first guitar in the game’s debut trailer campaign. The game has achieved best-seller status and has the unique functionality of teaching users how to play the guitar. Fall’s face is the trailer’s opening image that sparks the pace for the commercial, which was directed by David Moodie, producer and director known for his work with games such as “Rainbow Six: Vegas.”

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Ubisoft’s commercial for the video game, “Rocksmith 2014,” featured actor Peter Fall in the role of an aspiring guitarist.

“Acting for commercials and branded content like that is a nuance unto itself,” Fall said. “The goal is to quickly create a lasting message that makes consumers take action and feel persuaded to purchase a product. Acting on large-scale productions with exceptional directors and for companies like Sony and Ubisoft was an altogether tremendous experience.”

Fall’s formidable prowess and career track record typifies acting excellence. His other highlights include acting in McNeil’s film, “Gettin’ Off,” where he plays a man who has a relationship with a prostitute, and in McNeil’s original stage play, “Margaret.”

Fall played the leading role (Edmund) in the Stella Adler production of “Edmund,” written by David Mamet (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), who has won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony and Oscar nominations for his script writing. Fall’s performance as Stepan Stepanovitch in Chekov’s “The Proposal” (Nairn Theatre) resulted in Outstanding Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards at regional and state short play festivals in the U.K.

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Actor Peter Fall (center) performing in Chekov’s “The Proposal.”

He has also starred in “M, M, M! Music, Monologues and Mayhem” (The Theatricians), “The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui” (Nairn Theatre), “Private Wars” (Lee Strasberg), in Oscar winner Milton Justice’s production of “J.B.” (Stella Adler), “The Diviners,” from writer-producer Christopher Thornton (“Sympathy for Delicious”) and in the film, “Shell Shock” from Levy Lambros.

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Actors Peter Fall (left) and Austin Iredale (right) starred in “The Diviners.” 

Continuing to show up in many productions to come, Fall is attached to the forthcoming comedy film, “Not Summer Camp,” from actor-producer Joshua Marble (“CSI,” “Unusual Suspects,” “The Ex List”). He will also star in the YouTube comedy series, “Little America,” from Cobblestone Productions. Morayo Orija (“Spit”) and Sam Marin (Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning “Regular Show”) will produce. Orija and McNeil will direct. Fall is also starring in the 2017 feature western period drama, “Colt,” about the last week of Russian poet, playwright and novelist, Alexander Pushkin. Fall is co-writing with Austin Iredale and will produce along with Orija and Marin.

Northern Light: Cesare Scarpone’s Passion for Acting

 

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Actor Cesare Scarpone brings passion and talent to all of his character portrayals.

 

Cesare Scarpone is an award-winning actor who consistently projects a formidable dramatic presence. The Canadian-born Scarpone inhabits each characterization with a masterly combination of skill and instinct, and whether it’s romantic comedy or a dark suspense story, he deftly crafts a persuasive, tangible persona imbued with the full spectrum of nuance, traits and emotion.

It’s a rare balance of sensitivity and showmanship and Scarpone, surprisingly, stumbled upon his avocation almost by chance.

“I started in high school, not knowing what acting really was, but coming from a town where theatre and acting are seen as a fantasy, imagined only through the TV, this attitude was the norm,” Scarpone said. “At my first performance, I stepped onto the stage and was overwhelmed by the mass of people watching me. I’d gotten through half the play but all of a sudden I froze. I’d forgotten my line and time stopped. This was the biggest rush I’d ever felt and I wanted more.”

Scarpone’s path was set, and the following year his performance as Jerry in the Edward Albee classic, “The Zoo Story,” earned him the Sears Drama Festival’s award of excellence for the York Ontario region.

“From there, I couldn’t get enough. I tried to do as many independent films as I could sink my teeth into,” Scarpone said. “This led to a few spots on television programs, union films and a commercial.”

Scarpone’s talent has shown up in his outstanding character portrayals in the films “Black Forest” from writer-director David Briggs, director Gabriella Bevilacqua’s “Aftermath,” Omii Thompson’s “Modern Romance is Dead,” Rebecca Carrigan’s “All I Need,” Rob Comeau’s “Chance” and “Dead Monday” from director Mark Korven. On TV, Scarpone has acted in History’s “Curious and Unusual Deaths” and Cineflix’s true crime docudrama, “Dual Suspects.”

“Working with Cesare on “Black Forest” was a great experience,” said Briggs. “It was obvious from the first take that Cesare is all about the character, and he digs deep to bring the script to life. He believes in the craft of acting, and that passion brought a lot to his role.”

Scarpone’s meticulous approach is fueled by a soul-deep passion, not just for the craft, but also its role in world culture. “Story telling is something that everyone knows in their hearts. We love it, yearn for it,” Scarpone said. “You see it in your everyday life, in some form or another and through different mediums, but we are slowly losing the original performed art. Our generation no longer needs to even get out of bed to watch a film or read a news article. They have everything in their hand. But the experience of live theatre can be life changing, perspective changing. You can truly connect with people, and not in a way that is buffered by static transmission through a screen.  Everyone should know live theatre, and everyone deserves to have access to it.”

With almost 20 film and TV credits, Scarpone knew it was time to reach for an even higher level of accomplishment. “I decided to apply for a drama school, and this led me to London, England—the heart of theatre. What better place to train?” Scarpone said. “I came across The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and decided to audition for their flagship courses. I was surprised to get the call from the legendary Rodney Cortier, head of the school, inviting me to their two-year acting course—the best of its kind in London, which equates as one of the best in the world.”

Arriving in London in 2014, Scarpone subsequently performed in more than half a dozen stage productions (including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest), absorbing a full measure of the almost alchemical depth of skill which has always typified British stagecraft.

“When I got that call I was ecstatic and screamed at the top of my lungs because this meant that I would finally have the foundation I needed to have my skills really develop,” Scarpone said. “Now I am in my final term at the school, graduating in July and ready to attack this growing market.”

“What first led me to acting was the feeling of not only being free on stage, but also feeling the effect I was having on the audience in theatre and film. I love both mediums, each with their joys and merits, and both are something I’m extremely excited about,” Scarpone said. “There are so many new things going on in the industry, like immersive theatre, and advances in technology with film and television that allow new ideas to be better completed and given to the world.”

Scarpone has already distinguished himself as both a capable technician and self-possessed artist. His very sense of wonder itself generates an aura of appealing enthusiasm and is something he’s sure to bring in many more productions to come.