Andrew Steel is the latest Australian actor for Hollywood to watch. With a background that includes Australia’s leading TV shows such as Home and Away and Deadbeat Dads, The Justice Lease as well as internationally renowned films including Twisted, Little Lies, Bargain and Super Awesome! Andrew has even graced the stage performing in major theatrical productions, including the rugby-themed 10,000 Beers and Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
Andrew is setting his sights on even bigger things, as he is set to star as the lead role of Stephen in the highly anticipated Picture Park Entertainment film, 10 Things I Hate About Life. 10 Things is a romantic comedy about a young woman and a young man falling in love with one another just as they are about to kill themselves. In this modern re-telling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, our star-crossed lovers’ crazy shared experiences and similar emotional state forms a bond that draws them both into happiness and takes them on a rollercoaster ride of young love.
The most valuable skill an actor can possess is the ability to completely transform themselves and become so unrecognizable from one role to the next that a viewer no longer sees the actor, but the character. In doing so they bring that role to life, they immerse the audience in the story and make them forget for a while that they’re watching a work of fiction.
Dwayne Hill is one of the greats. He is the recipient of an ever-growing number of international awards and nominations, the man behind hundreds of characters in both film and television, and the voice of countless advertisements for some of the biggest companies in the world. If you’ve been within earshot of a television this week, chances are pretty good you’ve heard his inimitable voice.
In his capacity as a voice-over actor in advertising, Hill’s contributions are legion. He has done more than 1,000 commercials for innumerable businesses including Toyota, 7/11 and MasterCard. Presently, he serves as the voice of Vonage.
Hill played the fan-favorite role of Coach Carr in Mean Girls, easily the most iconic high school comedy of the 2000s and arguably since John Hughes’ films of the 80’s. His performance as Coach Carr, the hyperbolic sex education teacher with a “scared straight” approach, made him one of the film’s most quotable characters, and a source of frustration for the protagonist, played by Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday, The Parent Trap).
Coach Carr was exactly the kind of ridiculously outlandish teacher that exists at virtually every high school, believable in his absurdity. The screenplay for Mean Girls was written by the amazing Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock,The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) whose trademark blend of dry wit and whimsical satire are apparent in the Coach Carr character, which Hill brings to life perfectly.
“I had a great time playing Coach Carr,” said Hill, praising both the role and the writing. “Tina Fey is a genius.”
Incredibly gifted as a screen actor, Hill also possesses an exceedingly rare talent for breathing life into animated characters through his amazingly varied voice-over work.
“I somewhat unconsciously become the character I play,” Hill said, describing the way a person of his talents gets in character when that character happens to be a cartoon. “I stoop my back and flail my arms; to an outsider I’m sure I look like a madman, but I really can’t help it.”
He has mastered 40 accents, and has voiced hundreds of roles in over 70 animated series. Recently, he became the voice of Cat on the PBS cartoon Peg + Cat.
“It has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career. It’s a show that makes math fun for kids, and it does it through songs and great stories,” Hill said. “If you’ve got kids aged two to five they’ll love it, I promise.”
Peg + Cat has been a huge hit with not only kids, but also with parents who have come to rely on the exceedingly high standards of PBS programming to supplement the early childhood education of their children. The show has won four Daytime Emmy Awards, and Hill’s vocal talents earned him a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.
Another of Hill’s long list of star-studded credits is the wildly popular Gemini Award-winning animated television series Braceface, starring and loosely based on the life of MTV Movie Award winner and Golden Globe-nominated actress Alicia Silverstone (Clueless, Batman & Robin). Hill’s incredible voice talents earned him the role of Silverstone’s dentist on the show, which helped launch the career of Canadian Comedy Award winner Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad, Arrested Development).
Hill’s most massive television undertaking, Atomic Betty, saw him playing 26 different characters. Each of the roles he voiced in the popular Canadian animated series was a distinct individual, entirely original and with their own unique personality. His huge contributions to the show earned him the 2009 Gemini Award for Best Individual or Ensemble Performance in an Animated Program or Series.
“Atomic Betty was an amazing experience,” Hill said. “Kevin Gillis, who produced the series, is one of the most supportive people I’ve ever worked with. He trusted the talent to meet every challenge, and it was truly inspiring.”
His reputation as a prolific actor with a gift for assuming any character he plays or voices has made Hill one of the most sought after names in an ever-growing business.
Alan Morrell, Dwayne’s business manager at Creative Management Partners, says “Dwayne is truly one of the greats and at the tip of the iceberg for his career accomplishments current and future. His road ahead is going to be stellar.”
Canadian actor Evan Williams has become a hit with audiences in film, television and stage. He got his start as a performer as an actor in musical theatre, which led him to pursue a career on screen. Working on projects produced by industry giants including HBO, Disney, MTV and ABC, he’s portrayed roles in everything from the wildly popular teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation to the feature film Lloyd the Conqueror, a college comedy with a twist of fantasy.
His wide dramatic range sets him apart from his peers, and was a decisive factor in the decision to cast him as a lead in the sophisticated new French drama Versailles.
Versailles is the highly anticipated upcoming series from Canal+ and SuperChannel, and is the highest-budgeted French television program ever produced. Williams plays the role of Chevalier, a cunning and unscrupulous noble in Louis XIV’s 17th century court based on the real life Chevalier de Lorraine. With Machiavellian efficiency, he works his way into the higher echelons of French royalty, making no effort to conceal his affair with the king’s brother Phillipe.
“He was a ruthless schemer, a guileless manipulator and an imperious presence in the court of the king… It was fun to dive into the real man beneath all the layers,” Williams said. “This position made him very dangerous and very much in danger, and that type of complicated tightrope walk is a dream for an actor to dig into.”
Following in the footsteps of The Tudors and The Borgias, the series is set for release later this year, and producers are pushing for the risque, political intrigue-driven Versailles to compete with American shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards. By filming in English, Canal+ and SuperChannel will undoubtedly court international audiences with the enticing and addictive tale of French royalty in a country on the brink of revolution. The highly ambitious Versailles is slated to begin its captivating hold over television audiences on the French Canal+ channel in the fall.
Constantly showcasing his cross-genre talent, Williams previously played the lead role in Lloyd the Conqueror. The film centers around the subculture of “LARPing,” or live-action role playing. Popularized in the film Role Models, it is a real world version of fantasy games complete with knights, kings, dragons and plenty of props. Williams’ titular character Lloyd is on a mission to dethrone a dark wizard ruling over the group.
A hilarious film crossing college humor with a nerdy edge, Lloyd the Conqueror won the Alberta Media Production Industries (AMPIA) Award for Best Dramatic Feature and Best Original Score.
Williams plays the lead role of Ben in director Carolyn Cavallero’s upcoming drama Paradise Club, about the San Francisco’s cultural renaissance in the 1960’s. The film stars award-winning actors Elizabeth Rice (From Within, My Dog Skip, Mad Men) and Eric Roberts (Runaway Train, The Dark Knight, The Expendables) as members of the counterculture. Williams’ character Ben finds himself falling for Catherine, played by Rice, but they soon find that the cold reality of real life may destroy their utopian fantasies.
“I play a disgruntled alcoholic rock star named Ben, who has hit the peak of his fame and wants out, as he navigates a twisting and turning relationship with a young student named Catherine who is moonlighting as an exotic dancer,” Williams said. “It’s a very elemental story told through the freaked-out lens of the period.”
Paradise Club will begin its tour of the festival circuit in October.
An avid devotee of all things music, Williams got his start singing in choir before he began performing in musical theatre productions. It was those roots which motivated him to write and record one of his songs, “I’m Not Waiting,” for the film Ride, which was selected and requested personally by director and Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt (As Good As it Gets, Mad About You).
As if that array of new projects were not enough, fans of Williams can also catch him in the fifth season of MTV’s Awkward beginning August 31, where he will be appearing in the lead role of Luke.
So much of establishing oneself as a successful actor in the world of film and television comes down to an actor’s ability to be chameleonic in their pursuit of a role in order to make a casting director believe that they aesthetically fit the character.
While the mark of a great actor entails a level of finesse and understanding of the human condition that extends far beyond the depths of one’s surface appearance, when it comes to initially breaking out on the silver screen, looks tend to have a lot to do with who gets cast and who doesn’t. This seemingly unfair truth gone awry is apparent in the careers of many actors who seem to have fallen victim to the dreaded typecast, forever struggling to break out of that one role in which they’ve been ushered into playing over and over again.
Actor Shvan Aladin has created a diverse repertoire of work over the past decade that proves the extraordinary capacity of his craft. Through the wide range of roles he’s already portrayed across genres, Aladin has made his mark as an actor who cannot be pigeonholed into one role; but, being from the Middle East, more specifically, from Kurdistan, has endowed him with features that are easily stereotyped.
Over the years the actor, who moved to Sweden at the age of 9, has been strategically selective about his roles on the screen, but when you’re good at what you do and you look a certain way, ethnic stereotypes, like the “terrorist” in his case, just seem to weasel their way in.
If he wasn’t such a professionally seasoned actor, being called in for roles like this might get a little annoying, but he says, “I try to look at the human being that I’m playing as being different from the ones I’ve played in the past. Because every character is different from each other, just like in life. One of the most valuable lessons I was taught during my training at the Stella Adler academy was to never judge a character while playing it.”
He adds, “It doesn’t mean that I personally would approve of the actions some characters (such as the terrorist ones) I play do, but I try to put my personal emotions on the side while researching and trying to understand the brain of that specific human being and his justifications for doing what he is doing.”
In the past year audiences across the globe have seen Shvan Aladin star in a national commercial for the U.S. Army, the feature film Always Faithful, where he plays a terrorist, and the Swedish television series Blå ögon, also known as Blue Eyes.
While all of these productions in one way or another emphasize his ethnic appeal, the actor brilliantly transforms himself from one character to another without ever encroaching on clichés.
About acting in the commercial for the U.S. Army’s campaign “Tunnel Special Forces,” the actors says, “It was an amazing experience, and the director, Peter Berg made it even better. It felt wonderful being directed by a director whose movies I’ve been watching since I was a child, it really made the entire experience unforgettable!”
A two-time Emmy nominee, Berg was also the director of the recent hit film Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg.
In the new political drama Blå ögon, Shvan Aladin plays the dynamic and challenging role of Sharhyar, a young Persian teen who is the only true friend that Simon, one of the other lead characters in the series, has. However, due to the fact that Simon’s mother Annika Nilsson, played by the Guldbagge Award winning actress Anna Bjelkerud, happens to be a political candidate for the openly racist party, Trygghetspartiet, some begin to question the authenticity of Simon and Sharhyar’s friendship.
“My character was a hard working young man with a beautiful heart,” explains Aladin. “In the show Sharhyar is the only one who stands up for Simon because he knows that Simon doesn’t share the same opinions as his mother.”
Over the course of the first season, Aladin’s character Sharhyar is framed for the murder of Simon’s mother– a perfect example of how stereotypes can turn an innocent man in to a falsely accused criminal.
“The political drama ‘Blue Eyes’ is about racism taking over in Sweden; but the subject is globally relevant. It’s a subject that has always existed unfortunately, especially in Europe today,” admits Aladin. “I want to be a part of those who fight against racism, and I believe that you can change people through art. My passion in life is acting and that is my art.”
Early on in his career, Aladin starred in the Swedish television shows Andra Avenyn also known as Second Avenue, and Riverside. And while he has undoubtedly made his name known on the screen, the actor’s talents extend to the stage as well. In fact, even with all the glitz and glamour that come along with being a film and television star, the actor marks his role as Ruckley, a lobotomized patient, in the theatre production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in Los Angeles as one of his most memorable to date.
Aladin recalls, “It was the best play that I have been a part of in my life, and playing someone with a mental disability is something that I researched a lot… I will never forget the things I learned during the production. I remember thinking during closing weekend: I will remember this character when I’m on my deathbed.”
The actor has also taken the spotlight in the theatre productions of The Hasty Heart directed by Harry Mastrogeorge and J.B directed by Oscar winner Milton Justice, as well as Our lady of 121st Street, and the remake of the Opera Carmen, which was held in Sweden at the Backa Theater.
With an accomplished repertoire of work with world-renowned directors spanning both the American and European entertainment industries already under his belt, Shvan Aladin does admit that there is one director that he has a strong desire to work with.
“I have always had a dream of working with director Bahman Ghobadi so I will also try to include my third country Kurdistan, which is where I’m originally from and so, hopefully I will get to work with him sometime soon,” says Aladin. “I remember watching his movie ‘A Time for Drunken Horses’ as the first movie I saw in the cinema in Sweden after moving there. I immediately fell in love with the movie and his directing, and I was only 10 years old at that time.”
Currently, you can catch Shvan Aladin in the role of Jacob in the horror film Mansion of Blood, which was directed by Mike Donahue (Surge of Power, Pooltime) and was released earlier this month.
To find one’s calling can take a lifetime, but Canadian actor Alexander Davis found his in acting when he was just three years old.
Since then, the eight-year-old prodigy has already played lead roles on stage (A Christmas Story, The Little Mermaid) and in film (The Closet, Volition).
Davis portrayed the lead character of Randy Parker in A Christmas Story, which ran for 48 shows in just six weeks at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Davis’ portrayal of the quirky Parker was so well done that it earned him a 2015 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in Live Theatre.
Though Davis’ work in A Christmas Story was a resounding success, it was not without its challenges. Just before intermission of one of the shows, Davis fell on the set’s stairs and hurt his leg. He was bleeding, in pain, and his next stage direction was to walk out the door. That’s when he learned the meaning of “the show must go on.”
“My acting mom was amazing. She just carried on with the show and picked me up to carry me out the door,” Davis said. “I don’t know if the audience knew what had happened was real or not. During intermission, I put ice on my leg and went back out and finished the show. Now that’s show business.”
Despite working through injury, Davis was hungry to act again when the show’s run ended. On the flight home from Halifax, he asked his mother if he could go back for more.
“I feel like I was born to perform,” Davis said. “I loved performing to sold out audiences and making the crowd laugh. I think my role at the Neptune Theatre really prepared me well.”
But Davis’s budding brilliance has not been confined to just the stage. He played the lead character in The Closet, a film in which he flawlessly executed the difficult proposition of playing his own twin.
“I had to be exact with where I stood to make sure the shot worked with both of us in the scene,” Davis said. “They edited it or layered the scene to make it look like there were two of me. You learn a lot being an actor.”
Davis’s rapidly expanding reservoir of acting knowledge continued to expand when he played the lead character in Volition, a film about a terrorist who saw the world through a different lens after he met Davis’ character on a train.
The film’s production schedule forced Davis to adapt, which he did with flying colors.
“We filmed late every night on the train, so I had to change the time I went to bed,” Davis said. “It was worth it and so much fun.”
Volition co-star Romaine Waite (Antisocial, One Night a Stranger) liked Davis’ performance so much that he asked the emerging star to be in a music video for rapper Pas Da’ Millz that Waite would later direct.
From stage to film, Davis has achieved more before his ninth birthday than many actors do in a lifetime. But the young Canadian has barely scratched the surface of his brilliance, and is already taking his career to the next level.
While in L.A. to receive his Young Artist Award earlier this year, Davis caught the attention of veteran Hollywood executive producer Irene Dreayer (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck, Smart Guy).
Dreayer’s known as an honest-but-tough executive producer who’s often told parents of young actors that L.A.’s not a starting point for a growing career, but rather an end result of a successful career. She’s usually recommended to families they go home, but that was not the case for Davis, according to the young actor’s parents.
Instead, Dreayer spent a lot of time convincing Davis’ parents that L.A. was where the sought after actor should be, according to Davis.
Most recently, the young thespian used his voiceover chops to portray the characters Brownie and Checkers in the animated TV series Super Why!, a popular, animated kids show about the magical adventures of reading-powered superheroes on PBS.
Whether on stage, film or television, Alexander Davis has proven himself to be a talented, reliable and dedicated actor who will no doubt make his presence felt in Hollywood and beyond for many years to come.
Born into a family of entertainers, actress Jessica Waters has been in the spotlight her entire life. Together with her four siblings and her father, the lead singer of a local band, she was playing music, dancing and acting beginning at just five years old. By the time she was eight she had her heart set on acting professionally, and in the years since she has grown from one of the most promising young Australian talents into an international powerhouse of the screen.
In 2014, Waters joined the cast of The War That Changed Us, a four-part documentary drama series recounting the stories of real-life Australians who fought in World War I. Waters played a nurse traveling with soldiers on the front lines, and said she fell in love with the role.
“This has to be one of my favorite TV shows I have worked on,” Waters said. “I loved the costumes, and dressing in all the lovely clothes they wore really made me feel like I was back in that time, and I had to do some nurse training for the role.”
The War That Changed Us aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Australia’s entry into the war.
Recently, Waters acted alongside Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans) in Paper Planes. The film tells the story of a young boy who, after suffering the loss of his mother, finds solace and hope in a competition to design the ultimate paper airplane. Filmed in her hometown of Perth, Waters played the mother of one of the children competing in the whimsical tournament and said it was a fun project to be a part of. The film received nominations at both the Australian Directors’ Guild Awards and the Berlin International Film Festival.
In her latest television role, she plays an American reporter in the SyFy Channel adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke classic novel Childhood’s End. As an Australian, the role was a unique challenge for her, and required a great deal of intensive voice training to master the accent required for the part.
“I’ve been training my American accent for a year,” she said. “They loved my accent, and I got the part on the spot.”
Childhood’s End is the first screen adaptation of the science fiction masterpiece. Following the arrival on Earth by a race of mysterious but benevolent aliens, the human race begins to thrive and prosper; however, almost immediately suspicions begin to grow among people about their new isolationist neighbors. As a reporter, Waters is on the scene to cover their arrival. The series airs on SyFy later in 2015.
Waters played a reporter once before in The Great Mint Swindle, the true story of a massive 1982 Australian heist where more than $2 million in gold bars were stolen from the Perth Mint. The crime remains unsolved, adding to the mystery and making it one of Western Australia’s greatest and most famous true crime stories.
“I love being in true stories,” Waters said. “The set was very Australian, and I enjoyed being a news reporter because if I didn’t decide to be an actor, I was going to be a TV reporter.”
Not limited to film and television, Waters’ experience as a performer shines in her work onstage as well.
“I have spent three years working with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Western Australia,” Waters said. “I was not only an actor, but I was also the dance choreographer and a singer.”
In her time with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, she’s worked on iconic Shakespearean plays including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest and Comedy of Errors.
Audiences can catch Jessica Waters in her upcoming feature film Reality, a satirical comedy in which Waters plays the lead.
“I just know it’s going to be a fantastic film. The script is amazing,” she said. “I have a lead role and it’s a film that kind of makes fun of reality TV shows.”
Reality is currently in the process of filming so eager fans will have to wait to learn more about the project. However, it’s guaranteed to be a fresh look at a genre, which provides a goldmine of comedic fodder.
Though different actors have a plethora of diverse personal reasons for choosing to take on a particular role or another, many will agree that there are some stories that just need to be told, ones that they just couldn’t pass up. Amongst other factors, that is one of the driving forces that drew actress Sarah Wessendorf, who’s originally from Germany, to join the Israeli film production of “CPH” directed by Eitan Sarid earlier this year. Wessendorf, who’s been acting since she was a child, recognized that “CPH” carried the potential to be one of those rare stories that could have a real impact on audiences. And she was right.
“CPH,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Jerusalem Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious Best Picture Award, depicts the postwar trauma a soldier often face years after they’ve left the battlefield. The film follows a former Israeli soldier who, along with his wife Pia played by Wessendorf, relocate to Copenhagen in hopes of starting a new life and leaving the past behind. If only it were that easy.
Shedding light on a topic that many soldiers across the globe continue to face, “CPH” is brought to life in a way that allows audience members to understand the very real traumas soldiers and their families face after the battle is over. For Wessendorf, this was a hugely important subject to dive into, and her performance as Pia in the film is simply flawless. She is caring and supportive of her husband through his trials and tribulations, yet she never fails to reveal her character’s vulnerabilities and the overwhelming difficulties that come along with being his wife and main support system.
Wessendorf says, “At some point you can not avoid facing your past. That being, said some places and people give us the strength we need to work through those painful experiences.”
An eye-opening film about trauma, healing and love, “CPH” is not to be missed; and lucky enough for us we got the chance to interview the film’s lead actress, Sarah Wessendorf.
Hey Sarah, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a little bit about what happens in the film “CPH”?
SW: “CPH” is about an ex Israeli soldier who moves to Copenhagen to escape from his traumatic past in Israel. He moves there with his wife Pia, who I play in the film. When he gets to Copenhagen he gets a surprise visit from his army friend who breaks into the apartment when no one is there. When these old friends finally see each other they are faced with all the trauma and fears that my husband was trying to avoid all this time. In a way, his friend breaking into the apartment symbolizes the way that trauma will find a way to break through over and over again if we are not willing to take the time to sit down with it and to look it in the eye in order to accept and transform it.
Sounds like a very heavy story– what was it that made you want to be involved with this project?
SW: I have a deep admiration for Eitan Sarid as a director so when I saw that he was casting for the movie I immediately contacted him, and it worked out beautifully. I never shy away from a difficult or complex topic in movies. I think that those are the most important movies to be made. The only importance is to portray these topics in a respectful and sensitive way.
What is it about Eitan Sarid’s work that you admire?What was it like working with Eitan on set?
SW: Eitan Sarid is a wonderful director who gives the actors the space and freedom to bring their own ideas, knowledge and experience to the set. He has a clear idea of what he wants, but he is also open and interested to hear his actor’s own sense of the scene and the character, and then let it all come together. Working with Eitan feels safe, there is a lot of mutual respect. We became very good friends through the process of working together. I deeply respect his vision and his ability to tell stories and I’m very much looking forward to working with him in the future.
Can you tell us about your character in the film?
SW: I play Pia, the wife of the lead. She is from Denmark and so that aspect also signals a new energy that is not connected to the heaviness her husband experienced in Israel. She is next to him to help him build a new life and create a new identity. But when her husband is faced with his past trauma she too has to come to terms with the fact that she didn’t fully know her husband and that in order to love him fully she has to understand his pain and trauma.
What was it like working with Doron Amit who plays your husband in the film? How was the chemistry on set?
SW: Working with Doron was a real treat! He is a very talented actor and together we created this safe space where we both felt free to improvise and trust each other, we motivated each other to go even deeper into our characters’ feelings, fears and ultimately the bond the characters have.
What does Pia bring to the story? And how did you feel about playing the character?
SW: Pia’s role is a vital one, she adds an element of love and support to the film. She is the one who accepts and loves her husband no matter what. She is determined to have unending and unconditional love for her husband, and this is an active choice she reinforces over and over again, which gives her husband the strength and trust to, for the first time, look into his pain and try to heal.
I think that this is something that we as humans need in order to be able to move past certain traumas, to know somehow that there is a deep well of love underneath. A love that will catch you when you fall. No matter how we think we have it, I think it is a must to have that in order to open up and become vulnerable. This well if you will, is Pia in the film for her husband.
When you were creating your character and really becoming Pia, were there any experiences from your personal life that you looked to, or any other places that you turned to for inspiration?
SW: Definitely, I very much rely on a spiritual power to give me the strength and courage to look into childhood experiences which might not have been super and that I wanted to heal. I feel a very strong unconditional love from a higher wisdom, call it God if you will. I was very much comparing this to the unfailing love and patience that Pia has for her husband. Also I saw someone who deeply admires her husband for his strength and I’ve definitely felt this in previous relationships too, this immense respect for the life path that someone had been on.
Can you tell us about any challenges or memorable experiences from this project?
SW: Shooting in Israel was definitely very interesting for me. I could tell that the story was also a very personal one for the director and the other cast members since in Israel it is mandatory to go to the army. There of course you are prey to many traumatic experiences, which you will not be able to shield yourself from. Then it becomes the ultimate goal to somehow heal these experiences from the army which proves to not always be that easy. Especially when there are no therapists offered and therapy can be very expensive. It is up to the individuals to learn to cope as best as they can with those dark memories and then somehow learn to live with them.
What are your personal feelings on the fact that is so difficult for the soldiers to get approved for free therapy once they leave the army?
SW: That is of course unfortunate since a country greatly benefits from having mentally healthy citizens. It is a very complex topic though, one that could take hours to discuss. And I don’t think it is fair to a country to judge it without deeply diving into its history, its values and its hopes.
Was there any point during the filming where you felt like the story was too heavy to handle?
SW: No never. I was very much convinced that this was an important story to tell. And as a German I was very happy to be a part of it. I don’t shy away from heavy situations or topics. So this for me was rather a film that I felt honored to be a part of!
What was your favorite part of being involved in this production?
SW: There is something very special to be working as a German in an otherwise all Israeli cast. I feel very fortunate that I got the opportunity to work with such talented actors such as Yona Rozenkier and Doron Amit. Also I completely trusted Eitan Sarid’s vision. I felt very lucky to be part of a meaningful Israeli story in a film that also received such amazing reviews and feedback. But my favorite part was hands down the people. For some reason I always felt very connected to Israel and being surrounded by so much Israeli talent was a complete blast for me.
What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
SW: My biggest wish would be that people realize that it is not always the way it seems when we see a fellow human being. From the outside everything might look wonderful, carefree and easy. But we can never really know where this person has come from, what scars he or she carries, what traumas they’ve experienced. I would love for the audience to understand that we need to foster a society of compassion and empathy, and a deeper love for each other. We all run through life with our own experiences, some are joyful and some painful. No one can run away from that. My wish is that we all learn to treat each other with more care and more love.
How do you feel about the film being chosen as an Official Selection of the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival?
SW: It was such thrilling news! I am so proud of all of us, because I know how hard we worked to make the movie what it is! I was not surprised that it has gotten the recognition that it did though. With all that talent around, it was easy to foresee that this movie would be an important one.
Over the last decade Canadian actress Jessica Huras has established herself as a sought after talent for high profile theater productions, TV shows and award-winning films. While her versatility and capacity for seamlessly tapping into even the most challenging roles have definitely helped her create the dazzling reputation she has today, it doesn’t hurt that she is undeniably beautiful as well.
Early on in her career Huras appeared on the two-time Gemini Award winning series This Is Wonderland. Shortly after she wenton to guest star on the Lifetime TV series Missing alongside multi-award winning actress Vivica A. Fox. An investigative crime series that focuses on finding missing persons, Huras played the roles of Caroline Dunn and Luke Thompson, two characters who at first appear to be separate and unrelated, but over the course of the episode are revealed to be one in the same.
When it comes to choosing one role over another, Huras says, “I look for smart scripts that feel original in some way and that have interesting and complex roles for women.”
In Missing, Huras gives a heart wrenching performance as a transgendered college student who struggles to find his identity as a man born in a woman’s body, a challenging role that only further proves the actress’s affinity for tapping into complex characters.
Audiences across the world will also recognize Huras as Leandra from the first season of the hit television show Being Erica, where she starred alongside Erin Karpluk (Rookie Blue, Reasonable Doubt, Supernatural, Saving Hope, Flashpoint) and Reagan Pasternak (Masters of Sex, Heartland, Cake).
“This was a very theatrical role, allowing me to tap into my darker side and channel my inner Goth,” explains Huras about her character on the three-time Gemini Award and Leo Award winning series.
Similar to the way that Jamie Lee Curtis has become synonymous with the horror genre through her role as Laurie Strode in Halloween, Huras has also become something of a notable “scream queen” on film.
Through films like The Deadly Pledge where she played the role of Nikki Evans alongside Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester, James Isaac’s action packed 2006 horror film Skinwalkers, and NYC: Tornado Terror, Huras has displayed a rare talent for evoking fear within audiences through her believable performances.
Although she has carved out her place as an actress in film and television productions starring alongside some of the best in the industry, the silver screen has by no means taken away from her work as a dedicated performer in the theatre.
In 2009 Huras starred alongside Sebastien Heins from the TV series The Listener, Cracked and Darknet, and Mikaela Dyke from the films Blood Boars and Sight Unseen, in the production of David Levine’s “Reflections On Giving Birth to a Squid.” The production, which opened in Montreal and toured across Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton as part of the Fringe Festival, received the Centaur Award for Outstanding Production from the Montreal Fringe Festival.
In 2010 the actress also founded Heart in Hand Theater company in Toronto – a revolving collective producing rare plays in need of a comeback, as well as developing new works of their own. Through Heart in Hand, Huras has produced “The Commune,” “Cowboy Mouth” where she played the starring role of Cavale alongside Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett, and “Trout Stanley” where she played the role of Grace Ducharme.
About what drives her to perform, Huras says, “I love telling stories and sharing the human experience. I think it’s the most palpable way of connecting and it’s never dull, not for a second. I’m forever challenged and inspired in this field.”
With each of her characters being completely different from the next, Huras’s dedication to continually pushing herself beyond her comfort zone as an actress has allowed her to amass a wide range of roles on both the stage and screen.
With an astonishing career already under her belt and several productions being released this year, it is clear that we will be seeing a whole lot more of Jessica Huras for years to come. Currently, you can check Huras out in the role of Natalie on the History Channel series Gangland Undercover, which began airing in February. She also wrapped production on the films Anxietyville and Teeth earlier this year, both of which are set to debut later this year.
The vast array of roles masterfully portrayed by Alli McLaren are a testament to the striking technique she’s spent her entire life honing, both onstage and in front of the camera. Following in both her mother and grandmother’s footsteps, the Australian dynamo is a third generation actor in whom the art of performance is deeply engrained.
McLaren’s unique talents stem from so much more than the impressive combination of her inherited genetics, for her upbringing in the theatre and her years of rigorous and dedicated training have put her far above the rest. One of her strongest and most valuable assets is something too many actors lack – real-life experience.
In addition to her acting prowess, McLaren is also a talented and accomplished writer for the screen. McLaren wrote the upcoming film My Year of Silence based on her own experiences. The film follows McLaren as she plays Callie, a role that shines a spotlight on the painful reality of those who cope daily with mental illness and depression.
For years, McLaren fought tirelessly to overcome long and difficult battles with illness and depression. Through that struggle, she gained an intimate and personal understanding of the peaks and depths of human emotion and an insight into the human psyche that is clearly displayed in every part she’s played. From the masterful way that she has transformed herself into the mind and body of every character she has taken on, audiences can expect yet another dazzling performance from the actress as Callie in the upcoming film My Year of Silence, which is being produced by White Night Films.
Though her dramatic flair is impeccable, her recent role in A Writer’s Block, also produced by White Night Films, gave her a chance to show off both her action and comedic chops. The project centers around two writers as the plot of their latest film begins to come to life. McLaren’s character Sophie, one of the characters in the two writers’ script, is kidnapped, and the ensuing rescue mission her older brother embarks on to save her forms the backbone of the film. The quick-action, fights and shootouts were a far cry from her other more cerebral and introspective roles, but in no time she mastered the dance-like combat moves with grace and professionalism — and a little bit of fun, too.
“There was a lot of stage fighting choreography involved in this shoot, which was new to me,” said McLaren. “But I felt like a ninja doing it, which kind of rocked.”
In one of her most powerful roles, McLaren played the lead in Infidelity, directed by Emmy Award-winning actress Blanche Baker. Based on a French script, the film centers around an experiment meant to study the faithfulness of men versus women in committed relationships.
McLaren’s character, Gretchen, is the person responsible for conducting the experiment, and as such, she holds complete control over its success. “Gretchen was really the female power in this film,” McLaren said. “It felt great to play a character with so much power and so much control.”
An exceptional actress by anyone’s standards, McLaren’s upcoming projects include the 2016 release of My Year of Silence as well as a likely sequel to follow, in addition to a planned sequel to A Writer’s Block. The young starlet will no doubt continue to raise the bar for fellow actors across the industry as a whole; and as audiences flock to My Year of Silence, they’ll no doubt witness the internationally sought after talent set new standards for dramatic writing as well.
The incredible stage and screen talents of Scandinavian actor Alex Luukkonen have moved audiences to laughs and tears on three continents, and his latest projects are without a doubt some of his most ambitious to date. A native of Finland, he’s also worked throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S., which has taught him the intricate nature of the human condition, the common denominators of mankind beyond any cultural differences.
Luukkonen, in one of his many theatre roles, joined Academy Award winner Milton Justice’s (Down and Out in America) cast in a production of Clifford Odets’ classic Waiting for Lefty. Set in the years before World War II, the play consists of a series of vignettes, which tie together to address the prominent issues of the impending war, the struggle of workers in the Great Depression, the fear of growing communist sympathies and love trying to survive the desperate times.
In his role as Miller, a chemist with a moral quandary and one of the leading characters, Luukkonen worked closely with the esteemed Justice to perfect his performance. Miller, a lab assistant, is told by his boss that he will be given a raise and promotion but that he must now work under a chemist tasked with developing chemical weapons. An argument erupts between Miller and his boss, and in one of the more dramatic events in the play, Miller angrily refuses the job after punching his boss.
In addition to his role in Waiting for Lefty, as well as the productions of other iconic plays such as Much Ado About Nothing and Grease, Luukkonen is also a seasoned actor on the silver screen where his innate skill and charm complemented by his worldly experience make all of his performances something to write home about.
One of Luukkonen’s latest projects, Pastry, is slated for release this year. The film examines the pressure that society places on women to conform to preconceived standards of body image and sexuality. Directed by Eduardo Barreto, Luukkonen acts alongside Maureen Younger who plays Caroline in the film, a young woman who falls in love with a waitress and lets go of her obsession with dieting. Pastry is a delectably sweet work of powerful social critique that showcases Luukkonen’s acting prowess.
Luukkonen, whose character bears witness to the gradual process of Caroline’s enlightenment, admits that it was an incredible experience working with the British cast of the film.
“Theater is the king in London,” said Luukkonen. “So you get a lot more theater trained and talented people overall per capita.”
Recently, he played the inquisitive son of a detective in Outsider, an exciting pilot starring Luukkonen and Dean Bruggeman. In it, Luukkonen’s character discovers a startling video of a man being held captive by a psycho in clown makeup. He brings it to his father, played by Bruggeman (Don’t Pass Me By, The Time Capsule), who digs into the case. It all leads up to a shocking cliffhanger, which is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
In every role that he’s played to date Luukkonen’s passion for his craft shines through so clearly that it is almost tangible. That kind of performance, delivery and dedication comes only from love, and it is obvious in everything that he’s done that Luukkonen truly loves his art.
“I chose acting because I love it, and fortunately, I had the opportunity to pursue it,” he said. “I wish more people had the chance to pursue their dreams.”
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