Category Archives: Actor

Born to Be a Star: Australian Triple Threat Jessica Waters

Jessica Waters
Actress Jessica Waters

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.

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One of Canada’s Hottest Stars: Actress Jessica Huras

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 went on 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.

For Actress Alli McLaren, Performing Runs in Her Blood

Alli McLaren
                                              Actress Alli McLaren shot by David Lee

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.

A Knockout from the Theatre to the Screen!

Alex Luukkonen
Alex Luukkonen in “Ravenscroft” shot by Julio J. Vargas

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.”