Tag Archives: Actress

One to watch: Russia’s Yana GoodDay

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Yana GoodDay

Entertainment comes in many different shapes, sizes, and forms. For instance, actors entertain by temporarily transforming themselves to fit the mold of a specific character description and adopting all of the various mannerisms, personality traits, and quirks that go along with it. In contrast, models entertain by serving as a visual aid for individuals creating works of art, taking photographs, or advertising commercial products. Regardless of how an artist chooses to appeal to their audience and entertain their supporters, it requires an unprecedented amount of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. For Russian model, actress, and television host, Yana GoodDay, it is a commitment to fulfilling a childhood dream and beyond that, entertaining is a career that she wouldn’t trade for the world.

Despite the grueling nature of the modeling industry, GoodDay has managed to rise above her competition and has earned herself work representing a number of prestigious, world-renowned companies such as Huggies, Citroen, KRKA, and more. In 2007, GoodDay began working with one of Europe’s largest lingerie and swimwear manufacturers, Naturana. In fact, she has often been credited with helping enhance Naturana’s signature brand and has been instrumental to their growing customer base over the years.

“After representing Naturana in both print and runway formats, Yana was enlisted to become a spokesperson after each show, where she once again impressed everyone with her sensational gift to push the boundaries of the Naturana line. She has been absolutely critical to a massive increase in sales for Naturana, as well as stirring up even more appeal for the brand across the world. It has truly been one of the main highlights of my career to be in her presence. She is an extraordinary model and I have enjoyed seeing her career skyrocket over the years,” Renata Kowolik, Sales Manager, Naturana.

In addition to her modeling career, GoodDay has worked as a television and radio anchor, reporter, and journalist for media network gurus such as MTV, Channel One Russia, NTV Channel, Russian Radio, and several others. When she sets her heart on a job, she will stop at nothing to secure it and her unparalleled talents, coupled with her feverish passion for entertainment, have helped her build an unbeatable reputation in her industry.

One area of her career that GoodDay takes particular pride in, however, is in her ability to act. Over the years, she has acted in films, television series, as well as commercials. In fact, three years ago, GoodDay began working for a production company called Kino Atelye and in her work with this company, she has earned herself roles acting in several of their productions, such as The Detectives and The Track. Prior to working with Kino Atelye, the largest focus of GoodDay’s career had been on her opportunities to model and host television programs. For this reason, she was thrilled by the prospect of refining her acting skill set and expanding her reach in the acting world. Unlike modeling and television hosting, GoodDay is particularly motivated by the idea that, as an actress, she can assume the lives of unfamiliar individuals and experience new worlds through the characters that she plays.

“I make an effort not just to act, but to really live my character. I want to understand how I might react in their shoes or how I might interact with them if I were to meet them in real life. In addition, I think that extracting elements of your real-life experiences helps enhance your characters but I also appreciate the guidance of a director on set,” said GoodDay.

In 2015, GoodDay landed herself a prominent role in Kino Atelye’s production, The Sled, which tells the story of a new governmental body, FES, created to solve X files and high crime cases. Launched as an experiment, FES trains young professionals to solve crimes, and assists other special organizations to do so. For her role in the series, GoodDay had the opportunity to engage in uniquely intricate scenes involving lots of action and exercise. In one particular scene, her character enters into a physical altercation, for which GoodDay had to act a very rough scene. In reality, she enjoyed all of the action inherent within the scene and considered it to be a very good workout. She embraced every chance she had to let her natural acting instincts guide her through the scene and considers recalls working on The Sled as being one of the many highlights of her career.

In the case of The Sled, GoodDay’s character was pivotal to the storyline but incidentally, GoodDay became instrumental to the cast. The show’s casting director was looking for an actress who could convincingly portray herself as an almost angelic, innocent looking character whilst disguising a twisted, cold-blooded killer within. When it came time to cast this part, he was adamant that GoodDay play the part. In fact, he was so certain that she was the ideal candidate for the job that he did not look elsewhere for comparison. He knew that GoodDay had the skills and the expertise to master the dynamic elements of this character and he was ecstatic to see that his instincts served him well. For GoodDay, on the other hand, the joy of working on this series came with the onset relationships she built and the opportunity to explore every great length of both the script and the visual effects department.

Working with Kino Atelye served as an invaluable opportunity for GoodDay to develop herself both personally and professionally. For the talented entertainer, getting to work with like-minded individuals and receiving praise from others in the entertainment industry is extremely humbling. Stay tuned to see what this versatile, talented entertainer has in store for you next!

Anna Pniowsky masters different levels of fear to terrify audiences in ‘He’s Out There’

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Photo by Kevin McIntyre

Even at the age of 12, Anna Pniowsky understands that choosing to pursue a career as an actress would not be worth doing for the wrong reasons. It is a cutthroat field to work in and if you wish to become an actress for glamor or fame, it is unlikely that you will be able to withstand the pressure and the challenges that you will be faced with. Pniowsky knows that becoming an actress involves a type of perseverance that most individuals will never require in their lifetimes. She is always on her game, ready for any audition, callback, or role that she is tasked with. On top of that, she has mastered the ability to look self-doubt in the face and turn it away. Her love for acting transcends any obstacle that she comes across and by believing in herself and surrounding herself with people who support her dreams, she has no doubt that she will be acting for years to come.

“If you feel that acting is truly in your blood, remember the well-known adage – it is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of auditions before you book something. You will feel self-doubt and you will want to give up, but if you truly love it, you can push forward. You just have to believe in yourself,” told Pniowsky.

Despite her age, Pniowsky has earned herself a breadth of experience and training in her field. Just this past year, she landed the lead role in a film written, directed, and starred in by Oscar-winning actor Casey Affleck. The film, Light of My Life, is a drama about a father (played by Affleck) and his daughter (played by Pniowsky) who live on the outskirts of a society that was destroyed by a pandemic ten years ago. Buzz about Pniowsky’s role in the film is already gaining traction as being a career-defining moment for the talented young actress and audiences everywhere are eager to see what happens when it premieres.

Prior to filming Light of My Life, Pniowsky won the role of Kayla in Sony Screen Gems’ horror film, He’s Out There. He’s Out There depicts the terrifying tale of a mother and her two daughters who take a vacation to a remote lake house and wind up being tormented by a murderer in the woods. In the film, Pniowsky acted alongside celebrated actress Yvonne Strahovski, as well as her little sister, Abby. She was paramount to the film’s storyline and appears in the entire duration of the film. In order to play her character as convincingly as possible, Pniowsky endeavored to master multiple different ways of appearing frightened. Since her character is scared throughout the entirety of the film, she felt it was very important to develop her character to be dynamic and she avoided appearing one-dimensional at all costs. With that, she developed various different levels of fear that she could transition back and forth between, depending on the intensity of the scene. In doing so, she created a character that audiences can relate to, and ideally, will identify with as they embark upon the journey that the film aims to take them on.

The film’s director, Dennis Iliadis, could not have been more pleased with Pniowsky’s performance. Knowing that the quality of the film rested entirely on the performance of his cast, he was determined to find actresses that could emulate the mood of the film directly into its audience. When asked about Pniowsky’s performance, Iliadis had the following to say:

“Anna was phenomenal to work with. For such a young age, she’s an actress of incredible intelligence, sensibility and instinct. I have never worked with a young actor or actress who is so hard working, disciplined and focused. We had a very emotionally demanding and technically difficult shoot but in those very challenging conditions, Anna gave a great performance in a role of strenuous physicality and very complex and heightened emotions. Even in the most difficult situations, Anna was always prepared, always ready to go. She really made the rest of us up our game.”

After wrapping He’s Out There, Pniowsky gained a new appreciation for the horror film genre. Most mainstream horror films today have one goal and that is to terrify an audience. It is rare, however, to be able to act in a horror film with an underlying moral compass. Pniowsky was fortunate enough to be able to identify the deeper meanings that the story tells. Not only is it a story that highlights the unrelenting strength of a mother’s love for her children, it also does an excellent job of emphasizing a journey of personal growth in Pniowsky’s character. She found herself inspired by the presence of strong, female characters in the film and feels that young girls can learn a lot from Kayla’s will and determination to survive. She loved seeing strong female characters taking charge and fighting hard for what they believe in. It is a message that women of all ages can carry with them beyond the film and into their own personal lives and Pniowsky was honored to be able to play a role in helping foster that movement.

Australian actress Natasha St. Clair-Johnson stars in new film ‘Incall’

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Natasha St. Clair-Johnson, photo by KAT TUOHY PHOTOGRAPHY

“Acting is the one way that I feel free to be myself,” said Natasha St. Clair Johnson. The Australian native has an innate talent, and has loved performing for almost her entire life. As a child, she wanted to be like the people she saw on-screen, but as she grew, this desire became much fiercer. She wanted to tell stories; she wanted to show the wonderful and painful aspects of what it means to be human; she wanted to make a difference with the best way she knew how. Acting became her focus, and performing her way of life. Now, she is one of Australia’s leading actresses, and the passion she feels for what she does is the same as it was when she began her career.

While working her way to the top, St. Clair-Johnson worked on several extremely successful projects, showing her home country and the world why she is so formidable. In the feature film Birthday, the actress has the critical role of a social-worker. Her work led the film to be selected for the highly-prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where it took home the top award for Best Actress in a Foreign Film. Similar success followed with her film Prized, where she co-stars with ‘Twitch’ aka Stephan Boss from So You Think You Can Dance and currently the popular DJ on The Ellen Degeneres Show, as well as the movie Shang, playing a seductive vampire and showing audiences how versatile of an actress she truly is.

“The thrill of performing is like nothing else for me. With film and theatre being such different mediums, they both still give me joy. Being on set has an intimacy, a rawness, and a realism to it,” said St. Clair-Johnson.

Audiences can also look forward to St. Clair-Johnson’s performance in the highly-anticipated film Incall. The film tells the story of a wealthy house wife who gets more than she bargained for when a call girl changes the course of her day into something completely unexpected. It explores ideas of sexuality, power, feminism, and manipulation, with three women all appearing as different facets of what is it to be the modern woman.

“Not many films like to show women that are sexual and strong. It’s considered taboo, and commonly mistaken to be either an excuse for woman to behave in an explicit nature or to get attention. Our film is more about the mind games between people. It’s not about seeing anything happen but the suggestion,” St. Clair-Johnson described.

The film is centered around St. Clair-Johnson’s character and what happens to her over the course of one day. It is a window into the perverse intimacy she enjoys. She is an elegant, well-dressed, poised woman with a dark side. Although she appears to be one way to others, her inner desires are quite different from the persona she displays. She has a certain way about her that can be disarming, which is what the directors were looking for in St. Clair-Johnson’s performance. She perfectly personifies the complicated character, with a hint of possible danger, as you can’t always be sure where the character might take the conversation or situation she is in.

While many films explore a male and female dynamic, Incall involves two strong female characters. These characters are not necessarily attracted to each other, but rather show how they manipulate, judge, and control each other. It is about ego and power. St. Clair-Johnson’s character is the instigator of the events. Therefore, when the director was looking for someone for such an important and complicated role, she knew she had to find someone with immense talent.

“Natasha is gifted and hard working. She always gives 100 per cent to every take and patience beyond what would be required of her. It is a pleasure working with her on and off set. She is very personable. Her unique choices make her an outstanding actress. She has a subtle but compelling ability to seek the nuances in her characters’ behavior, with an unlimited range and keen understanding of the complexities of the characters’ relationships,” said Rachael Murphy, Writer and Director of Incall.

Murphy approached St. Clair-Johnson when she began casting. She knew that she wanted the actress as her leading character to make her film a success. St. Clair-Johnson was happy to take on a role in an all-female film. During the shoot, she found herself being taken away with what was happening. She knew exactly where to go with her character, completely embodying her. She would utilize subtle and exciting exchanges between her co-star and herself, opening up her creative juices. With every script she works on, the actress takes the time to analyze it. She figures out the exact motives behind each of her characters’ choices. For Incall, she worked those choices into her performance flawlessly, displaying intimacy, and passive-aggressive behavior simultaneously.

In addition to acting, St. Clair-Johnson also took on an executive producer role for the film. Although she had never done this before, she was excited to learn about the job, knowing the experience behind-the-scenes would help make her an even better actress. She was able to find the perfect balance between her role as an actress and her executive producing responsibilities, and found herself watching every take and staying engaged in all areas of the film production.

“This project gave me artistic freedom to play with whatever choices I wanted. I was to carry the film and I loved the responsibility of that. Especially showcasing myself in a film that is strongly focused on women. My team and I knew that it would be topical and the LGBT community would also be interested. We were recently approached by a film festival exclusively showcasing films produced and starring woman. It’s an honor,” said St. Clair-Johnson.

Incall is currently in post-production with a release date set for 2018 into the film festival circuit, and then onwards to national release in the United States and Australia. It is also expected to make its way to several Australian television networks, and streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu in the short film category. If you get a chance, make sure to check out St. Clair-Johnson’s stellar performance.

Actress Marysia Peres dives into ‘The Mystery of Britannic’

In life, one must constantly be learning. No one will ever know everything there is to know, and this realization is what keeps us humble. For Marysia Peres, acting is the very same. She constantly sees what she does as a learning opportunity. This acceptance and realization is what makes her so extraordinary. There is no role that doesn’t excite her, as each comes with its own set of challenges to overcome. She is constantly working at being better, and as she is already one of Malta’s best actresses, this is no easy feat.

Whether it be modelling or acting, Peres is always at the top of her game. As a model, she has worked all around the world, showing off fashion trends and styles with large brands in many countries. As an actress, she has impressed international audiences, whether in the blockbuster Assassin’s Creed alongside Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, or the romantic travel tale Love to Paradise. No matter what she embarks on, she impresses both audiences and colleagues. Jonathan Pyatt, a fellow actor, has worked work Peres on four short films, as well as a commercial photoshoot for Vodafone. He believes she is a one-of-a-kind actress.

“It is always a pleasure to work with Marysia because she’s very professional, focused and dedicated to giving her best performance. She is very good at receiving feedback from directors and incorporating it onto her performance, as well as at communicating with her fellow actors. She has a good combination of intense focus and seriousness while also incorporating a nice sense of humor when appropriate, which is an important trait to help keep moods light at times during long filming days. I am always grateful when I sign on to be part of a project in which she’s also taking part because I know that it will help to elevate my performance,” said Pyatt. “Compared to other young actors that I’ve worked with locally, Marysia is the most dedicated and hard working. She also has a strong passion for the craft of acting and sees it not only as a job, but also as an art form. Due to the fact that she enjoys the process so much, she can perform at a very high level. She has a willingness to bring parts of herself into every role, which leads to authentic performances.”

Most recently, Pyatt and Peres worked together on the upcoming TV documentary mini-series The Mystery of Brittanic. The series, produced by U-Film, tells the story and research of the wreckage of the Britannic, the sister ship of Titanic, which shared the fatal fate of its predecessor during the World War I. The ship sank near Kea in the Aegean Sea on the 21st of November 1916. The project has two parts: underwater footage of the Britannic, the sister ship of Titanic that sank in 1916 near Kea in the Aegean Sea, and the re-enactment part of the tragic events. The reenactment portion follows the adventures of the volunteer nurse Eleonora Morrison (Nelly), played by Peres.

“The entire world knows about the Titanic, and I believe the Britannic deserves the same honor. It is a sister ship of the Titanic, it was used as a hospital vessel during WWI, and its story is both terrifying and fascinating. I am very happy that U-Film researched the wreckage site and decided to tell the story of this ship. I believe it will be both educational and entertaining for the audiences,” said Peres.

The character of Nelly was very complex and interesting for Peres to dive into. She is from an upper-class family, but against her family’s wishes she joins the Brittanic as a volunteer nurse. Her eagerness to help people takes her on a journey that changes her life forever. There is both strength and vulnerability to the character of Nelly; shy and introverted on the surface, she is brave and full of love and empathy on the inside. In the show, Nelly is the main character of the story. The re-enactment part of the docudrama is told from her perspective, and she is always in the center of events. The script follows her adventures, relationships, accomplishments and struggles. For Peres, is great to see such a female-driven story, and her embodiment of the character is essential for the show’s audience engagement. Her portrayal already impressed those she worked with, and will undoubtedly do the same with viewers.

“Marysia is a very easy-going and friendly person. Whilst shooting scenes it turned out to be very natural for both of us as we have already had a good chemistry. It was an honor working with Marysia and I do hope we will cross paths again in the near future. She is a very focused, ambitious, determined person and a very talented actress to say the least,” said Jeanette Cutajar, Actress.

Peres has always loved historical films, and when she had the opportunity to be a part of the show, she knew she had to take it. Initially, she was interested in a supporting role, but the director was so impressed with her talents, he wanted her as the lead. Peres was eager for the challenge, as she had never been a part of a docuseries before.

The Mystery of Britannic was a big budget production with a lot of comprehensive sets and filming in the open waters. It was the biggest local project of the year in Malta. Some days provided unique challenges for Peres: the cast was soaking wet in the cold, swimming and overcoming obstacles while trying to escape the sinking ship. She also had a day in the open sea, where her character swam in a dress while carrying along her best friend. Peres wanted to do the role justice, and extensively prepared. She researched the history of the time period, especially regarding Vera Brittain, a volunteer nurse on the Brittanic, reading her memoir Testament of Youth. These first-hand experiences greatly impacted the way Peres portrayed Nelly, and the authenticity is evident in the show. For Peres, her passion for the project eclipsed everything else.

“One of my favorite days on the project was when we filmed Nelly leaving her home and family to volunteer on the Britannic. The location was Palazzo Parisio, a beautiful venue in Malta, usually used for weddings and specials events. It was a spectacular day, full of beautiful costumes, family drama and decision-making for the character of Nelly. I also clearly remember the day we filmed in the open sea. The water was cold, and the sun was burning, we were filming the sequence when Nelly and her friends finally reach the lifeboat. It was such an emotional moment for all the characters, and although challenging to film in the open waters, it was truly special and memorable for me too,” said Peres.

The Mystery of Brittanic is currently in post-production and with the distribution company Fairway Film Alliance in Los Angeles. It will be released early next year.

 

Photo by AJ Singh

Stay Tuned for Britain’s Francesca De Luca in ‘Midnight Daughter’ and ‘Espresso’

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Francesca De Luca

When actress Francesca De Luca stands before a camera, every fiber of her being comes to life. Her soul awakens when she transforms into an unfamiliar character, adopting all of the dynamic elements that makes them who they are. She is driven by the unique challenge of taking a character’s description from a script and bringing them to life. It is a journey unlike any other and a privilege to call it a job. For De Luca, her work is about transporting her viewers into a different world. It’s about allowing them to escape from real life, or to explore elements of their being in ways they might not have otherwise done. She finds that films can be therapeutic, offering relief from our everyday lives. They enlighten and entertain us in such a way that molds our thoughts, our passions, and our dreams in the same way that acting has molded her.

“I love to make an audience feel something, whether it’s through comedy or drama, and the emotion or truth of a character. I love making people laugh, feel and think, and I love to sink my teeth into a script where the character has depth, contrasts, and experiences an emotional journey,” told De Luca.

Every time that De Luca sets her sights on a script, there is no doubt that she will make it a success. She has had a profound impact on every film she has ever worked on, and she is a known asset in the industry. Her performance as Margot Fonteyn in the film, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, gained broad recognition when it featured at the Tribeca Film Festival just this past year, and again when it was selected for the Hamptons Film Festival and Key West Film Festival. The film’s success, however, did not stop there. It earned widespread critical acclaim when it was released in theatres across Canada and the United States, receiving immeasurable praise from prestigious publications like the New York Times. Later on this year, viewers carried it to number one in the ITunes Documentary category and were the reason that it featured in the top ten slots of the Independent Movie category.

Another of her major successes was working on the film Passports which won the 1st Place Audience Award at the California Women’s Film Festival, as well as the Award of Merit at The Accolade Global Film Competition. The film also went on to receive official selections at the aforementioned festivals, as well as Atlanta Shorts Fest, Laughlin International Film Festival and Film Invasion LA.

This sort of success is not unheard of for talent as unparalleled as De Luca’s and it only motivates her to expand her reach in the industry. Her drive is unprecedented and for this reason, filmmakers are drawn to her when looking to cast an actor that will carry their script or storyline to greatness. Fortunately for cinematographers all over the world, she is attracted to well-written scripts and eager to do their characters justice. When producers like Annie C. Wright, who worked with De Luca on her digital series, Down & Out, get to experience working with De Luca, they are often astounded by the depths of her talent.

“Francesca is not only talented in her craft, she’s professional, driven, and willing to put in the work required to succeed in this industry. She is a joy to have on set and I hope to be able to work with her again in future productions,” said Wright.

Jeremy Pion Berlin, who directed Passports, was intrigued by her exceptional on-screen presence and her improvisation skills. He knew that he had to work with her and his experience working with her pushed him to want to work with her again for his upcoming film, Midnight Daughter. When Berlin approached her about starring in his first feature length film, the British-Italian actress was thrilled. For Midnight Daughter, De Luca will be playing the lead role, Shawna. The psychological thriller is to be set in an old-age facility where Shawna works. De Luca, who loves playing dark, dramatic roles, is ecstatic about the depth of Shawna’s character and the opportunity to keep her audience on their toes for the duration of the emotional roller coaster that the film will depict.

In addition to Midnight Daughter, De Luca will also be starring in the romantic comedy Espresso. She is very excited to be diving further into the comedic genre once again. Her versatility as an actress allows her to transform herself into characters living through all kinds of experiences. She is not typecast and she does not limit herself to any specific range of characters. She seizes the challenge of becoming whomever a script needs her to be. If her history of excelling in every role she has accepted is any indication, she once will be perfect for the part in Espresso.

“I love the challenge of playing different roles and brining parts of myself to a character. It is my passion and I am lucky to get to do what I love over and over again. I can’t wait to see how both projects turn out,” concluded De Luca.

Michelle Howarth on starting difficult conversations through the art of film

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Michelle Howarth

What Michelle Howarth loves most about being an actress is having the opportunity to submerge herself into the lives of other people. She is fascinated by human beings and thrives on any opportunity to learn about unfamiliar cultures and places around the world. For Howarth, acting is a chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. When her characters feel pain, she wants to understand it. When they feel fear, she wants to know why. Beyond the empathetic nature of connecting with her characters, however, Howarth is grateful to work in a profession that provides a platform to channel untold stories and bring them to life. Oftentimes, this means shining a global light on a social, political, or socio-economic issue that the world may not fully understand, or even be aware of. It is one of the few occupations in the world with the potential to start important, controversial conversations and ultimately, change perspectives, minds, and lives.

“Acting can take you into a world with the potential to transform, educate and initiate conversations. It can affect audiences in different ways, whether you’re making them laugh or challenging their beliefs. Acting also allows the audience to escape into a different realm for an hour or two and experience a world beyond themselves… I think that’s really beautiful,” tells Howarth.

Howarth has taken her audiences on a number of journeys throughout her career, allowing them to escape their own realities for hours at a time and simply immerse themselves in her talents. She regards herself as a naturalistic actress, lending her authentic style to a number projects in television, film, and theatre. The esteemed actress is well known for her ability to convincingly transform into any character she sets out to play and is well known for her roles in television mini series such as OCD Mayhem, as well as film shorts like Mad House and The Comments. Recently, Howarth earned herself a role in the television series Hummingbird, and credits landing this role as being one of the greatest highlights of her careers.

Earlier on this year, Howarth auditioned for and won the role of Kelly in a psychological thriller called Madness Descending. The film, directed by Jimmy Cenci, tells the chilling tale of a brooding artist and writer, Devon, and his quest to complete his own novel. In the film, Kelly is Devon’s girlfriend and the story depicts the tole Devon’s creative process takes on their happy and loving relationship. One day, during the Christmas holidays, the couple experience a strange encounter with their landlord and the storyline spirals downward as Devon investigates the haunting truth inside their basement.

Playing Kelly was Howarth’s first experience within the horror genre and she was particularly eager to explore this new territory. She is very keen on the idea of expanding her skill set wherever possible and jumps at any opportunity to develop herself for the better of not only her career, but the entertainment industry as a whole. Cenci, who is used to working with extremely talented actors and actresses, was particularly impressed with the quality Howarth added to the film and knows that she was an integral cast member.

“Working with Michelle was a terrific and wonderful experience. She is extremely talented and a fantastic, professional actress – even in situations of great stress. I subjected her to some miserable situations and she rose to the occasion, exceeding all of my expectations. She is quick-witted, understands character development and takes direction well. All in all, she is a wonderful person, an exquisite actress, and a joy to work with. I’d be honored to work with her on any project in the future,” states Cenci.

What makes Howarth such a dream for a director to work with is her unwavering commitment to getting into character and to playing her part to the absolute best of her ability. Having only a week to learn the script before filming, Howarth meticulously learned her lines and ensured that she acquainted herself with the script in such a way that gave her a thorough understanding of how her character would think and act in the situations she was placed in. In the film, Kelly turns out to be a figment of Devon’s imagination. For this reason, Howarth dedicated her initial character analysis to learning Devon’s psyche, in order to grasp how he would’ve interacted with the character and which parts of his personality she would showcase.

Through this process of learning about Devon and about how he envisioned Kelly, Howarth was able to juxtapose the elements of his character that Kelly was supposed to highlight. In addition, she flawlessly mastered Kelly’s transition from Devon’s bubbly, fun-loving girlfriend into a fear-ridden, anxious character toward the end of the film. It takes an actress with unprecedented talent to be able to transform a character so drastically within the parameters of a single film, but Howarth did so with ease. There are no bounds to the quality of her skills and she was instrumental to the quality of the film.

“I liked the fact that I got to experience being the figment of someone’s imagination and having the challenge of portraying that as a reality for the film. I also like the arch of Kelly’s character and how she transforms from being the sweet, lovable girlfriend to a terrified mess, to an ultimately empty vessel devoid of emotion by the end of the film,” recalls Howarth.

The underlying message of the film is that Devon’s mind is a much more powerful tool than he knows, much like Howarth’s talents are far more profound than she may realize. The film is currently in post-production and is set to premiere in 2018. As for Howarth, however, her career is in full swing. She hopes to be a series regular on Hummingbird, as well as working on as many independent and feature films as her schedule will allow. She is also currently in production for two different films, one of which she helped write and produce. In all, she hopes to continue to act for the rest of her working days in order to keep telling stories that are worth telling. As far as she is concerned, the film industry is one of the greatest ways to initiate difficult conversations and she is honored to raise awareness to the important aspects of humankind.

Actress Isabella Richardson captivates in ‘Next of Kin’

For Isabella Richardson, acting is pushing boundaries. She throws her emotions into her characters, and therefore evokes viewers emotions, allowing them to see themselves in her portrayal. She is aware of the importance of her work and how it can impact the lives of her audience, and this knowledge allows her to fully commit to each and every role she takes on. The Australian actress is internationally sought-after, with an esteemed career at just nineteen years of age.

Working on projects such as the sketch comedy show You’re Skitting Me, and commercials for Beyond Blue and Sprite, Richardson has won audiences over with her naturalistic approach to her craft. She never overacts, and that is what makes her such an outstanding talent. This is exemplified yet again with her work in the acclaimed film Next of Kin.

“The story of the film is a relatable, but yet complicated interpretation of frustrations towards loved ones. We may get annoyed at the smallest things that someone you love does, but in the end, you adore them no matter what and should never take the little annoying things for granted, because you don’t know when they might be taken away from you,” said Richardson.

The short film follows a policewoman whose job is incredibly straining on her relationship with her husband, who is also her partner in the police force. She has moments in the film of annoyances towards her husband, but in the end, realizes not to take the people she is surrounded by for granted, due to receiving a call about a young boy who was caught up in a terrible accident causing his death.

“I really loved the director and his passion for movie making. The storyline of the film was incredibly deep, but also very simplistic that anyone who were to watch it would relate to the main character. I also believed that it would be an interesting character to try and put myself into,” she described.

Richardson plays Kristine, a character whose boyfriend has just fallen off a bridge and died after doing daring tricks on his skateboard. Kristine is undeniably devastated and has to come to terms with just seeing her boyfriend fall to his death. She is comforted by the police officers and asked questions of the accident immediately following it. Kristine had a broken outlook on life until she met David, but he was rebellious and would sometimes do things that made Kristine uneasy. He was thoughtless at times when it came to how Kristine felt about certain activities he took apart, specifically the people he hung out with. Kristine is the kind of person who needs someone there at all times, she is very co-dependent due to her late family’s careless upbringing, and she relies on a safety blanket, that being David. Kristine is quickly faced with another death leading her to start living an independent lifestyle with the hopes of recovering any day now from all the loss she has experienced in such a short time. It was the first moment of a turning point that led to the rest of the films outcome. It was a pivotal moment of emotion that was needed to spark the main characters and their involvement with each other, and Richardson more than met the task at hand.

“Working on Next of Kin was a truly interesting experience. I had never cried on camera, so that was probably the biggest challenge for me. I got into the mindset of this character by putting myself into her shoes. She had just seen her boyfriend fall to his death right before her eyes, so placing my own thought process into that situation brought up a lot of external emotion which I was able to translate into my characters own emotion,” she said.

When looking for an actress who could convincingly capture the vital role of Kristine, director Nicholas Carlton immediately thought of Richardson. The two had worked together previously on the moving coming for Beyond Blue, titled ‘Preventing Youth Suicide.’ Richardson’s portrayal of a seventeen-year-old troubled skateboarder greatly impressed the director, and he knew her talent would be perfect for Kristine.

“Isabella is featured in a short film that I directed called Next of Kin, and she played the character of a young girl who had just experienced her boyfriend’s death right before her eyes. Isabella brought a realistic aspect to this character. The situation is a devastating ordeal for a young girl to manage. She applied her training and techniques that she has learnt through her short years to reveal a compelling outlook of a simplistic character without any scripted lines. She worked with the me to fully understand the feelings that her character would have felt in that moment, as if she was in the characters shoes,” said Carlton.

Next of Kin went on to receive praise as an Official Selection at the Byron Bay Film Festival where it premiered. Without Richardson’s authentic portrayal of Kristine, such acclaim may not have been possible, but for the actress, she simply enjoyed working alongside great people.

“I loved being able to work with a great crew and cast. They all were incredibly lovely and I was met only with helpful, kind people. We all were there because we loved doing what we do and that was one of the things that made the whole experience so much fun,” she said.

There is little doubt that Richardson will continue to be a name to watch out for on both the big and small screen for years to come.

Actress Liya Shay is the voice in your head in film ‘From Within’

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Actress Liya Shay, photo by Collin Stark

“Taking on a new role, transforming into a new character is like a drug to us actors,” said Liya Shay. The Russian native has enjoyed acting since she was just a child, knowing she would never want to do anything else; she can’t live without it. She believes she is one of the luckiest people on the earth, getting to do what she loves every day. She is also one of the best actresses to recently come out of Russia.

Throughout her career, Shay has worked on a series of esteemed projects, solidifying her reputation as a true professional. Her portrayal of the sister in The 4th Person caught the attention of both audiences and critics, a trend that continued for her roles in Musician Evan Blum’s “Won’t Be Alright” music video, and the short film Greek Yougurt.

“If you don’t truly love acting, you would not be able to do it,” she said.

Shay has become an international success, with producers and directors looking to have her in their films. Just last year, this happened when producer Nikita Sapronov reached out to the actress to be in the film From Within. The two had worked together on the film Forever, and Sapronov knew Shay would be ideal for the role of Louise. The two have now worked on four projects together, and Sapronov is always impressed with the skill that Shay holds despite her young age. He was very impressed with how fluently she switches between accents and dialects. He helped the casting directors of the television series Cyberia find their lead character Dr. Alina Petrovska, knowing that Shay can speak Russian and do an authentic Russian accent. In the near future, Sapronov yet again will be working with the actress on the mockumentary feature film Homeschool Graduation, and believes that her talent as an outstanding actor will make her a wonderful asset to his film.

“Liya created a unique character in From Within. Fictional, yet so familiar to everybody who faces the struggle of their perfectionist self. The combination of her strong deep melodic voice together with the British accent that she portrayed flawlessly due to her background living in the UK, created a character that was unforgettable. The character was an antagonist, but Liya was able to play on different notes of the character, making her performance so unique,” said Sapronov.

From Within tells the story of Caleb, a musician who stands up to his perfectionist inner voice, accepts his faults and embraces his inner creativity, taking his performance beyond the technique. Shay believes the film tells an important story, as many people struggle with trying to be perfect and constantly feel not good enough. From Within tackles these issues.

“Our world is so reliant on competition in everything we do. There is always someone better or stronger or cleverer and we always have this voice in our heads that tells us that we are not good enough, and often this voice is the reason why we give up. In this story, we wanted to remind the audience that doing something from your heart is more important than doing it perfectly. That what we do and the way we do it is so unique to every person, that simply that makes us equally special. Trusting your instincts and not comparing yourself to anybody else is the key to success,” said Shay.

Shay’s character Louise was extremely crucial to the story of From Within, as she leads Caleb through his self-discovery. She pushes him beyond his boundaries, and makes him realize that he can achieve greatness on his own, if only he embraces his mistakes. Shay was able to portray how three dimensional her character became, despite being written as a simple antagonist.

“I loved playing around with this character. I tend to get cast in roles that show vulnerability and a lot of emotions. This character was the opposite. She was strong and in complete control over Caleb. it’s definitely a lot of fun to be the boss. Also, I was always moving around as opposed to Caleb who is always at the piano in our scenes. It gave me an opportunity to really play the devil who is always behind, always whispering in your ear. The gorgeous red dress was the icing on the cake,” said Shay.

The audience’s sympathy for both the pianist and the muse helped the film achieve such success on domestic and international film festivals. It was an Official Selections at the Mission Viejo Film Festival, Oasis Film Festival, VOB Screening Series, and Austrian International Film Festival. None of this could have been possible without Shay’s intense portrayal of Louise. She knew the importance of building a believable relationship with the character of Caleb. Because Louise was an imaginary character, Shay had to create a sense that she was not a real person, but a product of Caleb’s imagination. Although it was mainly achieved through montage in the film, she had to carry the sense of it throughout the film. She chose to often walk around in circles close to Caleb, intruding his personal space, which emphasized that they had a very close relationship, and that she was holding some sort of power over him.

“Louise has a strong mindset that can’t be changed or meddled with. Unlike Caleb, she knows exactly what she wants from him and how to get him there. Although she is the antagonist, the audience is compelled to listen to her because of the intensity that she holds in every moment,” Shay described.

Audiences should be sure to check out Shay’s portrayal of Natasha in the upcoming film Jet Lag. Check out the trailer here.

Actress Claire Stollery tells her story in award-winning film ‘Who is Hannah’

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Claire Stollery as Hannah in Who is Hannah

Claire Stollery was never interested in anything other than acting. As a child growing up in Calgary, she always had this one passion. As she grew and moved around Canada, what started out as a childhood dream started to become a reality. There is no doubt that Claire Stollery was meant to be an actress, and audiences everywhere know this every time they see her on the big and small screen.

As an actor, being vulnerable is pivotal to opening yourself up to a character. Connecting with the story and allowing your experiences to come through is vital when it comes to connecting with an audience. Stollery knows this well. She starred in the award-winning film Who is Hannah, that she also co-wrote, and allowed the events in her life to guide her character, creating a cathartic experience for the actress.

“This film was very close to me. I co-wrote it with a great comedian friend of mine, John Hastings. We wanted to collaborate and create a great dark comedy, but we didn’t know what we wanted to write about. One night after a show we were sitting in my cold car, a couple days before Christmas. I told him the story of how I had met my biological father in Los Angeles when I was 21. I found his number and left him a message, lying about my identity because I wasn’t sure he’d call me back if he knew who I was. In the end I came clean and we decided to meet up. When he arrived at the coffee shop, he ended up calling me while he was standing right beside me. We had no idea what each other looked like! It was like a meet-cute you’d see in a rom-com.  John couldn’t stop laughing of the horror and awkwardness of the situation. We decided then and there we would write a film exploring that scenario and what could go wrong when you don’t know what each other look like,” Stollery described.

Who is Hannah is the awkward and unlikely tale of how one girl meets her dead dad. Stollery plays Hannah, a role that was written with her in mind. Because she helped write the film, she already had the character’s voice inside her. Hannah is a girl who just wants to belong somewhere and know where she came from. She feels lost and incomplete because she’s never known the identity of her father – only known pieces from what her mother has told her. The problem is, she discovers everything her mother has told her about her father is the plot to Indiana Jones. When she finds out that her mother completely lied to her about her father’s identity and that he’s alive and lives in the next town, she has new hope for self-completion.

“I can’t really relate to Hannah’s feeling of incompleteness because I was lucky enough to have a dad growing up. My mom met my father who raised me when I was six months old. But even then, you always wonder what that other person is like. Are you like them? Do you look like them? There are always those thoughts at the back of your mind,” Stollery described. “Everyone wants to know where they come from. We want to know our history; it’s a universal desire. For those people who are searching for their identity, we wanted a film that let them know they are not alone. Since making the film I have had a lot of people write me or come up to me after screenings telling me about their experience or a friend’s experience of meeting a biological parent. There are a lot of those stories out there, but people don’t talk about them that often. There’s a lot of shame in having parents abandon their children. For the kid, it is a terrifying journey seeking out and meeting a parent for the very first time. You’ve imagined and built up this person your entire lifetime. There’s a lot of pressure for fantasy to match reality. It was important for John and me to write a film that finds the humour in such a bizarre but impactful moment in someone’s life.”

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Behind the scenes of Who is Hannah

Because of Stollery’s deep understanding of her character, the film went on to do exceptionally well at many international film festivals. It was an Official Selection at The Atlantic Film Festival where it premiered last year, and then went on to be an Official Selection at The Hamilton Film Festival, The Toronto International Short Film Festival, Hollywood North Film Festival and The Toronto Independent Film Festival. At the Lakeshorts International Film Festival where it was also an Official Selection, Who is Hannah took home the Cinespace Jury’s Choice Award and the People’s Choice Award.

“When it finally premiered we were so happy people liked it and were laughing. Because we had been with it for so long, we had no idea if it was even funny anymore. And you start second guessing yourself and wondering, was it ever funny? Were we just delirious on set when we filmed it at 4 am?” said Stollery. “And it was amazing to receive the Jury’s Choice Award. They always have such talented and revered people on their jury, so their opinion meant a lot. I’m so tickled when anyone likes something I make. It was a great honour to receive it and even better feeling to receive the People’s Choice award. We didn’t know anyone at the screenings, and to have a room full of strangers resonate with your film was really a special moment for us. There really is nothing better than sitting in a theatre and listening to people laugh at something you wrote and eaves dropping on people saying good things about it afterwards.”

Part of what makes Stollery so good at what she does is her ability to improvise. Although this is sometimes not encouraged on set, the Director of Who is Hannah, Mark O’Brien, was all for it. He knew what Stollery was capable of, and knew what she could add to both the character and the film. His instincts were right.

“Claire is an extremely talented actress and writer. She’s a very open-minded artist who knows how to collaborate well, while at the same time making her work authentic and unique. She works hard, and that is a rarity in this business. There’s a lot of talk in the entertainment industry, but Claire goes out and gets it done. And really, that’s what you want most from someone you’re working with. And she does it well,” said O’Brien. “She’s a very natural actress, very real. Acting is a tough skill that can be improved through training, but I do believe that there must be some inherent talent in the person first. Claire has a foundation of incredible talent that will take her very far. Anyone who has the chance to work with her should count themselves lucky.”

It was more than just the story and character that Stollery could connect with, even the set meant something to her. They filmed in an old, abandoned farm house that the actress had actually grown up in, as well as a hotel that was the first place Stollery went to when she visited Toronto as a child.

“Even though the film is a comedy, it is rooted in real issues. There’s a fine line tonally with dark comedies. You don’t want to make it too comedic otherwise you lose the truth of the situations. But you don’t want to make it too dark, otherwise you lose the comedic release. It’s a balancing act doing those types of films” she said.

But the most important part of the process for Stollery was not the awards, accolades, or why she embarked on the project, it was what it turned into.

“Filming was therapeutic for me. I had just lost my father who raised me a couple years prior, we were filming in the house I grew up in, the story was loosely based on my experience with meeting my biological father. And I realized I never really talked about it with my father who raised me. I regret that I didn’t check in with him more about the whole situation and considered his feelings more. But he was great about it and knew it was something I needed to do. He didn’t interfere. Not to mention my mother wasn’t too happy I was making a film about a man who had left us, even though it was very loosely inspired by him. But that was how she saw it. So it’s safe to say there were a lot of emotions surrounding the project!” Stollery concluded.

Audiences can see Who Is Hannah at the end of this year on CBC.

Australian Actress Sunny Koll helps sheds light on cyber-bullying in ‘Zach’s Story’

Sunny Koll doesn’t just tell stories, she embodies them. She brings a story to life. As an actress, she tries to find within her character a commonality, a humanity, that connects each of us together. From that connection, people are able to see themselves within the story. That is what makes her one of the best, and that is why she is recognized around the world for her talents.

This ability to connect with audiences transcends to every project Koll embarks on. She takes audiences with her on her path of ending human trafficking in the series Traffik, and in the comedic television show Flat Whites, viewers feel for her character Stacy, as she has been duped by the two main characters in their attempt to win her affections. However, in the film Zach’s Story, Koll not only connects with her audience, but she helps to tell the impactful story, raising awareness on the important and timely issue of cyber-bullying.

“The script was empowering for kids who have experienced cyber bullying. Within Australia, there has been a lot of action taken within schools to stop bullying and celebrate differences, as the Australian government is getting behind this, I really wanted to be a part of it,” said Koll. “I liked how important this project is. Today’s world moves at such a fast pace and there’s so much pressure on teenagers, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have the speed of the internet added into the mix of bullying. I really liked that this campaign offers answers with how to deal with these situations, so you don’t feel alone, which only breeds more pain and long-term shame.”

Zach’s Story is part of the “ReWrite Your Story” campaign, an anti-cyberbullying campaign for the Australian Government Office of Children’s eSafety Commissioner. “Rewrite Your Story” consists of a series of short films focusing on different cyberbullying scenarios. Zach’s Story tells the story of Zach, a high school student who is being cyber bullied. The film highlights various ways a family unit can deal with these situations.

“The message is incredibly important. Bullying of any kind erodes self-esteem and is usually done to the most sensitive of people. The effects of bullying can take years to heal. The real tragedy is that the bullies themselves have something broken within them and are usually dealing with some horrific power plays of their own in their family homes and are only acting out to gain power somewhere else,” said Koll. “It’s very satisfying to know it’s reached so many people and that people want to make a change. It’s also so incredibly brilliant for Christopher Benz for taking out the Best Director’s Award in an Online Drama Project for his work on Rewrite Your Story at the Australian Director’s Guild Awards. He really is a brilliantly talented artist who continuously gives and works very hard, never resting on his laurels and I can’t wait to see what he brings out next. To also win Gold at the World Media Festival and the Bronze World Medal at the New York Festivals Television & Film Awards is so fantastic for him and his team at Brave TV.”

Zach’s Story premiered online, on the “Rewrite Your Story” site and on the “Rewrite Your Story” Facebook page. The Rewrite Your Story campaign has had almost one million views online with 133 thousand of them being for Zach’s Story. The film went on to win the Bronze World Medal at the New York Festival’s Television and Film Awards, and the campaign won the Gold Award at the World Media Festival 2017.

“It’s very satisfying to know it’s reached so many people and people want to make a change. To also win the Bronze World Medal at the New York Festivals Television & Film Awards, and for the entire Rewrite Your Story campaign, to win Gold at the World Media Festival, is fantastic as it means these topics are getting the air time they deserve,” said Koll.

Koll played the vital role of Leanne, Zach’s mother. Due to the cyber bullying, Zach was withdrawing, which caused concern for his parents. After his father discovered the cyber bullying pages, the parents worked together to create a safe family atmosphere where Zach could talk openly about his feelings and they could work out a plan of action. She’s doing her best to keep a normal relaxed home life, so Zach feels safe to express his feelings. For this role, Koll researched bullying in all its aspects, including the effects it has not only on the person being bullied, but also the entire family, as there can be radical changes within the person being bullied. This commitment to her performance was appreciated by all she worked with.

“Working with Sunny was a breeze. She is very much a team player and in tune with cast and crew. She’s also very open to direction, which is important. Sunny is a dedicated, passionate actress. She puts time into her preparation and turns up ready to work. She’s driven to create and combines working hard with natural ability, to find the layers, truth and need within each of her characters,” said Christopher Benz, Director of Zach’s Story.

The accolades and the awards, however, are not why Koll is proud to be a part of the project. For her, she wanted to educate, knowing that education can heal all parties involved with bullying. Showing young children that their actions can have such effects is important, as Koll knows firsthand.

“My uncle is a holocaust survivor, and regularly goes to schools to talk with the students. At one school a student approached him after his talk and said that his entire life he had treated people very badly and since hearing about the holocaust first hand wanted to make changes. It works out this boy was the school bully and nobody had been able to get through to him, but for whatever reason on this day in this moment he was reached and forever changed. This is what the power of continuing the message of compassion and acceptance does,” she said.

To learn more about the “ReWrite Your Story” campaign, and to watch Koll’s performance in Zach’s story, you can click here.