Tag Archives: British Talent

British Actress Milanka Brooks brings on the laughs in TV Movie ‘Do Not Disturb’

As a child, Milanka Brooks found herself inspired by her late father, Harry Brooks. He was an actor, and the two would discuss theatre, film and television, and frequented the theatre together. Growing up, Milanka began seeing the theatre world as a magical space where real-time stopped and the world as she knew it only existed within the parameters of the stage. She knew from that young age that she would find herself on the same path as her father and that her future lied in acting.

Now, Brooks is an acclaimed actress, showing audiences in her home country of England and around the world just what a talent she is. Having recently starred in an episode of the popular Netflix original series Black Mirror, and the hit British television show Benidorm, the actress’ versatility is evident, and with her upcoming film Patrick being released later this year, she has no plans on slowing down.

One of Brooks’ most prolific roles was that of Svetlana in the movie Do Not Disturb. The film tells the story of Anna and John, who book into the Stratford-on-Avon hotel where they spent their honeymoon ten years earlier – separately, following Anna’s extra-marital fling, but they had paid for the room anyway. They decide to give their marriage another go but then Anna sees young Luke, the hungover best man from the previous night’s stag party, who mistakes her for a prostitute and whom she rings receptionist Sheila to get rid of. In the meantime, two real escorts arrive and assume that porter Neil is their client, to Sheila’s annoyance. Confusion arises when a blindfold Anna has sex with Luke by mistake and Neil ejects her husband John, believing him to be Luke. By the time Anna’s mother turns up there is much explaining to do.

Do Not Disturb Sian Gibson, Kierston Wareing, photo UKTV
Sian Gibson, Milanka Brooks and Kierston Wareing in Do Not Disturb, photo courtesy of UKTV

Do Not Disturb is a really fantastic romp made for audiences with a penchant for farce. Even when reading the script, I could feel the pace and energy of the film. It doesn’t shy away from being a purely energetic, entertaining spoof, full of thrills and turns that leave the audience feeling fully satiated by the end,” said Brooks.

The character of Svetlana is a very intimidating, confident and forceful escort from Russia. As one of the two escorts, Brooks’ character is hired to entertain the groom-to-be on his stag-do in a hotel in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a town that is definitely not known for this kind of behaviour. They storm in to the hotel and demand to be taken to his room. They end up entering the wrong hotel room and seducing the wrong man, which is the catalyst for the train of events to follow.

Svetlana came in to destroy what was already a fairly shattered environment, in Brooks’ opinion. The humor in the story came from a degenerate group of people, all finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Svetlana highlighted this by her stature, attitude and insolence of the whole situation.

“The men are quite paradoxically the scared characters in the story, and the women end up incredibly domineering and commanding. Sometimes I feel like this came a little too naturally,” Brooks joked.

Milanka press Do Not Disturb Catherine Tate, Miles Jupp, Steve Edge, Kierston Wareing, Dylan Edwards, Penny Ryder, Photo UKTV
Catherine Tate, Miles Jupp, Steve Edge, Kierston Wareing, Dylan Edwards, Penny Ryder, and Milanka Brooks in Do Not Disturb, photo courtesy of UKTV

Do Not Disturb also stars British icon Catherine Tate, which was the initial reason Brooks wanted to be a part of it. Working alongside such talented comedians inspired Brooks, saying the TV movie really felt like an ensemble piece from the beginning. Rehearsals consisted of a lot of improvisation and devising around the script. Writer and Executive Producer Aschlin Ditta was always open to the cast’s ideas and any amendments that complimented the story and supported the characters. This allowed the cast to really become comfortable with each other and their characters, playing off everyone’s comedic timing and creating laugh-out-loud funny scenes.

“Milanka is a very fine actress and comedienne and someone I would work with again without a second thought. As a performer she is brilliant and skilful, with a rare eye for both comedy and drama, and as a professional she is faultless. Milanka is incredibly thorough both in her preparation and execution, an exceptional talent, and while she undoubtedly delivers in performance she is also a team player who is a joy to be around. Her energy, talent, insight and humour make her an actress to grace any production,” said Aishlin Ditta, Writer and Executive Producer of Do Not Disturb.

A lot of Brooks’ performance was based on her on-screen relationship with fellow actress Kierston Wareing. The chemistry between the two, playing escorts, had to be comedic and believable to bring audiences in, so the two spent a lot of time getting to know each other outside of rehearsals and filming. The result was perfect timing between the two characters.

Working alongside such a stellar cast and crew, including Wareing, Ditta, and Tate is why Brooks enjoyed creating Do Not Disturb as much as she did. With such comedic energy all around, it was easy to see the humor of the story on set.

We ended up shooting in this beautiful country house a little outside of London. If any neighbors were watching they would have likely called the police given the absurd nature of a lot of people running in and out of rooms half dressed, but fortunately for us we were in the middle of nowhere,” she concluded.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Top photo by Faye Thomas

Advertisements

Ask an Expert: Executive Producer Ed Egan provides insight and advice

I’m Executive Producer Ed Egan, and for over 15 years I have worked in the television industry, becoming recognized as one of the leading game show producers in the world. As Executive Producer, I am responsible for leading teams who produce great television shows, but I am also tasked with developing new ideas to create formats which have the potential to sell all around the world. I have worked on many leading gameshow formats around the world, in the US, UK and Australia, for networks such as NBC, ABC, BBC, ITV, Network Ten among others.

Gameshow formats are notoriously difficult to crack and small, seemingly insignificant tweaks can have profound repercussions if they are not discovered through intensive gameplay testing. The last thing you want is to discover a flaw whilst filming a show, as there can be millions of dollars at stake. This is why an experienced Executive Producer, who can put together a strong team, is vital in the production of any new format. I have become well known for working on pilots and first seasons for my ability to tweak gameplay and iron out any potential problems that could arise.

I believe the most important role of an Executive Producer is to lead a team in a way that ensures every member provides their best possible work on a production and feels valued in what they are making.

Here are my quick tips to leading a production team to produce the best shows possible:

Choose the right team

It all comes from having a great team. Not only does it make your life as an Exec easier, it also makes the best product. Meet lots of people and spend time interviewing them. Some people give great interviews, and some don’t, but it’s important to make a distinction between those that can talk well and those that can actually do the job! Make sure to always check as many references as possible. Personality is also important though, as the people you are employing are going to be a team and will need to work well together. Finding a good, balanced mix with strong abilities is the key.

Stay in contact with people you’ve worked with.

It’s important to know what the availability is of people you like that you’ve worked with previously so that you can plan for when productions begin. Sometimes it can take weeks to get a full team on board and the more aware you are of who is and isn’t available at all times, the better prepared you will be.

Note down ideas

Keep notes in your phone when you see something you like or that inspires you. A film, another television show or even the design of a restaurant you happen to be in – if there’s something visual you like it may be useful in a show at some point. Commercials are often very useful starting points when trying to explain your vision of a project to people for the first time. Also, keep notes on possible talent that you see, whether this be TV, film or theatre, as you might want to use them in the future.

Enjoy it

We’re very fortunate to work in a creative industry that often affords us the chance to go to exciting places, meet interesting people and we get to be creative. Enjoy it, encourage it in others and aim to inspire those who you are working with. They will be running teams in the not so distant future, so try to set a good example.

Believe in yourself

Like so many other Execs, we question ourselves and our abilities all the time and that’s not a bad thing. But, you are at the level you’re at for a reason, so make those decisions and stick to them. It’s important to remember that at times, especially when the going gets tough.

And finally…

Work hard and be nice to people!

British Actor Pezh Maan captivates in award-winning French series ‘The Bureau’

Pezh Maan in The Bureau (2016)
Pezh Maan as Houtan Vosoughi in The Bureau

Pezh Maan did not choose to become an actor. For the British native, it was instinctual, similar to waking up each day and going to bed every night. There was never anything else he imagined himself doing, and as a child, he never wondered what his future would hold, he knew. He has always listened to his heart and believes that when one lives by such a rule, success will always follow. It definitely has for Maan, who has become a sought-after actor in the United Kingdom’s film and television industry.

Audiences around the world quickly became enamoured with Maan when he played the Chief Analyst and right-hand man to Christoph Waltz’ Blofeld in the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre. He is also recognized for his outstanding work in the television shows Eastenders and Tyrant. His film Unattended Item went on to critical acclaim, and there is a lot of buzz around his upcoming television series, Deep State, starring Kingsmen’s Mark Strong and Game of Thrones’ Joe Dempsie, which premieres on FOX this Spring.

“I think what I do as an actor is interpret the words of the writer and turn them into all the facets of the living breathing human being that I am being asked to play. I get into the skin of the character whilst still being myself with all my own emotional responses. When the character is somewhat at odds with my own experiences, imagination can come to one’s aid in creating a way to relate to the character. Imagination is the lifeblood of actors’ work and interpreting the text is an imaginative endeavour, and an extremely rewarding one for me,” he said.

Maan’s versatility is endless, and as a multilingual actor, his work in other languages has led to success in countries outside of his home of the United Kingdom. In 2016, he starred in the French television series Le Bureau des Legendes, translated to The Bureau in English. The series went on to become a hit with not only audiences, but French critics as well. At the COLCOA French Film Festival, it took home the TV Series Jury Special Prize and the TV Series Audience Award. At the French TV Critics Association Awards (A.C.S.), it won Best Production. It also won Best French Series at Le Parisien, Best French Series at the Globes de Cristal Award, and was in the Top 10 Series at Télérama: Top 10 Series.

“I think knowing that the season was such a success gave everyone confidence that their ideas could only build on the quality that had already been established. I’m very proud of the work that we did, and it is a great feeling to be part of a universally lauded show. Despite what people say, good reviews and accolades are validation of a standard that you hope to achieve, the excellence that your hard work is aiming for. And it is satisfying that audiences and critics alike have responded to the elements that we worked to create for them. As an actor who is always learning, it gave me some very valuable feedback, especially as the performances were singled out for praise. It validated some of the bolder creative choices I made and that the Director had the bravery to include in the final cut,” said Maan.

The show, now in its third season, is a spy thriller directed by Eric Rochant for Studio Canal +. The Bureau is based upon real accounts by former spies and inspired by contemporary events, and centres on the daily life and missions of agents within France’s Directorate-General for External Security, its principal external security service. It focuses on the “Bureau of Legends”, responsible for training and handling deep-cover agents (operating ‘under legend’) on long-term missions in areas with French interests, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. Living under false identities for years, these agents’ missions are to identify and recruit good intelligence sources.

Maan played Houtan Vosoughi, an Intelligence officer charged with investigating and arresting foreign agents who have penetrated Iran. He has a wife and family who were oblivious to the danger and risk he was facing in his everyday role. As such, he was capable of leading multiple lives successfully without disturbing any of the delicate balances of each, all while still maintaining his sanity. He was a man capable of extreme violence, which was kept very deeply hidden behind an impassive exterior and a sense of decorum. He was a skilled communicator and could use words as weapons to disarm his opponents and reveal information without needing to resort to violence. He was also very self-confident in being able to handle people who were not trustworthy but had vital intelligence. Maan’s character was pivotal to the success of the second season of the show. He was the man who put all the pieces of the puzzle together that had been accumulating as the episodes progressed and discovered double agents that had infiltrated security. Through a series of cleverly crafted scenes and after interviewing a number of suspects he was able to make the arrests that lead to the series climax.

The arrest of Sara Giradeau’s character, Marina, was a pivotal moment in the story that created a climate of fear about the severe consequences that awaited her and her colleagues. Houtan’s arrival in the story as a dark horse and sinister figure was timed to escalate the tension that had been mounting and his quiet probing into the activities of the protagonists, aided by a wonderfully nuanced script, served as the catalyst for the exciting climax.

Maan has been a fan of French Cinema for quite a while, and when the opportunity to audition for the show came about, he eager to partake. After reading for multiple roles, Maan was chosen by the producer for the essential role of Houtan Vosoughi. The producers knew of the actor’s work in Spectre and they wanted to imbue the character of Houtan Vosoughi with a similar kind of cutting edge mentality.

“I watched the first season of The Bureau and was very impressed with the economy of style and the cinematic pace that gave the show a very unique atmosphere akin to some of the great cinematic thrillers. It was brilliantly acted, and I wanted this show to be my first French language production,” he said.

To prepare for his role on the series, Maan studied the first season, making sure to pick up on the details and nuances of the atmosphere, characters, and style of the show. From there, Maan created his character off the pages of the script. He decided Houtan’s actions would be expressed through stillness and facial expression as much as possible, keeping in line with the intelligence operatives holding multiple cards close to their chests. Maan also wanted to generate a lot of tension in the investigation and interrogation scenes, with the idea that he was leading the audience closer to the danger and intrigue of the plot. He executed this to perfection.

Maan also studied similar American shows, such as 24, stylizing his character similar to Jack Bauer. By doing this, he noted the subtlety of the acting and Keifer Sutherland’s ability to portray level-headedness in high stakes scenarios. Maan used this as a reference to find the right tone for his character. He also watched a lot of old crime thrillers in the French language and worked with a dialogue coach to bring out the nuances of the language.

One of the highlight of the experience for Maan was shooting in Morocco, where most of the scenes take place. Not only did it feel authentic, he says it is one of the most beautiful locations he has working in throughout his career. The other highlight, of course, was working with such a tremendous team.

“Working with so many experienced and talented artists was an exciting challenge that definitely motivated me to produce better work. It was such a collaborative experience on set with cast and crew which brought out the best in all of us and the atmosphere was a really lovely one to work in. The level of detail that concerned the Director, Camera team and fellow actors brought a high degree of excellence to the ambition of the project and one that was artistically very satisfying to be part of,” said Maan.

Be sure to watch the second season of The Bureau to witness Maan’s stellar performance as Houtan Vosoughi.

Dominic Kay terrifies as conflicted veteran in ‘White Settlers’

Photo by Ian Thraves 4
Dominic Kay, photo by Ian Thraves

When one asks Dominic Kay why he went into acting, his response is quite simple; he would not have been happy doing anything else. Every day he arrives on set, he is eager to get started. Acting never feels like work to Kay, and the long days and trailer time that some find disheartening just add to the experience for this British native. He humbly feels lucky to do what he loves every day, and audiences around the world feel lucky to watch this talent on both the big and small screens.

Kay’s work in film and television has made him instantly recognizable in the United Kingdom. He has appeared in shows such as Hollyoaks in the City as well as the renowned British soap Coronation Street. His work in film includes the acclaimed historical drama Allies, and many more. However, this actor does not limit himself to just one genre, and as the villain in the 2014 horror White Settlers, Kay’s versatility is evident in every scene.

“This project appealed to me initially due to the fact that it was an opportunity to work with a director and producer that I heard very good things about. Then once I was read the script I was hooked, I read the whole screenplay in an hour, then immediately phoned my agent and told her that I wanted to do it,” said Kay.

White Settlers tells the story of Ed and Sarah’s first night at their new home – an isolated farmhouse on the Scottish borders. This should be a new beginning away from their stressful London lives. And at first it is; come sunset they fall in love all over again on a wander in the woods. But as darkness falls, Sarah suspects they’re not alone, Ed goes to investigate and quickly, the evening becomes a nightmare. It suddenly dawns on them; they do not belong here, and they certainly aren’t welcome.

In White Settlers, Kay plays Local, the antihero. He is an ex-military psychopath, who stops at nothing to get what he wants. He is hard as nails, a bully, and a pack leader. He is definitely not one to be taken lightly. As you get further into the film, audiences see his desperation turn sadistic, forcing him to become more and more ruthless. He thinks nothing of terrorizing people to get what he wants. From when he first enters the feature until the very end, he causes nothing but chaos.

While playing such a menacing role, Kay made sure to maintain the constant barrage of peril and volatility. Particularly in the scenes without dialogue, he managed to be terrifying just with body language and facial expressions. To maintain being threatening and intimidating without being overdramatic can be a challenge, but Kay did so flawlessly. He exudes malice and instills fear into his c audience by doing as little as possible. He always made sure he brought an element of truth into his character. In one particular scene, he acted out of instinct and went off book. The director, Simeon Halligan, loved what the actor did and Kay’s instincts proved fruitful, as that scene made the final cut of the film.

White Settlers gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for a while – to play a real nasty piece of work. I love to play around with characters, and this character was going to be fun, despite being a challenge. I had to be very menacing, intimidating, and scare the life out of my co-stars. Decision making and being brave was key for this character. It was a difficult mindset to get into, so I found that if I wasn’t fully immersed into him it could come across a little forced,” Kay described.

Kay’s work as the leading bad guy helped White Settlers achieve international success at many prestigious film festivals. The film premiered at the 2014 Film4 FrightFest. It was the winner of the ScreamFest Festival Trophy – Best Cinematography 2014. It was then distributed by Falcon films, Grim up North. Many critics were impressed by Kay’s ability to terrify yet still be endearing. The Producer of the film, Rachel Richardson-Jones, credits Kay as being one of the driving forces of the horror film.

“I cast Dominic to play the lead bad guy in the film. He was an integral part of the cast and did a great job. We were hugely impressed by his acting skills and how he adapted to the role. He was a great addition to the cast and was good to work with. He was very professional and hardworking at all times,” said Richardson-Jones.

When casting for the film, Richardson-Jones immediately thought of Kay after seeing the actor in a television show. She invited him in for a meet and greet, and once Kay read the script, it was a perfect match. He was eager to explore a side of himself that he never had before, and working with a team that he knew would be ideal, he immediately said yes to the part.

“This project was great to be part of. Well, having to portray a character that is a complete psychopath was a joy and a challenge to be honest. It was great fun it gave me freedom to express my darker sides and go even further with them. The director was a credit to the production and got the best out of me with ease. The whole cast just performed really well and everyone bounced of each other adding the performances,” said Kay. “It’s not every day you get to be an axe wielding mad man and terrorize innocent people.”

This year, audiences can see Kay on the big screen once again in the feature Walk Like a Panther. The film tells the story of a group of 1980s wrestlers who are forced to don the lycra once last time when their beloved local pub is threatened with closure. Kay is incredibly eager to share this film with audiences around the world.

It is without a doubt that Dominic Kay is an inspiration to those looking to pursue acting not just in the United Kingdom, but around the world. He always knew acting was his passion, and never gave up on his dream, and he has wise words for those who would like to follow in his footsteps.

“Read as much as you can and expand your vocabulary. This understanding gives you so many more places to go with your performance. You can identify subtle changes in scenes and make better decisions based on the information in front of you. Secondly, I would advise that you study yourself and identify exactly who you are deep down – your core characteristics. This understanding of who you are lets you know what you bring to the table, what you are selling. There’s no point in trying to be something you’re not, because people can see through. Lastly, don’t be scared of letting yourself go or looking a fool, and be brave in your decision making. Unless you are very lucky, success won’t come easy, so work hard,” he concluded.

 

Photo by Ian Thraves

YouTuber Ryan “Bucks” Hughes promotes Cineplex and WorldGaming for large tournament

When Ryan Hughes made his first video on YouTube, he never expected the fame he would achieve from the platform. At the time he was just 17, growing up in the small town of Horsham, England. Like many at that age, he was dealing with the social stresses of teenage years. He also was struggling with anxiety and depression, dealing with what seemed like unsurmountable personal problems at the time. He turned to YouTube as an escape; making videos under the alias “Bucks Fizz” was a way to make his audience laugh and briefly forget about the struggles he was dealing. Now, five years later, Hughes is known internationally as “Bucks”, a celebrated YouTube content creator and social media influencer, and he attributes those difficult years to the success he has today.

Hughes passions for gaming and making videos has led to his YouTube channel having over 400,000 subscribers from all over the world. When he first began his channel, he played a game called Runescape, which his first couple of years using the platform was focused on. As he began to average more views per video, he started to expand his content, playing more video games and making videos about his thoughts and opinions, as well as day-to-day experiences. Eventually, he found he could make a career out of his favorite hobby, and has never looked back.

“I found YouTube as a platform where you could be creative without having to speak, or even show your face if you didn’t want to. Reaching out to an online audience in a situation like this and receiving compliments and support on your work only motivates you to keep striving forward. Growing up through my teens, I was an avid gamer, I use to play games with my friends all the time, which brought the YouTube world of gaming to life, where we watch YouTube for guides, entertainment and more. This then sparks up personalities that you enjoy watching in relation to what you’re interested in, which is and for me, was a very desirable thing,” he said.

Hughes fame and influential power over his audience allows him to work with relevant brands to help grow their customer base. One of these brands was the North American theatre giant, Cineplex. When hosting their Cineplex WorldGaming Canadian Championships this year, they reached out to several influencers to help gain awareness for the competition, “Bucks” was one of those few.

It was a pleasure to work with Ryan and his agency of record Studio 71,” said Oliver Silverstein, Marketing Manager at WorldGaming. “Ryan creates compelling content on his channel and has a very loyal following. We look forward to working with Ryan again in the future.”

Hughes promoted the competition through his videos in August and September of this year. Playing the game Counter Strike: Global Offensive, he was able to inform his viewers of the competition and provide them with information of how to sign up and attend. Although he is based in England, Hughes has a large fan base in North America, which the tournament was open to. Through his campaign, he was able to generate over 200,000 impressions and create awareness for the tournament.

bucks crazy personality
Ryan “Bucks” Hughes

Earlier this year, Cineplex and WorldGaming approached Hughes to promote the competition. They knew with his vast audience and creative videos, he could find a fun and unique way to help promote the tournament. Hughes was happy to generate interest in the tournament, and was invited to the finals in Toronto from September 22nd to 24th, where the winner would take home $90,000. This was the first of its kind for this type of collaboration, as Hughes’ videos are for the entertainment aspect of gaming and are generally watched by those who play for fun, rather than the professionals. The campaign was the ideal way to integrate both the fundamental entertainment side of E-Sports games and the professional side.

“E-Sports is such a huge and increasingly dominating part of our community, and I want to support it in so many ways. Being offered this position to promote such a large tournament was an honor and beneficial to myself to shed my personal light on it. Although I’m more on the entertainment side of CS:GO opposed to the professional scene, I always look up to the professionals who are very talented in what they do. I wanted to make this video to promote a huge tournament and be involved in such a spectacular event,” said Hughes.

Hughes believes it is crucial that both the entertainment and creative side of E-Sports games, where people such as himself create entertaining videos about the games collaborate with the professional side. They are completely different to each other, the professional scene’s target audience are those who take the game very seriously, whereas the entertainment scene has a more relaxed approach, targeting a huge amount of people who just enjoy playing every so often. To combine both these huge audiences together builds our community, both synergise and help each other.

Hughes enjoyed being able to be seen as a professional for the promotion. In his initial video promoting the tournament, Hughes continued his trademark enthusiastic act, but used extensive use of sound and lighting in front of the camera to create an elite atmosphere to give insight into how “crazy” it would be to enter and win such a tournament, with a huge prize pool of $90,000. He also had to have a player photo taken, as well as work closely with other professionals of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, a favorite game for the influencer.

“I took this promotion very seriously as it’s not often to see such a collaboration. I wanted my audience to feel the professionalism, just like an average tennis player would feel how great their sport’s top athletes were,” he said.

Collaborating with Cineplex and WorldGaming was just a fraction of Hughes’ success in the past year. He was sent to Australia with PAX to have a meet and greet with fans and meet other successful social influencers, and he worked with SkinSilo to promote the platform and once again use his brand to create awareness. Despite such success, his humble beginnings are still a part of him, as he is thankful to do what he loves each day.

“If it wasn’t for finding this passion and expanding my hobby into what it has become today, I’m not quite sure where I’d be in life. It’s changed everything, from all those years ago where I feared any form of social confrontation, leaving the house, self-confidence. This has a very big impact on how seriously I take what I do. I know a lot of people that will just simply ‘put off a video’ due to being a little tired or busy, whereas I’ll stay up through all ends of the night if I have to in order to finish a project for my planned distribution time,” Hughes concluded.

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

Francesca-_044
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.

Maria Akpan ‘intoxicates’ audiences with dancing talents

50255
Maria Akpan

Moving to music is an instinct for Maria Akpan. She always felt the need to dance, and her inspirations as a child were always those who were known around the world for their dancing abilities. Akpan is now recognized for her talent, and is one of Britain’s best dancers. She does not just follow a beat, she uses her body to tell a story. Her delivery captivates audiences, and there is little doubt why she is in such high demand.

The highlight of Akpan’s career came when honoring her idol Michael Jackson. As the lead dancer in Thriller Live, Akpan took audiences through the iconic artist’s childhood, career, and life journey. Her skillset enhanced the show, and she was pivotal to its success, as she was in every single number.

Tribute shows are now a familiar experience for the dancer. She was not only the lead dancer, but also the choreographer for Prince’s Revelation Tribute Show. Working with the popular singer Mark Anthony, she choreographed the entire performance. Dancing was the true visual essence of the show, and Akpan made that happen.

Not only does Akpan dance, but she also can cheerlead. She had a main role with the group The London Cheerleaders, always front and centre in their routines and promotional videos. Her talent and commitment to every project she takes on make her extremely sought after in the industry. She was the choreographer and lead dancer in the Funky Twinz featuring N. Kay music video “Entertain You”, and she even worked with Shirlene Quigly, a former dancer for both Beyonce and Rihanna.

“Dance allows me to express myself in ways that conversations never do. Dance is something the makes me happy even at some of my saddest moments. It really does bring joy and freedom into my life,” said Akpan.

In JayEss’ “Intoxicated” music video, Akpan was once again featured doing what she does best: dancing. She was a lead dancer in the video, and had a charismatic solo piece. The dancing brought the storyline of the song to life. The video features different groups battling and then eventually coming together as a whole.

“What was it liked about working on this project was it got me to be creatively experimental, which is great when your hired as just a soloist on a gig, as it gets you to think on your feet and be more original,” said Akpan.

Originally, Jayess had heard of Akpan’s esteemed reputation and knew he wanted her on his video. At the time, he did not know how to get in touch with her, and spent a lot of time searching. After giving up, he eventually spotted Akpan at a talent search. He was ecstatic to finally find her. Akpan did not even have to audition. The entire team was impressed with her from the beginning.

“Maria is such a hard-working talent, she never settles for anything average and always wants more than 100 per cent. Her passion for arts and dance is like no other that I have ever seen before, and her hard work shows through in her work. Working with her, I know my vision of my song and music video was in the best and right hands. Maria is definitely unique, I would have her work for me again in no time,” said Jablil Saheeb, also known as Jayess.

Akpan was a large part of the video’s success, which has over 40,000 views on YouTube alone. Akpan was consistently approached about her dancing in the video, and she felt proud to be in such a project. She brought Jayess’ version to life, as he wanted much more than just a normal music video. Akpan came up with original choreography on the spot, and danced completely alone for a part of the video.

Each dancer was given a different trait to embody in the video, and Akpan was given “peace”. With every move she made, she exudes that trait in a peaceful and powerful way. There was no rehearsal time, so Akpan just did what came naturally. The results are inspiring.

“After hearing the concept of the music video, I knew I am wanted to be apart. Two groups one driven by negativity and the other driven by positivity. The two groups battling each other than overcoming their differences for the better, completely pulled me in,” concluded Akpan.

Akpan is now fresh off many projects. She danced for Skepta at the 02 in London. She also was a part of Global 12 Festival, dancing for new soloist Kiara Marzella. In addition, she is taking her successful London dance class “#LinesNsaucewithmimi” international.

“I plan to take this class all over the world and inspire young women to believe in themselves, to achieve what they dream of, and to then succeed,” she said.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Akpan is the “Intoxicated” video here.