Interview with Catherine Bell and Tom Stevens

TV Interview!

Tom Stevens and Catherine Bell of "Jailbreak Lovers" on Lifetime

Interview with Tom Stevens and Catherine Bell of “Jailbreak Lovers” on Lifetime by Suzanne 6/1/22

This was from a LIfetime press day covering three different movies. It was great to speak to Catherine Bell, who has been on so many series and in many movies. I’ve spoken with Tom Stevens a few times before. They were both great in this movie. Even though the movie is about two felons, it has a humorous side to it that improves on the story. I enjoyed it. Also, there are many dogs, which elevates it even further.

MODERATOR:  Wonderful. Well, thank you all for coming to our Summer 2022 Virtual Press Day. Please join me in welcoming the stars of “Jailbreak Lovers.” We have with us today executive producer and star Catherine Bell along with her costar Tom Stevens. First up is Tamara.

QUESTION:  Hi, how are you?

TOM STEVENS:  I’m good, Tamara, how you doing?

QUESTION:  I’m good. Thank you. So Toby always followed the rules and did what was expected of her. Can you guys identify with the character’s desire to be carefree, coloring outside the lines, not being perfect, or simply being wild and free for once?

CATHERINE BELL:  Well, I think probably anyone could relate to that.  Hopefully, people don’t resort to this sort of a, (laughs) craziness but, you know, I think there’s always that idea of, like, “Ooh, what if I, you know, broke the rules and did something wild for a moment.” I think that’s what – I wanted to at least give a sense of like – People are always going why would someone do this? Why would someone break the law and do something like this and, hopefully, we give you guys a little insight into where that comes from.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah, and I agree. I think that every person needs to kind of check in on their life at some point and go am I coloring too within the lines, o do I need to go outside of my comfort zone, because I think out of your comfort zone, outside your comfort zone is where you really learn who you are.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Wonderful. Thank you. Up next, we have a question from Suzanne. Suzanne, you may feel free to unmute.

QUESTION:  Hi. Catherine, since you were a producer on this movie, did you have any influence over the tone of the movie? It’s a little less serious than most Lifetime movies I’ve seen.

CATHERINE BELL:  You know, Katie Boland is our beautiful director. She brought her vision to this, which was this playful and high-energy and sexy and fun spirit. You know, I really — I think Tom and I both really enjoyed making this movie because it had all of that in it. It was just this fast-paced and just wild adventure that these two were on and, you know, definitely you have some say as a producer, but I got to say it all just kind of came together magically. There wasn’t a whole lot to do except become this character on my end, you know.

QUESTION:  And that same for you, Tom?

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah, no, I mean, I didn’t have the same kind of hand in it as Catherine did, but I mean it was what we brought kind of fit exactly what Katie wanted, what Catherine and I were doing, and it was just so fun to just — Like we shot so many scenes kind of like back to back to back to back and we always found like a fun way of connecting as these two people, because in the prison it was like a secret love, and then when we were out in the cabin it was more spontaneous and free, and every single time Catherine and I brought like a really strong connection and, yeah, it was just always fun. You know, every scene was always fun to shoot.

QUESTION:  Well, thanks. It was fun to watch.

CATHERINE BELL:  We joke we want to do a sequel. I don’t think it’ll happen. They’re not together, but we had too much making it.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  As long as you have dogs. That’s the good thing.

CATHERINE BELL:  Right, exactly.

TOM STEVENS:  Prison pen pals and dogs.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Wonderful. Thank you, Suzanne. Up next we have Jamie. Jamie, you may feel free to unmute.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for talking to us today.  So can you kind of talk about when you’re doing something that’s based on real people, like, how — Can you talk about balancing kind of what you pull from that versus what you’re able to creatively add from yourself, for both of you?

CATHERINE BELL:  Tom, you go.

TOM STEVENS:  Oh, you want me to go.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah, Jamie, good to see you again.

QUESTION:  You too.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah, it’s I think with John, he — like with Maynard, uh, there wasn’t a lot about him.  There’s kind of the story.  There’s a lot of Moll and like of everything that she went through, but for John it was kind of more free for me to just bring the foil to her husband, do you know what I mean? Like I had to represent something that was something that she was missing in her life, and it was a more free experience to build the character rather than actually like, you know, having interviews that I could bounce off of, like Catherine obviously had.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah. I, on the other hand, had a lot of interviews, and I watched all the ones that I could find of Toby.  Obviously, I don’t look anything like her so I gave that up quickly.  But there’s an essence to her that I tried to get.  You know, there’s just she’s got that little bit of the Kansas accent and, yeah, just this sweet woman who really just was totally taken by surprise by this guy, and it just completely altered the course of her life.  But, yeah, it was a lot of fun trying to become this woman who is very different than myself.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much, both of you.

CATHERINE BELL:  Thank you.

TOM STEVENS:  Thanks, Jamie.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jamie.  Up next is Mike Hughes. Mike, feel free to unmute.

QUESTION:  Okay. There we go. Okay, cool. Probably shortly after you finish this another real-life case like this came up in Alabama where someone escaped with (inaudible). I was wondering did this give you like special interest in it? Did you kind of follow that news story extra special? Do you may root for them or anything like that?

CATHERINE BELL:  I mean, you know, yeah, it was unbelievable that that happened. It was like, okay, life imitating art imitating real life, you know. It’s interesting that this happens a fair amount, you know, that these guys are in this unusual situation in a prison and fall for each other. The idea for me of crossing that line and going, “Yeah, let’s break out of jail,” I mean, really, you’re never going to get away with it, you know. That one ended very tragically but, yeah, it’s just fascinating.

QUESTION:  You didn’t root for them —

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah.

CATHERINE BELL:  What’s that?

TOM STEVENS:  Were you rooting for them, Catherine?

CATHERINE BELL:  Was I (laughs), I mean, I don’t think — no, I wasn’t really thinking about it either way. It was very, very sad, of course, how it ended but, yeah, I would have preferred a happier ending than that, for sure.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah. And we kind of tell – we kind of tell the fictitious fun side of this, and I mean the true story between Toby and John is, you know, a little darker than this like in reality than the story that we told, and I’m sure that that story was darker, too. So, I mean, we can have with this because we’re making a movie about it but, you know, these people were going through something.  Yeah, it’s more serious when it’s real.

QUESTION:  Okay. Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Wonderful. Thank you, Mike. Up next we have Jay Bobbin. Jay, feel free to unmute.

QUESTION:  Hi, folks. Hi, Catherine. How are you?

CATHERINE BELL:  Hi, Jay.

QUESTION:  Hi, good to see you.

TOM STEVENS:  Hi, Jay.

QUESTION:  Catherine, question for you. You’ve done non-edgy for so many years now.  To step back into something that is decidedly edgy, an actor acts, obviously, that’s their profession, but was it an easy thing for you or did it take working up to this a little bit having done Cassie for so many years?

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah, you know what? It’s always challenging to me, which is probably why I love acting so much.  It’s never just like, oh, a piece of cake.  Like it’s like, oh, who is this person, and in the beginning you don’t know who they are or how to become them and watching her interviews and kind of just trying to work on that was a beautiful challenge. I really loved it – really, really love stepping into this. And, yeah, edgy, edgy and also a very kind of withdrawn, like kind of toned-down person as well, someone who’s not so confident or whatever. So it was just a lot of fun for me to play all of those things.

QUESTION:  Thanks a lot.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah, it was fun to witness, actually. It was fun to watch you build the character, yeah, yeah.

CATHERINE BELL:  Thank you. We had so much fun together.

TOM STEVENS:  I know.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jay.  Up next we have “Starry Constellation Magazine.”

QUESTION:  Well, Tom, they say you should never work with ids and animals onscreen, and you worked with a number of dogs. Talk about the training you went through for dog training.

TOM STEVENS:  So I’m an advocate for Cesar Mila and everything that he does with behavioral science and dog science, and I have a dog of my own that I have put through a rigorous training, and it comes naturally to me to be around animals and to be like an alpha or like a calm sort of presence with them. So that wasn’t hard for me.  What was when the dogs didn’t care that I was a calm presence or authoritative presence, and they were like my trainer’s behind the camera, and I could do whatever I want right now for the next thirty seconds while the cameras are rolling, and he starts eating a toy in the middle of our scene.  So there’s like there’s certain things that you can’t control when like a dog’s just on the side, and he just kind of starts doing his own thing, but there’s like a lot of things that you can do to just be like the calm presence for the dogs that they respect. They say don’t work with animals because animals are in the moment, and the audience will always be drawn to them, so it kind of forces you to be in the moment with the dog, and then it’s interesting for the audience to watch.

MODERATOR:  Awesome. Thank you. Up next we have Cynthia Horner.

QUESTION:  Hello.

CATHERINE BELL:  Hi.

TOM STEVENS:  Hi, hi, hi.

QUESTION:  I would like to ask both of you this question what is a memorable behind the scenes moment that you can tell us about when you were filming?

TOM STEVENS:  Hm.

CATHERINE BELL:  Hm.

TOM STEVENS:  There were a lot, there were a lot.

CATHERINE BELL:  I instantly thought of the car chase stuff.  That was just so much fun.

TOM STEVENS:  That was so much fun.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah. Actually, driving and then on the top of the truck where they’re towing you and you’re pretending there’s so much going on. We had some good laughs.

TOM STEVENS:  And getting arrested. I think I loved the feeling as when we got out of week one, when we got out of the prison. I mean we were shooting a prison movie so a lot of it had to be done on location in this corrections facility, and it felt very much like repeated scenes, like we were doing like similar scenes over and over and over again in this box, and then when we got out of that week it was like this freedom just opened up, and it really felt like the characters got to like go and see new places, and go to different restaurants, and do all this stuff. It was very much what the character is going through. So I love that like transition into the Toby and John being free period.

CATHERINE BELL:  True. I also really loved all the stuff in the cabin. It was just such a tiny, little cabin and our whole crew really bonded. Just it was, you know, just — It was Halloween, too, right, and the crew came in with the crazy costumes on and we were in our Toby and John costumes —

TOM STEVENS:  In our little, yeah — And it like nearly drowned us in rain. It was pouring rain so hard. It was like flooding around the cabin, it was crazy. And then our DP is in a Sumo suit, and it was hilarious.

QUESTION:  Wow, you guys had great stories to tell. Thank you.

TOM STEVENS:  No worries, Cynthia.

CATHERINE BELL:  Thank you, Cynthia.

MODERATOR:  Wonderful. Thank you, Cynthia. Up next we have Rick Bentley. Rick?

QUESTION:  Hi, can you hear me?

CATHERINE BELL: (Inaudible @ 00:14:32).

QUESTION:  Great. I’m sorry. Hey, Catherine, I’m just curious. This sort of ripped from the headlines, it’s something that’s been going on for years, and obviously there’s a big audience for that out there, do you think it’s a situation of people being sort of living vicariously through these wild moments or is it there by the grace of God goes me?

CATHERINE BELL:  Oh, man. You know, I’m sure it’s just that natural curiosity that all humans have of like what is going on in someone’s else world, you know. And, yes, this is a crazy world. It’s something that, hopefully, most people will never experience, and then there’s that other, you know, the concept of what were thinking? Why would somebody do that? So, hopefully, they get a little taste of that with what Tom and I did, you know, just the how they fell in love and what led this to this crazy idea that they might get away with running away together, you know.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

CATHERINE BELL:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Awesome. Thank you, Rick. Up next is Luaine Lee. Luaine.

QUESTION:  Yeah, Catherine, you were talking about the challenge and how you really adore the challenge in acting, and you’ve been doing it a long time, so what is it that you like best about acting and television, and what do you like the least?

CATHERINE BELL:  In television as opposed to film you mean or just in general, acting?

QUESTION:  Well, just in general acting.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah. I think I love so much about it. I love the process. I love the finding the character, and as I mentioned, the challenges of that, it keeps me on my toes and always wanting to improve and be better and even up until the scene is over, you’re still okay, “Well, the next take I want to try this. I want to do that. I want to make this better or different.” I love the camaraderie, and there’s just such a sense of family on these shows that you do together, movies, shows, whatever. You just meet such beautiful people, and so much I love about it. I love the effect it has on people when they’re watching it. I think probably I love the adventure of travel and going to different locations, but sometimes that’s challenging for my family, you know, just to be away so much, so that’s probably, if I could say here’s something I don’t like about it, sometimes that gets challenging. But, again, you just — I’ m so grateful for what I get to do, so I got no complaints.

QUESTION:  So what’s the worst part of it?

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah, I think that, you know, being along in a hotel room for weeks at a time, especially in COVID.  There was one stretch I took my son to Toronto for “Good Witch”. It was thirteen weeks away from home. I couldn’t go back and forth because of the travel quarantine. That was intense.

QUESTION:  Oh, wow. Thank you.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah, thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Luaine. And then we have Steve (Gitmo @ 00:17:26). Steve?

QUESTION:  Hey, how are you guys?

CATHERINE BELL:  Hey, good.

TOM STEVENS:  I’m good.

QUESTION:  Good. I just wanted to ask how familiar were you or at all familiar with this story? Was it all kind of news to both of you when you got the script?

CATHERINE BELL:  I haven’t heard of it at all. When I started telling people about it a lot of people remembered seeing it on the news. It was on “Dateline” and “Anderson Cooper” and all of that, but I hadn’t heard of it at all. You, Tom?

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah, no, same. The escaping out of prison in a dog crate. I think it maybe a rang a bell but maybe I’m like, yeah, maybe that’s just a logical way to sneak out of prison.  But the case itself I hadn’t heard anything about it, then I started reading the script, and it was just so fun.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  And, Tom, can you actually fit in a dog crate?

TOM STEVENS:  Easily, easily. That dog crate was too easy to fit into. I wanted a smaller one. I wanted to do contortion, you know.

QUESTION:  Thanks so much.

TOM STEVENS:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Awesome. Thank you.  And we’re going to be wrapping here momentarily but I see two more hands are up. Jamie from SciFi Vision, did you have another question?

QUESTION:  Yeah, I can go again. I was going to ask about the dog crate, but so what did the two of you learn about yourselves from working on this show either as performers or just as people in general?

CATHERINE BELL:  Ooh.

TOM STEVENS:  Ooh.

CATHERINE BELL:  Wow. Tom, do you want to answer? I want to think about that.

TOM STEVENS:  I think what I learned about myself was it’s — With all the challenges that came with this there’s a lot of layers to John and playing John, and when I ever felt like I was kind of lost in it all I knew I had to do was connect with Catherine, and I don’t know if I learned that about myself, but I did learn that I can trust in Catherine whenever I feel like I’m lost in a scene. Is that me learning something? I don’t know. I learned that about Catherine.

CATHERINE BELL:  Hm, thank you. Yeah, I had such an incredible time working with you and our connection. It was just really, really special; really, just like you said, you just look in your eyes and it was like all there, and I don’t know.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah.

CATHERINE BELL:  It was probably just a great realization that I can do this sort of a role, which was so different for me and being able to trust in you and just making that happen. It was so magical.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Well, thank you and I enjoyed it, so.

TOM STEVENS:  Thank you, Jamie. We loved it, too.

MODERATOR:  Awesome, and now our final question is from Mike Hughes. Mike?

QUESTION:  Yeah. I’ll just ask real briefly, all your impressions of working when you were in the correction facility there, it looked like it wasn’t a high security one. It looked like it was maybe medium or a low-security facility. Nothing struck you about it there and did you get a chance to interact with the prisoners at all? Were they friendly to you? Just give us your overall impressions.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah.

CATHERINE BELL:  Yeah. Well, it wasn’t an active prison, so it was actually shut down. So, but still I, for me, it was very — And, Tom, you were the one in the cell, but so cold, so impersonal. I can’t even imagine being in a cell like that for years or for life. It’s just wow, where I really just realized what that experience could be like, just a little taste of it.

TOM STEVENS:  Yeah. Again, it’s an old youth center, so it’s a youth correction center in Burnaby that we were shooting in and all the other prisoners were background so, you know, not actual prisoners, but I did get a chance on my other show in Halifax I got to talk to a lady on our crew who had spent four months in prison that year on a charge that she was serving from years prior. It just all caught up with her, and she’s a good friend of mine and we sat down and just like hatch — She gave me as much insight on what living in prison was like, and I just asked for words that would come up in her mind every day, like what’s something that you would think every single day, and frustration is a big one, and you can feel frustrated places like that because it, like Catherine said, it’s so confined and so isolating, and there’s no time, and you just — It’s very plain and uncomfortable. Like there’s no cushions. So you can imagine a human being whose mind needs stimulation become completely frustrated in a situation like that.

QUESTION:  Okay, thanks.

MODERATOR:  Thank you. And thank you, Catherine and Tom for joining us today. “Jailbreak Lovers” premieres Saturday, July 2nd, at 08:00 p.m., seven Central only on Lifetime. Stay tuned for “He’s Not Worth Dying For” in a moment.

MORE INFO:

Official Lifetime Site and Preview

Inspired by a true story, Jailbreak Lovers follows Toby (Catherine Bell), a woman who always played by the rules. Toby never ran a red light, married the only boy she ever dated, raised a family and went to church. She did everything she was supposed to do. When Toby loses her job and starts a non-profit to rehabilitate abused, rescued dogs at the local prison no one could have anticipated that she would end up on the run, shacked up with her younger lover John (Tom Stevens), a convicted murderer. The star-crossed lovers hatch a plan to break John out of prison by smuggling him out in one of the dog crates, sparking a federal manhunt.

Jailbreak Lovers is produced for Lifetime by Crate Productions Inc. Catherine Bell, Angela Mancuso, Stacy Mandelberg and up-and-coming director Katie Boland are executive producers. Supervising producers are Oliver DeCaigny and Tom Stanford. Boland directed from a script by Anne-Marie Hess and Jodie Burke.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

poster for "Jailbreak Lovers"

Interview with Hilda Martin, Lachlan Quarmby, and Rachel Boyd

TV Interview!

Hilda Martin and Lachlan Quarmby star in He's Not Worth Dying For premiering Saturday, June 25 at 8p/7cLachlan Quarmby and Rachel Boyd star in He's Not Worth Dying For premiering Saturday, June 25 at 8p/7c

Interview with Hilda Martin, Lachlan Quarmby, and Rachel Boyd of “He’s Not Worth Dying For” on Lifetime by Suzanne 6/1/22

This was from a press day featuring three “ripped from the headlines” movies airing this summer. It was great to speak with these young actors. I only wish star Robin Givens had been there.

MODERATOR: Hi, everybody. Our next panel for today is the talented cast of “He’s Not Worth Dying For.” Please welcome Hilda Martin, Lachlan Quarmby, and Rachel Boyd. Hi, you guys. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Thank you. Happy to be here.

RACHEL BOYD: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Our first question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us. So how familiar were you all with kind of this story and kind you talk a bit about sort of the research that you did into it for all of you?

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Sure.

RACHEL BOYD: Do you want to start?

LACHLAN QUARMBY: You go, you go.

HILDA MARTIN: Well, I didn’t know much but I do have a liking for crime documentaries, so as soon as I got that and was told it was based/inspired by true stories, as a true story, I Googled it right away, but before then I had no knowing of the story.

RACHEL BOYD: Yeah. I think that like for me when I first got the audition script I actually somehow missed the words “based on a true story” when I was reading the description of it, so I had no idea until the callback that I was auditioning for something that was based on a true story, but I think, for me, like, seeing the sides and the character, I really connected to it, because it’s such an experience that a lot of young people on social media, and especially young women can relate to in how we are taught to, like, compete for a man’s exclusive love, and then how that manifests in different ways in the age of social media, and how that has real effects on our self-wroth and the way that we behave as people and change our character.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it at the time. In 2009, I was living in Canberra, Australia, which might as well have been about as far away as you can be. But, yeah, I was the same, as soon as I got the script and heard it was a real story I looked it up and had such like an emotional reaction to just how much of a tragic experience it was and, yeah, it was kind of exciting to get to audient to play something like that.

QUESTION: Great. Thank you so much.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Thank you.

RACHEL BOYD: thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Tamara Rollins.

QUESTION: Hi, guys. Can you hear me?

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Hi.

RACHEL BOYD: Yes.

QUESTION: Hi. So nowadays social media can be used as a tool to destroy lives. Some people tend to separate social media from our actual lives. They deem it as two separate entities. Do you guys feel that social media in our real day-to-day lives are one entity or two separate worlds?

RACHEL BOYD: I would say that I think that social media is real but also fake, because what it is is it’s taking a person and letting them choose what they want to highlight and choose how they want to be perceived in the world, and what you see on social media as much as we often treat it, like that is that person and that is the full representation of them, it’s not a real accurate representation of a person, of a real human being who is full and flawed. So I think that they’re different in that way, but the really unfortunate thing and kind of what we wanted to tackle in the movie is that people blur those lines together, and they treat people like they aren’t really human beings on social media when it really is really us. We’re just kind of creating a highlight reel.

QUESTION: Thank you.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Yeah. I’ll add to that. I agree. I think that a lot of people out there are probably having this sort of duality in personality versus real life on social media, but it’s not for me to say as to how you should manage it. I personally think that it’s best to just do everything in moderation. You know, if you are going to put something up there that is a version of you that may not be the exact version of yourself then it can be the kind of thing that you’re aspiring to be, or the kind of person that you’re trying to be like, but it’s just managing which is which and just being like honest with yourself. As long as you know what you’re all about and stuff like that then I think it’s manageable.

QUESTION: Thank you.

HILDA MARTIN: I think the same thing. I specifically had a hard time with kind of splitting — with kind of being the same person and having like a reality, being real on social media for the longest, and I don’t see that be a possibility now because you’re still — Like in social media you’re not you. You’re never going to be. You’re going to be torn apart, if you want like an extensive amount of people kind of following you, unless you just want yourself and close friends, but other than that it’s like you have to be someone that society wants on social media. So that’s like totally different, and I could see the same for Isla, who is trying to kind of be this person and this colorful person, this bright person, but on the other side in her real life it’s the total opposite, so totally different.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Robin Givens stars in He's Not Worth Dying For premiering Saturday, June 25 at 8p/7cMODERATOR: Thank you. We also have some pre-submitted questions from journalists who could not be here today. This question is for Hilda. Hilda, you have some pretty intense scenes with Robin Givens who plays your mother in the movie. What was it like working with a veteran actress, and did she give you any advice or were there any fun times together on the set?

HILDA MARTIN: It was great working with Robin. I think like she kind of let me — She didn’t really — You know, working with a veteran and you’re not one yourself, you kind of feel like you’re not good enough, but there’s a lot of moments where she kind of like, A, gave me tips on certain scenes and, B, kind of like applauded me for certain scenes, and kind of like validation, which I like, but there’s quite a few moments that she kind of made me laugh, and one of them was Grace is being a bitch to, like harsh mood to her mom, and as soon as the scene got cut she was like I would have whooped you in real life. I would have whooped you hard. Never do that to me in real life. My kids would never. And another scene was with Jake, Lachlan, and it was a family dinner and like you just never know when stuff happens. She had like this, she had a green bean that she was chewing mid-scene, and it was her turn to talk, and like it wasn’t going down, so like that cut was like the funniest part, because we’re just watching her chew. She’s like (imitates chewing), mm um hm, um hm, one sec, um hm.

(Laughter.)

HILDA MARTIN: And she hadn’t thought of like — She is fun. She’s great to work with. She’s like a mom. She was actually like a mom and, yeah.

MODERATOR: That’s awesome. Thank you, Hilda. Our next question is from Suzanne at TVMEG.COM

QUESTION: Hi, I was wondering if any of you had done any Lifetime movies before and whether you could compare them to other work that you’ve done elsewhere — whether they were slower or faster or what other things you can think of that would be different?

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Yeah, I had a small role on like a Christmas one before. So it was kind of fun to play the differences in tone in terms of like the sort of lighter Christmas one and then the darker reality of like this one. I really enjoyed it, the mixing up, because it is a different way to come about it from an acting point of view in terms of like the tone, the network, and like the genre as well. You got to play with all of those elements, and I have no idea what I’m doing typically, because it’s so early on. So it’s really funny to have like a producer or a director just say, like, “Hey, like this is actually more the way that it is done for this type of film,” and I was always like, “Oh, cool. Great.” That’s awesome to learn and use going forward, yeah.

RACHEL BOYD: Yeah. I also think that, I mean, personally, I hadn’t done anything, any other work with Lifetime before, but I also think it’s so interesting to mention that this was mine, Hilda’s and Lachlan’s, all of our first lead roles in a feature-length film. So that was really, really fun, and it was really great to experience that with the three of us. I think that all of us ending up being our first time really brought a new energy to the set that we really liked where we were just very eager to work and play and have a lot of fun with each other. So I had to mention that.

QUESTION: Great. Hilda.

HILDA MARTIN: It was also my, yeah, my first time as well. What I would interesting, what I like to find out is like what does Lifetime like cast to wear, and like the other show that I’ve done was a different wardrobe and seeing like how characters are kind of like created, developed like look-wise on different platforms like Lifetime, for example. That was cool. But like also the first time in having like a great cast to work with.

RACHEL BOYD: Aw.

HILDA MARTIN: It kind of made it exciting and easier, I think, something you (inaudible @ 00:34:14), so, yeah.

QUESTION: Well, thank you.

HILDA MARTIN: Thanks.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Mike Hughes.

QUESTION: Yeah. I wasn’t sure if my mute — can you hear me now?

GROUP: Yes. We can hear you.

QUESTION: Okay. Cool. Rachel, actors obviously have to be able to turn it on quickly when the camera is on, but it’s much more so what Isla had to do, because just you’re solo on a camera and (just be big @ 00:34:40) the moment she goes on. So what’s it like to do the scenes where Isla is really over the top and on her own before a camera?

RACHEL BOYD: Yeah. I think that’s something for me that I really did a lot in preparation for the role was learning exactly what that physicality was, because I knew that Isla’s character needed — She needed to be able to walk into a room and command it and hold the power in it just with her body and how she moved around, so that was kind of something I really wanted to focus on. And, yeah, that just came through I think sometimes if she was putting on the performance of like “Influence Isla” then it was a lot for me finding those places in my body where that energy was. Like I think there’s like a scene at the beginning. Hilda and I were talking about it the other day, but it’s like she’s walking into the store, and she’s kind of doing like this crazy like “Clueless” walk, and it’s just I think it gives me that energy from within me instead of me keeping the same body language the entire time. And then I also liked working with the physicality, because it gave me space to also be Isla when she’s not being big and over the top, and she’s just being, you know, a regular girl who’s just lonely and confused, and how does her body change. And then I think having that like drastic difference helps, too, when you saw her being bigger.

QUESTION: Cool. Thanks.

Rachel Boyd stars in He's Not Worth Dying For premiering Saturday, June 25 at 8p/7cRACHEL BOYD: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Our next question’s from Cynthia Horner.

QUESTION: Hello. My question is for all of you. I really enjoyed the film, and I’d like to know what advice would you give to young people that are watching — They’re going to be watching the film, and we all know people who’ve been in similar situations even though the ending may not be the same, but the fact that there are so many situations where people are being cheated on or whatever, so can you each talk about your character and the way those dynamics were so that other people that are watching the film may decide not to make some of those mistakes.

RACHEL BOYD: Yeah. I can start. Are you guys —

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Go for it, Rach.

RACHEL BOYD: Okay. I think, for me, I’ve always, always wanted this to be the message that people take away from the whole movie, and with Isla especially is that there’s no manifestation of love or validation, be it like a boy or followers and likes and comments on Instagram that is ever worth losing yourself for and affecting your own self-worth to please. I think I want people to know that they are one hundred percent significant and one hundred percent enough just in themselves, and that outward validation will always come and go, but that it really is that inner self-worth that you should focus so much of your energies on. Yeah.

QUESTION: Good answer.

HILDA MARTIN: Yeah, I’d go with the same. I think for me it was value. I think we all, like the whole cast, like all three of us wanted to feel valued from social media, from a boy, but relationship-wise, I think that like what I want people to know, because like, again, nearly all of us have gone through it, it’s like not forgetting our worth, not feeling that we need someone else, and that could be a male or a female in a relationship, remembering your worth, and if you’re not receiving that worth it’s, as hard as it is, it’s just like let go, and when they say love is blind they also mean love is also deaf, because a lot of times you’re also told and you can hear the words, and I just hope that they remember how like valuable and like worthy they are, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Yeah. I would also just add that I agree with everything the girls said there but, you know, I think it’s in the title, right? It is a cautionary tale. That’s what we’re hoping people will take away is that it’s — and most of it is just not worth it. Even a lot of the stuff that seems really important at the time and seem so like at the forefront of your life, because it’s at your fingertips on that device, on that social media platform, it just seems like it’s so much worth it, but if you just put it down, and you take a step back, then it’s probably not going to be worth all of this pain or bleeding into your real, you know, personal life and causing you anxiety or whatever. And, I mean, for Jake, it’s the whole thing is just he brings all these problems on himself and stuff like that, and he doesn’t really have a support network around him to tell him like, “Hey, like you’re basically you’re being an idiot.” Again, flipping through the script, the first time I read it being like, you know, you’re not supposed to judge a character but idiot, dumb ass, that’s stupid —

RACHEL BOYD: He makes it hard.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: What are you doing? What are you doing, man? Somebody just needs to tell this guy, please, stop, stop doing these things. So I hope that people take away from that, that you need to help yourself but may also people who are close to people witnessing them going through stuff like this that you can also step in and help them with that as well. Yeah.

QUESTION: Fantastic answers. Thank you so much.

RACHEL BOYD: Thanks, Cynthia.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Thanks.

MODERATOR: Our next question is from Steve Gidlow.

QUESTION: Hey, everyone. Just I’m assuming you’re all on social media. So I was just wondering if being so immersed in the darker side of it, did it change your perception of how you deal with your own social media now?

RACHEL BOYD: something that I really like about the movie is that we’ve all been living in the dark side of social media, all the time. What this movie does though is holds up a mirror to the reality that we’ve been living in and how we reduce people and their self-worth and value to their viral abilities and how we turn real human suffering into its own like entertainment genre on social media, and it’s really horrible, and it’s something that everybody who’s on social media is immersed in one way or another. But what the movie does is it holds up a mirror to the realities of that and how those facets of social media have real-world repercussions on people, and their lives and their feelings.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: I would say that, for me, personally, the changes that I’ve made it’s just made me more conscious and more aware of purpose and point behind posts. Like why am I actually posting this, and I’ve stopped myself a couple times being like is this for me? Is this something that I like? Or is this actually for other people? Is this to get a reaction out of other people? Is this to make people feel a certain way about me and, at those points, I stop. So I’m just trying to be posting more positive stuff. You know, sometimes it’s cheesy, sometimes it’s silly but I’d rather put —

RACHEL BOYD: Sometimes it’s a dance.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: These guys make fun of me all the time but that’s fine. I’d rather post something that’s a bit cheesy and a bit more positive than something that was coming from the wrong place in my heart, I guess. So, yeah, I’m more conscious of that.

QUESTION: Gotcha. And Hilda.

HILDA MARTIN: It just, for me, it validated the change that I made before the movie of like just not giving in to like being that person, like that perfect person on social media and kind of giving in to the dark social media side, but — Because, again, there are — After the movie, obviously, there’s people who are going to be look at our social media and like kind of giving that image of me being perfect is not going to be the message I was kind of like that people — wanted people to take away from the movie itself. So kind of just of I did make a change, and I was kind of proud of that, and just loving myself, posting whatever I love whether it’s like a picture of a flower or just me unedited, hopefully.

QUESTION: Thank so much.

HILDA MARTIN: (Inaudible @ 00:43:25).

QUESTION: Thanks.

HILDA MARTIN: Thanks.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Luaine Lee.

QUESTION: Yes. Part of the danger of social media is rejection by your peers, but acting is involved with total rejection all the time. So I’m wondering how do each of you cope with the rejection that happens to you when you’re trying out for roles?

RACHEL BOYD: That’s a great question. Hilda, do you want to start?

HILDA MARTIN: Sure. Well, I’m pretty new to the industry, so I was researching a lot of like veteran actors and their comments on the whole industry, and the one thing that they mentioned is never take it as — Like always take it with a grain of salt, and so whenever I do an audition I like — like with this one, I — because I did watch the documentary before like right when I was auditioning, so I did see that it was a girl of not my shade, like white, Caucasian, so I knew I wasn’t going to get it. So it’s — I go in just giving my agents what they want without knowing what I’m going to get back, so I think I already implemented that in my head and not getting it doesn’t sting as much as other people — as it would other people but, yeah, I kind of like already ingrained it, “I’m not getting it.” And when I do it’s like cherry on top.

QUESTION: Great. Rachel?

RACHEL BOYD: Yeah. I think, you know, this kind of takes me back because Lochlyn Munro is in the movie as well, and the day that he was on set he was giving all of us young eager actors with big ears like advice about the industry, and something that he said in relation to auditions specifically that really resonated with me was he goes in when he gets sides, and he says, “I want to land the character. I don’t want to land the role.” Like his first priority is land the character and, for me, that really made me feel better, because then it takes the pressure off of it, and it just becomes this thing that I do because I love it, and it’s my craft, and it makes me feel so happy, so getting sides now since speaking with Lochlyn Munro and just seeing it as how do I give this character all of the emotional empathy that I can to claim them and have that be as true and honest to me as possible, and then when I do that, and I can watch it back and feel proud of myself that it — I’m working on that being enough satisfaction for myself and not depending on all of my happiness on like what a third party will think of it, and just kind of focusing on like being proud and celebrating little wins even if they don’t result in a job.

QUESTION: Lachlan?

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Yeah, look, in high school I was rejected by a few women, so I think that actually was good practice to set me — I say a few. It was all of them in high school. So, you know, it’s just you take it, you learn from it. When I submit an audition I just forget about it straightaway. It’s just, it’s gone. You just go in, be yourself, do your best. I was quite similar to Hilda. You know, when I got this and looked up the real person I was like, “Yeah, that is not me at all, so I’m just going to do something and send it, and then just completely forget about it,” and that way you’re not waiting by the phone, you know, and because that’s really when you suffer twice when you wait and you worry and all of that sort of stuff. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Like I’m not going to lie. Sometimes the rejection does affect you personally, and it can hurt. But it’s all about, I think surrounding yourself with the right people in your personal life, friends and family and stuff, keeping your head on your shoulders like nice and straight and everything, and you just keep going because eventually, you know, good things will happen. It’s meant to be.

RACHEL BOYD: Yeah. And, Lachlan, now look at you. You’re in a movie, you got two girlfriends, so. And they don’t want to reject you. So you’re doing —

LACHLAN QUARMBY: That was the whole —

RACHEL BOYD: It’s like quite full circle for you.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: It’s a perfect opportunity, yeah.

RACHEL BOYD: perfect. A big slap in the face to those girls. Look at him now, (laughs.)

LACHLAN QUARMBY: I’m going to link them. I’m going to send them a link to it, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone. That’s our time for today.

RACHEL BOYD: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you to Hilda, Lachlan, and Rachel for being here today, and everyone please tune into “He’s Not Worth Dying For,” Saturday, June 25th at 8/7 Central.

RACHEL BOYD: Yay.

LACHLAN QUARMBY: Thank you.

RACHEL BOYD: Thanks.

MORE INFO:

Poster for "He's Not Worth Dying For" on Lifetime

Inspired by a true events, He’s Not Worth Dying For follows the intertwined real and social media lives of Isla (Rachel Boyd), a 19-year-old girl who has established herself as a beauty and fashion influencer and Grace (Hilda Martin) the expected valedictorian of her class with hopes of a veterinary career. Though both are very different, they unknowingly share one thing in common – Jake (Lachlan Quarmby) – who is dating them both without their knowledge. When Isla and Grace discover that Jake was cheating on them, the girls turn on each other in a jealous rivalry and use their arsenal of social media platforms to badmouth and attack one another. While their followers take sides and pit them against each other, their hatred for one another escalates into a real life fight that ultimately turns deadly. Robin Givens stars as Grace’s mother, Cher, while Lochlyn Munro stars as the District Attorney investigating the case.

He’s Not Worth Dying For is produced by Doomed Productions Inc for Lifetime with Tim Johnson, Orly Adelson, Stacy Mandelberg and Jon Eskenas serving as executive producers. Kevin Fair directs from a script written by Jacqueline Zambrano.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

Hilda Martin and Robin Givens stars in He's Not Worth Dying For premiering Saturday, June 25 at 8p/7c

Interview with Letoya Luckett, Kierra Sheard-Kelly, Ta’Rhonda Jones and Drew Sidora

TV Interview!

panel for "Line Sisters" on Lifetime

Interview with Letoya Luckett, Kierra Sheard-Kelly, Ta’Rhonda Jones and Drew Sidora of “Line Sisters” on Lifetime by Suzanne 1/10/22

This was an interesting movie because it combined two popular Lifetime subjects: sorority girls and murder. I’d never heard of any of these actresses, although some of them looked very familiar. They had a lot of energy and were very fun in the panel, so it made things enjoyable.

MODERATOR: Hello, everyone. Our next panel is for “Line Sisters.” And today we have the cast of the film with us. Letoya Luckett, Kierra Sheard-Kelly, Ta’Rhonda Jones and Drew Sidora.

(All waving.)

DREW SIDORA: What up, y’all?

MODERATOR: Thank you all for being here. Our first question is for all of you, the whole cast. What drew each of you to your roles and how did you prepare for them?

LETOYA LUCKETT: Okay, I’ll go first.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah, you go first.

LETOYA LUCKETT: (Laughs.) I think for me it was like really jumping over the hurdle of fear for me and doing my first horror film. Val was kind of close to home because she had a real chill personality, very professional. She seemed to be kind of the one that every kind of — everyone’s drawn to confide in. And she just tried to take care of everyone and I kind of see that in myself sometimes, sometimes too much. But I think for me to be a part of a horror film was like oh my god I’m going to do it. And I’ve always wanted to be a part of a sorority and I think this is the closest I’m going to ever get. So yeah, that’s the reason why I was drawn to it.

TA’RHONDA JONES: I’m going to piggyback off of you, Toya.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah.

TA’RHONDA JONES: Because I think that was the same thing for me. It was like oh…

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yeah.

TA’RHONDA JONES: … I get to be a sorority sister? Okay, cool. I’m in. And then, too, my character Simone, she was from Chicago and it was very similar to my background. A little rough around the edges and things like that, always being reckless. So I was like yeah, why not? Sure.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah. I think we could all say that. I think my dream of being in a sorority, I was like, oh yes, let me tap into this. And also working with African American women that we can come together in sisterhood. I think that that’s something powerful to be a part of. And you really want to showcase that. So any time I get an opportunity to work alongside beautiful women, I definitely jumped on it. But my character Dominique, she’s a lot of fun. You know, she’s fun. She’s quirky. And she loves her palo santos, her meditation and I just felt really connected to that. You know, her positivity and just always looking on the bright side of things. I felt like that was a place that I was in my life that I wanted to try to project in that moment. So I gravitated to her instantly.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: I second all of what they said. All of the (inaudible). I wanted to be a part of the sorority, too. Cassandra was a woman of faith and so that is what I am. So I was the one that was praying the sisters through on god’s train. Because that usually is what I am doing. And I am a sister or women’s empowerment advocate so that was really just my thing, too. And these women are amazing, every last one of them, so I was excited to just glean from each and every one of them myself.

MODERATOR: That’s awesome. Thank you, guys. Our next question is from the Hollywood Times.

QUESTION: Hi there. Are any of you actually part of a sorority?

TA’RHONDA JONES: No.

DREW SIDORA: No.

(All laugh.)

DREW SIDORA: Only APO now.

TA’RHONDA JONES: Yeah, exactly.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: Oh.

QUESTION: Okay, so another question. During the filming process, did any of you actually get frightened for real?

TA’RHONDA JONES: What? Yes.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: I did.

LETOYA LUCKETT: I did.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah, yeah.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: The water, I think all of the sisters could swim. I couldn’t swim so I kept looking back at them like, y’all going to help me out or something? So I was really nervous about that. And I was actually in the process of — my grandfather was sick and I just lost him to COVID. And so I was really drawing that passion and that fear from that space to kind of have me drop in. But that was my experience behind and in the scenes.

QUESTION: Oh yeah. Sorry. All right, thank you, ladies.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: (Inaudible)

MODERATOR: Our next question is from Suzanne from “TV Meg”.

QUESTION: Hi, ladies. Did any of you know each other before filming or had you worked together before?

TA’RHONDA JONES: No.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yes.

TA’RHONDA JONES: But it felt like it. Not for me, but it felt like. I feel like I’ve been knowing these girls for a long time because the chemistry was out of this world when we first linked up. So it was amazing.

DREW SIDORA: Absolutely.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Absolutely. Kierra and I actually — my first film ever, “Preacher’s Kid,” we played somewhat like best friends. We sang in the same choir together.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: Yeah.

LETOYA LUCKETT: So it was so cool. And I’m a huge fan of hers. I listen to her and her worship music and all of that daily, so to be in this space with her and to share the screen with her was an honor once again.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: The same. It was an honor for me, too. I’m a fan of all of the ladies and LETOYA, too. But one of the cooler things was like LETOYA said we were sisters or friends before so we were friends again. And it felt like a family reunion for me.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yeah.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: Because I also had the opportunity to work with Drew as well in a film called “Blessed and Cursed.” So it felt like a reunion. And then Ta’Rhonda just felt like the cousin that just…

DREW SIDORA: You always wanted.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Always.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: So yes.

QUESTION: What about any of the crew or the other actors on the show, the movie?

TA’RHONDA JONES: No. The only person I was connected to was one of the guys, one of the Lifetime execs at the time because he was the one who actually offered me the role. But that was about it. Other than that, we didn’t know anybody. But honestly, it literally felt like Kierra said, family reunion because everybody literally just, I don’t know. It was like this unison.

DREW SIDORA: Instant connection, yeah, yeah. It was.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Shout out to Swirl Films. I’ve worked with them several times so.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah, same here. Swirl Films.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah, absolutely. They always provide a very family-oriented feel.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yes.

DREW SIDORA: So that’s what I love and I would work with them forever.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Okay.

MODERATOR: All right. Thank you so much, ladies.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: I was getting ready to add. I thought it was also kind of awesome that we actually bonded as sisters. You know how when sisters know, okay this sister she ain’t on today so we going to leave her alone.

(Laughs.)

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: We started picking up on each other’s energy.

DREW SIDORA: That is so true. Oh my god.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Facts.

DREW SIDORA: That is so funny.

QUESTION: That’s awesome. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thanks, you guys. Our next question is from Noah Wilson.

QUESTION: Hello, everyone. Happy press day for “Line Sisters.” Yeah.

(Cheering.)

QUESTION: Come on, ladies. Let’s do a happy dance.

(All doing happy dance.)

QUESTION: On the Zoom. Oh I love it.

(Laughs.)

QUESTION: All right, ladies. I want to ask y’all, what were some of the most dramatic or intense scenes for all of you when shooting “Line Sisters” as this movie goes, based around four sorority sisters who reunite at a black Greek weekend?

DREW SIDORA: For me, it was the snake. The snake. I thought they were going to have, I don’t know in my mind I thought it was going to be like a robotic prop snake.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Uh uh.

DREW SIDORA: And when they brought that thing out, I was like wait a minute. And I had to lay next to a real snake. I’ve never done a horror movie so for me as this is my introduction with a snake, I mean I felt like a G after. I was like I got this. Like that scream and that reaction, that was all a hundred percent real because I was absolutely…

QUESTION: I couldn’t do it. I do not like a snake.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah, yeah.

LETOYA LUCKETT: I would say for me the scene where we come face-to-face with the killer finally. And we’re in the basement and it was such a dark moment. And I just remember before we actually started shooting how everybody just like settled in to their, you know, their space, everything, their character. And it was super –duper quiet. And then you just heard us weeping all of us individually. And in order to was super tough. I don’t know why. I think everybody was, you know, having their own thing going on at the time, but I feel like that was one of the most emotional scenes for all of us and probably one of the darker scenes for all of us. And my girl that plays that role, the role of the killer, she nailed it. I was like, “Sis!”. (Claps.)

DREW SIDORA: She had us really spooked.

LETOYA LUCKETT: I was like I was shook.

DREW SIDORA: I was really afraid.

LETOYA LUCKETT: I was shook for real.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yeah. That was super intense.

TA’RHONDA JONES: Yeah, same, Toya. But I think it was more so the physical. Whenever somebody, we had to punch, kick, stunts, this, that. And sometimes, you know, in real life it’s don’t touch me. Don’t hit me because I’ll hit you back for real. (Laughs.) And I think trying to like pull back from reality, acting, reality, acting, take it back. I think that was more intense for me because it gets a little physical sometimes.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: And I’m sorry I don’t mean to toot our own horn, but I can say I feel like we delivered that sister piece because for me when I heard one sister speaking up for me, like oh she got my back. Or if I heard her crying over there, I would even feed off, like “What you crying about?” But we had to stay in that space. So it really was a sister moment that we, like the movie had us to drop into and it had us appreciate somebody having your back. Like if your blood not there, you got some other sisters that will definitely look out.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: And I think that…

LETOYA LUCKETT: Absolutely.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: …exudes through the film as well.

DREW SIDORA: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. Y’all have a good day.

LETOYA LUCKETT: You, too. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Starry Constellation Magazine.

QUESTION: Hi, ladies. This is such an intense film. How did you all shake off a long day of shooting?

TA’RHONDA JONES: I think with the cast, they made it easy for you to shake it off.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: Yes.

TA’RHONDA JONES: Because everybody’s personality was just so grounded and friendly and welcoming. And I think it was just like all right we’re done. All right, time to go home.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Mm-hmm, yes.

TA’RHONDA JONES: Or where are we going next? Let’s go to dinner.

DREW SIDORA: Let’s go eat.

LETOYA LUCKETT: But you know what? So I was about to say (inaudible) but Ta’Rhonda created this — it was such a beautiful moment. We tried to do it during filming, but we ended up doing it on the last day.

DREW SIDORA: Yes.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Of shooting. And brought these beautiful lanterns and we wrote our dreams and aspirations that we had and we lit them and sent them into the sky. And it was just such a beautiful moment. We felt like a family. To experience something like that with people that we didn’t know for long, but in that moment it felt like we’ve known each other for years. I haven’t had that on a set before. To really set intentions with beautiful people and in such a wonderful moment. I still think about that moment. I need another lantern by the way. I need one.

[OVERTALKING]

QUESTION: Five minutes into 2020 you need another lantern?

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yes.

DREW SIDORA: Mustard seeds.

LETOYA LUCKETT: The mustard seeds. I still got mine.

DREW SIDORA: Yes, me too. They’re in my purse. I mentioned they’re in my purse, yeah.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Well, thank you for that, mama.

DREW SIDORA: Yes.

TA’RHONDA JONES: You’re welcome.

DREW SIDORA: We love you, Ta’Rhonda. That meant everything.

QUESTION: Thank you, ladies.

MODERATOR: Our next question is going to be from Howard Benjamin.

QUESTION: My question is for LETOYA. How did your background in music prepare you for a life as an actress?

LETOYA LUCKETT: Well, that’s a good question. I think the best way to answer. It is kind of like surrendering to whatever the role calls for. You have to do that in music. Whatever the lyrics call for, I feel that I learned that from doing, well, being a singer since I was about 12 or five, but professionally 12. And I felt like because I was so rooted in that, I just took some of the things that I learned and brought it into this. But I will say it’s a whole new world. It really, really is. I don’t think — they have the similarities, but I think they’re totally different. I think with music, especially if you’re a writer, you’re writing from your experiences. Whereas with an actress, you’re portraying the character. You’re, you know, you’re representing that person. You’re living out one of their stories. And I mean I do that with songs sometimes. I do that with music sometimes, but I mean not in the way that you do with building a character. And I’ve been asked the question a lot. Like which do you prefer? I still don’t know. I still can’t decide. I’m in love with both of them. But yeah, I’m so glad that I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and not so wonderful experiences as a singer that I could, you know, bring into the acting space.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Right On Digital.

QUESTION: Hi, this is Cynthia Horner.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Cynthia.

QUESTION: I’ve met all of you before.

DREW SIDORA: Yes.

LETOYA LUCKETT: We love some Cynthia.

QUESTION: I want to tell you that I enjoyed the film especially since I am actually in a sorority. So therefore, it was…

LETOYA LUCKETT: How did we do?

QUESTION: I’m a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. They wear blue and gold.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Wow.

QUESTION: But anyway, I’d like you all to talk a little bit more about the sisterhood since you all formed such an amazing bond. Sisterhood was mentioned briefly, but can each of you tell me what is your definition of sisterhood now that you’ve done this movie?

TA’RHONDA JONES: I think for me…

LETOYA LUCKETT: Don’t want to go first.

TA’RHONDA JONES: I’ll go. I think for me because I do have five sisters. There’s eight of us. My mother has eight children. And sisterhood for me is just simply being there. And I think in this movie it taught me here today, gone today. Not here today, gone tomorrow. It’s literally here today, gone today. So whatever it is that you got going on, or whatever mess you might got going on with this particular person, just put it behind you and just make amends especially if this person — if you really consider this person your sister, your blood, your family, whatever. And one thing for me, anybody who knows me knows that I’m all about like Kierra said, women’s empowerment, togetherness, unison. And sisterhood just simply means that unison, togetherness and just simply being there for one another.

DREW SIDORA: That’s it. (Claps.)

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: I think, too, for sisterhood, true sisterhood is when you can sit in a circle of women who are secure within themselves, but understand that we each have something different to offer. So there no need for a competition or a comparison. And I think that’s when it’s even more powerful for us to deliver. So literally the film had us to see you’re stepping on my line. And we had to let our sister speak. So it was so many moving components, you know, as a part of this experience that really showed us. Because I used to say, oh we’re going to take all of that with the sororities, but I see why that process is necessary. Because you have to prove yourself to your sister. And so it even had me to honor what the sororities or the fraternities, what you all do in your community. And then it’s like if I’m out of a job, you’re going to come through for me. And so I really loved how sisterhood was defined for me in this movie because it was a life or death matter. It was like, all right, I know usually I don’t speak up. Usually you speaking up for me, but you’re going to see that I’m going to speak up for all of us today. And so that to me, it even kind of pushes a woman forward if you allow me to say it that way. So sisterhood, it builds up each other if I can say it that way.

LETOYA LUCKETT: Yeah.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Drew and LeToya, did you guys also want to answer?

LETOYA LUCKETT: Oh sure. I think it’s having a tribe that you can trust, having a group of women that you can be there for, be your true self, be transparent with and know that they got you, good or bad, I like showing up to be that for someone and I like knowing that I got it. And I feel like even in the short amount of time that we were together, we were there for each other. Any time we needed each other or wanted to talk about something, I felt that I could trust them in that moment that I was in the trust tree. That I was in a safe space.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah.

LETOYA LUCKETT: And it’s nothing like having that. You know what I mean? I don’t have any blood sisters. I have a blood brother. But I’ve been so blessed with a community of women who I know got me, front, back and side to side.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: Yeah.

LETOYA LUCKETT: That’s what I say to that.

DREW SIDORA: Yeah. And I agree with what everyone said. I have three sisters and it’s like no matter if you’re having a good day, a bad day, you’re getting along with them or y’all just had an argument, it’s the ability to just, you know, project that love and that vulnerability. Because I’m not going to lie, I have taken some time off from work having my children and I wasn’t in my most confident space. I never even told y’all this, but come in to work. I was like I just want to do a good job. You know, I just want to do what god gave me this gift to do and it’s been a while. But being around you all, you guys were so vulnerable and just share your true self. It was like even if I wasn’t having a good day, you guys were there with laughs. Ta’Rhonda with her energy, you know, here with a word, you know. And I just felt like spiritually there was a connectedness. And I think outside of friendships or anything else, with sisterhood there’s a spiritual connectedness that I think we were all able to share working together on this project. So I appreciate all of y’all for that moment that you guys, I’ve never had an opportunity to share. But I literally was going through it the day before we started filming and you guys really helped me in that moment to build up my confidence, so yeah.

KIERRA SHEARD-KELLY: We love you.

TA’RHONDA JONES: (Laughs.)

QUESTION: Thank you so much. This was the interview of a lifetime.

LETOYA LUCKETT: (Laughs.)

DREW SIDORA: We are so silly.

MODERATOR: Thank you guys all so, so much. That’s all we have time for today. But please tune into “Line Sisters” Saturday, February 12th at 8, 7 Central on Lifetime.

(All cheer.)

MORE INFO:

Preview

About the Movie

Line Sisters follows four sorority sisters- Valerie (LeToya Luckett), Cassandra (Kierra Sheard-Kelly), Simona (Ta’Rhonda Jones) and Dominique (Drew Sidora) – as they reunite at a Black Greek Weekend celebration held on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Having pledged the Alpha Beta Omega Sorority, Inc., they share more than the bonds of sisterhood, after the mysterious death of the dean of pledges 15 years prior. But the past comes knocking on their door as they arrive to the island and strange and inexplicable things begin to happen to each one of them, threatening to unearth the deadly secret that may tear them apart.

Line Sisters is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment in association with Undaunted Content for Lifetime and is executive produced by D’Angela Proctor and Leslie Greif. Tailiah Breon directs from a script written by Jasmine S. Greene and Scott Mullen.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

poster for "Line Sisters" on LIfetime

Interview with Eugene Byrd

TV Interview!

Eugene Byrd

Interview with Eugene Byrd of the movie “Immanence” and many TV shows by Suzanne 1/28/22

This was a very fun interview! I always liked Eugene in the many series I’ve seen him in since “Bones,” but this chat with him showed just how much fun he can be and why he’s such a great character actor who can do film, TV, comedies, drama, scifi, voiceovers – anything. He’s really versatile and laid-back. If you like horror, you’ll probably like this movie, “Immanence.” It has a mixture of horror and supernatural/religious phenomenon. Do make sure you watch him in “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” and the other projects mentioned.

Suzanne:   So, tell us how your role in this movie came about?

Eugene:   Well, I got a phone call from a really good friend of mine, Michael Beach (the star of “Immanence”), and Michael was like, “Hey, listen, man. I’m gonna get you. So, just come on and play with me, man; play with me. Let’s play. Let’s do this thing together. Let’s do it, and you’ll just have a good time.” And I was like, “First of all, who is this?” But then I was like, “Listen, man, if you really like this script, and you really think it’s a good idea -” because I had met Kerry and Summer at an event, and it was really great. I hadn’t seen the script. I heard him talk about it. I had no idea. Then, Beach called me and said, “Yeah, I want you to do it.” I said, “Okay, cool.” I hadn’t seen the script. I took him at his word, and his word was good, because, I ended up enjoying Davis and the idea that this script was playing with.

Suzanne:   Okay, great. So, no audition necessary. That’s good.

Eugene:   No, those are the best things, when you get that offer, when you get a friend beg you. I love when Beach has to beg me, “Come on, man, do something.” I’m like, “Yeah, I got you by the ropes.”

Suzanne:   So, did they give you any backstory at all on your character or just the script?

Eugene:   Beach gave me the backstory. Then, when I talked to Summer and Kerry, they gave me the script, but I had already signed on. I already trusted my friend, because I know he has really good taste, and especially when it comes to independent films, and doing something that’s very interesting and different. So, once I got the script, I started to delve into Davis and say, “Okay, he’s the fun guy.” He’s the guy that likes to have fun, make jokes. But obviously, he changes, as everybody does, as the script goes on.

Suzanne:   I noticed that your character is kind of the “dumb guy” who has to ask everything–

Eugene:   I don’t know that I’d call him a dumb guy [laughs]

Suzanne:   Wait, let me finish. “Dumb” in the way that he doesn’t know all this science stuff. So, they have to explain it to him, and in doing so they’re explaining it to us. So you’re that guy.

Eugene:   Yeah, I’m the audience, but it’s funny, because he still says, “So, you guys are chasing aliens?” And they’re like, “No, see, we’re after these extraterrestrials.” And I’m like, “Aliens. I don’t know why you can’t just drop it down in layman’s terms.”

Suzanne:   Right. It’s a pretty small cast. Did that make it more fun, having such a small cast?

Eugene:   Oh, it made it more fun, because at least two of the people I knew, and and then I knew Summer and Kerry, but not fully yet. I knew Asenneth’s husband, and then I just met Kasia. I think what it did for us is that everybody’s personality worked it [together] in that way. Sometimes everybody’s personality – but you’re on a boat together, for twelve hours, from 4pm to 4pm. If you don’t get to know each other and get to have fun, you’re gonna be miserable.

Suzanne:   So, you filmed on an actual boat?

Davis in "Immanence" played by Eugene ByrdEugene:   Oh, we filmed on an actual boat. This was an actual boat, and we were on the actual water. And I was not excited about it, because I can’t swim, and I don’t like boats. So, this was a lot of faith. They kinda lied to me. They kind of lied to me a little bit and didn’t tell me we’re going out on the water. Then, they kind of let it out that, “Oh yeah, we’re getting on the water,” and I’m like, “What are you talking about?” [unintelligible] on a boat. They’re “Like no, we got to go out.” Yeah.

Suzanne:   Well, I’m not a good swimmer, but I do like boats, but I guess you couldn’t have a life jacket or anything on while you were filming…

Eugene:   I didn’t wear one, because I was like, “You know what? I’m just gonna jump off the boat immediately onto the pier,” if there’s a pier. If there’s no pier, then, “Well, you know what? Life was good.” [laughs]

Suzanne:   And have you done any horror movies before?

Eugene:   Yes. Well, I guess you could call – I’ve done a couple, but the one that I did that everybody knows, Anacondas, which I guess is action, horror, comedy in a weird way. So, I had done that. And I’m a huge fan of horror films, so that was the other thing. I was like, “Yes, I’ll do this.” And I was working on a horror film with a friend of mine, too, independent. So yeah, this was right up my alley.

Suzanne:   Oh, that’s good. At the beginning of the movie, some of the characters are not religious, and some are. Where does your character fit into that range of beliefs?

Eugene:   You know, with Davis, I played a more sort of, like, he grew up with a religious background, but he doesn’t really follow anything. He’s pretty much a tech guy. He believes in money and believes in those type of things, but it didn’t take him long to fully believe, to know that something was up. I think that’s a lot of people these days. There’s spirituality, and there’s an underlying belief, but you kind of leave it away as you get older and you pursue different things, and that’s how I played Davis.

Suzanne:   And if this isn’t too personal, where do your own beliefs fit into that?

Eugene:   I grew up Baptist. I’m spiritual. I’m spiritual, because I grew up Baptist, and I have a lot of ideologies that are around me, like my manager when I was growing up was Jewish. My mom’s best friend was Seven Day Adventists. I went to Catholic school. So I mean, you could pretty much – I dated a Buddhist. So, you can put all of these pieces together and know that I had a lot of influences – oh and one of my best friends is Muslim. Do you see what I’m saying? So, for me, I don’t really follow a denomination.

Suzanne:   Okay. Yeah, I live in a Baptist town right now, a small southern town in Arkansas.

Eugene:   Wow. I don’t even know how to put that together. It’s a lot.

Suzanne:   No, I know. I’m from San Diego. So, it’s very different.

Eugene:   It’s extremely different.

Suzanne:   Yeah. Were there any particular challenges for you in doing the role?

Eugene:   No, I mean, other than the boat, and possibly having to swim? No, no other challenges. I mean, it’s always a challenge. When you’re taking on a role where science and religion are a part, and you’re playing this sort of, “How do I play this guy?” but when it came to being an actor, no challenges. When it came to me being on that boat and then dealing with different people trying to figure out how – It ended up being like smooth in that respect.

Suzanne:   What about as far as COVID? Was that a problem at all?

Eugene:   There was no COVID. Well, COVID wasn’t known yet.

Suzanne:   Oh, wow. This was filmed long ago.

Eugene:   This was the end of 2019. I think we heard that there was something, but it was overseas, but no, we had no COVID issues.

Suzanne:   Oh, well, that’s good. I can’t imagine filming in a small area with a bunch of people.

Eugene:   It wouldn’t even have happened, because well, it could have, because, some of the people stayed down in the area. They didn’t go back home. So, it would have been a version of the bubble. I guess everybody goes into this thing, and they don’t leave it for about sixteen to twenty days. So, I guess we could have done it that way, but yeah, we didn’t know anything about COVID at that time.

Suzanne:   And now you’d just all be vaccinated and tested frequently and that kind of thing.

Eugene:   Tested like crazy, but at the same time, I don’t know. If you’re in the bubble, you can’t move. You can’t go see family or friends, and you test once or twice in the beginning. I don’t think COVID would have been an issue at that point.

Suzanne:   How long did it take to film?

Davis in "Immanence" played by Eugene ByrdEugene:   It was sixteen days. I could be wrong. I’m trying to remember– I think it was sixteen days. And it was all night. All night shoots. So, it was switching straight from [day] and that’s it. So [unintelligible] every day.

Suzanne:   Wow. Yeah, it’s –

Eugene:   Six days a week.

Suzanne:   It’s a nice atmosphere, kind of claustrophobic and night and everything.

Eugene:   Yeah.

Suzanne:   It made for good horror atmosphere. I see that you’re doing some voiceover work with Spidey and His Amazing Friends. Do you enjoy doing voiceover?

Eugene:   Yeah. I loved doing voiceovers. It’s so freeing, because there’s no worry about how you look. You know, I don’t have to go through hair and makeup. I could go in in my pajamas, and not have to brush my teeth. I [did] brush my teeth though, [laughs] but I don’t have to go and be something in front of the camera; I just have to let my voice and my acting do the talking, and that’s a lot of fun. And doing Spidey and His Amazing Friends for Disney has been a lot of fun, just because I could play in a comic book world. I’m a nerd. I grew up a huge comic fan. The fact that I’m playing Miles Morales’s father is crazy to me. It’s fun.

Suzanne:   That’s good. And you’ve been in so many shows, including The Cosby Show, when you were just a teen. Do people recognize you for that, or mostly for your newer shows and movies?

Eugene:   I think if you grew up on The Cosby Show, or you grew up on the shows I did when I was younger – you know what, I do get called out for it quite quite a bit, but they’re usually either older, closer to my age, or just a little – but closer my age, but rarely do I get younger people like in their twenties going, “You were on Cosby,” because it’s been off the air for so long, and there’s no way they would know, unless they watch TV Land, and then I’ll be surprised they know it.

Suzanne:   How old were you when you started acting? You were pretty young, right?

Eugene:   Yeah, I started off when I was seven years old. So yeah, it’s been a long time. This year – wow – will be my fortieth year.

Suzanne:   You’re lucky that not only do you still look very young and can play really young roles and have most of your career, but you’re not one of those child actors that either had terrible problems or look unusual. Some of the child actors, they look like children, and then when they grow up, they look kind of weird.

Eugene:  I do look kind of weird. I got lucky in the fact that I never took this business – you know, I looked at it as fun. Then, when it became a job, I had to reorder, because I think every child actor has to reorder exactly what it is, because when you’re a child actor, your job is your life. You know, you’re an actor, so you kind of identify yourself as an actor and then what all those things mean. But I can’t sit there and say that I haven’t had my own issues with it, because you’re trying to re-identify yourself, and you’re trying to make sure you have longevity. I think a lot of people [are] trying to be stars, or they were stars, and then they are no longer stars, and they had to deal with that aspect. Luckily for me, I’ve always been sort of in the middle. I’ve been a known actor, but I’ve never hit the stardom level where I can’t walk down the street, and then all of a sudden [I can’t].

Suzanne:   Yeah, I’ve seen you on a lot of shows, but I don’t think I really – no offense – didn’t notice you until –

Eugene:   I appreciate that, though.

Eugene Byrd as Andy Diggle in "Arrow"Suzanne:   – until your role in Arrow. That was such a great role for you. Even though it was a superhero show, did you feel that challenged you more than some of your earlier roles?

Eugene:   Roles are challenging, because they’re a role I haven’t played. So, there’s always a different psychology attached to each character that I enjoy, or I try to push myself a little further in certain roles when I get them. And by the way, I did not take offense to that, because I pride myself on people not knowing, because the fact is I try to disappear in my role. I try to play my roles honestly, and if you don’t remember me, that’s cool, but if you start going, “Wait a minute…” that means there’s some recognition, but you don’t know what it is, and I’m fine with that, just because I’d rather keep my anonymity a little bit. I think that’s [where] a lot of actors, a lot of people have issues. That’s what happens; they lose that anonymity, and they can’t move around the world the way they would like.

Suzanne:   It’s got to be difficult, a lot of pressure on people.

Eugene:   I know a few people who have exploded, and it’s been difficult for them. Yeah.

David Ramsey (John) and Eugene Byrd (Andy) in "Arrow" btsSuzanne:   Getting back to Arrow, I mean, it was a great role with you and and the guy that plays Diggle, your brother?

Eugene:   We’ve played brothers before.

Suzanne:   Oh, you did?

Eugene:   Yeah. We did a pilot together called The Proud Family, and it was with Gabrielle Union and  Essence Atkins and Selma Hopkins, and it was a really great cast. We just didn’t get picked up, but David and I kept in touch as friends. And then one day…he was like, “Hey, I want you to play my brother,” and I was like, “Oh, Okay.” I knew he was in Arrow, but I was like, “Man, that would be a dream come true.” And it was fun, because I got to play a duplicitous character, which I feel like I’ve [done] a lot [laughs], but it’s like I’m like playing the duality of a guy who’s evil, and then all of a sudden, he’s good, but he never was good. He was always [evil]. So, that was fun. That was fun.

Suzanne:   Yeah, it was good. It is very surprising. We never knew he was, but he was always sympathetic, because you were playing him, and you’re very likable on screen. I also loved your character on Bones, that seemed very similar to the role you played on Crossing Jordan.

Eugene Byrd as Clark in "Bones"
BONES: Brennan (Emily Deschanel, R) and Dr. Clark Edison (guest star Eugene Byrd) continue to investigate who framed Booth for murder in the “The Lance to the Heart” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Oct. 2 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jordin Althaus/FOX

Eugene:   Right, which, I think, helped me, gave me a quick way to jump in. Because Sydney is a little bit – actually, Sydney was way more open than Clark ever was. Clark was always super buttoned up very much like Bones, you know, and the fact that “I don’t share my personal life; this is about the work,” and then as time goes on, he starts letting himself be loose and being more of a personable person in that show. I love that show. That was like one of my favorite shows I ever did. I did it for ten years, and I have two of my best friends from that show.

Suzanne:   Okay, can you tell us which ones?

Eugene:   Pej Vahdat, who was Arastoo, and Michael Grant Terry, who played Wendell. So, they’re two of my closest friends.

Suzanne:   He’s on another show. I can’t think of which one.

Eugene:   Pej?

Suzanne:   No, Michael.

Eugene:   Michael did Roswell.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I think just something else though. I can’t remember it. Never mind.

Eugene:   He did a Lifetime – was it a Hallmark or a Lifetime show? I want to say it was Hallmark.

Suzanne:   I think it is something on Showtime or STARZ, but I can’t remember.

Eugene:   He’s got something he was doing, but those are only two I know we’ve talked about. If it’s something else, he’s gonna be mad at me that I don’t know.  [laughs]

Suzanne:   It’s fine. You can’t be expected to remember all these shows.

Eugene:   Pej right now is doing like a thousand things. Sometimes I’m like, “Which one is this again?”

Suzanne:   Well, I’m glad to hear that the Squints are still friends.

Eugene:   We all are. You know, the beautiful part about that show is we all had great chemistry with each other, and that’s rare. That’s rare where the recurrings have great chemistry with the regulars, and it feels like we’re all regulars.

Suzanne:   No, definitely. And do you have any other projects that you’re working on that you can tell us about?

Eugene:   Oh, that I could tell you about? Well, you know, actually, they’re all on right now. They’re all coming out. Today is The Legend of Vox Machina, a cartoon for Amazon Prime, where I play Captain Jared. And then Secrets of Sulphur Springs. Just everything else I can’t even talk about yet.

Suzanne:   I love that show. You’re coming up on that?

Eugene:   My character showed up fully last week, and today –

Suzanne:   Oh, I haven’t watched last week’s yet.

Eugene:   You see him way more today.

Suzanne:   Okay, cool. I haven’t watched last week’s yet. I know it’s a kid’s show, and I don’t have any children –

Eugene:   But here’s the funny thing, I watched it. It’s more for everyone. I’ve realize that, because before I even did it, I was like, “This is a kid’s show. All right, I’ll just do it.” Then, I worked with the kids, and I worked with the other actors, and two of them I knew, well, three; three people I knew on that show. And I was surprised. I was surprised how accessible it was for adults and that the kids were just natural. I got to work with Elle Graham most of the time; she plays Savannah, the little blonde girl. Well, she’s not little, that girl’s tall. [laughs] I had such a great time working with that cast and that crew. So, I’m glad you like it. It just surprised me.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I don’t remember why I started watching. Oh, because the people who wrote it used to write in soap operas, and I watch soap operas.

Eugene:   Ah, yes. That’s right. I think Tracy did – I don’t know about Charles. Charles did 90210, which is what I did. I did the original 90210.

Suzanne:   He’s been on a lot of those types of things, and I think daytime briefly too. But yeah, I like that show. I’m always telling people watch the show.

Eugene:   The funny thing is because they think it’s a kid show, they’re not thinking that you’re going to watch something that’s still appealing to you as well and that’s wholesome and interesting. I wouldn’t have believed that either. If you asked, if you told me.

Suzanne:   Yeah, well, I have a lot of science fiction friends, and so, I would tell them, “it’s got time travel!”

Eugene:   It does, and I’m curious what you’re gonna think about this season we’re doing right now, this season that just came out. It’s interesting, and it deals with, obviously, time again, but there’s an even deeper mystery now.

Suzanne:   Well, they’ve got to change it up every season. And anything else that you’d like to say to your fans?

Eugene:   Thank you for supporting me all these years, and there’s some stuff coming up. I can’t talk about it, but it should be very, very interesting.

Suzanne:   All right, great. Well, thank you for joining me today. I really enjoyed it.

Eugene:   I had a great time.

Here is the video version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

Trailer

Poster for the movie "Immanence"Buffalo 8 has announced the acquisition of IMMANENCE from filmmaker Kerry Bellessa. The thriller/horror film will be available on demand a several digital streamers, including iTunes, February 4.

While investigating a meteor strike in the Bermuda Triangle, a team of radio astronomers discover a mysterious signal in the deep sea that could be the world’s first contact with extraterrestrials. After witnessing various impossible phenomena, the team becomes convinced that something is trying to communicate with them.

Aboard their boat is Jonah (Michael Beach, Aquaman, “S.W.A.T.”), a loner with a mysterious past and cryptic motives. His faith leads him to suggest that this communication may be a manifestation of divinity, a hypothesis which the scientists immediately reject.

Soon the communications go from inexplicable to terrifying, threatening not only the team’s beliefs, but also their lives. When chaos culminates in an ominous revelation that makes everyone a threat, the team must fight for sanity and survival in a nightmare against the ultimate evil.

IMMANENCE: Fast FactsRelease Date: Friday, February 4, 2022
Genre: Thriller/Horror
Rating and Run Time: Not rated (R equivalent), 90 mins.
Short Summary: Radio astronomers discover a mysterious signal in the deep sea that could be contact with extraterrestrials. After several terrifying manifestations threaten their beliefs, the team must fight to survive the ultimate evil.
Director: Kerry Bellessa
Writers: Kerry Bellessa And Joshua Oram
Producers: Kerry Bellessa, Summer Bellessa, Michael Beach
Cinematographer: Oscar Ignacio Jiménez
Starring: Michael Beach, Summer Bellessa, Eugene Byrd, Anthony Ruivivar, Kasia Pilewicz,  Asenneth Del Toro, Jamie Mcshane

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

Eugene Byrd

Interview with Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor

TV Interview!

Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of "Miracle in Motor City" on Lifetime

Interview with Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of “Miracle in Motor City” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This is a fun movie, set in Detroit. In most ways, it’s your usual holiday TV movie, but the Motown music makes it a little extra-special, as does using Smokey Robinson as a major plot point. The acting also elevates it above the usual films we see this time of year.  Tia Mowry-Hardrict (Sister, Sister; Family Reunion) is effervescent as busy social worker and foster mom Amber (who’s volunteered to take over the church Christmas pageant), and Canadian Mark Taylor (Coroner, Frankie Drake Mysteries) is great as her ex-boyfriend, Eddie.  Smokey doesn’t appear right away, and he has a relatively small part, but the real star that outshines them all is Markeda McKay, the adorable actress who plays Lily, Amber’s foster daughter.

Lifetime had a press day for some of their upcoming Christmas movies, so it was great to be invited to be there and ask questions. I had a fun time chatting with them. Make sure you watch the movie Sunday, November 28 on Lifetime.

MODERATOR: Hi, all. Thank you for joining us for our last panel. Please welcome our panelists, executive producer and star, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, guys!

MODERATOR: Hello.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (Makes kissing face.) Back atcha!

TIA MOWRY: Oh my gosh, I miss you guys!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I miss you, too. Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, you guys look so great!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You’re the one.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: How you doing, Mark?

MARK TAYLOR: I’m good, man. Good to see you again.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Good to see you, man. Yeah.

MARK TAYLOR: How you doing?

MODERATOR: Thank you all for being here. Our first question is from Suzanne.

TIA MOWRY: Oh. We’re — right off the gate.

QUESTION: Hi.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, Suzanne!

QUESTION: Hi, guys. Happy holidays.

MARK TAYLOR: Happy holidays.

TIA MOWRY: Happy holidays to you.

Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of "Miracle in Motor City" on LifetimeQUESTION: I just finished watching your movie this morning. I really enjoyed it.

TIA MOWRY: Yay! (Claps.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Wonderful. Yeah.

QUESTION: I like that it was set in the city because so many of the Christmas movies are set out in the country somewhere, and they imply that the city is bad and the small town or country is good. So… I’m a city girl, I like that yours was different.

TIA MOWRY: Yay!

QUESTION: Mark, I love your character in “Coroner,” and I really love that show.

MARK TAYLOR: Oh, thank you. Wow, thank you.

QUESTION: The singing and guitar playing that you did in the film, was that something that you’ve done a lot of before?

MARK TAYLOR: I sing in the shower and…

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I know that tune.

MARK TAYLOR: And guitar, I used to play guitar when I was about 12. I did that for maybe a couple of years and, you know, real minute stuff, so…I had to take lessons and kind of relearn it.

TIA MOWRY: But you guys, here’s a little kind of behind-the-scenes situation. I thought what was really cool about Mark is he’d always walk around with the guitar. Like, when you weren’t on camera, behind the scenes, he was always walking around with it. I guess was that an actor’s choice to just feel really comfortable with the guitar?

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, I just wanted to get it as good as I could and make it as realistic as possible.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah.

MARK TAYLOR: And it was fun. It was also fun, you know? So it was good to learn some songs and connect.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You know, I’ve tried to learn to play the guitar about three or four times. I cannot do it.

MARK TAYLOR: Really?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: It just would not — and the tricky part was my favorite instrument.

TIA MOWRY: Wow.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: The guitar is my favorite —

TIA MOWRY: Oh.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: And I wanna play it so badly, but I just can’t get it. My right hand and my left hand do not coordinate on the guitar, you know. But my guitarist told me, he says, “Man, if you wanna learn how to play the guitar, keep it in your hands at all times.”

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, yeah.

TIA MOWRY: See?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I understand what you were talking about, man. But I did that and that didn’t work, either. So…

TIA MOWRY: I don’t — you guys, I don’t know how to play any instruments. Like, I…I’m terrible.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: What?

TIA MOWRY: That is one thing — no. Like, that’s — sports and music is I just — I can’t. So kudos to you guys.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Not sports, don’t say sports.

TIA MOWRY: Oh God, no, I can’t even — when I was a kid —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: No sports?

TIA MOWRY: No, no, no sports. Like, when I was a kid, my dad, he tried to put me in what is it t-ball? You know, where the ball is like teed up for you?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: I would strike out on that. So I’d like —

MARK TAYLOR: Wow.

TIA MOWRY: What is it, hand and eye coordination? No. Not good. Thank God, you know, I have other things that I can do.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, t-ball is over, honey, by the time you’re six or seven.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You don’t even play t-ball anymore, so that was way back when.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.) Okay?

QUESTION: Tia, can you sing at least?

TIA MOWRY: Yeah, you know, I can sing.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: She’s got a good voice.

TIA MOWRY: I mean, I grew up with singers in my family. My mother, she actually sang in the choir at church. So I can sing but what’s so funny about this character, Amber Dupont, she doesn’t know how to sing. And actually, Eddie, he picks on me throughout the movie about how I can’t carry a tune. So I thought that was pretty funny. But yeah, I mean, I can carry a tune.

QUESTION: Well, the voice is an instrument, so it counts.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Yeah, she can. She’s got a good voice.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you, all.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Suzanne.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you! Thank you!

MARK TAYLOR: Welcome.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION: Hi, guys.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, Jeannie.

QUESTION: Hi.

TIA MOWRY: Or Jamie, is it Jamie?

QUESTION: Jamie. Jamie, yes.

TIA MOWRY: Hi Jamie!

QUESTION: Hi. This is for all three of you. I was wondering, is there anything filming this that surprised you that you found out? Like, what was the most surprising thing?

TIA MOWRY: How hot it was in Canada.

(Laughter.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: My most surprising thing was that I could do it at all.

TIA MOWRY: Aw. I mean —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: That was my most surprising.

MARK TAYLOR: You were great. You were great.

TIA MOWRY: Look, y’all, Smokey —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I love you, too, Mark.

MARK TAYLOR: You were great.

TIA MOWRY: You were fantastic. I mean, you’re a legend, you know what I mean? Come on, Smokey.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (inaudible @ 01:26:29)

TIA MOWRY: You’re awesome. You’re wonderful. Go ahead, Mark. You wanna answer?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I had a wonderful time.

TIA MOWRY: Oh.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I had a great time. And everybody was so beautiful, you know? Before it even happened, I was looking forward to seeing Tia because Tia is like my daughter. I mean, you know, I just —

TIA MOWRY: Yeah.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: …I love her so much and so happy to see —

TIA MOWRY: Aw, I love you, Smokey!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: …that she was gonna be there. That was great. And then, meeting everybody and getting the chance to — everybody. I mean, the crew, everybody was just fantastic. So I had a wonderful time.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: Aw. What about you, Mark? Was there anything that you were surprised about?

MARK TAYLOR: What was I surprised about? Um…you know what? I don’t know if I was surprised, but it was just an amazing experience.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, I like that.

MARK TAYLOR: Everyone’s so cool and everyone had a good time. And it was just — I guess maybe the experience I didn’t know was going to be so amazing you know?

TIA MOWRY: Yeah.

MARK TAYLOR: But I’m definitely happy that I was a part of it, and I feel like it was meant to be.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, that’s awesome.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: I think, yeah, for me I think the most surprising part — I mean, I don’t know why it’s always surprising but I think a lot of people, they expect for — you know, these Christmas movies they’re — it’s supposed to be snow on the ground, it’s supposed to be wintertime. But in reality, we film a lot of these movies during the summertime. So we’re wearing jackets, and coats, and scarfs, and it’s so incredibly hot. So you have to —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Except for at night.

TIA MOWRY: Except for nights. Yeah, except for night.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: It was like the instant drop, like it’s 75 until six o’clock and at 6:01 it’s 30. (Laughs.)

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.) No. Wait, I will say this though, too, you guys. I think we film these movies in such a short period of time, right? So when I first started doing these Christmas movies, I think the thing that I was most surprised about is how many scenes you shoot in a day. Just for perspective on some movies, most movies, you’ll shoot maybe two-to-three scenes a day. But with these movies, you’re shooting, like, eight or nine scenes a day. So it’s a lot of dialogue to memorize and you’re working long hours. So that can be kind of surprising I think for viewers to know about.

MARK TAYLOR: It’s a grind.

TIA MOWRY: It’s a lot of work.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it’s a grind.

TIA MOWRY: We shoot these movies in such — I think it’s what, 15, 16 days? When a lot of movies go for 21 maybe even 30 days. So it’s a grind. But it’s a good grind.

MARK TAYLOR: Oh, yeah.

QUESTION: I was gonna say, too, coats in the summer may be better than wearing a bathing suit when it’s freezing out or something. I don’t know.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I guess it depends.

MARK TAYLOR: They’re both bad. They’re both bad.

QUESTION: Yeah, that’s true.

TIA MOWRY: You know what? I’m with you, Mark. I think they’re both just ew. But I mean, hey, you know, you do what you love.

MARK TAYLOR: Right.

TIA MOWRY: And I love what I do, so…it’s all worth.

QUESTION: Alright, thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Jamie.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Jamie. Our next question is from Mike from TV America.

QUESTION: Yeah, for Smokey. One of the good things about this movie is it reminds us of how important those church Christmas pageants are. So could you recall, back when you were a kid and so forth, what was important to you about it? Did you do church Christmas pageants? What did they mean to you?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, you know what, Mike? I was involved in a few of them but my mom was one of those people that went to church three, four times a week, you know? She was a real lady, though. She would cuss you out in a minute but she would go to church three, four times a week.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: And actually, to be truthful with you, when I was a child, man, church used to scare me because of the fact —

QUESTION: (Laughs.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I’m serious about that, man. I was scared to death at church because the church that I went to was a Baptist church, Baptist preacher. And he’s preaching and hollering and hooping and just falling out. And the women are coming up there and they’re putting smelling salts and they’re passing out. I was afraid to death of church, man, until I got to be grown. I really was. I wasn’t really, like, a church-going person as a kid. I went if my mom made me, if she made me. So when she made me go, I went. And she would send me to Sunday school in the morning and then I’d have to go back to church with her in the afternoon. That was really a grind for me, man. But like I said, after I got to be grown and I understood a lot more spiritual things, I understood it more. And so I got to be more relaxed with it. But as far as growing up, man, I was…it was a trip for me.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.)

QUESTION: Thanks. I wanted to ask you one other thing, Smokey. Even though you shot it in Canada, this gives Detroit a really good look because it used a lot of stills, second unit shots. It makes life in Detroit look very attractive. Do we kind of underestimate how good Detroit is right now?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I hope so, Mike. I really do because Detroit has been devastated for a while. But it’s because of the economy, because of no jobs and all that. See, Detroit is a job city. And when I was growing up, the auto industry was what kept Detroit going. Detroit was the auto industry, really. So after all the auto plants moved out and the manufacturers and stuff and then we had Motown and…I’m so proud of the fact that right now, they even call Detroit Motown. So we created a lot of jobs and things like that in Detroit, also. And we left and the auto industry left, so Detroit suffered for a long time. And I’m very, very happy to see that it is kind of on the rebound.

QUESTION: Oh, thanks.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike. Our next question is for —

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Mike!

MODERATOR: Thank you. Noah, you’re up next.

QUESTION: Hello, everyone. It is so great to be here with you guys. By the way, Tia, I feel your holiday energy. I have the holiday energy, too. I feel like you’re just gonna bust out into a Christmas tune. Yes, yes, oh yes!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Go, Tia. Bust it out, Tia.

QUESTION: Come on, Tia.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, thank you.

QUESTION: Give us a little “Jingle Bells”.

TIA MOWRY: No! Oh my God! Jingle bells, jingle bells. I’m, like, nervous to sing in front of Smokey.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you, Noah.

TIA MOWRY: You know, Christmas happens to be one of my favorite holidays. I really look forward to it every single year and that’s one of the main reasons why I love doing these movies. It’s something that my family — especially my mom, like, she’s a huge fan of every Christmas movie I do. And we sit down and we have hot cocoa, glasses of wine, and just really enjoy ourselves. So…

QUESTION: Now, Tia, I want to ask you first off, what attracted you to wanna be part of this? Because we have seen you and your sister, Tamera, be part of a lot of Christmas movies. And I just must say I love watching you two on screen.

MARK TAYLOR: Aw, thank you!

QUESTION: I’ve been a longtime fan since “Sister, Sister”. I just recently binged that, by the way, just aside.

TIA MOWRY: Really? With — yes. Okay, yeah, because it’s in syndication right now.

QUESTION: Yes. Yes.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you! You know, what really attracted me with this script in particular is Mr. Smokey Robinson. You know, they had told me that he was going to be a part of it and I was like no way. I didn’t believe them at first. I was like I have to see it to believe it. I’ve known Smokey ever since I was a young, little girl and I’ve been a huge fan. And I just feel like Motown, it’s been very influential, especially within the African American culture and the community. So to be able to have that Motown flair and to have, like, Smokey be a part of the story, I was on-board from the beginning. And then when they told me that Mark was gonna be a part of it, Mark and I, we had done a movie over 20-something years ago, like aging ourselves but —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: When you guys were babies? You did a movie when you were babies?

TIA MOWRY: A baby! A baby! We were, like, in our 20s.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Twenty years ago.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah, basically. So I just — when I found out who the cast was and all of that and then just the story. I’m a huge believer in just giving women an opportunity. And Rhonda Baraka who is the writer of this movie, she wrote such an incredible script. And she’s also an African American woman which I just think is so phenomenal. So yeah, I was really excited about this project and I hope people enjoy this movie as much as all of us did making it.

QUESTION: Now, Mark, you have worked with Tia and Tamera on a movie in the past titled “17 Again”. I don’t know if that’s what you were just talking about, Tia, but that’s the movie that I’m talking about.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it is.

TIA MOWRY: Yes, it was. “17 Again”, that was what I was talking about.

QUESTION: So now, we see you and Tia, you have feelings for each other in this holiday movie that we’ll see on Lifetime. What was it like to personally work with her once again for this project?

TIA MOWRY: Aw.

MARK TAYLOR: I mean, Tia, you know, she got the big, bright energy, you know? Her spirit is so giving and bright and caring. She’s always checking in with you, making sure that you’re alright.

TIA MOWRY: Yep.

MARK TAYLOR: And she just makes everyone feel involved, like everyone’s on the same level. So it was great. Like I said, it was a great experience.

TIA MOWRY: Yay.

QUESTION: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. You have a good day.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Noah!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You, too.

TIA MOWRY: Bye!

QUESTION: Bye. Happy holidays.

TIA MOWRY: Happy holidays.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for one final one. Jay, you’re up.

QUESTION: Oh, thank you very much. Hi. Smokey, my question is for you. You’ve got such a catalogue of songs, obviously, and quite a few of them actually are Christmas songs. What kind of conversation went into exactly what you would perform in the movie?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You know, Jay, not too much because I was gonna be on board — see, first of all, they sent me the script. And it’s a beautiful, warm, wonderful, warm story. And it was like Tia said, about Black people and about how they celebrate Christmas and what they do and all that. So that got me right there. And then, they told me Tia was gonna be involved. I hadn’t met Mark before filming this, but Tia like I said is my baby. I love her. And they told me she was gonna be involved and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. And then, it’s about Detroit and all that. So I was on board from getting the script and finding out all that information about what was going on. And like I said, the script is beautiful. It’s a warm, wonderful, Christmas story and I was very flattered to be a part of that.

TIA MOWRY: Aw.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, when it came to the songs, did they ask for your input about what you might like to perform, maybe from your own catalogue?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: No, no, no, no, no, man. They had some songs in mind that they wanted me to do and I did those. Because whatever they wanted me to do, like I said, I was gonna be on board for. And so I didn’t really pick any songs to sing or anything like that. I just wanted to be a part of it because it seemed so wonderful.

QUESTION: Thanks very much, Smokey.

TIA MOWRY: You know, wait, Smokey, I have to say one of my favorite moments in the movie is when you walk through the church doors. And you have this — I mean, you have this, like, swagger to you, the way you’re just walking. (Laughs.) Down the aisle. And then you start singing. It is just — I just cannot wait for people to see that moment. I mean, I just started bawling and I just started crying because it’s just — it’s such a beautiful moment. And I know that you’re saying that you’re very grateful to be a part of this movie, but I just want to say thank you for being a part of this movie. I mean, you’re such a legend. And Mark and I, we talk about you all the time. You’re just — you’re so — I mean, you’re a legend, you know what I mean?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (Over-talking @ 01:38:44) And so I really, really want to take this time — I’ve already told you so many times before, but thank you for lending just your energy and your talent to this story because you did an incredible job. So thank you.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, thank you, sweetheart. I appreciate that. And I got your vitamins, too. I got the vitamins.

TIA MOWRY: Yay!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: Yay! I love that!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Me too.

MODERATOR: That’s awesome. Thank you so much to the cast of “Miracle in Motor City”. Make sure to tune in November 28th at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.

(Goodbyes.)

MORE INFO:

Preview

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME Programming Event Beginning November 12th, Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME

Programming Event Beginning November 12th

Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days

Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Talent Around the Tree This Year Includes

Kelly Rowland, Reba McEntire, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, Jana Kramer, Marie Osmond, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sánchez, Jacky Lai, Mýa, Ryan McPartlin, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Candice King, Emeraude Tobia, Aimee Garcia, Haylie Duff, Ricki Lake, Kirk Franklin, John Schneider, Maria Menounos, Chad Michael Murray, AnnaLynne McCord, and Many Others

Los Angeles, CA – September 28, 2021 – Get ready for the most cheerful holiday season yet! Lifetime announces its largest holiday movie slate ever for the network’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event, kicking off November 12th with five new movies Fridays and Saturdays, and a premiere on Sunday, November 21st.  Then, once the Thanksgiving feast is over and for the first time ever, Lifetime will premiere 30 new movies, in 30 days, with a new movie EVERY DAY from November 26 through December 25. As the #1 holiday movie destination, Lifetime’s 2021 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate will feature 35 new movies and over 1000 hours of holiday programming.

In case that’s not enough excitement for you – get ready for It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Preview hosted by Tia Mowry (star of this year’s Miracle in Motor City)! This special will preview Lifetime’s upcoming 2021 Christmas Movies and will be available on VOD beginning October 24 and will premiere on Lifetime November 7 at 10am ET/PT. In addition to sneak peeks and cast interviews, Tia will share a special holiday treat or cocktail recipe to go with each movie previewed!

At Lifetime it’s never too early to get in the spirit! Beginning October 15, Lifetime VOD will have 10 of your favorite holiday titles available to screen. And if you just can’t get enough – starting November 12, LMC will have 50 of Lifetime’s best holiday movies available to stream!

Miracle in Motor City

Starring Tia Mowry, Mark Taylor & Smokey Robinson

11/28 at 8pm / 7c

CID_31
Amber Dupont (Tia Mowry) bites off more than she can chew when she takes charge of her church’s annual Christmas pageant and inadvertently promises to deliver a special performance by Motown Legend Smokey Robinson. When her best friends secretly enlist Amber’s former flame Eddie (Mark Taylor) to help – the pair reconnect in a quest to find Smokey and convince him to appear. With the clock ticking, family, friends, and superstar Smokey Robinson come together to stage the most special pageant yet.Miracle in Motor City is produced by Cineflix Media with Tia Mowry, Charles Tremayne, and Jeff Vanderwal serving as executive producers. Gaylyn Fraiche consults on behalf of Tia Mowry. Alfons Adetuyi directs from a script by Rhonda Baraka.

Markeda McKay, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor in "Miracle in Motor City" on Lifetime

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

picture

Interview with Kelley Kali and Deon Cole

TV Interview!

Deon Cole and Kelley Kali

Interview with Kelley Kali and Deon Cole of the movie “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) by Suzanne 7/27/21

This was a fun interview! These two are so talented and amiable. We had a great time chatting. I look forward to Kelley’s next film, too. She’s a DGA winner, and he stars in two ABC shows, along with being a hard-working standup comic.

Video of our chat!

Suzanne:   I watched it last night. I enjoyed it. I liked how you made us really feel what she was going through, how she was hot, tired, and having a bad day and worried, and all that made me anxious to watch it. I was like, “Sell the ring! Sell the ring!”

Kelley:   I know, right?

Suzanne:   “Don’t do that!” But that I’m glad the way it turned out.

Kelley:   Thank you so much for saying that.

Suzanne:   I don’t– I don’t watch a lot of independent movies, because so many of them are sad and depressing and boring, but I liked yours so much.

Kelley:   Good. Thank you. We tried to have a balance of that indie sad, depressing, but this is why Deon’s here, because he brought the funny to it.

Then, even the characters, like Brooklynn’s character, [she’s also] one of Deon’s closest friends, so, you know, he brought her along, and so he definitely was the light in the storytelling of serious social matters.

Suzanne:   Yeah. No, it was nice and positive. I like that. I’m more of a popcorn movie person. Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter.

Kelley:   Good choices.

Suzanne:   But I enjoyed it. I loved the dream sequence and what you did with that, because I’m watching going, “There’re really big holes of water there…?” and you had me. You got me.

Kelley:   The greatest parts to wake people up, and it’s a great metaphor to show that she’s drowning in so much trouble that she’s trying to get through and just to protect her daughter’s innocence.

Suzanne:   Right, and it really does grab you in the, “Oh my gosh, what’s gonna happen next, if she loses her money and the ring and all that stuff? Is she gonna drown?” So, I like that. And it really showed LA really well, too. I love that. It was almost like LA was another character in the movie.

Kelley:   It was, yeah; that city is where I grew up. It’s a suburb of LA, in San Fernando Valley, Pacoima, and so it was also just paying homage to a town that helped raise me.

And even Danny Trejo, the actor, is from that town. So, that’s why we named the character Danny. We even are featuring his mural, because he’s just one of the one of the many artists have come from that city that represent that town very well.

Suzanne:   Right. Yeah, I noticed his face on the mural. So that explains why you set it in Pacoima. I’m from San Diego, but I didn’t know. I had heard of Pacoima, but that was about it. I actually thought it was in Washington State. I’m like, “Wait, that’s LA.”

Kelley:   It was also our resource, because we were shooting during a pandemic and had to find places we could film safely, and so, I just used my hometown. My dad was a pastor there. So, I was really connected to the community. In fact, where Deon pulls up [and] his character talks to me, that’s the steps of my church, the church that I was raised in where my dad was a pastor. So, when he says, “Are you are you a pastor?” I love it. It’s one of my favorite scenes.

Suzanne:   So, how did you come up with the idea for this film?

Kelley:   So, just, it was in the middle of the pandemic, the middle of 2020, I woke up, and was like, “I’ve got to do something,” because we weren’t allowed to do anything. And one of the things that I have been noticing is that there were a lot more women on the streets here in Los Angeles. You know, we already have a large homeless population, but this increase was due to houselessnes, which was a new term that I was learning. So, it just really showed how paycheck to paycheck we are as a society, [during] this pandemic. So, a lot more people ended up in their cars or sleeping on a friend’s couch or family member’s couch, or heaven forbid, in a tent, temporarily, while they were just getting back on their feet, because maybe they do have a job and maybe the job shut down or whatever it may be.

So, I went to my writing partner, Deon Cole, and went to my girls from USC, Angelique Molina, who’s my co-director; Roma Kong is producer, and then also our other producer, Capella [Fahoome], and we came up with this concept to reflect what we were going through during 2020 and what is even more prevalent now. There’re still so many people who are houseless currently.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I can’t even imagine what it must be like there. I grew up in poverty in San Diego, and I still have plenty of relatives who are in poverty. I had actually one who, before the pandemic, was camping with her husband – no children, thankfully, but she and her husband were camping all through LA and Bakersfield where they had lived in a car, basically. So, I know how that is. So, the film did remind me of those things and make me really feel it.

So, was Danny based on a particular person that you know or just…?

Kelley:   No, no, Danny was a reflection of the women I’ve seen on the street. So, there is one story, it’s not based on her, but one thing that really triggered me was I was actually driving to get a COVID test, and I got off on the 110 [accidentally]. It’s like you exit along the side of the overpass, and I saw this beautiful black woman who just looked like she came out of a business meeting, look perfectly put together, but had her suitcase and everything. And she was dragging this chain link fence, this old fence that was kind of laying around under the freeway, and boxing herself in, because it looked like she was about to stay there for the night. And I just couldn’t believe [it]. Like she didn’t look – you know how people are like, “Well, you don’t look homeless.” A lot of people don’t look [homeless], and that’s one of the things we talk about. We want the movie to reflect it or to evoke empathy for people, to let them see it, because you don’t know people’s stories. People have this concept of others on the street being lazy or like they put themselves there, and that’s not the case of the majority of the stories.

Suzanne:   And I assume you had a certain vision for the movie before you made it. Did the finished product live up to that ideal?

Kelley:   It was better, and that just comes from a team effort. This not just from my head. It just was a team. It was Deon watching it and giving notes and catching things that I didn’t see.

And then we’d go back to the editors. We had two editors, Angelica [Lopez] and Katie [McClellan], and just the input that they gave, because, you know, when Angelique, my co-director, and I are in the grind, you’re too much in it, and you need other eyes around you, other creative eyes, to help. And I just think, as a team, it became better than I could have even imagined.

Suzanne:   That’s great. And Deon, can you tell us how your role came about? Was it just like she said; she came to you and said, “I want to put a movie together?” And you said, “Sure,” ?

Deon:   Yeah, it was just another obstacle added as far as to heighten her decision making on what she needs to do for the character and just bringing lightness to a heavy situation. Yeah, basically, that was it.

Suzanne:   And can we assume that after Danny got her apartment that she went to her friend Brooklynn and told her all about running into Chad, I hope?

Kelley:   I don’t know. Does Danny kill Brooklynn’s joy? Does she just let it ride? I’m gonna leave it up to you to decide.

Suzanne:   Honesty, I would like to see a sequel all about Brooklynn and Chad.

Kelley:   Wouldn’t that be fun?

Suzanne:   Maybe a TV series. Get your own sitcom based on that. I would like that. That was so funny, that part.

And what was the most fun thing for either or both of you about doing the movie? I know it was a lot of work, but what was fun about it?

Kelley:   For me, it was the roller skating, because I’m obsessed with roller skating. So, although I was on skates for like, ten or more hours a day, every day, I just was having a blast. And my favorite part was, I had to bomb this hill. It’s in the opening credits. You can’t even really see the grade of the incline that it is, but it is extremely steep and dangerous. And we decided just to get the drone shot and bomb it, and it scared the crap out of my co-director, Angelique, and my producers. It was just fun seeing them freak out as I’m going this hill. They talk about to this day how traumatized they were, but thank God, I made it. No little pebbles or twigs got in the way.

Suzanne:   That’s right, because you weren’t wearing a helmet? Were you wearing protection?

Kelley:   I was in a half top and biker shorts, which wasn’t going to protect a thing. So, that’s why they call that hill Devil’s Hill, because it’s one of the hardest hills to go down.

Suzanne:   I’m surprised you got the insurance to sign off on that.

Kelley:   You know, sometimes you ask for forgiveness.

Suzanne:   What about you, Deon? What was fun for you?

Deon:   Like, waiting around, and us just laughing in between takes and just laughing in that situation and coming up with different ideas. And there was a lot of funny stuff that we didn’t use.

Kelley:   Oh, yeah.

Deon:   So, it was just fun creating all these different scenarios. You know, it was great.

Kelley:   Deon’s improv, it was so hard for me to keep a straight face [with] the stuff that he was saying to me on the steps. We could just cut a whole series of all of the stuff that he shouted out of that car, because we couldn’t put it all in there, but he was hilarious.

Suzanne:   That was all improv, that whole part?

Deon:   Yeah.

Suzanne:   Okay, and I was told the movie will be on BET, will it be in theaters as well, or just on BET?

Kelley:   It’s going to be in theaters at Film Festival. So, we’re going to Gina Davis’s Film Festival next week, and we’re going to be screening there in the theater on August 5th and virtually as well. So, if you want to check it out at the Bentonville Film Festival, but other than that, yeah, we’re going to be premiering on BET Her on August 7th.

Suzanne:   Okay, good. And do you have any other films that you’re working on, besides this one? Like are you’re thinking of one, or are you working on one already?

Kelley:   Well, we have one that we wrote together. It’s what we actually started with as writing partners, and then this one kind of just wiggled its way in again, but we have a script that we finished. It’s a pure comedy. It’s hilarious; it’s so hilarious. And it’s now with Macro, the producers of Judas and the Black Messiah, Sorry to Bother You, Mudbound, and all of that stuff. So, we’re working on getting that out, but Deon has a lot of other great things [coming] in.

Suzanne:   Yes, and that was my next question. You’re still on Black-ish and Grown-ish, right?

Deon:   Yes.

Suzanne:   And you have you have some other movies coming out. Have you started shooting Black-ish season eight yet?

Deon:   We start next week. We had a second table read yesterday, I think. And yeah, we start next week.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool. And you have some other movies coming out? Is there anything particular that you wanted to tell us about?

Deon:   Yeah, a movie on Netflix called The Harder They Fall. It’s coming out soon, probably in the fall. Yeah, that’s just about it right now.

Suzanne:   I watched some of your Netflix comedy special last night, that was funny.

Deon:   Thank you so much Yeah, I’m working on a new one now.

Suzanne:   Oh cool. And who would you say your comedy influences are?

Deon:   So many, from Eddie Murphy to Richard Pryor to [unintelligible] to Ellen DeGeneres to Steven Wright to George Carlin.

Suzanne:   Cool. That’s great. That’s probably why I thought it was funny. I grew up listening and watching all those people.

Deon:   Yeah, I [was influenced by] all of them.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

movie posterHere’s your chance to get in on one of the few critically lauded, award-winning feature films at the upcoming gems premiering on BET HER in a couple weeks, Saturday, August 7th at 7pm ET/PT, 6pm CT.  Filmmakers KELLEY KALI and DEON COLE (Black-ish star) talk about their critically lauded film, I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).  The 2018 Oscar, DGA winning young director, Kelley Kali, also stars in this Pandemic-era indie along with Deon and we have them available together next Tuesday morning, JulyKelley Kali 27th (Pacific).

The important movie, which incorporates humor into the most important issue of our recent times, is as refreshing of a film seen you’ll see emphasizing a reason this early 30 year-old filmmaker has been kept an eye on by the biggest names in Hollywood over the past year. Add to the attraction the riveting Deon Cole, a truly authentic cast and a gifted crew to a compelling story which addresses issues within often marginalized communities by using the art of filmmaking to create dialogue and action towards positive change.

Deon Cole as Chad in "I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking)"Filmmaker Kelley Kali, one of the breakout talents in Hollywood, won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Film for her narrative short, Lalo’s House, and brought in  a number of talented filmmakers including co-director Angelique Molina, fellow USC Cinema School graduate Roma Kong as well as award-winning producer Capella Fahoome. Kelley developed the plot line of I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking)”  looking around Los Angeles as the Covid crisis started to shutter businesses, diminish earnings and jeopardize so many single parents ability to pay rent and feed their families late last spring.  The storyline centers on a recently widowed mother who becomes homeless and convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while she works to get them off the streets.Variety Review

As the whole crew with this gem of a film rise to the apex of both Hollywood and the What To Watch at 2021 film festivals, we are certain coverage in wide-reaching outlets is a win-win. To see how brilliant some of the press has been, scroll belowto read a couple rave reviews or click on this recent interview with Kelley and Deon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGpn7KPsUcs

Read the review: https://tinyurl.com/ImFineVariety

Screen Daily logo

SXSW Review

Read the review: https://tinyurl.com/ImFineScreenDaily

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

Deon Cole and Kelley Kali

Interview with RJ Mitte

TV Interview!

RJ Mitte of "Triumph" - photo by Bobby Quillard

Interview with RJ Mitte of film “Triumph” by Suzanne 4/27/21

RJ has a great energy that not only comes through in his acting, but in this interview. He’s a nice young man with much intensity and positivity. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Make sure you catch his movie, which comes out tomorrow in theaters. It will be available on VOD June 15th! It’s a very entertaining and inspiring film. I’m sorry I said “Cool” so many times….

Normally I don’t interview actors solely about their movies, but most of the actors in this movie are those I’m familiar with via their TV series. RJ Mitte played Walter White, Jr. in “Breaking Bad.” Terrence Howard starred in “Empire” and “Wayward Pines.” Colton Haynes was a regular on both “Teen Wolf” and “Arrow.”  Johnathon Schaech played Jonah Hex in “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” among many other roles. Grace Victoria Cox  has been in many series, such as “The Society.”

Here’s the video of our chat!

Suzanne:    I watched your movie last night, and it was really good. I enjoyed it.

R.J.   Thank you. Thank you so much.

Suzanne:   It’s very inspiring, and I hope a lot of people get to see it.

R.J.   I hope so too.

Suzanne:   So, how much did you do to prepare for your role?

R.J.   I did a lot of training in the midst of the role. We had a couple months before doing a lot of physical training and getting ready for the moves and a lot of choreographed wrestling, so we made sure that it was right, because this is first and foremost a wrestling movie, so it’s very physical. People, when they hear wrestling, they don’t think of of Greco-Roman style wrestling. They think of like WWE and all those types of [wrestling] and [unintelligible] and different types of that style, and they don’t realize how intense Roman style, Greco style wrestling is. It’s very physically draining and mentally draining, and it’s really, to me, one of the pinnacle strengths in sports when it comes to sheer willpower and you’re wrestling someone of equal strength to you that you’re [unintelligible]. It’s really a power struggle. It’s an immovable force meets an immovable object type of mentality. Yeah, it was a lot, but I like physical stuff, so it was a great opportunity for me.

Suzanne:   Yeah, you you went from, at the beginning the movie, you were this kind of skinny guy, and at the end you’re this sort of big hulking mass. Did you have to change your diet? Bulk up? What did you have to do?

R.J.   A little bit both. I mean, really, I just worked out. I’m fairly lazy right now, so my working out hasn’t been so much, but with that project, I just really kind of worked out. I was focused on what I was eating and then just kind of how I held myself, really, when it came to the project. It was really about distribution of weight and the way that I walked. The way that my character held himself and held his arm and the type of foot placement and gating made a very big difference. And this is loosely based on a real person, Michael Coffey, and he was a part of the set. He was a writer and then part of on the set. So, I really used his mannerisms and his body movement to try to utilize and match it on par with Mike the character.

Suzanne:   Okay, that must have been helpful.

R.J.   I mean, it came in handy. If he didn’t like something, it came in handy. You definitely knew.

Suzanne:   That’s good. Yeah, that’s a rare opportunity probably for most biopics or things that are based on real people.

R.J.   Yeah, well, usually those people are deceased, right? They’re not there, or they’re not really a part of the project. So, it was quite nice to have a biopic with the artist there that it’s about.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I bet. And had you met any of the cast and crew before you were on set, before you started this thing?

R.J.   Yes, I did. I met a lot of the producers; I knew some of the producers beforehand, because I worked on them with other projects, and I carried one of them with me to this project as well. Then, I met some of the others in passing, but really got to know everyone during the production.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool And had you ever done any wrestling before?

R.J.   I hadn’t; this was my first time. I had done martial arts, like karate, jujitsu, and some other stuff of that nature, but [this was] very different, very different techniques, very different forms. Even the rules and type of skills are night and day from other martial arts and other sports like that.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool. So, I guess you answered my next question. It was whether you played any other sports, but you did martial arts.

R.J.   Martial Arts and soccer and quite a few other things. I’m a big believer in the sports. I think everyone should have played a sport at least once in their life, a team sport, because it really, definitely builds camaraderie and mental mental stability and strength in numbers, and it’s a great opportunity. I’m a firm believer of that.

Suzanne:   Cool. And where was the film shot?

R.J.   So, we shot the majority of it and now outside Nashville, Tennessee, where it was kind of based. Then, we shot the teaser and some pickup scenes in Los Angeles.

Suzanne:   Okay, and how long did it take to shoot?

R.J.   So, the first more than half of it, we shot pretty much everything except for like a handful of scenes with Terrence [Howard]. We tried [to shoot] everything but Terrence’s stuff in three months, and then four years later, we shot the rest of it.

Suzanne:   Wow.

R.J.   So, we had a massive hiatus.

Suzanne:   Was that because he was busy, or…?

R.J.   Well, actually, it was originally cast with a different character. Originally, we had a different entity, and Terrence wasn’t involved, and [we had] some other stuff with the production. We had to halt production and were able to utilize the project and come back to it. And this project almost didn’t get made, to be honest.

Suzanne:   Okay, what happened?

R.J.   Many different things. Producer, error, and [we] no longer have those producers [as] part of this project. And just timing. We couldn’t find the right coach. We couldn’t really – just logistics, a lot of logistics, a lot of bureaucracies and different aspects of industry life initially halted the project. Then, when you halt a project, it takes takes time and money to start back up. Then, we had to go and get investors and new funding and restructure the film. You know, it’s one of those things where it’s like, “Is it gonna come back?” You do a project, and you’re like, “All right, well, we still have, like, more than a quarter of the film to shoot.” You’re like, “Okay, well, yes, yes, yes, we’re going to film it; we’re going to film it; we’re going to film it,” but then you hear that for like 20 years. And luckily, we were able to come back and finish the film, and now we have this great project.

Suzanne:  

Cool. So, how is it working with the Terrence?

R.J.   Great, you know… Terrence was great. Johnathon Schaech and Grace Victoria Cox and Colton [Haynes], you know, we had such an interesting lineup of actors. And everyone who was a part of it was just so behind this film and believed in this film so much to make it happen. It really was a unique and humbling experience to be able to create this film and have the support that we did behind this film.

Suzanne:   Great, and what do you hope the film achieves?

R.J.   I hope the film achieves entertainment. I really think that’s the overall goal. I hope people are entertained when they watch this film, that they can take something away from this film, be it great or small, but really, first and foremost, enjoy it.

Suzanne:   Yeah, good. It’s enjoyable. And was it mostly filmed before the pandemic?

R.J.   Oh, yeah, we shot two years ago.

Suzanne:   That’s when you finished it?

R.J.   Two a half years ago. That’s when we finished it. And then five years before that.

Suzanne:   That’s a long time. You’re like an old man now.

R.J.   Yeah, I was 21, 22 when I started it; I’m 28 now. I’ll be I’ll be 30 soon. So, I very happy that we have this film out before I turned 30.

Suzanne:   Yeah. So, you said you’ve been traveling during the pandemic. So, there was never a time when you were just like stuck at home bored or wondering what was going on? That’s great.

R.J.   No, I mean, most of my work, when it comes to philanthropic and community outreach and development, when a pandemic or something like this happens is usually when I get the busiest. This is a time where people need moral support; they need they need industry meters; they need helping hands. My job right now, through the foundation, is an everyday job where it’s online, yes, but then it’s also a lot of in person information and kind of guiding through it, because it’s a community development project. So, it’s construction and all kinds of other things.

Suzanne:   Oh, tell us about the foundation.

R.J.   So, it’s called the Roy Frank and Joann Cole Mitte foundation. We focus on elder care, education, disability services, youth development and aging in higher ed as well. We have a scholarship and grant program. Right now, we only have around 12 applicants on scholarship at the moment that we’re reviewing, but at any time we have 12 to 30 students, but right now, we restructured the grant program to focus on this community development build in Brownsville, Texas. So, that’s been the focus of the grants for the past four years. So, we’ve given money in donations to many charitable organizations, primarily focusing in Central and rural Texas. So, being in philanthropy and philanthropic endeavors are something that are a very big part of my life, and I was very happy to be able to link this movie to a charity, which is actually called United Cerebral Palsy nationally based out of Central Florida, and we actually gave points of this film to that organization. So, they’ll get money in perpetuity.

Suzanne:   That’s great.  So, do you have any other acting projects coming out that you can tell us about?

R.J.   I do. I have another one called The Oak Room. It’s on VOD right now in the US; we just got released in the UK. It’s a Canadian film, but we haven’t released in Canada yet. So, we’ll be releasing Canada soon. And that’s a story, in a story, in a story, in a story narrated by a story, and it’s a very unique film, and I’m very excited to be a part of that. [I’m] really focusing on getting Triumph out there. I’m just supporting that wholeheartedly. I have another film that I’m in the middle of production on – we got halted by the pandemic – called Issac. We’re gonna be coming back to that, possibly next month, but, really, we’ll see how that goes. You just never know. And then I’m just looking for new projects, looking for other things. I work with the Film Commission in South Texas and am doing some stuff there. So, I’m doing a lot of community outreach and leadership.

Suzanne:   You sound busy.

R.J.   I work every day.

Suzanne:   That’s great. And who would be your role models in life?

R.J.   My grandparents were very big role models to me. One was a marine oil worker guy and the other one was a coach, businessman type mogul and was in a wheel chair, was fully paralyzed on this left side from a stroke in the early 90s and could only say, “Shit, damn, and 123,” but very big role models, both of them to me, and my grandmothers as well. They taught me a lot, and I definitely still look up to them today.

Suzanne:   What about your acting role models?

R.J.   I didn’t really have any acting role models. It wasn’t really something that I was pursuing when I started [in] this industry. There’re a lot of actors I respect very much, but I’m kind of one of those people that most of my role models are deceased, so they can’t let me down.

Suzanne:   That’s true. That’s true. So, two of your co stars have played superheroes on The CW and your character mentioned superpowers in the movie. What is your favorite superhero?

R.J.   Oh, I’m a Batman guy. I’m a Batman-Joker guy. Yeah, I always thought he was a great character. Yeah, so, Batman, Green Lantern, the whole Justice League vibe, I enjoy that. Spawn. I don’t know if you know Spawn.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I’ve heard of it.

R.J.   Cool.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I grew up with comics, but I don’t remember if Spawn might have been after my time, but I stopped reading in the early 80s.

R.J.   Late 90s. Yeah.

Suzanne:   I heard of [it]. I think there was a movie, wasn’t there?

R.J.   Yes, there was a movie. It’s like, he’s kind of like a devil, but he’s like a good devil. But, yeah, I like super [heroes]. I’m a big fan of the the superhero franchises. So, yeah, I like comics. I used to read a bunch of comics.

Suzanne:   Cool. And do you watch the ones on The CW? Were you familiar with your costars’ work on those shows?

R.J.   I am. I am familiar with Arrow and some of the other CW stuff. I actually auditioned for a couple of superhero shows. Didn’t get the parts, but definitely was an honor to be able to audition for them. And yeah, I enjoy them.

Suzanne:   And Johnathon played…Jonah Hex.

R.J.   Jonah Hex. Yeah, I really liked him as Jonah Hex.

Suzanne:   And that comic I definitely read. I remember that. He’s great in it.

R.J.   I’m a big western guy. I’m a big western guy. So, I loved Jonah Hex, and then, I thought he was great on The CW. Yeah, he’s such a character. Johnathon is such a wealth of knowledge and talent, and out of all the actors I worked with on Triumph, he was the one that I’m the closest to.

Suzanne:   Cool. Well, he played your dad; that makes sense.

R.J.   Yeah, he was definitely a great father figure in them and was a tremendous individual to have on set. He definitely raised the vibration high.

Suzanne:   Cool. Is there anything else that you’d like tell us about the movie or your role in it?

R.J.   Yeah, [I’m] just very excited that it’s out; this was a labor of love. It’s based on real events. And, you know, people, the whole team, really cares about this project and believes in this project and in really pushing forward for it. So, we’re very excited to be able to share it with everyone, and I hope everyone enjoys [it].

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

RJ Mitte Biography

Best known for his portrayal of Walter “Flynn” White Jr. for five riveting seasons of AMC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning dramatic thriller “Breaking Bad,” RJ Mitte is an actor, advocate and philanthropist who has carved out his niche in Hollywood by breaking down stereotypes and changing people’s mindsets with his easy going demeanor and positive outlook. As Walt Jr., referred to by fans as “The Breakfast King,” Mitte acted as the cerebral palsy afflicted son of Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler White (Anna Gunn). As Walter continues his descent into drug manufacturing and trade, Walt Jr. finds himself torn between his father’s deceit, his mother’s protectiveness, and his own developing sense of independence as a disabled teenager. Walter Jr.’s cerebral palsy on the show was embellished, as he had to learn how to walk on crutches and slur his speech to create a more dramatic version of his own disability.

At the age of three, Louisiana native Mitte was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but that has never deterred his drive to succeed in television and film. A chance encounter with a casting director led to his move to Los Angeles and Mitte quickly landed roles on various shows such as “Weeds,” NBC’s “Vegas,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and co-starred on ABC Family’s primetime hit show “Switched at Birth,” until being cast in his life-changing role on “Breaking Bad.” Mitte has since made his way to the big screen, starring in multiple indie films in the past few years, including DIXIELAND, starring in his first non-handicapped leading role and TIME SHARE, winner of Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting in 2018.

Never one to shy away from an opportunity to take his talents to new avenues, RJ was thrust into the global spotlight as the celebrity face and model of GAP International’s “Lived in Spring” campaign; with his image appearing on mediums such as billboards, buses, and life-sized posters in cities across the world from Tokyo to the US,. He has since cemented himself as a face to know in the fashion world after walking in Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, Berlin and New York City for Vivienne Westwood, soPopular and Ovadia & Sons. He’s also a member of Kenneth Cole’s “Courageous Class;” for talent recognized for using their platform for advocacy and creating social change.

Throughout the years, Mitte has been an inspiration to his peers around the world by championing his cerebral palsy in hopes of removing the stigma associated with disabilities. In order to bring awareness to his own issues with bullying and prejudice, Mitte has engaged in public speaking and serves as the official Ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and partners with Shriners Hospitals for Children to spearhead their #CutTheBull campaign to advocate on anti-bullying measures. He’s also involved with SAG-AFTRA as a committee member of the union’s IAPWD (I Am a Performer With Disabilities).

Inspired By Screenwriter Michael D. Coffey’s True Story
TRIUMPH
STARRING TERRENCE HOWARD, BREAKING BAD’S RJ MITTE, COLTON HAYNES, JOHNATHON SCHAECH,
GRACE VICTORIA COX
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
OPENS IN CINEMARK THEATERS APRIL 30TH, 2021
AND ON VOD THIS SUMMER
Synopsis:
Inspired by a true story, a bright and determined high school senior strives to be a wrestler despite having cerebral palsy. Going to extreme lengths, he crushes obstacles and inspires others along his journey to prove his abilities.
Directed By: Brett Leonard
Written By: Michael D. Coffey
Starring: RJ Mitte, Terrence Howard, Colton Haynes, Johnathon Schaech, Grace Victoria Cox
Produced By: Massimiliano Musina, Michael Clofine, Michael D. Coffey
Executive Produced by: Terrence Howard, RJ Mitte, Jonathan Bross, Mira Howard, Raz Winiarsky, Tyler W. Konney and Gabrielle Tuite
Distributor: Relativity Media

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

RJ Mitte of "Triumph" - photo by Bobby Quillard

Interview with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

TV Interview!

Filmmaker Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

Interview with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas of the film “Evie Rose” on Amazon Prime by Suzanne 4/13/21

This was an interview via email, so there is no audio or video. I enjoyed watching her short film on Amazon, and I look forward to her upcoming feature film.

Suzanne: You were a theater director, I see. Did you work in a particular city?

Elizabeth: I was based in the center of England, but we toured around. I enjoyed taking theater to smaller places that didn’t have easy access to theater or the arts.

Suzanne: How did you get involved in making films?

Elizabeth: My daughter has been in the film and TV industry since a young age, so when she was about 11 or 12 I thought I could help her by producing a short film that she could star in. After we completed that film, “Broken Wings”, which is available online, I realized I had the knowledge to make more, as well as try my hand at directing instead of just producing. On top of that, the whole experience was so enjoyable, working with my daughter and creating art, it just made sense. It reminded me of being a theater director. So I made the conscious decision to get into the film industry myself, writing something with my daughter to have her star in. From there, the projects just kept flowing.

Suzanne: I enjoyed your movie “Evie Rose” on Amazon. I assume that’s what’s referred to as a “short film”?

Elizabeth: That’s correct, a film that’s less than an hour. Some festivals qualify a short as being no more than 50 minutes. The Academy says no more than 40. A short film’s length though can greatly vary, like features. To me, it’s about what length helps tell a story most effectively. If it takes 2 minutes or 2 hours, it doesn’t matter. As long as it best serves the story.

Suzanne: Are there any plans to expand it into a full-length film?

Elizabeth: All of my shorts have this potential. I let things happen organically to tell the story of Evie Rose as best I saw fit, so I need to give this film time to breathe as a short before making any drastic changes. I need to see what happens this year first. I’m currently waiting to hear back from several festivals on the short, which could dramatically change the next course of the film.

Suzanne: Do you know yet where “Will You Be My Quarantine” will be shown (which network or streaming service)?

Elizabeth: No official announcement yet, but it is being pitched to all the major platforms. It really is a fantastic, fun, sweet movie. Something we all really need right now.

Suzanne: Is it finished?

Elizabeth: Yes, it is. All original music has been placed, all visual effects are finalized, and I’ve watched it through thoroughly. I’m very proud of it.

Suzanne: Will this be another short film, or full-length?

Elizabeth: Feature length film.

Suzanne: Can you tell us what it’s about?

Elizabeth: Dating in the pre-Covid world was hard for people, endlessly swiping trying to find “the one”. Once quarantine hit, this became even harder. Swiping was easy, sitting on your couch in your PJs, but meeting anyone in person was impossible. “Will You Be My Quarantine?” is a heartwarming, yet comical, story about finding real love in tricky circumstances, getting to know someone for who they truly are and finding an authentic, genuine connection.

Film Logline: Vanessa has always had trouble in the dating world, never mind now being confined to her home. She soon discovers just how much you can get away with dating via webcam, but is the love she feels true or only a distorted version of reality?

Suzanne: Anything you can tell us about how it was developed?

Elizabeth: It was based on my real experiences during the start of quarantine, when I came to the realization that dating could no longer happen as it did before. How was I going to meet people? Online meetings and dates began and I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could show only the bits of me I wanted that person to see. I could have a nice top on, but baggy sweatpants just off screen. My hair could be greasy, but they’d never know! Which led to my idea of having a fun, relatable romcom about a new couple that are not being truthful with each other. Highlighting how dating online can only show us so much, and raising the important question of, “How can we truly find someone and something that’s real, if we aren’t honest?”

Suzanne: What about the casting process?

Elizabeth: Most of the cast are friends or close contacts, who I immediately knew were perfect for their roles. After everyone accepted, I was thrilled, for I truly feel the entire cast is stellar and represents such a diverse group of individuals that the audience can relate to. Having that proper representation was key for me, as we all have been affected by this “Great Pause”. I wanted everyone who watches the film to be able to connect with someone that looks just like them or relate to something a character does that they too did while stuck at home. Casting this project was fun and honestly a breeze since each actor was ideal for their role.

Suzanne: I’ve interviewed Eddie McClintock a few times before, and he’s very funny as well as quite a good dramatic actor. Which side does he get to show off in this movie?

Elizabeth: In this film he shows off his fantastic comedic side. He totally embraced this character and brought something even more than I could have imagined. He is a true artist.

Suzanne: Joe LoCicero was just recently on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” His character was killed off on that show, and now there’s a murder mystery. What is his character like in your movie?

Elizabeth: More details on his character once the film is released, but I can say that Joe was so adorable. I auditioned him originally for a smaller role, but he impressed me so much with his tape, I gave him a bigger one. He is very talented, and I can’t wait to put him in my next feature film.

Suzanne: Were you a fan of Jodie Sweetin’s before she was cast?

Elizabeth: Who wasn’t a fan of “Full House?” Jodie is the perfect girl-next-door and such a talent. She can play all levels of characters and everyone connects to her, making her perfect for this film’s role.

Suzanne: Tell us about your business and website – medicinewithwords.com How did it come about?

Elizabeth: I’ve always been a storyteller. Across mediums, across time zones. When I wanted to make films on my own timeline, I created my entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment. I’ve also always mentored, guided and helped people. During the Covid Great Pause, I was able to put some time into really finessing who I am and what I want to do. The clarity I was given enabled me to create Medicine with Words, a “spring cleaning” journey of your mind, encompassing everything from your emotions and surroundings, to your purpose and desires. Through guided studies of intention and reflection using pen to paper, meditation, stories and your senses, my “stars” (clients) learn to lead a more purposeful, contented, peaceful life. They learn to free themselves from the unnecessary noise that the world muddles their mind with, and start living intentionally, without fear. I already have many “stars” that I help guide to transform their lives. Think of it as yoga for the mind. It is something very unique and special to me and I feel very blessed that I have been given the tools to share this.

Suzanne: How did you become a philanthropist, and why did you pick human trafficking as your focus?

Elizabeth: It was a natural progression through my company Mother & Daughter Entertainment. Our motto “making content that matters” is something my team and I believe strongly in. The cause of human trafficking awareness actually just found me. Upon meeting an individual who escaped being trafficked and hearing her story, I was inspired to write and produce a short film called UNSEEN. This film was purely made to distribute for free and educate others of the potential lure tactics of traffickers, especially those used through social media. The film was viewed by the non-profit Awareness Ties and I became their Ambassador for Human Trafficking Awareness, working with them and others to raise awareness and end human trafficking. Seeing the assistance that storytelling can bring to philanthropic work, I now strive to have an impact with everything I put my time into. This also includes mentoring fellow filmmakers and storytellers, especially women. It’s important to me to give back.

Suzanne: Reading your bio and your website, I was very impressed. What you’ve achieved is amazing. Most people would be too scared to do half the things you’re doing, with the major changes in your life. What age were you, if you don’t mind my asking, when you left the UK and came to the US?

Elizabeth: It is a scary thing to do. I was 32 when I first experienced LA and then was 34 when I officially moved over from the UK. I won’t sugar coat it. It wasn’t easy. It cost me my marriage; it took all my strength to continue on this path. But I did it for my daughter, and then ended up finding my calling in LA as a storyteller as well. I have not one single regret about making these changes. In regards to my industry achievements, I like to use the phrase “filmmaking with fear”, as sometimes you just have to go for it and live each day intentionally.

Suzanne: How long after that did you get into either theater or film?

Elizabeth: I was a theater director from aged 16, running my theater company in the UK for almost 20 years. I became a film director 5 years ago once in LA. In just the past 5 years, I feel I have completed a huge amount in the film industry, pushing myself to make things happen no matter what others around me said or did.

Suzanne: Do you have a favorite type of movie or TV series you like to watch for fun?

Elizabeth: I love procedurals. My brain is constantly thinking of new storytelling ideas from the moment I wake up at 4 or 5am. When I feel I need my brain to turn off, a procedural is the perfect outlet that allows me to sit mindlessly and still know what’s going to happen. They are so formulaic with the story that they are easy to follow along and often the story is wrapped up with a perfect bow by the end of the 45 minutes. A different story each episode, but with characters I can still love and enjoy seeing snippets of their lives.

Suzanne: What is your next project?

Elizabeth: I have a couple of fantastic feature films that are in pre-production. I will be filming both this year. My environmental short documentary Consume As Little As Possible will also be released in a few months, and is something I believe we all need to watch. My book “Filmmaking Without Fear” is set to release later this month. My podcast and featurette of the same name are already available to stream, documenting my career thus far, as well as storytelling tips and tricks

MORE INFO:

Elizabeth Black-Thomas directing a film.

ELIZABETH BLAKE-THOMAS is a British award-winning storyteller and philanthropist based
in Los Angeles, having recently directed her latest feature film during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will You Be My Quarantine? is a romcom starring Full House/Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin
and is set to release in 2021. Elizabeth’s recent film Evie Rose, starring Oscar-nominated actress
Terry Moore, is premiering on Christmas Eve 2020. Elizabeth is the founder and resident
director of entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment, whose motto is “Making
Content That Matters”, putting focus on each project starting a conversation amongst viewers.
Through MDE, Elizabeth established the MD Foundation Initiative, a campaign to mentor and
employ undiscovered filmmakers through fellow philanthropic pledges.
An Official Ambassador of Awareness Ties for Human Trafficking, Elizabeth hopes to raise
more awareness to the horrific nature of human trafficking and help put a stop to it. Her award-
winning short film UNSEEN, which addresses the role technology plays in the facilitation of
child trafficking, is being used to educate children on the dangers of lure tactics. A regular on
panels at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival, Elizabeth mentors wherever
possible, ensuring she sends the elevator back down to all other female storytellers.
Directing Showreel Awareness Ties Ambassador Page

The Self-Made Triumph of Director, Storyteller and Philanthropist, Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

Single mum of a 10-year-old, 6 suitcases total for the both of them, packed and headed from the UK to LA. That was 8 years ago.

Cut to now, living happily on a houseboat in sunny Redondo Beach, California, a successful 18-year-old daughter who just starred as one of the leads in the latest Disney+ movie Secret Society of Second Born Royals, and a fruitful, self-made directing career. To top it off, Elizabeth just wrapped her latest feature film, a romcom, safely shot during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Elizabeth and her daughter Isabella are a resourceful mother-daughter team, who in light of wanting to forge their own path in the LA industry rather than waiting around for a big break to be handed to them, founded a company together, Mother & Daughter Entertainment. Through MDE, they develop, write, produce, and direct everything from feature films to short films to episodics. Isabella even stars in a few. Their team is on fire, with over 12 projects under their belt in the last four years, finishing off 2019 with an award-winning short film UNSEEN about child trafficking and educating kids on the dangers of lure tactics. Just in 2020, they have filmed two additional feature films, created three pilots, completed a documentary and created and written pitches and teasers for several other projects.

Against all odds, they have become a successful team in LA.

Even COVID couldn’t stop them from creating. Following SAG’s safety protocols, they worked together and completed their latest romcom, Will You Be My Quarantine?, starring Full House and Fuller House alum Jodie Sweetin and David Lipper. The entire cast and crew safely tested throughout filming, social distanced and wore masks. Many thought it would be impossible to get the industry back on its feet, but Elizabeth pushed forward and succeeded through her resourcefulness and inspiring tenacity.

During COVID and 2020, Elizabeth has also completed and released the first season of her new podcast “Filmmaking Without Fear”. The podcast episodes are available to stream on all platforms (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify).  Her book of the same name, documenting her success in the industry from ground zero up, is also due to be published end of the year. Elizabeth also directed and produced a movie titled Evie Rose, starring Oscar-Nominated actress Terry Moore (Come Back, Little Sheba), which is set to screen on Christmas Eve.

All of this has been accomplished by Elizabeth and Isabella whilst living on their 34ft boat with their Maltese Chai!

If anyone can prove LA is possible, Elizabeth can!

Take it from Elizabeth’s friend and mentor Sean McNamara, Emmy-nominated Producer, Director, and Co-Chairman of Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, “I’ve honestly watched in awe, and even used several of Elizabeth’s excellent ideas. She has actually taught me a thing or two, even though I’ve been in this industry as a director/producer for over thirty-five years. Elizabeth is always bringing fresh new approaches and ideas to filmmaking that are inspirational for me as a fellow filmmaker.”

Elizabeth’s drive to learn as she went and create her own opportunities, forged her path to success. LA is the land of dreamers and Elizabeth Blake-Thomas is proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to and accomplish your goals.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

Elizabeth Blake-Thomas directing her film.

Interview with Cybil Lake

TV Interview!

actress Cybil Lake

Interview with Cybil Lake of the film “Central Park Dark” by Krista

Cybil was very nice and excited to talk to me. She is so enthusiastic about her work and seems to be a hard worker. She talks about how she is always pitching an idea and always coming up with new ideas. I think some of the ideas she is pitching are interesting, and I hope they will come to fruition. I wish her the best in all her endeavors.

Krista: How did you get started in acting and how did you decide you wanted to write and direct?

Cybil: I have always loved performing. I have always loved acting and writing. I kind of like, even as a kid, you know, and as soon as I could, like even in high school and junior high [break in audio] …Everybody’s student films. I was at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and then, from there, I started making my own films, because I [knew] a lot of actors at that point, and I saw how it was really hard for them to find any roles. So, since I was a writer, I just kind of wrote my own part. Most of the things that I think about I create, so I can act in them. I usually don’t get story inspirations with other characters, not always. I’m more excited when it’s a female lead that I can play, because thus far those roles haven’t been given to me. Thus far.

Krista: Well, hopefully that will change.

Cybil: Yeah.

Krista: For your new movie Central Park Dark, I see you directed as well as acted, portraying Anna. How did the idea for that movie come about and the idea to direct as well as act in it?

Cybil: I was actually working on a serious project. I was writing sort of a serious project, and then I decided I wanted to write something that was light and fun and entertainment. It was like I just wanted entertainment after that more serious project that I was working on. I thought, “You know, that’s why I like movies.” I like movies to kind of – well, for two reasons. One is for entertainment…which is educational, which is like documentaries, but the rest is really entertainment and having the chance to have an adventure.

So, I love the dynamic of the three characters. You know, I love a love triangle. Love triangles are like my thing, because I think at the heart of everything, a lot of arguments and a lot of stories always boil down to a love triangle. And this initially started as a love triangle, because Tom (Tom Sizemore) is married to a friend that is having an affair with [my character]. That has drama inherent in it. 100% there’s drama inherent in that situation, because there’s going to be problems. Someone’s going to get hurt; someone’s going to get mad.

Krista: What was your experience like directing and acting in the movie? How did you balance that?

Cybil: Since I’m sort of used to it, I enjoy it. As long as I give myself a second to switch gears, it’s okay. There are some times in the movie when I can tell that I didn’t, if I remember that I didn’t. So, I think I can see it on the screen, but I don’t know if other people can. So, if I give myself the same time that I give other actors, then I’m good.

Krista: Without giving anything away, can you give a short summary of what the movie is about?

Cybil: Yes. So, the tagline that we’ve been using, is it’s a one night stand that turns into a never ending nightmare. So, basically, Tom is an alcoholic married doctor who during a relapse reconnects with Anna, my character, and I’m an unstable woman with whom he has a past. We start up again; I think we’re gonna have this great relationship, and then he kind of lets me know that’s not going to happen, that it was just a mistake. So, in a heated argument, I jump out of the window, and then I begin to torment him. So, it’s unclear if I’m alive or not. So, that’s when it kind of shifts into more horror elements. And a part of the story…Anna appears to Tom in his dreams and lets him in on a secret about the long history of dark forces in Central Park. Then, she uses these forces to take revenge on Tom. Then, Tom is trying to get back to his normal life and keep a secret from Brenda (Margaret Reed), and it’s sort of a descent into more of a nightmare.

Krista: Oh, wow, that sounds like a great movie.

Cybil: Thank you. Thank you.

Krista: What was it like working with Tom Sizemore? Did you know him, or had you worked with him before?

Cybil: No, I didn’t. I didn’t know him. I reached out, and it was perfect timing. He had a window before another project, and I was pregnant at the time, so I had to shoot now as well, so we shot ASAP. You know, there wasn’t much pre production or anything. I wish there was a little more planning; we jumped into it. He’s a great professional. I kept my eye on him most of the shoot, that was the biggest job that I had. He was [did] professional work. He knew his lines, and he was very good with showing up when he needed to.

Krista: I just didn’t know if you had known him in the past or if he was a new contact.

Cybil: It was a new contact, and we hit it off well. We had things in common. We both struggled with addiction, so that’s a good bond. That kind of levels the fear, and you can talk to each other with a common language and have an understanding and compassion for each other. We were lucky. Actually, I think looking back, there was sort of a rapport that we had immediately, and that’s actually just luck too. You know, with having never met somebody, that’s not always achievable. You see it even on movies and TV shows. You’re like, “Those people don’t look like a couple.”

Krista: What was the biggest challenge for you for Central Park Dark, and did the pandemic impact any of the filming or anything?

Cybil: The biggest challenge was definitely the budget, because we didn’t have one. When that ended up being a bigger problem, because I also rushed to [into] shooting, and so I had problems with the script. I probably could have done a rewrite, but there wasn’t a time for it. So, I tried to fix it in the editing process and [with] reshooting, I think, two times. I did what I could, and I kind of rewrote the story when I was editing. But, for sure, in an independent film, always I would say that answer is going to be cash flow. You’re just not able to do certain things with with a small budget, but I also think that sometimes those constraints open up the project to creative answers instead of monetary ones.

Krista: Think outside the box.

Cybil: Yeah, exactly.

Krista: What was your favorite moment from Central Park Dark, either on screen or behind the scenes?

Cybil: Because I’m a mushy mother now, I would say the ending – this isn’t giving it away, don’t worry. She’s holding a baby. That was my three month old baby, which I had in reshoots. So, seeing him, that was the best.

Krista: I can imagine.

Cybil: But I also love the scene when we have a really heated argument, and that was definitely my favorite stuff. The horror stuff I enjoyed. I surprised myself, and I liked that stuff, but I really liked the heated, you know, one person to another person argument, because as an actor, that’s the most fun, because it’s sort of alive. It is on fire. He was really angry at me, and it’s kind of fun.

Krista: Well, how does acting and directing in Central Park Dark compare to the other work that you’ve done in the past?

Cybil: You know, I think that [for] this I had to learn all the ugly technical details. I knew some things, like I knew how to edit, you know, rudimentary, and things like that. But it taught me to really persevere in complete, like completion became the option, because I could I could quit. I could set it aside, knowing it has issues, but instead, compelling myself to complete it was the biggest challenge. It really shows me there’s something to be said about finishing a project, even if it’s going to be imperfect, because actually, things that have a $200 million budget are also super imperfect. So, just finishing it. And now, I feel that I’ve had a lot of opportunities with the press, and it’s something I get to talk about while I move forward, and I’m ultimately proud of accomplishing it, of completing it. Completing a film is probably the hardest thing. As an actor, you go, and you do a few days here and there. When you’re done, you don’t even hear again [from] the TV shows and network stuff, like I rarely even hear people say, “I saw you on such and such.” I’ve never seen most of my work, because there wasn’t any communication. It’s interesting. So, it’s night and day. This is maybe too much control, because there’re too many details. This is, for me, personally, wearing too many hats. I love just showing up and acting. I think that’s what I’m going to be looking forward to more of. I think that’s hopefully within my future, because the nitty gritty technical stuff can be rough…

Krista: I understand that.

Cybil: Yeah.

Krista: I see that you recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles. How’s that been?

Cybil: Oh my gosh. I mean, talk about crazy timing. I guess I moved here seven months before the pandemic, and now I can’t believe it, because I’ve been here for a year and a half. So, I can’t believe that now, the majority of my time in California has been pandemic life, which is different all around. It’s a big shift, because I’ve been in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, in New York City for a long, long time, 22 years. This is – I’m used to [unintelligible], but people say, because of the pandemic, that’s not really there now, but I really thrive in – I like the feeling of a crowd and that there’s lots of people around. I like the activity, it gives you this sense [that] there’s always something that’s about to happen, even if there’s not. And that’s what’s actually kind of weird, is that now, living somewhere different, I’m like, “Oh, wow.” Like, even then, if you want to make something happen, you actually just have to do it, but with New York, you sort of think you’re just gonna be swept up and something’s gonna happen. Here it’s just like flatline. It’s just not loud. There’s not that energy. Just, especially with the pandemic, it’s like you and your mind, and me and my mind and my two tablets.

Krista: [When you moved] to Los Angeles, was it for an acting career to hopefully give you more opportunities?

Cybil: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And actually, both, ironically, fell through. It’s funny, but not graceful, actually, because I do really like LA, and I’ve been out here for different things, but even with those opportunities, I was bummed out that they fell apart, which, that’s what happens with projects. I mean, in fact my project would be one of those many that fall apart, if I didn’t say, “Let’s reshoot.” [unintelligible] It’s so interesting, because now I really see how easy things can just fall apart, you know, because problems come up.

Krista: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Cybil: Yes, I have a feature film that I wrote. It’s called White Lies and Darker Ones, and I can tell you that’s about Nina, a mother who seeks revenge for her daughter’s death, [but] instead uncovers the small town’s darkest secrets, including those within her own marriage. So, that’s a dark thriller.

I was pitching that for a little bit, and then people were kind of saying, “You know what? We’re not doing dark stuff.” So, then, I wrote a dramedy, you know, because I think the pandemic people were like, “We need lighter stuff.” That was the feedback I was getting from different people I pitched it to. And pitching now is 100% on Zoom and Skype. So, then, I wrote a dramedy called by Bicoastal, and that’s a fish out of water drama about a New Yorker who moved to LA to become a talent agent while struggling to stay sober and reconnect with her husband and find forgiveness. So, that’s a little bit lighter.

So, those are some of my options. Then, I also started writing something called Really Light, because I was like, they keep saying “light.” I’ve got to write something lighter. I started writing something called the Malibu Mother of Two. I just started writing that one.

Krista: Oh, well, they all sound good. I hope they all come to fruition.

Cybil: Thank you, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Krista: What do you do when you’re not writing, acting, or directing? What do you do in your free time?

Cybil: I was going to say, I start pitching, pitching people the ideas. I meditate and [unintelligible]. I meditate, and I go to the beach, and I take care of my two toddlers. I also paint; I love painting.

Krista: I like the beach too.

Cybil: The beach is the best. I grew up in Rhode Island, which is on the East Coast, and now I’m on the west coast. It’s different. It’s different but equally beautiful, but it’s really different. Unless you were near the beach in the pandemic when everything shuts down. We can still go and sit in the sand, and that’s something really to do, and go for a long walk or run. So, I do that a lot. Yeah, even when things are closed, and there’s mountains here, which is really cool. We go hiking as well. It’s just the quality of life in California is superduper high. It’s a quality, beautiful place. It’s expensive, and it’s gorgeous.

Krista: Sounds pretty peaceful, and it probably helps a lot to clear your head and give you some inspiration.

Cybil: Absolutely, totally, totally. I think I’m actually more creative here, and I am so surprised, because I don’t know, like I’ve just been creative in this pandemic and over here in California. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know what’s contributing into it to it, but I’ve been feeling like I just have a lot of different ideas.

I wrote another project called Moontown, and I was pitching that, but that was too big budget. I’m just always trying to hustle these days, because I think that’s the only way that things can happen. I actually I want to believe that things will just kind of roll towards me now peacefully. That would be nice.

Krista: What is the most memorable piece of advice that you’ve ever been given that has helped you in your career?

Cybil: I would say it’s really simple, but it’s be inside your own skin, because as an actor, that’s really good advice. Be inside your own skin, because that’s sort of like a ground view. So, I always find that very powerful.

Krista: Be yourself.

Cybil: Yeah, totally.

Krista: What piece of advice or tips would you give to someone who wants to get into a career with acting or directing?

Cybil: Definitely, I would say, start making your own work. You know, learn the mistakes, because I remember when I made my first short films, you make a film, you make so many mistakes and learn so much quickly, and then you do it again. And then you do it again. That’s the same feature that shows you just that you – it is always learning. Be willing to be learning. Be open to always be learning. It doesn’t stop; you have to keep working. You have to keep working on your own development as an artist, and you can choose to anytime give up, but if you really want to succeed, you have to really just stay on the path. You have to really stay on the path.

What I regret is I got discouraged when I was in my 20s. I made a feature film that was really good selling myself. In today’s market, I could totally sell it, [but] back then, there weren’t too many options. It was like you either get in Sundance, or you just sort of have a few small things and that’s it, but today, it’s so different. I mean, there’re so many outlets. And I got discouraged, and I kind of didn’t do stuff in film and TV for a few years. I really regret that time. I should have just kept going, but it pulled me back in anyway. I got cast in a commercial, and then I remembered how much I enjoyed acting, and I kind of got roped back into the business. When I did that, when I decided to come back, I was like, “Okay, but you have to understand, it’s unfair, and you have to deal with that.”…It’s an unfair business; you’re going to have a lot of failure. I have had so much failure that I don’t like to even tell people who are starting out. People ask me for advice. I don’t even want to tell them the truth. You don’t want to know. You don’t want to know, because the people who achieve it really young and continue to do so forever are real exceptions. You have to love it, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it; do something else.

Krista: I would say that you probably have to achieve your dreams and go for your dreams, but you probably have to also learn to accept the word “no.”

Cybil: Totally, totally, totally, totally, totally. Yeah. It’s all you’re gonna hear. In fact, I heard a producer, and I was like, I hope that’s not true, but I once heard a producer say, “You have to hear 1000 no’s before you even get a meeting.” I was like, “I don’t want to hear that.” I don’t know if I believed him. I hope he was exaggerating.

Krista: Well, that’s all the questions that I have for today. I thank you very much for talking with us. Talking was me today. I really did enjoy it. I hope that Central Park Dark will be very successful for you, and I hope all your upcoming projects will come about as well.

Cybil: Well, thank you so much. I am so happy we got to talk. It was super fun…It’s on Amazon and iTunes. Central Park Dark is on Amazon and iTunes now.

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

Cybil Lake stars in the horror/thriller film CENTRAL PARK DARK, about a one-night stand that turns into a neveCentral Park Dark posterr-ending nightmare. Cybil is also the director of this mind-bending horror film that follows ‘Thomas’ (Tom Sizemore), an alcoholic married doctor who has a one-night stand with ‘Nina’ (Cybil).

Please see new trailer here: Central Park Dark Official Trailer

CENTRAL PARK DARK is a ‘Fatal Attraction meets Blair Witch Project set in Central Park’. Cybil recast Central Park as a darker place of unknown forces. The picturesque parts of the park are displayed, but Cybil’s film digs into the park’s underbelly, the off-limits woods that might as well be in the middle of nowhere. This film illustrates how individuals can be completely isolated in a city of nine million people.

Cybil Lake in "Central Park Dark"Cybil Lake is an American actor and filmmaker who has significant experience in the TV and film world. Her TV credits include “The Black List” with James Spader on NBC, “The Following” with Kevin Bacon on Fox, and “Show Me a Hero” directed by Academy Award Winner Paul Haggis for HBO. She has written, directed, and acted in numerous shorts, including An Echo Remains, which she screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Cybil was selected by NBC for a new filmmaker’s program, The Screening Room in 2010. She’s a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she majored in film and acting.Tom Sizemore in "Central Park Dark"

Tom Sizemore who stars alongside Lake, has established himself as an unforgettable tough-guy actor, sought by the most respected directors in Hollywood. His first break came when Oliver Stone cast him in BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Sizemore wowed audiences and critics in Michael Mann’s crime thriller, HEAT. He was then cast in Martin Scorsese’s BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, RED PLANET, PEARL HARBOR. He then starred in Steven Spielberg’s WWII epic SAVING PRIVATE RYAN followed by another leading role in BLACK HAWK DOWN directed by Ridley Scott. Recently, he starred in “Shooter” on USA Network with Mark Wahlberg and the reboot of the TV series “Twin Peaks” directed by David Lynch.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

actress Cybil Lake