Ha Phuong [Interview]

Hey Folks! I have cool interview today with the amazing singer, writer, actor, and more, Ha Phuong. It was a real treat to get to learn about this amazingly talented woman, and this very cool contest that she is running in support of the upcoming film Finding Julia, which she will star in and also wrote. And as you would suspect, she contributes to the music as well.

Here are some details on the contest:

“Lost in a Dream,” the theme song for Vietnamese actress, singer and philanthropist Ha Phuong’s new feature film, Finding Julia, takes center stage in a karaoke-style competition. Professional and amateur singers alike are invited to record themselves singing “Lost in a Dream,” which can be found at www.findingjulia.net for a chance to win a $20,000 prize. Performers are asked to edit their performance into a creative video, and send it to findingjulia2017@gmail.com.

The deadline for entries is March 15th, 2018. Five finalists will be selected to present a live in Manhattan on April 15th, 2018 where the judges will select the winner. The singer with the overall best live performance, creativity and vocals will receive a prize of $20,000. Along with this prize, the winner’s live taped performance and background information will be sent to numerous talent managers for possible interest in helping to further their career ambitions. Additionally, the finalist with the most unique live performance will receive a $5,000 prize.

So if you think you have what it takes to compete in this incredibly cool and unique contest, sign up! Now, please enjoy some amazing words from the great Ha Phuong!

As a person of seemingly endless talent as a singer, writer, and actress, I am fascinated to know what drove you to the creative world? When did you realize you wanted to be an artist for a living? Was it a deep-rooted ambition going back to childhood?

If I succeed people of color, like myself, would be part of the arts in America and would have the confidence to say, “I can do this!” That is the main factor that brought me into the creative world.

As an artist, especially in the world of music, what is the creative community like in your home country of Vietnam? Is there an element of support in this community?

The creativity in Vietnam has a rich traditional background. We enjoy sharing our culture with the world. We had a post wartime where we did not have much exposure, so it was a difficult time. The competition in Vietnam is very high. As a Vietnamese proverb says: “In difficulty, it brings us wisdom.”

What made you decide that you wanted to make the jump over to performing in the states. And while it may seem obvious to some, why did you choose New York? And how has this transition been for you?

I became an American citizen, and I know performing in America can bring a global audience. I think this inspires many other artists around the world. From the time I got married, New York was my homeland. My destiny has made New York feel as though it choose me. I love where my family is living right now, it is where my children were born, and where I have created a solid foundation. I enjoy the international cultural works in New York. I want to be a part of this cultural world we enjoy so much.

Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming film, Finding Julia, that you wrote and will star in as well? What inspired you to create this project?

This is a story of a talented girl whose mother passed away. She does not speak English fluently or understand the American culture. She is confused and disoriented, and has lost the love, support, and closeness from her once caring father. I am embarking on this project to describe how a celebrity whom already established her name in her country has to confront so much difficulty in her new country. This is my own story.

In support of Finding Julia, I have heard you are doing a pretty amazing competition for up and coming artists that sounds absolutely spectacular! Can you tell us a bit about it?

Karaoke is fun for people. I look forward to seeing the entries. To learn more about it please visit, http://www.findingjulia.net

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like our readers to know about?

Besides the film, I have future plans for developing more music and working with my charities and helping others.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile would be seeing audiences enjoy my film, my daughter’s excellent report cards, and my husband’s encouraging smile towards me.

Lydia Popovich [Interview]

We have another amazing comedian to showcase here at Trainwreck’d Society! The wonderful Lydia Popovich recently popped up on my radar due to her affiliation and friendship with the great Amy Miller, who I have told you all in the past is the best in comedy right now. And wouldn’t you know it, Lydia is right there with her! Like minded individuals, with totally different acts, yet the same love for Dolly Parton (we will get into that more).

Popovich is a strong voice within the proverbial choir of female comics who are working their asses off to make a living solely from her talent of making people laugh. Talent being the most important aspect of Lydia’s career. She has a brilliant delivery and has a confidence that would be commendable for anyone in any type of field, but especially important in the world of stand up comedy. These are some of qualities that I could only assume drove herself and Amy Miller to create one of the hottest monthly shows in L.A., as well has having a thriving stand up career admits the ridiculous & unnecessary hardships of being a woman in the world of comedy.

So Folks, please enjoy some great words from the brilliant and insanely talented comedian, Lydia Popovich!

What was your first experience like performing comedy on a stage? Where did you kick of your already illustrious career, and how was that experience for you emotionally?

I recently found video of my first set ever. It was in SF at a little theater above the SF Comedy College I did a three minute bit at their open mic. I was absolutely terrified. I remember feeling sweaty all over. Feeling like I might shit my pants. I was the most nervous I’d been in a very long while. Mind you this room was small…like 12 chairs small. It was on the 6th floor of an old theater building the Tenderloin district in SF. The room was filled with other students and maybe 2-3 wayward tourists who had stumbled into someone on the street that sent them up to see “live comedy”.  What I am saying is this was the most safe place to perform for the first time and I was still TERRIFIED. I got on stage and made it through my bit. With each second that passed, so did a little bit of the fear. Each word was easier to say than the one before it. By the time I saw the light I was feeling a level of happiness I had never experienced before. I wrapped up, walked off stage and almost cried. I was so proud of myself. People laughed. I saw them smile. I knew stand-up was something I could be really, really great at.

As a hilarious human being who has performed all across the country, what would you consider to be some of the “hidden gems” across this land? What are some cities that you have enjoyed to work that may not be as obvious as a New York or L.A. scene?

Tennessee is absolutely beautiful. Most folks visit Nashville and Memphis but not nearly enough folks are visiting the gorgeous Smokey Mountains and all of the wonderful cities in Eastern Tennessee. Knoxville, Tennessee is a wonderful city and one of my favorite places to perform. People leave their houses with the intent to have fun and as a result the crowds are warm and appreciative.

With the events that have unfolded recently in the world of comedy and entertainment, it seems almost okay to feel hopeful about how women are being treated in these worlds. Almost, but I would never pretend to know. So, in your professional opinion, do you believe that things have gotten any better in the world of comedy? Have you noticed any sort of shift in attitudes towards women in comedy, for the better?

Women face discrimination, sexual/verbal abuse, equality in pay and opportunity in both personal and professional aspects of life. While increased transparency in the wrong doings of high profile industries like comedy/entertainment will help assign accountability it does not solve all problems. We need to unify as a society to say “THESE BEHAVIORS ARE NOT OKAY”. We need to define and defend equality. We need to stop questioning women and their value.

How did your monthly show at Hollywood Improv with fellow hilarious comedian Amy Miller come about? And what do you believe it is about your chemistry with Amy that makes it work so well?

A year ago me and Amy were drunk at Dollywood. We talked about how cool it would be to have a show called Two Doors Down (it’s a Dolly Parton song we are fond of). Amy moved to LA, we talked to the Improv about the show, they said yes. Amy and I started comedy together, we both love Dolly Parton, we’re both driven & bossy. We share a mutual respect for each other as women, as comics and as friends. That’s why the show works. Also we’re super funny, pretty and charming hosts so like….duh.

I have found two things to be extremely clear after watching your amazing stage act: a couple of things you are very passionate about are brunch and the great Dolly Parton. So, I am very curious to know what would happen if you were to combine the two? So, what do you believe a brunch with Dolly Parton and yourself would be like? Would you want anyone there with you, or would you want Dolly all to yourself? 

Funny you should ask. I actively update this list. I’ve always kept a “dream” guest list. It’s lost a few good folks but they’ll be there in spirit.

Dolly Parton
Oprah Winfrey
Carol Burnett
RuPaul Charles
Dave Grohl
Alejandro Jodorowsky
Teresa Caputo

Prince (RIP)
Joan Rivers (RIP)
Don Rickles (RIP)

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

If you are in LOS ANGELES you should come to TWO DOORS DOWN. Our next show is March 26, 9:30pm at The Hollywood Improv. Me and Amy are super funny and charming. You’ll have a super time.

My dear friend and brilliant comic Marcella Arguello is producing a really special show called, Women Crush Wednesdays. Every Wednesday 8pm, she hosts all female line ups at The Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics. The line ups have been bonkers.

I’ll be featuring at Rooster T Feathers March 8 – 11 with Chris Porter. Tickets can be found HERE.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A picture of a fat baby foot stuffed into a tiny Havaiana flip-flop on Instagram

New Music Tuesday: Justin Nozuka – Low Tide [EP]

It was almost 10 years ago when I was coerced into seeing a show at Berbati’s Pan in Portland, Oregon by my lovely wife during a short stint back in the Pacific Northwest after I had just spent an unprecedented amount of time in what will be an undisclosed region of the world (hint: it was very hot.) My lovely wife had somehow come to learn of this Justin Nozuka character, and his recently released album, Holly, that was apparently so good. So to appease the misses, I said sure, let’s do it.

Little did I know that almost a decade later I would still be thinking about this show, for so many different reasons. For one reason that has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Nozuka, who is literally the title character of this piece, it was his middle act of the program, a little group known as The Gabe Dixon Band. Long time readers of the TWS know that we love Gabe and everyone affiliated with the GDB at that time. We’ve interviewed Gabe, we’ve discussed The Wood Brothers (featuring Jano Rix on drums), and I am currently drinking a vodka tonic out of a Gabe Dixon Band novelty cup that I purchased at this very show I attended in PDX. Yes, that has nothing to do with Justin and his amazing work, but it felt right to mention that everything is circling around on this crazy earth, and so many things seem to consistently come circling back around in the most beautiful way possible.

So, getting back to the Mr. Nozuka, I also became a huge fan of this 18 year old kid that I was previously unaware of prior to that warm September night. He had such a presence. He was compelling. He wasn’t entirely charismatic, but he put on a hell of a show. I remember thinking that this guy will go on to do amazing things, and I should really stay in touch with what he is doing. I listened to and loved his debut album, Holly, for months, and just knew that he was going to matter to me for a very long time.

And then I lost it.

I honestly don’t know what happened. I just sort of fell off. The fault is all mine. I have since gone back and enjoyed everything he has done in the last ten years. But,  I will say, I have not enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed his last two EP’s, High Tide & Low Tide. Sweet mother of all that is holy, that young kid I saw a decade ago has grown and is now creating some of the most amazing work I have ever heard.

Low Tide specifically is a product of full blown excellence that has made me wonder what the hell I have been doing with my life. “Warm Under the Light” is just about as perfect a song can get. There is a subtle darkness amidst its light hearted direction. It is catchy, yet insanely personable and has that perfect mix of catchiness combined with very specific nuances that are just so damn appealing. And then we get a song like “Reverie”, which is just about the fasted 6 minutes I have ever experienced. It is an absolutely beautiful track that has the pop appeal of a 3 minute song, but packs so much life and beauty into a piece of music that I could listen to for the rest of my days.

It is truly a beautiful experience listening to Justin. And as much as I loved Holly back in the day, I have to say that I am genuinely pleased with the direction that he has gone. He has grown as musician, and as a person. And it only makes sense, really. The world has changed a lot his the summer of 2008. So many things have happened. And Justin’s growth as a human being is evident, and compelling. The kid that I saw perform around the corner from VooDoo Doughnut’s all of those years ago has grown into a full blown man with some experiences to share. And he is doing it absolutely perfect.

And should you find yourself on my side of the pond, Justin is doing a whole bunch of shows across Europe this spring. Find him in a city near you:

Justin Nozuka Tour Dates – Europe & UK

APR 4 – Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark
APR 5 – Ingensteds ,Oslo, Norway
APR 6 – Kägelbanan, Södermalm, Sweden
APR 8 – LantarenVenster, Rotterdam, Netherlands
APR 9 – Stadschouwburg, Groningen, Netherlands
APR 10 – 013 Poppodium, Tilburg, Netherlands
APR 11 – Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
APR 13 – Kulturclub Schon Schön, Mainz, Germany
APR 14 – Frannz Club, Berlin-Friedrichshain, Germany
APR 15 – Béi Chéz Heinz, Hanover, Germany
APR 17 – Papiersaal, Zurich, Switzerland
APR 18 – Konzerthaus Schuur, Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland
APR 21 – Backstage, Paris, France
APR 22 – Sticky Mikes Frog Bar, Brighton, United Kingdom
APR 23 – The Garage, London, United Kingdom
APR 25 – Thekla, Bristol, United Kingdom
APR 26 – The Castle & Falcon, Birmingham, United Kingdom
APR 27 – The Wardrobe, Leeds, United Kingdom
APR 28 – Northumbria Institute 2, Newcastle, United Kingdom
APR 30 – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, United Kingdom
MAY 1 – The Caves, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
MAY 2 – Night People, Manchester, United Kingdom
MAY 3 – The Sugar Club, Dublin, Ireland
MAY 5 – Ohibo, Milano, Italy
MAY 6 – Monk Club, Rome, Italy
MAY 8 – Razzmatazz 3, Barcelona, Spain
MAY 9 – Moby Dick Club, Madrid, Spain


High Tide, and Low Tide are both available now. Check out Justin’s WEBSITE now for details. Check out the official video for “Warm Under the Light” right here:

Daphne Maxwell Reid [Interview]

I am so excited to share today’s interview with you all! Today we have some amazing words from an absolutely LEGEND! And I do not use that word lightly. Daphne Maxwell Reid has an amazing career as a multi-faceted creator of so many things. You will instantly recognize her as everyone’s favorite auntie, Aunt Viv, from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But, as I have come to learn, There are so many more layers to what Mrs. Reid can accomplish. Photography. Style. Writing. Producing. The list just goes on and on. She is a very multi-faceted human being, and has accomplished so much in her lifetime and should be absolutely proud of it all.

We are truly honored that Daphne was willing to be a part of our digital pages, and we are so very honored to share her words with you today. Also, big shout out to past interviewee and friend of the blog, David Gborie, for chiming in on the questions. The Fresh Prince seems to pop up on one of his podcasts, All Fantasy Everything (featuring another old pal, Sean Jordan) quite frequently. So, when I was awarded the opportunity to chat with Daphne, I thought I would see what he had to say.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the legendary Daphne Maxwell Reid!

You are a renowned actress, producer, writer, photographer, and more, and have excelled at them all! So, where did this passion to create come from? Did you know from a very young age that you wanted to create art and perform for a living?

Not at all. I was born graced with many gifts. I was encouraged to use my brain instead of my hands, but was guided on a journey that allowed me to express myself using both.

A few years ago we spoke with your former television daughter, the great Karyn Parsons, and she had amazing things to say about being a part of a TV family. So, how was your experience playing a TV mom, the leader of the household if you will, for the seasons you portrayed the beloved Aunt Viv?

The experience of working with a cast that had so much talent and humanity was an awesome one. The relationships engendered were lifelong ones. Truely a wonderful blessing. I felt very much at home when in character or not.

I asked a fine young comedian that I am a huge fan of, David Gborie, who I know was a huge fan of Fresh Prince, what he would like to ask you, and he was curious to know what it was like working with Quincy Jones? Would he pop in onto the set every now and again?

We didn’t get to see him often on set, but he was always warm and proud of the production when we did see him.

And speaking of comedians, I have noticed in your credits that you were an Executive Producer for Paul Mooney’s special Analyzing White America. I am curious as to how you may have linked up with the legendary Mr. Mooney to help bring this project to the world? How did you come to work on this project?

My husband is Tim Reid, who began as a stand up comedian and has known Paul Mooney since The Richard Pryor Show in the ‘70s. Tim and I built a studio in virginia and Tim did a lot of independent productions there. he and Paul created the concept and shot the show. my credit was only because I co-owned the studio and did the paperwork involved with the production.

You have done some amazing work in the world of fine art photography, with 5 books and 5 calendars already published. How did you find yourself in this world? And what is it that you adore about the world of photography?

I have possessed a camera since I was 8 years old. My father was an amateur photographer and constantly photographed our growing up. I found that I have the gift of seeing details that others may miss and I found myself wanting to share my visions with close friends and relatives. At the age of 60, I was challenged by my friends to mount a gallery show of my work, and my professional journey began. It has grown into a little cottage industry that I have been proud to have created. I love the journeys of learning that come with taking a chance on a new venture. it has been fulfilling.

 Another talent you have brought to the world comes in the form of fashion with your custom clothing line called Daphne Style. Where did this passion stem from? What sort of pieces have you been putting out there?

I have been sewing for myself since childhood and found peace and joy working with fabric. I was especially inspired by chinese silk brocade and found a personal style of coat/jacket that people had a strong reaction to. my dear husband encouraged me to comply with folks wishes to make a coat for them. that is how my line of custom made wearable art came to be the journey that i am traveling now.

 You have yet ANOTHER venture you have gotten into in publishing, with a cookbook entitled Grace + Soul Motherwit. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What inspired you to create a cookbook?

The cookbook is a “finally” published version of recipes i have gathered from friends and family over the years. when I finally decided to publish it, i felt it was a great vehicle for a memoir of my life. So, I combined the two ideas.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I am anxious to find out!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

the kiss from my husband on his way out of the door.

Sunday Matinee: Entanglement [Film]

“While searching for the meaning of his existence, Ben Layten (Thomas Middleditch) uncovers a family secret that leads him to a woman named Hanna (Jess Weixler)… But when he and Hanna inadvertently fall in love, his life becomes increasingly and strangely complicated. Ben starts to realize that everything is amazingly and incredibly connected – and that the world might just be more inexplicable than he ever imagined.” – October Coast PR

Have you ever gone into a movie just straight up knowing you are going to love it? Like, there is basically zero chance that you are going to dislike the film. And yet, you still manage to find yourself extremely surprised and pleased more than you thought you would be? Well, that is exactly what happened upon checking out this amazing Thomas Middleditch vehicle of a film called Entanglement. It is a lovely film that is in the vein of everything I already enjoy just so much. But, the film isn’t just a great type of film, it is a downright great film. Thomas Middleditch is an actor  who has been unfairly typecast into certain roles. The idea of seeing Thomas playing a very depressed character seems logical at first, but when you actually see him do it, it is better than you could ever imagine.

Overall, the storyline of Entanglement is pretty standard. There is a plot twist, but an entirely logical one that would seem obvious for people who watch these types of films regularly. But, for whatever obviousness is at play here, it is all made up for with witty dialogue, and some of the greatest character developments I have ever seen. Entanglement is a lovely little story about finding personal strength when all hope is lost and the importance of lasting relationships. It has some brilliant acting, perfect writing, and just an overall pleasure to watch. You’re going to love this!

Entanglement is in select theaters and on VOD right now. Check out the trailer here: