JT Barnett [Interview]

 

Hello Everyone! If this is your first time stopping by to check out our digital pages, welcome! And welcome back to all of you fine regular readers. Today we have a pretty incredible interview to share with you all! If you have Netflix and/or eyes, you are probably already pretty familiar with the global phenomenon that has taken the internet by storm over the last couple of months. Which would be a little documentary series entitled The Tiger King. It’s a series that certainly didn’t escape our fascination, and I was personally excited about the prospect of gaining even just a bit more insight into the events that took place during the timeframe depicted in the series. And Folks, I feel like we have been given a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Our guest today is a creator who was highly involved in all things involving Joe Exotic and the GW Zoo. It’s producer JT Barnett, Everyone!

Barnett worked for a great deal of time on the original reality series based around the wild and fascinating times of Joe Exotic, creating some of the content that was featured in the Netflix series. He has also continued to work within the Tiger King world since the series was released. JT recently worked on a TMZ/Fox Tiger King investigative special. It aired on primetime this last Monday and is available on the Fox Now app. He gave us some wonderful insight into his time working at the GW zoo, the impact of The Tiger King since its release, and of course we talk a bit about his other work outside of the TK world, which includes an almost decade long stint working in the early days of reality television on the popular series Cheaters.

So Folks, I know you are all eager to get right into these questions, so how about we just jump right into it? Please enjoy some wonderful words from producer JT Barnett!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

From a young age I was inspired to write. I became interested in photography later in life, another passion of mine. My father is a welder and his father was a watchmaker. I think that’s where I get the appeal to the technical side of camera work. I find comparisons in our craft as in a finely tuned watch. While I dabbled as a youth, I did found myself working at the age of 18 on what was a then new concept show, Cheaters.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work to date?

My first gig was on the show Cheaters. I was introduced to Bobby Goldstein, the series EP, thru my friend Harold Helm. Back then, other than The Real World, there wasn’t any type of reality TV. Bobby Goldstein and Tommy Habeeb were the original founders of this concept. I started out as a PA, I got coffee and ran errands. I moved on to camera after awhile, then to field producing. I was trained by a great set of professionals. The lessons I learned from these men is invaluable. I learned the values of teamwork as well as how to work under pressure. The high stress, rapid production style of shooting this series would prove to be an excellent learning platform. The most valuable lesson I carry to this day is…. Filmmaking is a collaborative art, you are only as good as your team. 

You worked on Cheaters for close to a decade. I am curious to know what this experience was like? The show feels sort of dangerous in a way, so how was your experience getting this footage?

Some of the best days of my life were spent field producing this program. I will always be thankful for this time as it set me on my journey to today. While the show is reality TV, there were many instances when we were in dangerous situations. Anytime you’re dealing with people’s significant others or their emotions… it can get volatile. From busting people cheating in night clubs, to the street races and at fight nights… shooting this program was always an adventure. 

 

 

Now, I understand that you were a part of a recent phenomenon that the world can’t stop talking about, which would be The Tiger King. Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working as a producer & photographer for the GW zoo and Joe Exotic’s original reality series? And making the infamous “I Saw a Tiger” video? How did you come to land this gig? And what was your takeaway from this experience?

I left Cheaters in 2009 to explore personal projects. A few years later I would meet Joe Exotic through a friend. He was working on a reality TV concept. I helped him develop this reality show and my role from the beginning was as a producer. In 2013 Jason Carbone’s production company, Good Clean Fun, took an interest in our show. I started working with GCF producers Matt Wrablik and Nick Lee on the concept. I field produced and directed the sizzle reel to Joe Exotic – The Tiger King. At the same time Danny Cotton started working with us as a producer and in marketing. He broke dozens of viral clips with millions of views. The sizzle pushed into pilot with A&E that summer. Tragically we were filming the pilot when Saf had the accident in October of 2013. This accident coupled with pressure from radical animal rights groups caused the network to back off. I continued on for many years after this, working as a consulting producer. I worked remotely and on site for a week or so at a time. I will always cherish this time. I also shot a lot of still & motion photography over the years with The Tiger King. I’m glad I was able to be at this place, during this time in the world, to capture these moments. 

In your opinion, as somebody who has been involved in the Tiger King world, how accurate would you say the series got it? Would you say that this is an accurate depiction?

I think Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin and Chris Smith did a tremendous job on the docuseries. It paints a fair picture and brings some shocking discoveries to light. Although, everything the series does get right there are some discrepancies with the truth. Joe was not an animal abuser, I do not support or condone that. If he had exhibited that type of behavior, I wouldn’t have worked with him then, nor would I support him today. One big thing the series gets right is that Joe was setup. He was led down a path by con artists, railroaded by a biased judge and convicted in a failure of justice. I applaud the producers of the series for having the courage to present the facts they did. One massive inaccuracy in the series, is the story of the internet show producer. Rick’s story is largely fabricated and highly dramatized. He takes credit for trying to do something, we successfully did years before. In the end lots of great things in the series outweigh the inconsistencies. I’m happy the two main takeaways from the docuseries are: Joe was setup and Carole did it. 

Are you at all surprised by the reactions that people are having to Tiger King? Is it surreal to you, or does it all make sense? 

It has been a little surreal with all the attention. While we knew it was a hit when we were shooting the pilot 7 years ago, I don’t think we could have ever anticipated this concept would go on to be a #1 Netflix sensation. I think the program grew into something larger than anyone expected. While The Tiger King is an entertaining hit, I also think it’s the perfect storm of the world being quarantined and this program you can’t look away from.

Whilst scrolling through IMDb, I came cross a project you have in the works entitled Bound that is very intriguing, and will feature our dear friend of the site Tina Parker. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What should we be excited to see upon its release?

I haven’t been working with this team lately, although I did work with Guillermo years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the pleasure of working with Tina Parker during this project.

Instead might I recommend the TMZ/Fox Tiger King investigative special. It aired on primetime this last Monday and is available on the Fox Now app. I was a consulting producer on this project and got the opportunity to work with Harvey Levin. (Thank you Danny Cotton for introducing me.) Harvey did an awesome job being fair and unbiased. If you liked Netflix’s Tiger King you should definitely check it out.

 

 

 

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

While I had my tenure in non-scripted, my passion lies in scripted works. I have a lot of great partners from New York to Texas. In NYC I’ve been working closely with veteran producer and partner Mark Lipsky. He’s producing my first feature film, The Scarecrow Bandits. We are also working on several other reasonably budgeted, independent films at WOF Entertainment. The Scarecrow Bandits is based loosely on actual events and written in conjunction with my longtime friend and collaborator Chris Pettie. The film currently stars Jason Mitchell as well as some other well-known talent. Back in Texas, I work with an excellent production team. I am partnered with executive producer Radio Rajeem on the Never Satisfied Studios in Dallas. Readers can follow me on all social platforms as @jtbarnett45. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I have several dogs and love animals. While my German Shepards brought a smile to my face today. The thing that makes me smile everyday is my son. I feel truly blessed to have him in my life and to be able to chase my dreams by doing something I love.

 

 

Check out some of JT’s original content via his own YouTube channel:

 

Brendon Walsh [Interview]

 

Hello Folks, and Happy Holidays to some of you out there. Today we are kicking our week off with some incredible words from an even more incredible comedian, podcaster, leading George Washington scholar, the great Brendon Walsh, Everyone! He’s an extremely hilarious man who has done some amazing work. He’s had late night sets on Conan & Kimmel, worked alongside some of our old friends like Greg Grabianiski and Johnny Pemberton on the hilarious series Pickle and Peanut, starred in our friend Henry Phillip’s film Punching Henry, and has done acting roles as a meth head, porn video clerk, and “scuzzy trucker”.

I first came to love Brendon when I was first introduced to a little podcast he did with comedian who will not respond to our emails, Nick Thune, entitled Do You Know Who Jason Siegel Is? By title alone I was hooked, and have become a huge admirer of his work beyond DYKWJSI. We talk a bit about it in the interview below, but I need you all to know that following Walsh on Twitter is one hell of an experience that I would highly recommend to you all. I’ve never learned so much about a renowned president who died from bloodletting. And that’s just some of the fun! Brendon also has a new podcast out, which we will discuss below as well, entitled World Record Podcast, and I am being told that it is the best thing to hit the internet, ever.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the brilliant comedian, Brendon Walsh! Enjoy!

 

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When did you first discover you were a hilarious human being and that the world would be a better place if you worked professionally to make people laugh for a living? 

When I was in the first grade, my teacher was reading a story to the class, but all the students were being crazy and getting on her nerves, so she closed the book and said she wasn’t going to finish the story. I stood up and started fake crying and said “Please! Please don’t stop reading the story, or I don’t know what I’ll do!” Then I pulled a handkerchief out of my back pocket (I carried a hankie on me when I was a kid because my dad did) and I wiped my fake tears with it, then blew my nose crazy loud into the handkerchief. The class lost it. It was like they were blown back by a sonic boom. They were all leaned back in their chairs cracking up. I remember my friend Brian Coughlin’s face was dark red and he couldn’t breathe, he was laughing so hard. 

I have to say that following you on Twitter is quite an experience. A phenomenal experience, If I may. You have somehow managed to make a bland yet excruciatingly addicting social media platform just a bit more interesting. I don’t mean to make this a “How Do You Do It?” type question, but I am curious to know what your overall thought process is whilst posting material to a site like Twitter? What would you say your ultimate goal is in the social media realm? 

If I think of the dumbest, most inappropriate, or tone deaf thing that makes me laugh, I tweet it. I just want to be funny on twitter, but mostly make myself laugh by how people respond to whatever dumb shit I said. I’m also an expert on George Washington and will conduct George Washington Q&A’s on Twitter regularly. 

Quick somewhat follow up question to the last one…..if you were able to do so, and were paid an ungodly amount of money, who would you pick to be your partner in a WWE style tag team match that would pit you and one other person against Todd Barry and Duncan Trussell….who would it be?

I don’t think I’d want to tag team with anyone. The arguments I get into with those two “people” are very personal. 

We always like to ask comedians who are kind enough to grace our digital pages who tend to hit the road a bit this one question: What are some places across the country that many people may not realize are actually great places for comedy? Maybe some of those clubs located in “flyover states” that may surprise people to know that they are wonderful places to see live comedy? 

How about the worst club? There’s a place called Off The Hook Comedy Club in Naples, FL. If you’re a comedian just starting out, try to get booked there just for the story. It’s basically a seafood restaurant where people are trying to eat and have conversations. The comedy seems to be an annoyance to them, if they stop talking long enough to realize there is a comedian onstage. I did a weekend there with Blaine Capatch and Drew Carey a few years ago and nobody was paying attention to any of us. It was surreal- we were just talking to each other from the stage at a certain point. It was almost like we were on a hidden camera prank show. I also know two comedians who quit drinking after doing a weekend there. 

I have to admit that I originally became a big fan of yours through the short lived Do You Know Who Jason Segel Is? podcast. It was such a blast to listen to during its time. I am curious to know what your favorite moment from this show was? All of this time later, what really sticks out as a truly wonderful moment from doing this project? 

That podcast was an off-shoot of my first podcast The Bone Zone, which is probably the best comedy podcast to ever exist. Do You Know Who Jason Segel Is? started after Nick Thune was a guest on The Bone Zone and said he thought everyone knows who Jason Segel is. We called a bunch of places on the podcast and proved him wrong. My favorite moments from DYKWJSI are the silliest stuff. The “Secret Garden” stands out where we would call nurseries and tell them we needed plants and vines and stuff to create a secret garden. But the secret garden was very sneaky and secretive so we needed soil I could lie down under then sit up to surprise people, and we needed various hiding places and places we could be sneaky in. Spaghetti sandwiches was an ongoing funny bit. Oh, and when we called Lazik places asking if they can laser off hemorrhoids with their lasers. There are tons of great moments. 

 

 

I have recently become privy to a new podcast you have going on known as World Record Podcast, which happens to feature a past guest of ours on just the second episode, the great Shane Mauss. Can you give our readers some details on this new venture? 

The idea for the podcast was to talk about world records, but so far it’s just as silly as everything else I’ve done. In the first episode, me and my wife Amanda call stores looking for salamais for us to use for “weird insertions” then we play the five steps from the New Kids on the Block song “Step By Step” for the person on the phone to make sure we’re doing it right. I guess you just have to listen. We’ve created a new TV show on the podcast called “Urkel’s House” that we’re trying to get off the ground by calling production companies and realtors. Shane and I do an epic prank call to a bridal shop on his episode where I complain that the last bridal shop we were dealing with said my wife (Shane) sounds like a man. It’s currently the funniest podcast in production. 

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

I’m working on a children’s book called Stinkalicious. I’m also involved with a celebrity gossip show called Trash Day with René Fabregé

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

A comedy special by a comedian I’m not supposed to like anymore. 

 

Stephen Huszar [Interview]

Photo by Sarah Murray

Hello Folks! And a happy Friday to you all if that still means anything to anyone! Today we have some wonderful words from a great actor that we are so happy to share with you all. It’s Stephen Huszar! Most recently he can be seen in the third installment of the Ruby Herring Mysteries, and has worked on such incredible films and series like Shock to the System (directed by our dear friend Ron Oliver), the criminally cut short series Backstrom, The Flash, a re-occuring role on Letterkenny, and so many more incredible projects.
Stephen gives a lovely interview below where he delves into some of the wonderful little nuances of working on a film, as well as some insight into what the future holds for this very talented performer. We are so happy that he was able to take the time to answer a few questions from us. So Folks, while you are stuck in your domiciles at the moment, I implore you to delve into the back catalog of Huszar’s work, and I guess anyone we have featured here at TWS, and enjoy some damn fine quality entertainment!
And with that, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Stephen Huszar!
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What initially drove you to the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?
I was 7 years only when my grade 2 class performed the musical “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”. I remember it being such a fun and creative experience to tell a story while playing all these different characters. I guess that stuck with me, because after I graduated from Commerce and worked as a Management Consultant for a few years, I had my quarter-life crises and decided to leave corporate America in search of something more creative. That’s when I re-discovered my love for entertainment and decided to pursue acting full-time.
What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still impacts your work today?
My first paid gig I played a paramedic in a film adapted from a Mary Higgins Clark novel, called The Cradle Will Fall. It was quite the surreal experience. Not only because I was immediately acting alongside talented and well know actors, but also because it was in the dead of winter on the Canadian prairies, and it was so cold out we had to stop shooting a few times because the cameras froze! The production made t-shirts for the cast and crew that said, “Temperature on Mars = -38 Degrees. Regina Saskatchewwan = Colder.
I learned a bit about Mars on that show and also how resilient everyone on a film set is required to be. We all know that we’re relying on each other to keep the wheels turning, and the camera rolling. When we’re in production everyone needs to bring their A-game.

You have done some great work in one of our favorite genres, which would be the world of horror, including the great film 30 Days of Night: Dark Days. I am curious about how you enjoy the world of horror? Is there anything about this genre that sets itself apart from the plethora of other genres you have worked in?

Horror fascinates me. I wasn’t as appreciative of the genre before I started working in it. I began to experience how rich the stories can be underneath all the blood and guts. Often the greatest stories are told in the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres, which is probably why I enjoy them so much. The emotional and psychologically work that goes into preparing characters in this genre can also be very challenging, as it pushes us to explore dark and revealing aspects of humanity.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your upcoming project Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder? What should our readers be looking forward to checking out soon?
Sure! “Prediction Murder” is the 3rd instalment of our Ruby Herring Mysteries Series. I play detective Jake Killian who solves crimes alongside Ruby Herring, a consumer investigative reporter played by the amazing Taylor Cole. It’s a real mystery through and through that will leave you guessing until the very end! As we continue to learn more about our characters personal lives, it’s evident there’s chemistry between the by-the-book Jake and the instinctual Ruby. It’s fun to see this develop alongside their ever contrasting crime solving styles.
If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure in world history, who would it be?
I love to be barefoot in warmer climates preferably in the jungle and by the sea. My tree-climbing skills are also on point, so the obvious choice would be Tarzan.
What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?
Hang in there during these uncertain times and to take care of yourself. Eat as healthy as possible, exercise your mind and body regularly, and take time every day to be grateful. This will not only help you keep moving in the right direction, but will empower you to help others in need. It’s in times like these we are more connected as a human race as we work together as a global community. As devastating as this virus outbreak is, it has fostered more collaboration amongst us all, which we can all learn and grow from.
What was the last thing that made you smile?

The respect our societies are showing to our doctors, nurses and health-care workers across the planet. They are truly our heroes right now.

Josh Itzkowitz [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! And welcome back to another weak in what will hopefully be our temporary new existence. We may have some time before we are back to normal, but until then how about we talk about some things that we found beautifully surreal before our actual lives became somewhat surreal themselves shall we?

Today we have some words from a brilliant filmmaker who’s work we have covered a bit in the past. It’s Josh Itzkowitz, Everyone! Josh previously worked as a producer on one of our favorite films of last year alongside our friend Yedidya Gorsetman entitled Empathy Inc., also featuring our friend Kathy Searle. Now, I came across the likes of Mr. Itzkowitz after being passed an extremely different type of film he wrote, directed, and produced himself, having never made the previously mentioned connection. That film is called Same Boat. And I assure you that we will be talking about this film in the days to come. As I mentioned before, it’s VERY different from Empathy Inc. Yet, it still has that breath of fresh air originality that it sometimes feels like we have to search for these days in the world of film. I won’t lie to you all, by premise alone I was a bit confused and not entirely interested in the film. But Folks, if you are somebody who is more like me who desires stories about human connections over sci-fi laced time traveling showcase, you are going to LOVE his new film.

I would never compare Josh’s work directly to anyone in particular, as his whole style seems to be coming up with something highly original. I may “liken” it to a bit of a strange genre of sci-fi that might have an origin linked (at least in my mind), to a guy like writer/director Charlie Kaufman. It’s that type of science fiction that takes an idea that is futuristic and exciting, but focuses more on the human reaction elements to a bold stance. A time traveling assassin who travels hundreds of years into the past to kill a woman but can’t because of the power of attraction? That’s on par, if not superior in my opinion, to how humans would react to living in a celebrities head for 15 minutes or fighting against time in your head to stop the erasure of a loved one from your memory while Hulk and Kristen Dunst dance on top of you.

So Folks, I assure you that you are going to love Same Boat. And you are going to love these incredible words we were fortunate enough to receive from this incredible filmmaker. Please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Josh Itzkowitz!

 

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What initially drove you to the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

As a kid I loved playing music. I played drums, piano, guitar, and an accordion my grandparents got me as a gift. In high school, I started making videos and loved the collaborative and creative process. That led me to take on internships in college at a Public Access TV station and a photography magazine that was making digital videos to accompany their written pieces. All of this happened right as DSLRs began shooting video. Making higher quality looking films was becoming cheaper and democratized. It was a good time to be getting into film.

 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still impacts your work today?

After graduating from school I started a production company with two friends, Uri Westrich and Yedidya Gorsetman. The first gig we got was for a glove company that wanted to advertise a new product they were developing. They paid us $2500 to write, produce, film and edit the video. It wasn’t a lot of money, but we were grateful that someone was willing to give us a job.  We treated the process seriously and spent quite a bit of time in preproduction planning the shoot. I think the major takeaway was how invaluable that preproduction process was. On Same Boat we tried to be as meticulous as possible with scheduling and planning out the shoot since we were so limited on the amount of time we had to film while on the cruise ship (7 days total). Here’s the glove video if you’d like to check it out. http://youtube.com/watch?v=KBFSM04CLVA

 

You recently worked alongside our dear friend and past guest Yedidya Gorsetman to put out one of our favorite releases of 2019, Empathy, Inc. I am curious to know what drew you to this project? What was it about this story that drew you in on a personal level?

I’ve known Yedidya since we were 10 years old. Like I mentioned above, we started a production company together when we got out of school. We spent a year making commercials, then used the money from those videos to make our first feature together Jammed. After making Jammed Yedidya and Mark Leidner (who wrote Jammed) began working on Empathy, Inc. When they showed me the script, I loved the story, but more importantly, I was excited to work with Yedidya and Mark again on another film. I think more than the story, it’s often the people that make me want to work on a project. It’s a multi-year commitment producing a film, and I want to make sure that it’s emotionally sustainable to work on a project together. Yedidya and I were both interested in taking the lessons we had learned on Jammed and seeing if we could do better on Empathy, Inc. We’re both proud of how Empathy, Inc. came out.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your new project, Same Boat? What should our readers be excited to check out soon?

Same Boat is entirely different from Empathy, Inc. despite both films having a sci-fi element. Same Boat has a fun, light, comedic tone throughout, and is about a time-traveling assassin who falls in love with his target on a cruise ship. I developed the film with Chris Roberti, who stars in and directed it. Chris and I had met on Jammed, where his character is the comedy relief, and I had wanted to collaborate with him in a more involved way after working with him on that.

We filmed the movie in secret on a cruise ship, and in large part that was possible because of our DP Darin Quan. Darin was also the cinematographer on Empathy, Inc. (as you can see there’s a lot of crossover between all the films) Darin was the perfect person to work with because he knows how to do a lot with very little and he’s usually the calmest person on any set. He also directs his own films, which on Same Boat was really nice, since Chris would often be in front of the camera, so Darin was a nice additional creative presence to have behind the camera.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity, with an unlimited budget, to create & star in the biopic of any legendary figure in world history, who would it be?

Oh jeez. I’ve learned that I cannot star in anything. In Empathy, Inc. I was a background actor in a coffee shop, and they had to cut around me since my performance was too distracting. In Same Boat, I’ve regretfully left in a cameo where I play an ultra orthodox Jewish cruise passenger.

It’s a little cheesy, but I think it would be fun to create a biopic about my grandfather Arnon Hiller. He passed away a couple of years ago right as Empathy, Inc. began production. He lived an interesting life, born in Portugal, fled to Cuba before World War II, and then settled in the US. He had a large impact on everyone he met and reinvented himself a number of times, always taking responsibility for the people around him. I’d say he was legendary in quite a few ways.

 

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

Excited for Same Boat to get out there. Also, the film I made right after called An Exquisite Meal, just had its festival premiere. It’s funny like Same Boat and dark like Empathy, Inc. I love it and I hope other people will too.  http://anexquisitemeal.com/

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I watched Brittany Runs a Marathon last night. Seeing people hanging out in groups in NYC, reminded me that we won’t be quarantined forever. That made me smile.

 

 

 

 

 

Tasia Valenza [Interview]

 

Hello, Folks! We have made it another week (if you hadn’t realized), so Happy Friday to you all! To wrap up the week, we have some very wonderful words from one of the top performers both on screen, and especially in the voice over world. It’s Tasia Valenza, Everyone! Tasia has famously voiced the legendary villain Poison Ivy in the even more legendary Batman franchise. From the games to the series, she has been there through it all. And it’s definitely not just the Batman franchise, not by a long shot. Tasia has leant her voice to the likes of Star Wars, Scooby-Doo, World of Warcraft, and so much more! For her on-screen work, she received an Emmy nod for her work on All My Children, and also appeared in our old friend, Tim McLoughlin’s, film Sometimes They Come Back, and so much more.

Tasia is currently out in the ether letting people know about her incredible new TEDx Talk entitled #GiveGreatVoice, which can be found at the end of this wonderful collection of responses. Valenza is a very kind soul who has given us all some wonderful insight into an industry that I personally thought I knew about, but now know that I knew next to nothing. I am so excited to have her grace our digital pages today, and to share her wonderful responses with you all.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Tasia Valenza!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that you have wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

Both of my parents were actors, my father was on Broadway by the time he was fifteen and my mother was a professional singer so it was something I was born to do. I came out of the womb screaming and I haven’t looked back!

 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

I started to work professionally by the age of fifteen when I was discovered by the late great director Louie Malle and co-starred opposite Sean Penn for my first professional role. Six months later, I was cast as Dottie Thornton on All My Children and I was nominated for an Emmy during my three years on that show. The lessons I learned from those gigs is staying humble, work hard, be respectful, and save your money when things are good. I learned that the hard way because I was let go after the three years on AMC, because my storyline stalled and I had to get non-acting jobs to support myself until my next professional gig.

 

For quite some time, and on multiple platforms, you have been the voice of the legendary villain in the Batman franchise known as Poison Ivy. I am curious as to what drew you to work in the world of Batman, even before you stepped in as Ivy? And how has your experience been working in this world over the years?

I was a big fan of Batman because I grew up with the original TV series with Adam West, and it was definitely part of my childhood lore. I also played a few roles in the TV animated series Batman before Poison Ivy in the Arkham Games, so I was feeling already connected to the franchise before I got that animated role. I loved the Dark Night aspect of Batman as he’s one of the only superheroes that is human and whose flaws make him very relatable. Getting to play Poison Ivy was a thrill because I loved to be able to lend my seductive sound to a multi-layered character who is considered a villainess and yet is so much more nuanced. After all (spoiler alert), she was the “shero” in Arkham Night.

 

The Batman franchise has a very devoted fan base, to say the least. I am curious to know how your experience has been amongst the fandom? How have your fan interactions been over the years?

The fans are fantastic and very devoted to Batman and very kind. I have done many podcasts with the fans and always felt very appreciated. I get requests through Cameo for Poison Ivy messages, which is fun, and I highlighted her in my TEDx talk because I love her so much.

 

 

We have spoken with a lot of folks who work in the world of voice over acting, and I always love to hear what people have to say about one question: How do you manage to personalize a character that is entirely animated, and using only your own voice?

That’s a great question, and for me, it always starts with writing. Excellent writing allows my imagination to run wild, and I can begin picturing my character and her background and intentions. Of course, having a picture also helps inform the role, and I take that information and look at the style of drawing and the audience, kids or adults, and different mediums; a very realistic video game role or broader, more animated series role. Also, because of my on-camera acting background, I approach each animated role as I would an acting role. When I’m auditioning I’m physicalizing the role in front of the mic so that energy and specificity comes through.

 

I understand that you created a TedxTalk known as #GiveGreatVoice that sounds very intriguing. Would you mind telling our readers a bit about this project?

The TEDx talk came out of my thirty-five years of using my voice as a powerful instrument of persuasion and understanding the importance of it in my personal life as well.

The success of both has been my ability to verbally communicate in an emotionally intelligent and meaningful way. I’ve seen how over the last ten years voice has been becoming less and less used in lieu of our digital communication. I wanted to make a TEDx talk to both inspire people to use their voices “by thinking like a voiceover actor” in their own lives both for their own success by speaking more confidently.

With the goal to help them reach their goals and to encourage them to use to use the tools for their professional and personal relationships. Ironically since Covid19 this “Move and touch someone” with your voice has had a more profound meaning than ever before, so the timing is perfect to have shared this video, although I had no idea at that time how impactful it would be.

 

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

I’m still doing voiceover projects, and currently, I’m narrating a Discovery ID series called My Murder Story that’s on now. I also have a free affirmation meditation app called Haven guided affirmations that is something l love to share since it’s a “Be kind to your mind app” that’s completely free and needed more than ever. (Some people think my soothing voice sounds very Poison Ivy”ish so that could be a draw to some)

But my passion for sharing what it means to Give Great Voice and teach both individuals and groups how to use their voices both powerfully and meaningfully through this novel lens is what I will be doing more. I hope to have my webinar up soon, and I post daily about the subject.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My husband just told me a joke, my daughter just gave me a hug and my doggie just snuggled up to me. I’m smiling ear to ear.

 

Check out the previously mentioned, Give Great Voice TEDTalk here:

 

Aleta Doroudian [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome back to another week of wonderful content here at TWS. If you can think far back into the past, say one week exactly, You may recall a wonderful interview we did with the brilliant indie filmmaker Bill Briles. We talked a bit about his new film A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen! and there was a good deal of mentioning one Aleta Doroudian, who was, literally, the other half of the creators on this wonderful film. Aleta shines in the film, and we are so excited that she is with us here today.

Aleta and Bill have been working together for over 10 years to create some of the most original work you could really lay eyes on these days. She’s a damn fine performer, but also manages to complete just about any role required to make an independent film. In a time where we are all constantly complaining that every film made is a reboot/remake, we should all be looking towards the independent scene. Actually, we should probably ALWAYS be doing this, as the most creative content has always come from these folks. And in that realm, Aleta and Bill should reign supreme. I implore everyone to take 92 minutes out of your day to check out A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen! and assure you that you will know what I am talking about here.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful responses from the great Aleta Doroudian!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of filmmaking? What is something you had wanted to do since your youth, or was it something that you happened to find yourself doing one day? 

My husband, Bill Briles inspired me to get into the world of filmmaking. We met at his movie premiere in February 2007. Our mutual friend invited me to come see him in a movie. I cancelled my night out with my girlfriends since they didn’t want to come and went with a different girlfriend. It was at his movie that our mutual friend introduced my now husband (writer/director/actor etc.) to me. I really enjoyed the movie. At the afterparty, Bill asked me if I wanted to be in his movie. I was a bit skeptical and said that I had to meditate on it for two weeks and I would get back to him. Fast forward, we are husband and wife still making movies. Ha. 

I always wanted to be in the movies, and I always enjoyed performing. I would do magic shows in our lawn, as a youth. My little late sister, cousin, and I would perform “Sunday Afternoon Live” (instead of Saturday Night Live) on the backyard of my Uncle’s tavern in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as children. For those of you who remember, we did skits of “Captain and Tennille” and “Cone Heads”, to name a few. In elementary school I would produce, direct, write, and star in plays (a lot of Gilligan Island style ones) in my basement. I would also sell popcorn and tickets to the neighborhood kids. I guess I started out as a little entrepreneur, too. I also took drama classes in middle school. 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work today? 

Our first paid gig in the world of entertainment was for our movie Romance at Frisky’s Bar. We went to the Tribeca Film Festival with our movie in our hand and literally on our back (t-shirts). We were in the Tribeca Film Lounge and I said that we were looking for a distributor. Then someone said I’m a distributor. He took our movie and got it on Netflix. Yay! 

I would say the lessons I have learned from this experience that still affects my work and life today are to ask for what you like (put what you’ve prepared out there), stay curious and naive, never take no for an answer (at least not right away).:-) Also, do things the way you think they should be done (as long as it’s not harming someone). 

I recently truly enjoyed your latest film A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen! It was so great, and insanely original. I am curious to know where the idea for this film came from? What made you want to tell this tale? 

Bill was the writer. The idea for this film probably came from us, as human beings. So, I would imagine the characters in the movie represent a part of who we are. Bill is an amazing artist (painter and sculpture) and doctor. He puts my name scattered in all his artwork, since I met him. So, he’s probably a cross between “Billy” and “Doctor Edward Sebastian” in the movie. Ha! I also enjoy singing, songwriting, and dancing, which were part of “Alyssa’s” character in the movie. I’m also a doctor that enjoys meditating. 🙂

 

 

You have a very original style of filmmaking in Private Dancer, the likes of which I don’t believe I have ever really seen before. And I’m actually not quite sure how to describe it. So, would be willing to do so? Can you tell our readers what it is about your style that makes it unique from other filmmakers out there? 

We have been told the style of our moviemaking is very different. The movies we make may be called “quirky”, eccentric, and eclectic full- feature comedies. We tried to do a drama once and since we were in it, the distributor called it a “Black Comedy”. Go figure. Ha! I guess we are a bit “quirky” and funny people ourselves.:-). We also did everything for “A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen” from pre-production, production, post-production and acting. 

If you were handed the opportunity, on an unlimited budget, to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

I would maybe create a biopic of the legendary figure in American history of Muhammad Ali. Even though it has been done before, I may look at a more comedic side of the great boxing champion on how he plays with his opponents and the media. His upbringing and his later years would be interesting, too. His relationship with his family, country, and Islam would also be interesting. 

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

We are currently in the production of the dramedy (drama- comedy) full-feature Thomas A Peeper. The name says it. Ha. Though, there’s more depth to it than that. It’s about a gardener named Thomas A Peeper who is forced to work nights for a lady who is going through a bad divorce. Thomas gets involved and trouble ensues. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My husband, Bill. He is hilarious. 

 

Check out this trailer from the Dr. Gabs, and check out A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen on Amazon Prime.

 

Hazelle Goodman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Happy Friday to you all. It is Friday after all, in case you forgot. Today we have the pleasure of having the a legendary performer gracing our digital pages. It’s Hazelle Goodman, Everyone! I first came to love Hazelle for her incredible performance in one of my favorite films of all time, and also what I consider to be the best film from the legendary filmmaker Woody Allen, which would be Deconstructing Harry. She is so damn good in it, really just stealing the show. And of course, Hazelle has done some amazing work in films like Heat, Hannibal, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and more! She has also done some wonderful work on the stage, including her infamous one woman show “Hazelle, What’s Going On?”.

And as it usually tends to be, thankfully, Hazelle turned out to be an extremely kind and funny human being with some pretty wonderful responses. We are so excited to have her join the TWS family. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Hazelle Goodman!

 

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When did you first discover your passion for the world of performance? Was it something you had dreamt of doing since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I first discovered my passion for the world of performance as a little girl growing up in Trinidad, WI.  My cousin took me to the movie theatre for the first time to see Sound of Music and my dream was born!  LOL!

I always loved performing when company visited but seeing all those kids in Sound of Music made me realize it was possible.

 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

Honestly, I can’t remember my first paid gig but the stellar training I received at the Aaron Davis Center at the City College of New York gave me a solid foundation for my work. 

Recently, I had the awesome privilege of being coached by one of my teachers from CCNY, Robbie McCauley.  She coached me in preparing to do a revival of my one woman show, which had been an HBO Special entitled “Hazelle!”.  Our revival, “Hazelle, What’s Goin On?”, enjoyed sold out performances at NYC’s Off Broadway Triad Theatre.  We look forward to a successful Broadway run!

 

You gave an absolutely phenomenal performance in my favorite Woody Allen comedic films, Deconstructing Harry. I am curious to know what drew you to the role as Cookie? What was it about this project that appealed to you the most and made you decide you wanted to take on this role?

I really knew nothing about the role of Cookie.  Woody doesn’t give you the script  in advance so I was clueless.  I went to the audition in my running clothes and sneakers.   As God would have it, in one of my lines, the character said something about working out.  LOL! 

The role was controversial because I was the first black woman to appear in a Woody Allen film and I was playing a hooker.  However, I loved the role.  Cookie was strong, funny and deep in a unique way.  

 

You have done a lot of work both on the big and small screen, as well as on the stage. I am curious to know what your preferred medium is to work in? If you were forced to only stick to one for the remained of your career, what would it be?

I enjoy the wide exposure that film and television give.  You are able to impact millions globally at once.  But, I love hearing the laughter, seeing the tears and receiving the warm hugs of my audiences.  Only the theatre can give that magical intimacy, that peep into our souls.

 

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure in world history, who would it be?

I would love the opportunity to portray Sojourner Truth.  Her words “Ain’t I a woman too?” have always haunted me on so many levels as a dark skin, black woman with kinky hair in America. In addition, her courageous work as an abolitionist leader, advocate of women’s rights and prison reform is truly inspiring.  

 

 

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

For the last several years, I have had the privilege of ministering to incarcerated women at a maximum security prison for women.  Many of them are serving 25 to life.  One young woman that I have been ministering to since 2014 is finally being released this year 2020.  She has served 25 years.  What I have discovered is that the woman I’m meeting today is not the same person that committed the crime 25 years ago.  Most of these women were in there 20’s when they made wrong choices and are deeply remorseful now in there 50’s and older.  My heart fills with  an indescribable joy as I see them receive a second chance.  

My bright future includes bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the incarcerated and leading them out healed and transformed.  I see me starring in impactful roles in film, television and Broadway.  I see “Hazelle, What’s Goin On?”, a Broadway hit, touching, moving and inspiring lives.  I see me winning Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes, and a Nobel Peace Prize.  I see a loving and mutually empowering marriage.  I see me hugging freely without concern for social distance and self quarantine measures.  LOL!!

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was answering these wonderful questions 🙂

 

Bill Briles [Interview]

 

 

Hello Folks! And for those who still my care what day of the week it is, Happy Monday! Today we have a very special guest that is sure to help you all take the edge off just a bit. Today we have the brilliant filmmaker and performer Bill Briles! Bill, alongside his wife & partner Aleta Doroudian are a truly unique team that have created some of the most unusual and downright hilarious films currently available. Bill & Aleta have done as much for comedy as the likes of our dear friends & fellowed spouse team Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein have done for genre horror. I came across their brilliant work by chance of actually looking at some of the RIYL stuff on Amazon Prime, and their film A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen, was something that I instantly fell in love with thus duo! And now that we all have a bit more time on our hands, I am definitely going to check out more of their stuff. And I recommend that you all do the same, as it can only be great.

So without further babbling, please enjoy these amazing words from the incredible filmmaker/acotr/all sorts of things, Bill Briles!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of filmmaking? What is something you had wanted to do since your youth, or was it something that you happened to find yourself doing one day? 

I’ve always been interested in creating “stuff” and directing. I started directing performances at an early age beginning with my own Mickey Mouse Club, and at the age seven I got into big trouble with the parents for directing neighborhood girls (also ages seven and eight) to perform dances in the buff. Needless to say, this part of my directing career ended unexpectedly and abruptly. 

I continued my interests in dramatic arts into college where I took some acting courses and screenplay writing courses. I wrote a lot of screenplays in my 20’s none of which were produced. Once cameras became inexpensive enough, we started writing our own scripts and making our own movies, the first being a full feature. 

Aleta’s interest in performing started in elementary school where she produced, directed, and starred in her own plays (lots of Gilligan’s- Island types) in the basement of her house for the neighborhood kids. She sold tickets and popcorn for her performances (an entrepreneur even in her early years). 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work today? 

Our first movie, Romance at Frisky’s Bar, was actually on Netflix and we did get “some” money despite it being very amateurish. It was a two-year, low budget project which required turning our house into a “bar- night-club”. It also required living in a “bar” for 6 months while the movie was being shot. Due to complaining neighbors, all actors had to be bused in to the ‘bar” in a van from a local bank parking lot. We were very motivated to make this movie and jumped a lot of “hurdles” in the process. 

My wife Aleta managed to corner a distributor at the Tribeca Film Festival Filmmaker’s Lounge (we were just spectators). The distributor took a copy with him (we had always carried copies of our movies) and three weeks later he agreed to distribute our movie, thus Netflix. 

The big lessons for us in our movie-making experiences are: it can be a cruel world out there and you are going to hear things about your work you’d rather not hear. Also, there are some people quite willing and ready to take advantage of your hard work. 

I recently truly enjoyed your latest film A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen! It was so great, and insanely original. I am curious to know where the idea for this film came from? What made you want to tell this tale? 

The idea evolved over time. We started the movie with an end-goal of making a short since we had never made a short. As we kept shooting, the story evolved and turned into a feature. Also, my wife and I wanted to see if we could make a movie that involved only the two of us, which included everything; main characters, extras, pre-production, production, and post production. 

The story came from different “pieces” of our lives. My wife is a very good singer-songwriter and dancer and this is where the “private dancer” was born. My characters are personal alter-egos and represent to a degree parts of my life and life experiences. I grew up and went to school in the south and the southern heritage has been a part of all our movies. We are also both doctors and I’m a painter-sculptor, all included in Private Dancer. 

 

 

You have a very original style of filmmaking in Private Dancer, the likes of which I don’t believe I have ever really seen before. And I’m actually not quite sure how to describe it. So, would be willing to do so? Can you tell our readers what it is about your style that makes it unique from other filmmakers out there? 

We have been told that our movies are definitely not mainstream and “different”. We have also been told more than once that our characters are unusual and at times “quirky”. It is probably because we are “quirky” characters ourselves and our perceptions of the world may also be “quirky”. We love comedy, but a few years ago wanted to see if we could pull off a drama for variety. Our movie, First Shoot the Lawyers was our first attempt at drama and we thought it was drama-like. The first showing at a film festival resulted in, to our surprise, a lot of laughing so we gave up on drama. The distributor called it a “Black Comedy”. So now we call all of our movies comedies whether intentional or not. 

I’m not sure if I answered the question but, we go with what pops into our heads and what pops into our heads “ain’t in the normal range”. I personally am tired of movies with big explosions, lots of killing but say nothing about the “essentials of human existence”. 

If you were handed the opportunity, on an unlimited budget, to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

Since Van Gogh has been done (several times) I would go with another famous artist, Edward Hopper (from early-mid 1900’s) and his relationship with his wife (also an artist). Based on my understanding, their personalities were polar-opposite and despite monumental personality differences and on-going friction, they were joined at the hip. It would be an expose’ on the human condition and how ‘suffering and misery’ trumps being alone’ (for some). I think there would be many opportunities for comedic scenes and maybe a little insight into our nature. He is also my favorite artist. 

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

We can’t seem to stop making movies so we’ll probably do it ’til we’re ‘pushing daisies’. We’re presently shooting another comedy, Thomas A Peeper (Get it?). The story is about a gardener who is forced to work the “graveyard shift” and a woman going through a tumultuous divorce brawling with her soon-to-be-ex over “custody” of their house. Thomas A Peeper gets entangled and disaster ensues. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

My wife Aleta, a very funny girl.

 

Check out this trailer from the Dr. Gabs, and check out A Private Dancer in Mom’s Kitchen on Amazon Prime.

 

 

Jearnest Corchado [Interview]

 

 

Hello Folks! Today we have a wonderful interview with a real star on the rise. It’s Jearnest Corchado! She is the star of the “The Jaguar”, being part of the AppleTV+ original series Little America, brought to the world from the great Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. And Folks, Jearnest absolutely SHINES in her role. For those who may not be familiar with Little America, it is an anthology series that focuses on a different person overcoming some significant obstacle, whether it is deportation, visa problems, language gaps, or other cultural clashes. Corchado portrays an undocumented teen that becomes a killer competitive squash player. And Folks, it is so damn good.

Believe me when I say that Corchado is a force to be reckoned with in the world of performance. She has been on the grind since she was 8 years old, and is showing no sign of slowing down. I am so very excited to follow her career and see what she gives out to the world. And we are so excited that she was able to take some time out of her busy schedule to grace our digital pages today, and become the newest member of the TWS family.

So Folks, without further babbling, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Jearnest Corchado!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that you have aspired to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

Yes! I knew I wanted to be a performer since I was a baby. I would always love to be the center of attention at family gatherings always dancing in front of people and making a show. I was always super dramatic. Haha. One day, I was watching a kids telenovela and realized kids could be actors, so I started begging my mom to take me to acting classes. I was a child actor and did a bunch of TV growing up back in Puerto Rico, and eventually moved to LA to pursue it professionally.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work today?

I think it was a TV show called La Adopción or a telenovela called Dueña y Señora and I was 8 years old. It’s crazy because when you’re a kid, you are just having fun and you’re just so present, you know? And I think I always try to remember that. To have fun and to not think so much and be in the moment.

I am very intrigued by a project that you are involved with now from Apple TV+ entitled Little America. Can you tell our readers a bit about this project and what they will be seeing you do?

Of course. Little America is a comedy anthology series that follows the lives of different immigrants in the United States. There are 8 episodes and each episode focuses on a different family and culture. It’s a truly wonderful series, so fresh and unique. I play the role of Marisol in episode #2, titled, “The Jaguar”. The Jaguar is about an undocumented Mexican girl, Marisol, who discovers a great passion for squash.  She is so naturally talented, and determined to become the best, that eventually, she becomes a professional squash player. As Marisol, people will watch me play a lot of squash and be a very fierce and perseverant young lady!

And what was it that drew you to work in this series? What was it about the story that drew you in?

The squash! I was so excited to learn about this sport and train for it. I really love learning new skills, especially if I’m getting paid to learn them. Haha.

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure from world history, who would it be?

Two exceptional women come to mind. First, I’d love to play Cleopatra! That’s one of my biggest dreams. And Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. I think I would have a lot of fun with both roles. I think they’re both very strong, complex and interesting human beings and I’d love to bring their strong essence to the screen. I admire AOC so much and think I could do a really good job portraying her. She is such a badass Latina!

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

If you like horror, my film Cucuy: The Boogeyman is currently available to watch on Video On Demand. Beyond that, my next couple of projects don’t have a home as of now but we should be hearing about them soon. I have the comedy series, Sneakerheads, where I got to work with the amazing director Dave Meyers. Also I have my feature film, Raise Your Hand, written and directed by upcoming filmmaker Jessica Rae. They are two incredible projects and completely different from one another.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Aww. My little brother actually! It was his 7th birthday a few days ago and I sent him a huge teddy bear. He lives in Puerto Rico. When the teddy bear expanded from the box, he jumped to hug it and it was the cutest thing in this world. It melted my heart.

Tracey Cherelle Jones [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! I hope this Friday finds you healthy, safe, and not so stir crazy (yet). Today we have a wonderful interview with an even more wonderful actress. It’s Tracey Cherelle Jones! Tracey has had a wonderful career in and out of the world of performance. On a personal level, I sought Jones out because she appeared in one of my favorite comedies of all time, and arguably one of the greatest parody films of all time, which would be the great Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t think about the “poem” that she reads to Shawn Wayans and it always brings a smile to my silly face.

We are so excited that Tracey was able to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us here at TWS. She is an incredibly sweet and kind human being, and we are honored to have her join the TWS family. A family that, if I might add, has grown by almost immeasurable amounts, and is becoming all the better for it. With that in mind, while you are locking yourself up indoors and looking for absolutely anything to entertain yourself, check out this wonderful interview below, and dig into some of the back catalog of this incredible actress. So without further babbling and ado, please enjoy these incredible words from the great Tracey Cherelle Jones!

 

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When did you first discover that you had a passion for the world of performance? I know you got into the business at a very young age, but when was it that you decided that this was the life for you?

I love performing for and moving an audience.  I started acting lessons at the tender age of 8 years old.  It was super fun, and the icing on top was becoming different characters.  Being able to get an audience to feel what I was feeling always fascinated me.

 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work to this day?

My first paid role was in a McDonalds commercial.  It was my first audition I ever had and I booked it.  Well, when my Mother and I arrived to the set we noticed another little girl on camera, saying my lines, who was a shade or two darker than me.  We were told that I didn’t look “Black enough”, I would be paid for the day and was not needed.  I didn’t understand what “Black enough” meant because I WAS black, how much blacker could I be?  Needless to say my Mother (Bless her soul!) cussed out everybody on the set….including the director, assistant director, school teacher, the crafts service person, the wardrobe lady, the security guard…..everybody…..lol!!!  The hard lesson I learned was that Hollywood is a fickle beast!  I was slightly jaded after that experience but kept going knowing that I could always be replaced at any moment for any reason, so just have fun with it!

 

Your performance in the hit 1996 comedy Don’t Be A Menace…. was the sort of stuff that comedic dreams are made of. You were wonderful in it. I am curious to know how the filming process for such a silly film? Was it has much fun to work on as it is still for me to watch to this very day? Anything notable or interesting from working on this project?

First of all, thanks for the compliment!  That was such a fun shoot.  Most of the main cast are comedians so jokes flowed non stop.  Scenes were constantly adjusted to “find the funny”.  I learned so much from that shoot, and it was a joy going to set each day.  Marlon kept me in stitches and the fact that a few friends I knew from growing up in L.A. (Chris Spencer, Alex Thomas, and Darryl Heath) were working on the film made it even more fun.  That was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m grateful for it!

 

 

Another incredible project you worked on was 2001’s Baby Boy, along with our new friend of the site, DeJuan Guy. Same sort of question, but more about your experience working under the guise of the recently dearly departed John Singleton? What made this experience a worthwhile project to work on?

I had known John (Bless his soul!) for several years before Baby Boy, so working with him was like working with an old friend.  He was so cool, and really allowed the actors to just roll with it……loved that!  I also had known Taraji from a previous acting class and I became an instant fan of hers from the first time she put up a scene in class.  She is an AMAZING actress.  The opportunity to work with her and John together was something that I will always treasure.

 

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

I actually would like to portray a legendary figure of African History, Inari Kunate, the wife of Mansa Musa.  Mansa Musa, an African Ruler, is the richest person to have ever lived, and you know what they say…..behind every good man is an even better woman!

 

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

I currently have several Interior Design clients….yes I am a Designer!  I will also be launching my line of perfume oils this year, “Tracey Alexander Fine Perfume Oils”, and my show Grown Folks, season 1, is currently streaming on UMC, so check it out!!

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Cleaning out my file cabinet today I found my son’s prayer book from when he was a little guy.  I read through it and the kindness of his prayers, made me smile and proud!