Actress Katie Leclerc has come a long way since her debut on “Veronica Mars” back in 2005.
Having appeared on shows such as “Fashion House”, “The Riches” and “The Big Bang Theory”, Katie now has one of the lead roles in ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth”.
“Switched at Birth” is a series that focuses on Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano), a girl who grew up in a wealthy family with two parents and a brother, while Daphne Vasquez (played by Katie Leclerc), who lost her hearing at an early age due to a case of bacterial meningitis, grew up with a single mother, Regina (played by Constance Marie) in a working class neighborhood.
Both have wondered why they don’t look like their normal parents and Bay wanted to get a blood test to find out if she is their daughter.
The hospital then finds out that there was mistake when the babies were born and were switched at birth. Things come to a dramatic head when both families meet and struggle to learn how to live together for the sake of the girls.
In real life, Katie Leclerc started learning American Sign Language at the age of 17 when she started to have hearing loss. At the age of 20, Katie learned that she had Meniere’s disease which led to degenerative inner ear disorder with symptoms which include fluctuating hearing loss and vertigo.
While in real life, she is able to use speech like a hearing person, on the show, Daphne uses an accent to emphasize her character’s hearing loss.
Currently in the series, Daphne and Travis, a deaf student and good friend, are wanting to start a food truck business. Meanwhile, she has gotten close to her real parents, the Kennish family, while her mother Regina is attending AA.
With the second half of season two airing on ABC Family, Katie Leclerc talked about the upcoming season with media during a Q&A.
Moderator: How does it feel to be a part of a show that’s doing so well and is such a hit with the fans?
Katie It’s amazing. It’s crazy, because I had been an actor for about ten years before I got Switched at Birth. You know, you grow up, and you’re in seventh grade – and after my seventh grade production of Annie I told my mom I wanted to be a star. And she looks at me with these hopeful, doubtful eyes and says anything you want can come true.
The moment that it does come true is the moment that you realize you have the power to make it happen. I first had to believe in myself before Switched at Birth could happen. ABC Family had to believe in Switched at Birth before it could happen. It’s really just a combination of a lot of good people making a lot of good choices. I’m really happy to be a part of it.
Moderator: Can viewers expect some sort of retaliation or consequences for the girls in the season finale?
Katie Oh my gosh. You know, the thing about Chip Coto is that he is scary. I think he’s not afraid to retaliate. He definitely is aware that Daphne’s a minor, and I think that complicates things a little bit for him, potentially. But really it’s Coto against Kennish, and now that there’s two Kennishes, I think Coto’s barriers have gone up even more than they were before.
Moderator: What is it like for the cast to film a season finale episode?
Katie It’s sort of bittersweet. We get along so, so incredibly well. Also, by the end of the season, we’re all a little bit fried and a little bit ready for some hiatus and family time. Just to get a little bit of a break. But it’s weird, because they’re our family, too.
I think going into it, everybody’s very excited. The first day of the last episode, everybody’s like, yes, it’s the last episode, finally. Then when it’s finally the last day of the last episode, it’s sad. It’s really sad.
Usually, whoever’s in the first scenes of the day always stays until the very end of the day. This time Vanessa and I had the second scene of the day and we ended up staying until 10 p.m. that day. We just goof around and we laugh at each other’s scenes. It’s sort of like the last day of school. We’re all cracking each other up and trying to make each other laugh during their close-ups.
Of course, everyone’s so professional. I tried to get D.W. to laugh so hard on the last day and I could not get it. It was the saddest day of my life. Now my goal for next season is to make D.W. crack on a close-up.
Moderator: Did the cast and crew do anything special commemorating the final episode of the season?
Katie Yes, actually. The Kennish kitchen set, everybody kind of hangs out after they call “cut” the last time. There was some champagne that got popped and we sort of just all hung out for hours and chatted with each other. It was just very mellow, very low key. Nobody’s going to break the set decorations.
It was just very sweet to say “Okay, this is it for a little while and we’ll see you in a few months.” At that time, we didn’t know that we had Season 3, so it was a little bit like “Okay, will we see each other?” And we’re all good, but it’s bittersweet. We really, really love each other.
Moderator: What was it like for you to film the “What If” episode and do a completely different take on Daphne?
Katie It was amazing. I feel like it started with the fact that we had David Paymer as our director for that episode. He’s such a special director. He’s directed us about four or five times now.
Being that he’s an actor, I think that he had a definite perspective on where this is going. We trust him. It was great to have such a 180º on a character that I’ve been playing for almost 3 years now, and to sort of reimagine her and put her in totally different shoes, some Louis Vuitton shoes.
It was really fun; it was really amazing. Also, the fact that the fans got to hear my real speaking voice, I think, was incredibly valuable for me as an actor. And to see some of the fan feedback was just overwhelming.
I’m so grateful for our fans. I think we have really loyal people watching our show and I think it makes the cast members aware of that – it kind of makes us work harder. We don’t want to let anybody down, and I think our writers definitely spearhead that for us.
We all work very hard. The “What If” episode was my favorite episode of this season, so thank you.
Moderator: Do you like doing comedy?
Katie I love comedy, yes, absolutely. I was on an episode of The Big Bang Theory as Raj’s love interest, and it turned out that my character was this big gold digger. That was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever done. I would love to do more sitcom, more comedy.
We always try to find the comedy with Switched at Birth. Maybe ABC Family, maybe the directors and producers just want it to be a little bit more serious in tone. But especially when Lea Thompson was directing, she loves the comedy and she looks for the comedy and she asks us to do even more comedy.
Yes, I think that we have a really humorous cast. So I love it when we get to play.
Moderator: How has your relationship between Daphne and Bay evolved from previous seasons?
Katie Well, they’re definitely sisters. I know with my sister there are moments where you love each other; there are moments where you just want to punch each other. That sibling rivalry thing, I think it just runs deep.
I think when they started off—Bay was a little bit hesitant, like “Who is this girl?” She never really felt like she belonged in the Kennish family, so now there’s this other person who really does. I think she was totally thrown off of her balance and didn’t really know where she fit in.
So they were sort of at odds with each other. As we’ve evolved, we’ve gotten to know each other as a family unit and sort of started to figure that out – especially with Bay spending more time with the Sorrento family. I think she sort of found her footing.
I think Daphne might have taken a step back after Regina left. I think that Regina was very, very, very involved in Daphne’s life. Honestly, I think that if Regina hadn’t moved in with Angelo, I’m not sure that all of the Chip Coto business would have happened. I think that Regina just had a stronger hold on Daphne, and now that she’s getting to do that with Bay I think that it’s wonderful for Bay.
But Daphne and Bay sort of love each other and hate each other. I think right now they love each other. I’m much happier when we love each other because I, personally, love Vanessa Marano and I love when we get to smile at each other in scenes.
Moderator: Why do you think that this show is such a big hit with fans?
Katie I think that the interesting thing is the deaf hook. It’s a window into a world that many people have been curious about. It’s fascinating because ASL is the third most common language in the United States, but if you don’t know a deaf person, you may never have been exposed to that world.
It’s something that is very curious and very accessible, but it’s a little bit frightening if you’re not comfortable with it to begin with. This show gives people the opportunity to really jump in with both feet.
For example, we did a silent episode last season, in Season Two. I think that that made huge strides for the deaf community, and for the hearing community. Even my mom, who said the moment where the Switched at Birth titles did their normal thing and they flipped – the Switched and the Birth flip top and bottom – she said that was the moment where she went “Oh, I get it.” So she’d been watching 40 episodes and really didn’t get it until that moment where it was the silent episode and she got to put herself in that world.
I think that’s why people are really interested. I think that we also take risks; for example, the deaf episode and also the “What If” episode, which I keep calling our Fringe episode, because I’m also a science fiction nerd. We kind of get to explore and we get to take these challenges and take risks. I think that as long as you’re pushing yourself, your audience is going to follow. So far we’ve been very successful with that.
Moderator: What do you think has been the biggest change for Daphne?
Katie In the silent episode, and leading up to the silent episode, Daphne was a girl. She was a teenager; she had regular problems just like every teenager. In the silent episode where she felt injustice and accompanied with that felt in herself the ability to make a change and make a difference, she really took it upon herself to say “Look, I feel like this is unfair and I feel like I can change it” and she went after it.
She achieved that goal. She made Carlton the school that she wanted it to be. It was kind of bittersweet. It wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. But I think those moments, for her, gave her power and told her that you don’t have to stand by and just take what people give you. You can make things happen for yourself.
So I think that she’s sort of become a woman. She’s learned that she has a very strong voice and that she can be very loud with that. I really think that’s a wonderful message to send to every teenager – boy, girl, deaf, hearing, doesn’t matter. It’s all about empowerment. The youth have such a strong voice that they can really utilize and, I think, sometimes don’t get that opportunity. So they have to take charge of that opportunity.
Moderator: If you could see Daphne five years into the future, what do you think she’d be doing?
Katie Daphne has a lot of talent. She has a lot of skills and she has a lot of drive. I think she’d like to be, maybe, in a restaurant. But maybe the chef situation kind of ruined that, I’m not sure. She loves her family, so I would say in five years she’s probably going to be graduating school and making a family of her own.
Moderator: How hard is it for you to imitate someone hard of hearing?
Katie I have to say, when I first started it was the scariest thing that I had ever done in my whole life. I went in for the first audition with just my regular speaking voice and using American Sign Language. I just wanted the producers to say “Okay, this girl has chops beyond putting on the gimmick”. I didn’t want it to seem like a gimmick.
They asked me if I could try on the deaf accent. I sat down with my sister, who’s an ASL teacher, we mapped out Daphne’s specific hearing loss with her specific audiogram and then, based on that, figured out what sounds she could say and what sounds she couldn’t say.
So it’s a very unique accent to Daphne. I worked tirelessly; I made my family absolutely crazy for months on end. When we started filming and the pilot was picked up and the momentum started going, it sort of became second nature.
Now I can say, with confidence, almost three years later, it’s a switch. I flip it on, I flip it off. It’s sort of the back of my brain. And I’m really proud of that. Thinking that it took me so long to get there and it was a lot of work to get there. I am really proud of the work that I get to do on Switched at Birth, and the accent is part of that.
Moderator Do you find that the fans are shocked when they actually hear you speaking in your normal voice?
Katie Absolutely. When I find fans on the streets, the first thing they go is “Huh? You’re not – wait – that’s not your voice?” It’s such a gratifying experience. I think that means that I’m doing my job incredibly well.
I look forward to opportunities where I get to use my normal speaking voice in more film and television. It’s really funny; it seems like the projects that I’ve booked are always like I had a German accent or I had some sort of different speaking situation.
The “What If” episode was really an exciting moment for me where I got to say “Hi guys, check this out. It’s the show that you’re already watching but look. Look what I’ve been doing for two and a half years.”
Moderator: If there was anyone you could work with, who would it be?
Katie I really think that it would be amazingly fantastic to have Kristin Chenoweth on our show. I’ve been pitching from the very, very, very, very, very beginning that we need to have a musical episode being that Constance Marie was originally a break dancer; Lea Thompson was originally a ballet dancer; Lucas Grabeel, obviously, High School Musical. I think that Kristin Chenoweth would be an amazing addition to, perhaps, a musical episode.
Also the fact that Kristin Chenoweth has Ménière’s Disease, I think we’d get along great. And I think we have a lot in common. We could talk about vertigo from the very beginning. I think that she’s incredibly talented and beautiful and I would love to work with her.
Moderator: Do you see Bay and Ty’s relationship and Nikki and Toby’s relationship working out?
Katie Yes, I figure as long as the two people who are in the relationship really care about that relationship and they really are focused on it and want it to happen, there’s no reason it couldn’t.
Yes, Toby and Nikki are very young to be getting married, absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t work. The families are very strongly opposed to it and Daphne’s sort of not. Daphne says look, they love each other. Leave them alone. It’s not about anything other than the two of them.
Speaking with Bay and Ty, I think that it’s a little bit more complex. He’s going overseas to Afghanistan. They’ve been through this once before. But being that they’ve been through it once before, maybe they’ve learned something in that experience that they can apply to now.
Long distance relationships take work, they’re very difficult, but I think that they could figure out a way to make it happen. And if they don’t, then maybe they can do what they did before, put it on hold and then revisit it when he comes back after Afghanistan. I believe that if two people are committed to each other, there’s no reason it couldn’t happen.
Moderator: Do you see anything bad happening for the wedding?
Katie I don’t think that the wedding is going to play out the way that the parents think the wedding’s going to play out. Or even, beyond that, necessarily the way that Nikki and Toby think it’s going to work. They have heavy choices to make and, faced with so much opposition up to this point, they need to make the choice for them.
The parents have given their two cents, their five cents, their quarter. Get over it. It’s really about the kids. I don’t think it’s going to happen the way that they think it will, but again, there’s no reason it couldn’t.
For more information on “Switched at Birth”, please visit the official website here.
In 2011, over 40,000 Disney fans from all over the world attended the second D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event.
Anticipating a much larger attendance for 2013, D23 Expo will now included an overflow theater for the D23 Arena which will accommodate more than 2,000 guests for live streaming of the popular arena presentations and an expanded show floor including a larger Collectors Forum.
On day two, “Monsters, Inc.” and “Monsters University” stars Billy Crystal and John Goodman were honored at the Disney Legends Awards Ceremony during the second day of the D23 EXPO, taking place now through Sunday, August 11, at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Other Saturday highlights include Live Well Network host and former “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity Joey Fatone plus stars of the Disney Channel shows “Jessie” and “Liv and Maddie”; a performance by Raini Rodriguez of “Austin & Ally,” including a shout-out from her brother, Rico Rodriguez of ABC’s “Modern Family”; and stars of Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It.”
Here are videos from D23 Expo on Saturday:
Cierra Ramirez has come a long way as an actress. From earlier roles on “CSI: Miami”, “Desperate Housewives”, Cierra would eventually appear in multiple episodes of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and on the final season of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and her first feature film with Ava Mendes in the 2012 film “Girl in Progress”.
And now, Cierra Ramirez stars in the ABC drama “The Fosters”, playing the character Mariana Foster.
The series revolves around a bi-racial lesbian couple Lena (portrayed by Sherri Saum) and Stef (portrayed by Teri Polo) who raise a biological son and several adoptive children. Lena, an altruistic school principal wants to save children and tries to introduce new children into the family, while Stef is a police officer who is not always aware that Lena has brought new additions to their growing family. Especially with the addition of Callie (portrayed by Maia Mitchell), a troubled teenager who is known to turn family’s lives upside down.
In the series, the character of Mariana Foster is one of the adopted daughters who is the fraternal twin sister of Jesus. She is popular, smart and cares for her appearances a lot. But she has recently connected with her real mother who needs money and so Mariana resorts to drug trafficking. But when she gets in trouble, she puts the blame on the new adopted and troubled girl of the family, Callie.
“The Fosters” airs on Mondays on ABC Family, 9/8 central.
Recently, ABC Family held a media Q&A with Cierra Ramirez to promote the show. Here is a transcript from the Q&A:
Moderator How will the relationship with Mariana’s mother continue to evolve this season?
C. Ramirez I would definitely say that Mariana’s secrets will definitely come up and haunt her. She still has to go through what happened in all the betrayal and the lies and the secrets and it’s all going to come back and she’s going to have to deal with it. So, it’s not the last that you will see of her.
Moderator Are there any other projects that you’re working on during the upcoming break?
C. Ramirez At the moment, I am not. I am in Houston, Texas right now visiting with friends and family, so I’m busy with that. But I still am auditioning so if anything comes my way that would definitely change.
Moderator Can you tell me a little bit about the reactions you’ve been getting from people about the themes of the show? What kind of things have you been hearing, positive or negative?
C. Ramirez The biggest reward I usually love as an actress is getting feedback and seeing different audience members relate to the character or the plot or anything like that and, thankfully, everyone has been so positive. People have found this very relatable and universal, so it’s really fun to hear lots of people’s stories and seeing how they can just interact with the show, so it’s been a blessing.
Moderator Do you think a show like this can make people change their minds on the topic of same sex marriage?
C. Ramirez I definitely do think that it could, it’s about time a show like this has been on the air. There’s never been anything like it and it’s about time. It has perfect timing with everything that’s going on in the world and with Prop 8 and stuff like that. I think it can help people become a little bit more open to the idea of it, to same sex marriage and the idea that families being raised in certain households like that do turn out all right.
Moderator What was your reaction to this story and the characters that were in it?
C. Ramirez I’m a sucker for mom and daughter stories. I love being able to relate to that and being in other people’s shoes. But I just was so drawn to the writing. I thought it was so real. Like I said before, it’s time that a show like this has been aired. I just fell in love with the script, every single one of the characters.
I think they’re all amazing and people can really identify with their cleverness and their wittiness and I just think it’s great.
Moderator Were you able to pick your character?
C. Ramirez No, I wasn’t able to choose. My auditioning process was actually very strange. I literally auditioned for the show the day I found out that the series I was on, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, was not getting picked up for another season.
I put myself on tape. They were testing for the role of Mariana and I didn’t think I’d make it in time, but I later found out that I did get the role. So, it was really fast, but it was such a blessing to just hop on from one project to another.
Moderator Could you talk a little bit about your character in your words for people that may have not yet watched The Fosters?
C. Ramirez Mariana is a 15-year-old girl. She’s very optimistic and with that comes a lot of curiosity, especially coming from a fostering background. She’s very curious in finding out about her background, where she comes from. So, she gets in contact with her birth mom and goes behind her parents’ back so she gets herself into a lot of the trouble and a lot of betrayal, a lot of secrets.
Moderator What quality do you love about her?
C. Ramirez I love her wittiness. That’s one thing. I’m not very witty, so I can kind of live vicariously through her. She has very good comebacks. Whereas I would just kind of take it and put a smile on my face. But she’s very witty and very fashionable and even though she does get herself into a lot of trouble, she does have a very good heart. So, I really love that about her.
Moderator How is being on The Secret Life of the American Teenager different from The Fosters?
C. Ramirez It’s very different in the sense that when I got on Secret Life it was already in its fifth season, so I was the newcomer with all of these people who had been bonding for four years and they were family, not only cast mates. So, it was a change, but everyone was so welcoming and so warm that I wouldn’t have really known any difference.
But, it was actually really fun to go through the whole pilot experience with the cast of The Fosters. So, we’ve gone from the get-go and it’s really been fun. It’s been a blast.
Moderator Is there ever a time with Mariana when you just kind of want to shake her and steer her in a different direction than she goes?
C. Ramirez Of course. But I do know, she’s 15, she’s growing, she’s going to make these mistakes and that’s what it’s all about. I know that she is a little bit more adventurous than other 15-year-olds may be, but she does have a very good heart. So, I know that no matter what she goes through it’ll all turn out well in the end. I am genuinely a fan of the show, so I love reading the different scripts, getting them, I just love it. I love getting to know what’s new with Mariana, what trouble she’s in.
Moderator Is her relationship with Jesus going to continue to improve or are there going to be more roadblocks for them?
C. Ramirez I think so, because she has kind of accepted the fact that he is dating her best friend and she’s going to have to deal with it, whether she likes it or not. She can’t let go of the few people that she loves. So, I definitely think that their relationship will get better.
Moderator How do you define family?
C. Ramirez This show, in particular, definitely goes along with the ABC Family slogan, “A New Kind of Family”. And that’s definitely what I think it is. But family for me is someone, or it could be anyone; you don’t have to be related to them, just like in the show, but it’s someone or a group of people that will accept you no matter what, through thick and thin and will always be there for you and love you unconditionally.
Moderator What are conservative groups who don’t watch the show missing?
C. Ramirez I definitely think it’s just the openness. They need to have more of an open mind to something that’s such a big deal right now. It’s the biggest thing in the world right now. It’s a big issue and it needs to be more open. That’s what I love about this project. I’m hoping that it can get through to lots of different families and it can become a better issue.
Moderator How does it make you and your cast members feel that The Fosters has been nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the category of Best TV Breakout Show?
C. Ramirez We actually all found out together. The producers told us and we were all on set. We were freaking out, I mean, literally. It still hasn’t even really hit me. But I’m, along with the audience, I’m there voting. I’m voting every day. I’m very excited and I can’t wait to see what the outcome is. I’m just really excited no matter what. And the fact that it was nominated four episodes into it is such a blessing.
Moderator Does anyone on the cast plan on going to the Teen Choice Awards?
C. Ramirez I think everyone is. We’re all excited. Definitely.
Moderator Could you talk a little bit about what it’s like working with Maia Mitchell, Jake T. Austin and the rest of the cast?
C. Ramirez They are just so amazing. They’re actually my reason to wake up every morning. It’s such a blessing to come to work with such amazing and talented people. I can’t stress that enough. It makes work fun. It’s not work. It’s constant laughter whenever we’re filming, on and off screen, so it’s just an amazing group of people and I’m so blessed to know them and work with them every day.
Moderator Which episode is your favorite?
C. Ramirez I would definitely have to be a little biased and say the Quinceanera. Mainly because who wouldn’t love being dressed up for a whole week like that. I never actually had a Quinceanera, so I got to experience one through Mariana and it’s televised, so I mean it’s the best of both worlds. So, it was a really fun episode and the dance scene was probably my favorite. We had to rehearse for that, so that was really fun.
Moderator Who has influenced you as an actress and who you would love to work with someday?
C. Ramirez That’s a good question. I would definitely have to say Angelina Jolie, which is something I know everyone says. But I just love her so much as an actress and as a human being. I just love everything she does. I respect all of her work. There’s not one project that she’s ever done that I’ve never been a fan of.
I think she’s just so passionate and I would love to follow in her footsteps one day.
Moderator Are there any really funny behind-the-scenes moments on set?
C. Ramirez There has definitely been some funny moments. I think it would have to do a lot with phones on set, because we’re all so very tech savvy. We’re always on our phones, every single one of the cast members. So, it’s really funny when a certain cast member’s phone will go off in the middle of a scene while we’re filming because that happens a lot.
It’s really bad, but it happens a lot to me. I’m very well known for hiding my phone in really weird places. I can hide it in a refrigerator during a scene or under that bed. It’s pretty bad, but at the end of the day we can all laugh at it.
Moderator Has your new dog gotten into any trouble when you’ve brought her to set?
C. Ramirez I’m actually playing with her right now, it’s so funny. I’ve actually tried to smuggle her onto the lot, but they’re pretty strict about that. So, she has gotten into some trouble. Well, that cute little thing, how could she get in trouble?
Moderator What kind of film roles are you looking for now or what do you hope comes across your table in the next two years?
C. Ramirez The roles I’m definitely looking for taking on are, generally the roles have been in; I’ve gone into different roles with the same mindset. I’ve loved taking on roles that have a very universal message that lots of people can identify and relate to – and at the end of the day can get people talking.
I’m actually a very dark person so I really want to get into some really dark roles, maybe some thrillers. I’ve never done one of those, so I think I’d really want to get into that, but definitely something that would get lots of people talking.
Moderator What do you think of a show that comes along like Devious Maids that portrays Latina’s in that light?
C. Ramirez I usually try to get into roles that are very universal. I try to stay away from those stereotypes, mainly because I just feel like every role that comes my way is a gardener’s daughter or something like that. But, it’s just the way you make it.
With Girl In Progress you saw, my mother was a struggling teen mother, who was struggling with two different jobs. She was a maid and she was working in a restaurant as a waitress. So, I mean it really just depends. I’m for them. I just try to stay away from them. I don’t really care for stereotypes.
Moderator Is there a certain film that is your favorite?
C. Ramirez I would definitely have to say Girl Interrupted. I can watch that so many times. I can watch it four times a day and still want more. I love Angelina Jolie, obviously. I love different roles, just getting into it, something that’s the complete opposite of who I am. I love a challenge, so I would definitely love something like that.
Moderator How do Mariana’s parents [Stef and Lena] take to finding out what she has been up to?
C. Ramirez Well, the idea of meeting her biological mother had come up in previous episodes. They had been asking her if she wanted to and she told her parents that she wasn’t ready. But she was still in contact with her mother, even though she said she wasn’t.
That’s definitely going to come up, the idea that we did tell you that we were ready for you to meet her, but you told us and you still went behind our backs. There’s a trail and it’s all going to unravel. So I guess we’ll just have to see.
Moderator How was it on set when you guys were shooting the last episode of the season?
C. Ramirez The last episode of the season probably had to be one of my most favorite filming processes. It was very giddy. The whole set, everyone just kind of felt like it was the last week of school in a way. It kind of was. It was very fun and you’ll just have to see, it’s a very extravagant, very big episode. So, that alone, it was just so fun to film and everyone was just having a blast. I miss them already, though.
Moderator Did the cast do anything together on the last day of filming?
C. Ramirez We weren’t all filming together on the last day. There were certain people that had wrapped on a certain day of the week, so we weren’t all there together. But I fortunately had the last scene of the last episode, so I was there for everyone, the entire cast, the entire day until wrap.
The producers and creators of the show all had a champagne toast at the end. I wasn’t there for the wrap party, but this was my wrap party, so I got to say goodbye and thank you so much to everyone. It was bittersweet. I cried. I’m a crybaby.
Moderator Do you ever get a chance to make it to any of the Disney parks since you are under the big Disney umbrella?
C. Ramirez Oh, my gosh, yes. I actually just went the other day for a premiere, but I didn’t get to ride any of the rides, except the Cars ride. I’ve only been to Disneyland and California Adventures, but it was such a blast. I’m working on getting my year pass so that’s been really fun.
Moderator What is your favorite Disney character?
C. Ramirez I definitely have to go with Ariel. I loved The Little Mermaid growing up.
Moderator What is your favorite Disney Park worldwide?
C. Ramirez I’ve only been to one, so I would definitely have to say probably California Adventures, because I’m growing up and those are kind of the more adventurous rides.
Moderator What is your favorite Disney ride?
C. Ramirez The Hollywood Tower of Terror.
Moderator How about your favorite Disney food or restaurant?
C. Ramirez Favorite Disney food or restaurant; This is not a very Disney restaurant at all, but I love the fact that every time I go to Starbucks they have those little Disney cups. For my birthday I went, I think it’s called Club 33. The little secret room, so that was really fun. Not that many people I know have gone, so that was a blast.
S. Sander What is your favorite Disney movie?
C. Ramirez The Little Mermaid.
For more information on “The Fosters”, please visit the official website.
Currently airing on ABC Family is the new original docu-series, “The Vineyard”, created and executive-produced by David Broome (“Biggest Loser”) and Brian Smith (“Masterchef”).
Set on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, the series follows a group of locals and transplants living together for the summer. Seven girls and four guys which includes a Latin pop princess, a romantic and pre-med student.
But living under tight quarters, rivalry sets in and it becomes a summer of trouble but also romance.
To promote the new series, Katie Tardiff of “The Vineyard” recently participated in an ABC Family media Q&A.
On the show, Katie is pursuing a fashion career and wanting to make a difference in the world. She is also unsure if her boyfriend of 4 years is the person she wants to be with for the rest of her life. So, she has participated in the show to find out if time away from her boyfriend will help her decide if her boyfriend is her true love or not or if it’s time to move on with her life.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A session with Katie:
Moderator This show The Vineyard is a little different than what’s on the network now days. Could you talk a little bit about how you got involved with the show?
Katie I had done a photo shoot for a small company on Martha’s Vineyard and I’m actually not entirely sure of how it was passed along, but someone involved with that had passed along my information to the producers. They knew I had summered there and spent a bunch of time there, and Yong Yam, one of the executive producers, called me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of it. It kind of all went from there. It was this past November she gave me a call, and that’s kind of it.
Moderator What can viewers look forward to specifically from you on the new season?
Katie It’s pretty common for people my age to be confused about what they want to do with their life. I feel like people ten, twenty years ago they’d graduate from school and it was right to a job. Now I think people are spending more time trying to kind of figure out what they want to do. They’re taking a year off. They’re going abroad to kind of get a grasp of the bigger picture and get a better feel for what they want to do instead of jumping right in to things. That’s where I am in the show. I’m working in the city in fashion, but at the same time I’m traveling and I understand that there are more important things in the world. Then, of course, there’s the relationship – I’ve been in a four year relationship and that’s not easy either. People are getting married and I’m at a place where I’m asking, “Well, is this the person that I want to be with the rest of my life?” It’s difficult. I met him when I was very young so it’s trying to find myself, to sum it up.
Moderator Can you tell us a little bit about the show, so what to expect?
Katie You can expect kind of a little bit of everything. The cast is beautiful. We lived it up all summer. It’s a mix of doing amazing things all over the island to people’s relationships, to infinite relationship, to best friends and trying to get over certain issues that people have with each other and the whole process of coming to a new place and meeting new people and kind of being forced to form relationships with them, which is always going to have an interesting ending to it. You can’t expect to stick a bunch of new people together and not have something interesting come out of it – you’ll have to watch.
Moderator Did you know anyone in the show before it started?
Katie I knew a couple of people that I had met on the island beforehand. I had spent some summers there so I knew Jackie, Gabby, and Lou beforehand.
Moderator Are you guys all still close now that you guys are done taping?
Katie Oh yeah! We have a group text that we’re all always texting, sending pictures, and saying things like, “Oh my god, did you see this article?” So yes, we stay in touch and everyone is great.
For more information on “The Vineyard”, please visit the official website here.
It has now become one of the must goto events for Japanese pop culture fans in California.
The first day of the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 brought several thousand people to Japantown in San Francisco on July 27th.
And for their fifth year, organizers of the event wanted to go bigger and better, so this year’s pop culture-themed street fair would incorporate music, fashion, cinema, art, anime, cosplay, architecture and cuisine. But also incorporate a Sunday concert not in Japantown but at Union Square.
Among the guests at this year’s event include pop and fashion icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu; The American debut for all female rock band LoVendoЯ led by recent Morning Musume graduate, Tanaka Reina; art director and founder of 6%DOKIDOKI, Sebastian Masuda; “PES project: NEXT GENERATION “CROSS COLLABORATION” director Hidekazu Kohara; voice-over actors/pop unit Sweety (Yui Hasegawa, Sayaka Takenouchi and Yurika Takagi), rock band The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass; pop artist Kylee; the human beat box DAICHI; architect Kyohei Sakaguchi; “Library Wars” director Shinsuke Sato; “Dreams for Sale” director Miwa Nishikawa; animator Katsuya Terada; and Harajuku Kawaii models Eva, Ayumi Seto, Yura and Saki Sato.
The day began with a press conference featuring Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Sebastian Masuda and the Kawaii models. Despite having traveled the world, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu explained to the press that this was her first time visiting San Francisco.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu told the media, “As you already know, I have been to Los Angeles and New York on tour. This is my first time in San Francisco and I have yet still to walk around the city but I want to see the fans in San Francsico. And the message I want to make is that we have been working hard in putting together this dream project because we wanted to bring the experience of shopping in Harajuku to San Francisco.”
Sebastian Masuda talked about bringing Kawaii culture to America. Masuda said, “When we started, it was a niche market. Now that (Kawaii) has grown to a mass appeal, we wanted to move forward and try something new and convey and this Kawaii culture to more and more people.”
When discussing her reaction to her growing international fanbase, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu said, “I was quite surprised about the reaction overseas, because when we made those music videos, we were making them for the Japanese audience. But when it went up on YouTube, reaction was coming from all around the world. I was very surprised but it makes me very happy!”
After the press conference, many people attending the festival showed their interest of purchasing the Harajuku inspired clothing and merchandise at the New People store.
Felicia Gonzalez of Cerritos, California traveled all the way north to the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 with a group of her friends, dressed in their lolita outfits. A regular attendee to the event for the past three years, Felicia was excited for the event to see Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and the Kawaii models but also a fan of Sebastian Masuda’s work.
“I love Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s fashion sense. She inspires many people around the world and today, me and several of my friends are hoping to shop at the New People store. Each time we come here, we end up spending a lot but this is an event that me and my friends are really excited about! I’m still surprised that Kyary and Sebastian are here at this event! I hope I can meet them,” Felicia said.
For Anthony Medina of Milpitas, California talked about his first time attending the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL.
Anthony explained, “I haven’t attended the previous festivals but I am a big Morning Musume fan and since Tanaka Reina graduated from the group earlier this year, I have been following her rock band LoVendoЯ. I was surprised to find out that she was coming to this event! So, I’m waiting to get an autograph and maybe take a picture with her later today. I’m really excited to see her and to also watch Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s performance. But also, to watch DAICHI perform, as I follow him on YouTube. I’m also looking forward to watching Kylee and SWEETY perform but also finally getting a chance to watch ‘Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo’! I have been waiting to watch that film, so I’m really looking forward to watching it.”
The first day of the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 featured the opening ceremony which included a sake barrel breaking, Takara Sake USA presented a performance with human beat box DAICHI, a Vocaloid Dance Contest SOLO competition, guest of honor Director Miwa Nishikawa, a Harajuku Kawaii! Event, a music performance by pop artist Kylee, artist Katsuya Terada, J-POP IDOL 2013, a music performance by The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass and concluded with performances by the voice actor trio Sweety and LoVendoЯ.
While many anime and cinema fans came for the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco to watch “Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo”, “How to Build a House”, “Lesson of the Evil” and “Dreams for Sale”.
The J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 concludes on Sunday, July 28th with a fashion contest by BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT, a performance by human beatbox DAICHI, a Vocalloid Dance Contest GROUP competition, artist Kyohei Sakaguchi, CAL Raijin Taiko, Pocky Eating Conest, Slime Girls, a Real Escape Game, the Cosplay Masquerade in Japantown.
While at Union Square from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., a free live outdoor concert featuring Kylee, LoVendoЯ, DAICHI and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Meanwhile for the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, screenings of “Wolf Children”, “Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower”, “Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II” and “Rurouni Kenshin”.
When it comes to recognizable talents of the ’80s and ’90s, Alfonso Ribeiro is one of those talents.
Known for playing the leading role on the Broadway musical “The Tap Dance Kid”, his dancing would lead him to appear on the popular 1984 Pepsi commercial featuring Michael Jackson.
This big break would lead Ribeiro to prime time television, appearing on the popular ’80s show “Silver Spoons”.
But for many, it’s his notable role as Carlton Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-1996) that many still remember Ribeiro for and his memorable “Carlton Dance” to Tom Jones “It’s Not Unusual”.
Since then, Ribeiro has hosted game shows such as “Your Big Break” and “Catch 21″ and has directed episodes for television series such as “Meet the Browns”, “Are We There Yet?”, “Things We Do For Love” and “Shake It Up”.
Now, Alfonso Ribeiro will host a new primetime game show on ABC Family titled “Spell-Mageddon”.
To promote the new game show, Alfonso Ribeiro recently participated in an ABC Family media Q&A. Here is a transcript from the Q&A session.
Moderator Could you talk a little bit about how you got involved with the show?
A. Ribeiro I went in and they had called my management and my agents and wanted to see if I’d come in and be interested in reading or doing a screen test for the show. I felt like the idea was something that was really kind of interesting and intriguing to me. I definitely went in. I met with them. I did a little screen test to see how it all worked.
ABC Family and the producers decided, I guess, that I was the right one for it. We just jumped right in and we started filming, literally, like ten days later. It was a quick jump in, but something that seemed really exciting and fun to do.
Moderator How familiar do you get with the contestants?
A. Ribeiro You can only get so familiar with them, obviously, because it is a competition. You never want to give up anything or let them know what’s coming ahead or anything of that nature. You really are not allowed to talk much with them.
Obviously, our producers do a full interview with them. I have the paperwork on each contestant and kind of know their bio; the highs, the lows, why they’re playing, what they’re good at, what they do in their life. I have a lot of information on each contestant, obviously, before the show starts. We’re not really allowed to do too much interaction.
Moderator What do you feel is going to set this game show apart from maybe other game shows?
A. Ribeiro I think that we’ve obviously spent, at least for me, a lifetime of watching game shows, and ultimately it’s all about the competition. We’ve watched these spelling bees forever. The difference here is that it’s still a spelling bee but the distractions really kind of set it apart. It’s really a comedy show whereas most game shows is really simply about the game and how do you play it and who’s going to win. All of that still exists, but with the comedy aspect in terms of the distractions, the things that we are doing to these contestants are amazing.
We’ve got one game called Zapped where they’re trying to spell these words [while] we’re zapping them. Then we also have water that we’re shooting in their face and we’ve got a fire extinguisher going off on their back. We have blue icy slushes dumped on their head all while trying to spell; never knowing which one is coming next. The reactions of the contestants are priceless.
For me, what I really find that’s going to set it apart is the comedy of all of this. Obviously, this is on ABC Family’s comedy Wednesdays following Melissa and Joey and Baby Daddy. I think that the comedy aspect of this show is what’s really going to drive people to the show and keep people coming back week after week. It is really, really funny. Every episode that we’ve shot I’m laughing in the episode because I can’t do anything other than laugh. It really is just that funny. I think that’s what will set it apart.
Moderator How do you go about preparing yourself to host such a show?
A. Ribeiro You prepare yourself by listening. You ultimately learn how the games are played, what your part in driving the game, moving it along, keeping it moving. Ultimately, just being on your feet, thinking on your feet, ready for what’s coming up. It’s really a lot of ad lib. Ultimately, I bring us into the game. I take us out of the game, but in between while the game is being played I’m just ad libbing with the contestants. I’m rooting for them. I’m laughing with them. I’m laughing at them. It’s all kind of connected.
I don’t think that there’s really any preparation for this until you get in there and kind of see what it’s going to be and you just go with your natural instincts. I think that’s basically what I did. I just kind of went with whatever I felt in each segment. It feels like it really worked.
Moderator What do you think it is about these spelling competitions that are intriguing to so many people?
A. Ribeiro I think most of those spelling bees are with kids. Our show is very different. We have adults doing it. It’s the idea of there are words that we kind of know. The real spelling bees where there are words that we have no idea what they mean, the fact that these young kids are able to know what the words are, understand the meaning, the country of origin, all of those types of things; I think it’s quite fascinating.
What we do on our show that’s a little different is obviously we’re not taking words that people have never heard of. We’re taking words that people absolutely have heard and used and use in a daily basis and should know the spelling, but our distractions are what really take us in a very different way than those spelling bees. We’re having fun with these crazy distractions.
We’ve got one game where we have a dunk tank and we’ve got these kick balls and we’re launching these kick balls into the bull’s-eye. Every time it hits the bull’s-eye our contestants get dunked into literally ice cold water. We fill the dunk tank up with ice. Then we fill it up with water. We let it sit for 15 minutes so that it melts enough that it’s really just mostly super, super, super cold water. While dunking them into this tank while making them spell, the reactions are hysterical.
I think that people are fascinated with the spelling bee. When I got involved with the show, when I really saw the idea and kind of saw how it was being done I was like, duh. This is one of those shows were you go, this is an obvious television show. I think America, when they see it, will fall in love with it. I think it’s just so funny. It’s so much fun to watch. The contestants are having fun while having all these things done to them and it’s really cool.
Moderator Do you think people are going to watch the show for the spelling since it’s a little more lowbrow?
A. Ribeiro I disagree with the lowbrow aspect of that. Obviously, the spelling bees are maybe super brow versus being an everyday show. I don’t think it’s lowbrow in any way because we’re not spelling cat. We’re not spelling dog. We’re spelling psychedelic, psychology. We’re spelling words that some people have a hard time spelling if they’re not good at spelling.
It’s still difficult in many ways. It’s just not words that you’ve absolutely never heard of. There are words that you might be able to spell, but you might not also. The distractions are what really kind of keeps the fun of the show going.
Moderator What is the age range for the contestants on here? Is there a particular age range that you really like to see on the show?
A. Ribeiro Well, our age range is 18 and above. You kind of have to be an all-around intellectual, physical person. For me, I just want people who can spell. I want people who are fun and are of great energy and character. We’ve got some characters that are on the show. I think that is what makes great TV.
Just being a super nerd who knows how to spell and has zero personality; that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for those big personalities, big fun. Certainly we’ve got some characters on the show, but these are also people who have won spelling bees growing up. They are intellectual, but they’re physical too. We have a guy who plays semi pro football who’s on the show. We’ve got a great range of characters.
Moderator What’s it like working with ABC Family compared to some of these other studios that you’ve been associated with?
A. Ribeiro It’s always about the individuals. A channel, in general, is made up of a group of people. The people that I’ve work with at ABC Family have been wonderful. Obviously this is a short run so far. Hopefully this show goes on for many, many, many years and I have a long running relationship with them. The talent typically doesn’t really spend a lot of time with the network people. You spend a lot of time with the producers of the show and that’s who you really spend your day-to-day with.
Everybody at ABC Family has been wonderful, obviously under the Disney brand. I’ve worked with Disney as a director. A little bit of an actor but mostly as a director on Shake It Up, which has been a lot of fun. They’re a great company and there are a lot of great people. I have a lot of friends that work for the company and in my everyday life. It’s been really fun.
I’m actually really proud to be part of the ABC Family because one of the things that I’ve noticed looking back on my entire career is that most of the things that I’ve done have been shows that are designed for families to watch. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, even though it was in a different network, was a show that you could sit with your grandma, your grandchild, and everybody in between could sit there and watch an episode and enjoy it together. Most of the shows that I’ve done have really been that.
ABC Family is a network that is designed around that idea. It’s an adult network that kids can watch and adults can watch together. I think the family aspect is super important. I think we’ve lost a little bit of that in the last couple of decades. I think the idea of families sitting down together to watch television is a wonderful thing.
Moderator Could you talk about game shows you watched when you were a kid?
A. Ribeiro Even as a kid I sat down with my parents and we watched game shows when I was a kid. Every night at dinner we would watch game shows and then sometimes we’d turn it off and do our own game shows sitting at the dinner table. Family entertainment has always been important to me.
Moderator How and when you did decide to get into acting?
A. Ribeiro I started at eight years old in 1979. I was in New York and I auditioned for a PBS TV series called Oye Willie and I got it. It was the first audition I had ever gone on. I was really fortunate to land a role in my first opportunity. I’ve been working ever since. I’m 30 some odd years working and I’ve been very fortunate.
Moderator Is there anything [acting, directing, hosting] that you prefer over the other?
A. Ribeiro I love doing a little bit of everything. Growing up my dad was my manager and the thing that we always worked on in my career was the idea that if you had a basket of eggs you never knew which one was going to hatch and when they were going to hatch, but if you were capable of doing everything that was in that basket you were going to have the opportunity and a long career. That’s kind of what has happened for me in my career, obviously, dancing, singing and acting.
I’ve learned to direct so I’m directing mostly now. I’ve learned to host. I’m writing. I’m creating. I just believe that when you give yourself the opportunity to do many things you’ll be around a while. I’ve been fortunate enough to be good enough to work in all of those different arenas. It was a goal from the beginning to learn how to do it all.
There are very few, as they say, triple threats anymore, but back when I was a kid and before I was born that’s kind of what everybody needed to be. Now we have actors that just act. We’ve got singers who just sing. I grew up in a time when you kind of learned to do it all and I’m fortunate to be able to have worked in all of those arenas.
Moderator Did you have a chance to try out some of those obstacles before the show started?
A. Ribeiro I was smart enough to know that you don’t have to actually experience something to act like you know what’s going on. You see, that’s the whole acting thing. You don’t have to be a killer to play a killer, right. To be on a game show where they’re doing all these things to the contestants I’ve learned that it’s better to not do it but to experience it through their involvement. The only unfortunate thing was in one episode we’re shooting these kick balls at the contestants. This one kickball had a wonderful curve and it hit me dead in the face. So I’ve experienced it; not by choice [laughs].
Moderator Did you have a favorite game show that you liked to watch growing up? If so, who was your favorite host and what was your favorite game show growing up?
A. Ribeiro My favorite game show was Family Feud as a kid. Richard Dawson was my favorite host growing up because we watched that basically every night. That was the last show we watched before going to bed as a kid. I certainly loved him on that show. As a kid we just watched them all. I loved Dick Clark. He was awesome in Pyramid. I just loved them all. This is my second “game show” and I’ve enjoyed the role of host in this genre.
Moderator What is your favorite distraction game that you’ve had on the show?
A. Ribeiro My favorite is the Zapped. I absolutely love that one because the idea of zapping them as they’re trying to spell, it really does create the most comedy, I find, in every episode. The next favorite is the game that we call Shower Power. It’s pretty cool. We put them in a shower and there are all kinds of things happening to them while they’re trying to spell; getting soaked, getting icy blue slush dumped on their head. We have like a sprinkler system that’s just literally hitting them in the face the entire time. The reactions are awesome. It’s just brilliant. Those are really like two of my favorite.
My third would obviously be the dunk tank. When I tell you it’s ice cold water it is super cold. You put your hand in and within a few seconds you’re like okay, I can’t take that anymore. We’re dunking them fully up to their necks in this water. The screams that our contestants make while trying to spell is awesome.
Moderator If you were a contestant on the show how do you think you would do?
A. Ribeiro I would be smart enough to not be a contestant on the show. Spelling was never my strong suit as a youth. Our smartphones really make me look wonderful. This is not a show for me to be a contestant, which makes it perfect for me to be a host because I can certainly empathize with our contestants when they get a word wrong.
Moderator What are some of the obstacles that they have to do?
A. Ribeiro We’ve got “Head Banger,” which is basically when we get down to three contestants we put them in a machine that basically has a big hammer that comes down and whacks them on the top of their head. Do you remember that game where you had the frogs and they’d come up and you’d have to take the hammer and you bop it back down to get points? Well it’s kind of inspired by that. It’s hitting them in the head as it’s shooting up.
We’ve got pies in the face. We’ve got water shooting at them at the same time, we’ve got people off on the side shooting them with hoses of water. We’ve got fake fire extinguisher coming up right up from underneath them which is pretty crazy.
We’ve got a game where we put them on a board where we spin them around upside down and we’ve got these cannons that basically shoot food at them. It’s food hitting them in the face and in the body as they’re being spun around. That one is pretty good. That one is kind of where they go upside down. We’ve got one where they’re just going around and around in circles. We’re dumping honey on them.
It’s very physical. There’s a lot of physical stuff that we’re doing to the contestants as they’re trying to spell. In some of the rounds we put one contestant up there and they have to try to spell as many words in 60 seconds as possible while all of this is happening to them. There are many different games. Each episode doesn’t have the same games in them. There’s some that we do every time and some that we do differently in each show. We kind of mix it up a little bit.
Our final game is not a physical game, it’s just all mental. It’s sounds. It’s letters. It’s all going off in their face where they’re trying to spell the words thinking of the letters but the letters are being shown to them right in their face and sounds and all kinds of craziness going on. We’re coming at them in every different way possible.
Moderator Do you have a favorite moment from the show so far?
A. Ribeiro My favorite moment is actually in our opening game, which is Buzzed In, which is our obstacle course, we have this log that gets swung down from the ceiling. There was this one little blonde girl about 5 foot 2, that as she came over one of our humps the log came down and caught her in the chest and literally lifted her up off the ground, spun her over in the air and she landed on her back. She was safe. She was okay, but then it happened again. Then the next time she made it underneath the log without getting hit except she stood back up and the log came and wiped her out from behind the third time. So it was a great series of events that happened to this lovely young lady.
Moderator How does it feel to be forever associated with Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air?
A. Ribeiro It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. Obviously, the fans who have adored me and loved me and show me their love on a daily basis is flattering to say the least. It’s certainly wonderful to know that people have loved what I’ve done on that show for now over two decades. The curse part is when you’re literally at a urinal in a public bathroom and people walk up to you, tap you on the shoulder and ask you to do a dance for them it’s typically not a good time.
This happens to me often, which is the curse part. I always say, “You’re asking me to dance for you. I’m not just going to dance for everyone as they come up and ask me to dance.” It’s like, that’s not okay. At the same time, like I said, I take it in stride and I laugh with them about it because it certainly means that they’ve enjoyed what I did on that show.
Moderator Do you still stay in touch with the cast members from Fresh Prince?
A. Ribeiro Absolutely. It’s very funny because you’ll read in the magazines or whatever Fresh Prince reunion and I’m always like, “What reunion?” It’s not a reunion if you get together with your friends. It’s a reunion if the network picks up the show and does another episode or we do a movie. That’s a reunion; not us getting together, having dinner, and someone taking a picture and going, “Oh look, it’s a reunion.”
I spend time with Will, with Karen, with Tatiana. I see James Avery every once in a while. I was fortunate enough to actually direct Daphne Maxwell Reid on an episode of Let’s Stay Together, which is a show that I direct. So I get to see people all the time and it’s wonderful to see them.
Moderator What other game shows that have aired in your lifetime would you like to take a stab at?
A. Ribeiro To be honest, mine would be the dancing and the singing stuff. Those are the things that I enjoy more than anything. The Jeopardy stuff is not really where I’m at. I like to use my talents in some way versus my brain. I think there are people out there who are smarter than me. So I let them do those types of game shows.
I certainly enjoyed Price Is Right growing up and watching that show. I don’t do much shopping anymore. I’m fortunate enough my wife loves to do the shopping, so I would probably have a hard time with the prices now. The singing and the dancing shows were certainly shows that I’ve enjoyed. I did a show called Celebrity Duets that I actually won and won $100,000 for my charity. Those are the shows that I enjoy.
Moderator How do you think Carlton Banks would do on a show like Spell-Mageddon?
A. Ribeiro I think Carlton Banks would win Spell-Mageddon. Obviously, he was super smart. He was still relatively athletic. He was unwavering in his convictions. I think Carlton would’ve done very well on that show.
Moderator I’m sure you’re a Disney fan right?
A. Ribeiro Absolutely. I’m a fan of Disney. I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter who watches an awful lot of Disney. Obviously, I direct Disney channels Shake It Up. I’m a fan through my child in that way.
Moderator Do you make it to the parks and things like that?
A. Ribeiro Of course. We go to Disneyland and Disney World all the time.
Moderator What is your favorite Disney character?
A. Ribeiro Well, you’ve got to go old school. So you’ve got to go Mickey Mouse.
Moderator Favorite Disney Park?
A. Ribeiro I love Disney World because obviously it’s bigger. It’s greater. You’ve got everything. You’ve got everything that you could ask for out of Disney all there at Disney World.
Moderator What’s your favorite Disney ride?
A. Ribeiro My favorite Disney ride? It’s close, because I love Tower of Terror but I’m also a huge Space Mountain fan because Space Mountain has been around longer so as a kid I enjoyed it. As the new rides I do love Tower of Terror.
Moderator What’s your favorite food or restaurant in a Disney park?
A. Ribeiro Blue Bayou. Every time we go we certainly make a reservation when we go to Disneyland. We definitely go to Blue Bayou.
Moderator What’s your favorite Disney movie?
A. Ribeiro Favorite Disney movie would have to be my daughter loves The Little Mermaid so I guess I have to go with that one.
For more information on “Spell-Mageddon”, please visit the official website here.
Since we last interviewed Kalafina back in 2009, so much has happened with the group. From chart-topping singles to now performing with a live band, Kalafina has become a hot group with a growing fanbase worldwide. With a recent concert at Anime Central in Illinois, J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith recently had the opportunity to interview Keiko, Wakana and Hikaru of Kalafina.
On July 7th, fans of the Japanese techno-pop girl group Perfume in Los Angeles had the opportunity to watch the trio’s a concert in the UK courtesy of a live viewing held at Regal Cinema.
For Perfume fans, these last seven years since being signed to a major label, have seen great things happening for Perfume, which consists of members Ayano Omoto, Yuka Kashino and Ayaka Nishiwaki. All three are from Hiroshima, Japan and debuted back in 2001 and are produced by Capsule and Meg producer Yasutaka Nakata.
From chart topping hit singles, three successful albums and their music being featured in Disney’s “Cars 2″ animated film, in early 2012, the trio announced they were leaving their label Tokuma Japan Communications and moving to Universal Music Japan in order to focus on performing internationally.
In July 2013, the group prepared for their first European tour with “Perfume WORLD TOUR 2nd” with concerts in Germany, UK and France.
Their July 5th UK show at Shepherds Bush Empire was broadcast in Los Angeles on July 7th in front of an enthusiastic crowd of nearly a hundred people who came out to sing and dance to the songs of Perfume. The live viewing was shown at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 7th with a box office price of $25 a ticket. The screening was not live but is a 2-day delay broadcast.
The set list for the concert were the following tracks and MC portions:
- Spending all my time (Extended Mix)/Welcome to Perfume World~
- Magic of Love
- Laser Beam
- Spring of Life
- SEVENTH HEAVEN
- Handy Man (instrumental)
- Electro World (Intro Short)
- P.T.A. no Corner
- FAKE IT
- Dream Fighter
- Chocolate Disco (ASIA Ver.)
- MY COLOR
- ENCORE: GLITTER (Europe Ver.)
During my viewing of the concert, one thing you will notice is the fans treated it like a real concert. Screaming to the performances of Perfume, singing a long with their songs and even the people sitting right next to me, dancing to each song and really getting into it. But most impressive was to see people knowing Perfume’s dance moves.
The live viewing was my first opportunity to see Perfume perform live. While there are examples on YouTube, it was exciting to not only see a J-Pop live viewing in Los Angeles, but to also see the crowd really into the concert. And makes me wonder why Perfume has not performed in the United States yet?
The group performed a lot of their hit songs including my favorites such as “Chocolate Disco”, “Spending all my time”, “Polyrhythm”, “Spice” and “Laser Beam” but also to hear the encore of “GLITTER” (European version) was very awesome!
But it was also great to see a performance of their latest single “Magic of Love” for the live viewing.
The concert kicked off with one of my favorite songs from Perfume titled “Spending all my time”, a fantastic synth track and possibly next to “Glitter”, a track that I have listened to countless times.
With that being said, I admit this is their most accessible song probably for a western audience. For one, it’s almost all in English and it’s one of their most repetitive songs (and I usually dislike repetitive lyrics). Everything about the musical arrangement and vocals works perfectly with this track. A little techno style with Nakata’s arrangement this time around. The lyrics are pretty simple:
Spending all, spending,
Spending all my time
Loving you, so loving you forever
Spending all, spending,
Spending all my time
Loving you, so loving you forever
Spending all, spending,
Spending all my time
Loving you, so loving you forever
Spending all, spending,
Spending all my time
Loving you, so loving you I wanna do
The version performed was the extended mix which transitioned to “Welcome to Perfume World~”. But what is interesting thing about “Spending all my time” is that it may have never come to be. Written by Yasutaka Nakata, the lyrics were all in English and uncomfortable because of it, they each begged Nakata to rewrite the lyrics and incorporate Japanese lyrics and if it was not accepted, to not make the song an A-side. Personally, I’m glad that Nakata reconsidered because I don’t want to hear J-Pop performers forced to sing a whole song in English, if they can’t or feel uncomfortable of doing so.
The second song performed in the concert was their latest single “Magic of Love” and a fun and delightful pop track and was thrilled that their new song was featured in the concert. But I did notice that their single prior to “Magic of Love”, “Mirai no Museum” was not performed but the coupling song “Daijobani” was.
The third song performed was “Laser Beam”. A song with with cool synth and beats, catchy with that digital style, “Laser beam” is a song about a person who is excited of seeing a person you like gaze at you. The gaze is like a “laser beam” that pierces through the person’s heart and it’s a love beam that is the color of a rainbow.
The group then performed several of their popular hits such as “Polyrhythm”, “Spring of Life”, “SEVENTH HEAVEN”.
The seventh song “Spice” featured a catchy, upbeat single that continues to feature the synth pop arrangements that Yasutaka Nakata is known for. The single is about being excited about something unexpected and that the spice of curiosity that is within you. The song is about being in the same room with a person you like but the excitement makes the person tremble. But I loved how the fans reacted to the song.
While “Mirai no Museum” was not performed, it was cool to hear their quick upbeat coupling track “Daijyobani” performed. But throughout the concert, Perfume really went all out with their hits such as “Electro World”, “FAKE IT”, “DREAM FIGHTER” and “Chocolate Disco”.
The final song (before the encore) was “MY COLOR”, a song with a permeating synth groove and a track about a person who has been waiting for a mail from the person she likes. She wants to see the person badly and hopes that her color, which is the color of excitement, reaches the person that she likes. Great audience participation for this track!
The encore track was “GLITTER” (European Version) and is a catchy song featured in English that starts of at mid-tempo until it reaches the chorus. Am upbeat dance track that may seem happy, but the lyrics are somewhat sad as the song is about how a person has a sparkling dream, both people made a promise. But until that day comes, she won’t cry at all and will pray for the person and laugh with them. But instead of waiting, she feels she may need to take the chance and just do it or things won’t change, but she needs “Glitter”. It’s a bit hard to explain the lyrics but it is a song about hope and just taking the initiative.
As for the MC portions, because Perfume are not native English speakers, they kept the MC to a minimum and focused on the music.
Overall, having attended Japanese rock live viewings, it was great to see a J-Pop live viewing and I hope by the number of people that attended and their reaction to the concert, will lead Live Viewing Japan to bring more J-Pop concerts to the big screen to the U.S.A.
While I’m not sure if the East Coast will be able to see these concerts or they were exclusive to Los Angeles (it’s important to note that part of the success of the live viewings was partly because of Anime Expo 2013 which was held on the same weekend but also a few blocks away from Regal Cinema).
But the experience of attending Perfume’s “Perfume WORLD TOUR 2nd” was an amazing experience and I hope to see them perform live in the United States in the near future.
7!! (pronounced as “Seven Oops”) is a band that has caught the attention of Japanese music fans all over the world.
From their theme songs used on the anime series “Naruto Shippuden”, the band which consists of vocalist NANAE, drummer MAIKO, guitarist MICHIRU and bassist KEITA were welcomed in the USA with performances in San Jose, California and New York.
After their performance in the U.S., J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith had the opportunity to interview 7!!
ABC Family’s Q&A Session with Vanessa Marano of “Switched At Birth” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
With “Switched at Birth” having shown its summer premiere for 2013 (the second half of season two), we revisit actress Vanessa Marano, one of the main lead characters of ABC Family’s hit drama series “Switched at Birth”.
Vanessa has starred in TV series such as “Scoundrels”, “The Young and the Restless”, “Dexter” and “Without a Trace”.
“Switched at Birth” is a one-hour scripted drama that tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital.
Vanessa Marano plays the character of Bay Kennish, a girl who grew up in a wealthy family with two parents and a brother, while Daphne Vasquez (played by Katie Leclerc), who lost her hearing at an early age due to a case of meningitis, grew up with a single mother in a working class neighborhood. Things come to a dramatic head when both families meet and struggle to learn how to live together for the sake of the girls.
The series also stars Lucas Grabeel (“High School Musical”) as Bay’s brother Toby, Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”, “Caroline in the City”) as her mother Kathryn and Constance Marie (“George Lopez”, “Selena”) as Daphne’s mother Regina.
An ABC Family Q&A session was recently held with Vanessa Marano to promote the final half of episodes for season 2 of “Switched at Birth”.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A session.
Moderator Was there anything about Bay that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you added to her?
V. Marano Bay, in the pilot, wasn’t as comedic as she’s turned out to be. She was a little bit gloomier and I’d say even a little bit angrier than what she is, and then sort of through collaboration with directors and writers she becomes a little bit more comedic.
Moderator What kind of moments should we be looking forward to this season?
V. Marano This season is summer, and so we think of summer so bright and happy and fun in the sun, and it’s a very dramatic season, particularly for Bay it’s quite life changing for her.
Moderator Could you tell us more about the upcoming “What-If” episode and how it affects the families?
V. Marano The “What-If” episode is probably my favorite episode this season. I think it’s going to be a very satisfying episode for fans and it’s a whole “what if the families found out that the girls were switched at age 3 rather than at age 16?” “What if Regina had told the Kennishes what she had found out about the girls being switched?” And so I think it’s going to be very satisfying for fans because they get to see that, it’s in this whole push-and-pull of “did Regina do the right thing?”, and they get to see whether or not she did. And a lot of it has to do with John’s justification of what Regina did, and he’s still so angry about it and how everything would have turned out for each character.
So it’s really fun, because you get to play a character that you’ve been playing for so long but you also have completely different circumstances than what your character had grown up with. And Switched has always been about nature versus nurture, so this is what if the nurture wasn’t what it was because everything changed when the girls were three.
Moderator Will the change in family dynamic continue this season or will she be able to repair her relationships within her family?
V. Marano Well, she repairs the relationship with Daphne, which is nice. I like that those two can’t stay mad at each other as much as they used to. They used to really be able to stay very mad at each other. They’ve also evolved more into sisters. But this is a really big season for Toby. He’s usually a character that’s in the background that you lean on for support, but it’s a very big season for him. He’s talking about getting married, and whether or not that’s the right decision, and so it’s a lot about growing up and figuring out if you’re doing something for love, if that’s the right decision or not.
Moderator What has been the best thing about the show?
V. Marano I would say the people I work with. I really enjoy the entire cast, and the entire crew, and the producers and writers. I really do like everybody that I work with. And it’s nice to be in a situation where you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere for 12 hours and you haven’t gotten any sleep, but you like everybody around you.
Moderator What have you learned from working on the show?
V. Marano Sign language. I didn’t know sign language before the show, but I kind of know sign language now.
Moderator Do you find yourself subconsciously using ASL in your normal everyday conversations?
V. Marano I wouldn’t say I use it in my normal everyday conversation. But, yes, I definitely get into a mode when I’m whispering to somebody, because usually when I’m not using it on set for a scene, Katie and I, when they’re rolling and you’re not allowed to talk, we’ll sign a little bit back and forth just to talk in the middle of shooting. We’re mature like that. And so usually if I’m in a situation where I’m whispering and I have to be quiet, sometimes I’ll just end up doing it because I’m kind of used to mouthing the words while I’m using my hands. And it happens a lot with my sister and my one friend, Megan, and they always go, “Dude, I don’t know sign language. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that. You’re not helping yourself.”
Moderator Has it been hard for you to learn it?
V. Marano Yes, it has been. It’s throwing yourself into a completely different element. It’s nice, though. It’s nice to be able to challenge yourself in that way, because Switched is a story that we all know. It’s a story about searching for identity and it’s a story about searching for a family, but it’s done in this different way involving the deaf community and involving deaf characters, and involving sign language. And so you can’t really get bored because you’re seeing a story that you’re familiar with told in a different light.
Moderator Could you talk about how Bay is feeling right now about both of the moms?
V. Marano Well, Bay right now is bonding more with Regina, and that’s not, even though I don’t think Kathryn sees it that way, anything against Kathryn. It’s just she’s never had an opportunity to bond with Regina and it always felt like Daphne and Kathryn got all of this mother-daughter time and Daphne still got to be a mother-daughter with Regina, and Bay got nothing. And so this season is really about them finding their mother-daughter connection, Regina and Bay.
Moderator Can you share a funny story with us about being on set?
V. Marano A funny story about being on set, let’s see, well, there are so many things. We all get along just so well. The only thing that strikes my mind immediately is Katie was a huge High School Musical fan, and at one point it was like 4:00 in the morning and Lea Thompson, you know she’s done Cabaret on Broadway, she’s done her share of musical theatre, as has Lucas Grabeel, who was in High School Musical, and everyone was tired and delirious and Lea at one point was like, “Just teach me the dance, teach me the dance from high school musical.” And so Lucas did it and Katie’s eyes lit up with this look of excitement. It was hilarious.
Moderator What was it like filming the all ASL episode that aired in March? Do you think there will be another one?
V. Marano Well, it was the first time it was ever done on television and it was the first time a whole episode had been done in sign language. So it was kind of nerve-wracking actually, because you were doing something that had never been done before, so all of a sudden you have this huge responsibility to do it right. And so it was actually pretty difficult, but the result was amazing. I hope we’ll do another one. There are no words for doing one right now. But it turned out great and it was really cool, because Switched in general is something that’s never been done before, there’s never been a show with a lead character that is deaf and so many deaf actors. So to be doing something that I’d never even done before on top of that, with an entire episode that was done in sign language was pretty cool to be a part of. Things that are groundbreaking, really.
Moderator If Toby and Nikki do get married, who do you think will be Bay’s date to the wedding?
V. Marano Oh, that’s a good question. Let’s see, episode three just aired, I don’t know if I can give away who Bay’s date is going to be to the wedding right now considering where we’re at.
Moderator Is Bay how you expected her to be in the “What-If” episode, or was it surprising to you?
V. Marano Personality wise, actually Bay hasn’t really changed that much. Personality wise she has changed the least out of everybody. The biggest difference with Bay is when we first meet Bay in the pilot of Switched at Birth, we see her as this confident, truly her own person type of teenager, and then her world gets turned upside down by the switch; all of a sudden she is vulnerable and she’s struggling and she’s building up walls, and everything she’s known is a lie. So we really catch Bay to the point of a nervous breakdown when we first meet her in Switched, and it’s just in the seasons that we’ve been shooting have been building her back up to become the person that she believes she was born to be. So this season we have Bay in the “What-If” episode being raised the entire time knowing that she didn’t belong to Kathryn and John, knowing that she was raised in a situation where she wasn’t a Kennish, and so that definitely changes her perspective on things. It doesn’t necessarily change Bay, but I think it numbs her a lot more.
Moderator Do you feel like your daytime experience helped prepare you for this role?
V. Marano You know what, I’ve said this so many times in interviews, I was so against doing a daytime show when I first got offered The Young and the Restless. I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. That doesn’t feel like it’s me. I don’t know if I want to do it.” And my mother talked me into it. My mother was like, “You need to do it.” And it was truly one of the best experiences I had personally and acting wise. I think I learned so much from that show that I really do apply to every role that I had afterwards. As far as memorization goes, I learned so much, as far as trusting your instincts you learn so much, and my hat is off to any daytime actor, because what they do is way harder than what anybody else in television does.
Moderator Where would you like to see your character go next?
V. Marano Let’s see, I really hope Bay keeps growing the way that she’s growing. She’s a character that kind of takes two steps forward and one step back, and so by the end of the series I just hope she’s a well-rounded person.
Moderator Are there any special celebrity guest appearances that you know of that are planned for this season?
V. Marano Well, we have a few returning characters, that much I can say. Everyone’s seen Blair Redford return as Ty. Bill Lucking is going to be returning as John Kennish’s father, and we also have a few more returning characters from the past season, so we’re going to be seeing a few people that we haven’t seen in a while.
Moderator If they would have a celebrity guest star, who would you like to see guest on the show?
V. Marano Well, I’m obsessed with Helen Mirren, so if we could get her that would be awesome.
Moderator Will Emmett and Bay be able to be just friends?
V. Marano Again, we will see. It’s funny, part of the “What-If” episode is a what-if for Emmett and Bay, so we get to see circumstances changed, what they would have been.
Moderator Are there any other struggles that Bay will be dealing with this season?
V. Marano Definitely Ty and Bay is a struggle. Bay and Emmett is a struggle this season. And Regina and Angelo and Bay all living under the same roof turns into a struggle as well, because it’s just not exactly what everybody expects it to be. But you know what, what family is?
Moderator Could talk about how similar or different you are from Bay?
V. Marano It’s funny, I think I’m actually very different from Bay. Obviously I’m playing her, so it doesn’t appear that there’s much of a difference, like the cadence of the way we speak is very similar, our humor is very similar, because the way that I inflect some certain words reflects on that. But there are so many times when I read a script and I’m like, “What are you doing, Bay?” Because Bay, believe it or not is, and she gets this from being raised by Kathryn Kennish, she almost is an optimist. She goes into every situation making a crazy decision and thinking that it’s going to turn out totally fine.
She decided to go to deaf school and she’s like, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Well, Bay, the worst thing that could happen is that this group of kids who have been neglected from society because of the fact that they can’t hear are going to be judgmental towards you because you’re parading on to their campus thinking that you own it. Come on, Bay, think things through. Or like, “I want to run away to Mexico. What could be bad about that?” A lot of things, Bay. Running away to Mexico isn’t really the right decision. And just the main one, I’m going to move my biological mom and my “switchster” into the guest house across from where my parents live. There won’t be any fighting even though they’re complete opposites. She just doesn’t think things through and thinks everything’s going to turn out just fine, which is something that she gets from, not her biology mother but from being raised the way she was. And I constantly find myself saying, “Oh my God, think things through, Bay.” But she wouldn’t be the Bay that we all know and love if she did.
Moderator Do you possess any musical talent yourself?
V. Marano None whatsoever. We actually don’t know where Laura [Marano] gets that from in our family. I have a cousin on one of my family who’s really interested and talented musically, and the rest of us don’t have that gene at all. It’s really weird, but she has it. But, you know, kudos to my sister. I am very proud of her. The episode that just aired on Austin & Ally she actually wrote the song that she sang. So that’s really cool, 17-years-old and writing a song for the show that you’re on is pretty impressive and I’m really proud of her. I was sitting there in my parents’ living room with her, and I was like, “Yeah, you are finally you, Ally Dawson, played by Laura Marano.”
Moderator Would you like to work with your sister in the future on any projects, and what would that be maybe?
V. Marano Absolutely. I would love to work with my sister. I love my sister. Really anybody who will have us, I just want to work.
Moderator Who has influenced you professionally and who you would love to work with some day if you could pick anybody?
V. Marano Well, I would say Helen Mirren is the answer to all of those questions. But there are so many people, like I would love to work with Christopher Durang on a play. He’s one of my favorite playwrights. I think he’s fantastic. There are so many directors, and so many writers, and so many actors that I’ve learned so much from, from watching, but I would say influence wise so much of what I got influenced by was my mother directing theater. That was my perspective on acting, was because my mom was a theater director. So I would say the way that I learned things and the way that I thought of acting really came from that.
Moderator Do you have a Twitter handle?
V. Marano I do not use Twitter. Well, at this point it just makes me super unique, doesn’t it? I made a decision a very long time ago that I didn’t really be involved with social media. I don’t think I’d be very good at it. Judging by me answering all of your questions, do you really think I could keep it to 150 characters? I don’t think so. It is a great way to promote the show, it’s a great way to get to know your fans, but to me the more important, all-knowing thing of making eye contact with somebody and connecting with somebody that way and having a conversation with somebody face-to-face, I value so much more than hiding behind a computer screen and doing it that way. So I get it, I understand it, I do not naysay on anybody who does Twitter, I totally get it, it’s just not for me personally.
For more information on “Switched at Birth”, please visit the official website here.