Aki Con 2013 was held at the Seatac Airport Double Tree Hotel in Seatac, WA from October 25-27th.
Although it’s not big like Sakura Con that’s held in Seattle every year, attendees definitely had a great time cosplaying, attending panels, interacting with and getting autographs from the guests, and sharing the love they have for anime, manga, video games with fellow fans.
I’ve been attending Sakura-Con here in Seattle every year since 2004, but this year was the first time I attended a smaller local anime con, Aki-Con. Though it’s a much smaller con than Sakura-Con, the attendees seemed to really enjoy themselves.
The con last year had gotten a lot of negative reviews because of what happened with Artist Alley and the dealers’ hall, but it was very apparent that they were doing their best to make this year’s con the best they could, and I think they did a good job… and I think the attendees noticed as well.
Like most other days in the fall, the weather was rather wet here in the Seattle area during the con, but driving up to the hotel, you could see attendees all around, proudly wearing their cosplay as they headed to the nearby Taco Bell, Subway or Dennys for food. The venue, the Seatac Airport Double Tree hotel, was a great choice for a smaller con, as it wasn’t a huge venue, but was just big enough to hold a con of this size… though there were a few times it started getting overcrowded in the hallways. Overall, everyone seemed to have an excellent time.
The guests at Aki Con this year definitely brought in a huge number of the attendees. Guests of Honor for Aki Con this year were voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Monica Rial, Lisle Wilkerson, David Vincent, and Josh Goring. Other guests included reality TV personality, Molly McIssac, cosplay groups such as the Living Dead Girls, and the featured band was Johnny Yong Bosch’s own Eyeshine. (Click here for the complete guest list)
Attendees had plenty of activities they could enjoy throughout the weekend. They had huge cardboard cutouts of characters from various video games and anime throughout the hotel, and even had a room with various scenes set up where cosplayers could take photos using those as backgrounds. The venue itself had tons of parking, so that didn’t seem to be a problem. The hotel was pretty scenic and also provided various areas for photographers and cosplayers to hold photoshoots. The dealers’ hall was about the size of two panel rooms, but attendees were able to find plenty of stuff to buy.
“Attack on Titan” was definitely a huge highlight for cosplayers and the dealers’ room had no shortage of “Attack on Titan” goods. Artist Alley was held in a few rooms upstairs, and it seemed that the artists this year were much better accommodated than last year and each time I passed by, the rooms were full with attendees. There were a couple rooms dedicated to gaming of all kinds (old school arcade, console, etc) and there was even a room where they had a Hetalia Cafe. Anime viewing rooms were showing current anime that could be found on Crunchyroll.com and there was also a manga library. And of course, there were panel rooms and main ballroom for events with the guests such as panels, concerts, masquerades, and more.
The voice actor guests had a few panels together where they answered questions and fulfilled requests from the various fans that came to see them. They also had multiple signings, where each of the guests took their time and interacted with their very eager fans. One of the biggest events of this con that everyone was excited for was the Eyeshine concert Saturday night. The band performed a full set and stayed around to sign merchandise and take pics with their fans after the show. Possibly one of the biggest highlight for many of the attendees was the fact that because this was a smaller convention, the guests’ schedules weren’t as tight and they had a lot more time to interact with all of the fans. All of the guests took time to give autographs and take pictures with fans that randomly came up to them outside of their panels if time had allowed.
For individual panels, Johnny Yong Bosch answered various questions about his career, the voice acting business and told a few funny stories that had happened to him on his way to work. David Vincent held a panel where he not only gave tips and answered questions on how to get into voice acting, but he had people come up on stage with him and had them do various voice acting exercises and gave them personal tips and praise. After the panel, he even stayed around for quite a while and took pictures with fans, signed autographs, and continued to answer any questions fans didn’t get to ask during his panel. Monica Rial did a similar panel where she just opened the floor to the fans and she answered various questions about the industry and even called a friend of an attendee to surprise them. At each of these panels, all of the guests were extremely approachable, friendly, and down to earth, which I’m sure the fans all appreciated and it was apparent they all had a lot of fun.
Despite all of the things that may have gone wrong at last year’s con, it really was apparent that the con staff was working extremely hard to do a much better job at this con. The venue they got was great, the con staff was friendly, they booked guests that the attendees loved, and they did their best to make sure everyone had a great time. I think they did a great job, but I do have a few minor complaints… The lighting in the main ballroom where they held the opening ceremonies, the concert, and other big panels could have probably used better lighting.
During the opening ceremonies, the cosplay contest, and the concert, they turned off the house lights and had very odd red spot lights only on stage. It may have been for artistic effect, but it was incredibly hard to see anyone unless you were up close to the stage. Also, I thought that the registration was set up in a very awkward spot. It was located in one of the hallways and so when lines had formed, the whole hallway would be blocked. They did have it roped off, but at times it really was hard to get around. Also, there was slight overcrowding, especially on Saturday, but overall that is a good thing since that means they got that much of an attendance and I don’t think it ever got too bad that it wasn’t bearable.
Though it’s not the biggest anime con in the Pacific Northwest, Aki Con was a great con to go to for people who want a smaller convention, or want another event other than Sakura Con to go to since that’s only once a year. It’s also a great con for those who want to be able to interact with the guests more and not have to be around 10,000+ people like you would at Sakura Con. A smaller convention doesn’t mean that it’s not as great and fun. Both big and small conventions have their pros and cons and I thought that this year’s Aki Con was a great convention to visit for people who wanted another con to go to. If they are able to book the same venue again or a similar sized venue (if not a bigger one), I highly recommend fans in the area to check it out next year.
It’s that time of the year for ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” and to kick things off is a new holiday film titled “Christmas Bounty” starring Francia Raisa (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) and WWE superstar Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.
“Christmas Bounty” will air on ABC Family on Nov. 26th at 7/6c.
“Christmas Bounty” is about former bounty hunter turned elementary school teacher Tory Bell (portrayed by Francia Raisa), who was ready for a new life when she left the family business behind and moved to Manhattan. But when an old enemy is released from jail and vows retribution on Tory and her loved ones, she returns to New Jersey to take care of him once and for all.
When Tory’s upper-class fiancé, James, follows her home for Christmas, she tries to keep her bounty hunting ways a secret, but the plan backfires when James unwittingly becomes involved in the Bells’ mission. Further complicating matters, Tory must work closely with her ex-boyfriend, Mike (portrayed by Mike “The Miz” Mizanin) to bring down their target and keep James out of certain danger.
But as Tory becomes further entrenched in her old life, she finds herself torn between whom she once was and her plans for the future. Will Tory choose her new life with James, or will the thrill of bounty hunting and unresolved feelings for Mike prove too powerful to ignore?
To help promote “Christmas Bounty”, Francia and “The Miz” took part in a media Q&A. Here is a transcript from the Q&A:
Moderator: What was it that initially drew you to this role?
Mike “The Miz”: With WWE it’s theater, it’s live, you’re in front of a live audience, you only get one take. If you mess up the entire world is going to see it and are either going to boo you or cheer you at that moment.
However, acting in a movie — you don’t get that initial reaction and you don’t get that live audience feel. Doing a movie is a lot nicer on my body. I just got back from Europe for WWE — we did a European tour for 14 days of constant wrestling, so my body’s tired, my mind’s tired. When you’re shooting a movie it’s exhausting in a different way, where you’re mentally going at it and you don’t get that much sleep. But I do enjoy movies. I do enjoy WWE. I enjoy them both the same. They’re a lot different, and they’re also very similar.
I’m really excited about “Christmas Bounty” premiering on November 26, because the cast just got along so well. It’s not every day that you get to enjoy such a close-knit cast. Every time we were done with a shoot we would all go sit and just talk. I think you’ll see that closeness and that bond that we all had and that love for each other in Christmas Bounty. I think when a cast becomes close you can really see that they enjoy working with each other, and I think we all really had a pleasure working on “Christmas Bounty”.
Francia: I agree! Coming off of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” I am not used to doing any sort of action. This was my first time doing action scenes on camera. I did grow up doing martial arts. So, I was intimated to work with Mike, because he is a wrestler and has done this for a long time. But he was really welcoming and really encouraging. In Secret Life it was very “go, go, go, go”, because TV tends to have more time. It was a lot of fun and we were able to pick it up really well.
Like Mike said, we all really enjoyed working with each other; we became a family, we definitely bonded. We are genuine friends, so it’s definitely going to show on camera. I’m just as excited, because we just watched the movie and you could just tell that there was so much chemistry between all of us!
It was definitely a transition, just because I hadn’t done film in a while, but I was really happy to know that this was the first project that I was going to do outside of Secret Life and TV.
Moderator: Did either of you spend any time with bounty hunters to learn stunts for the role?
Mike “The Miz”: I definitely watched Dog the Bounty Hunter leading up to doing this role, just checking out exactly what bounty hunters do. So that was the extent of what we did. The casting process was put together fairly quickly, so there wasn’t an excess of time where you could find a bounty hunter and talk to him.
Francia: It happened so fast; I found out on a Sunday and I was a plane by Wednesday. So my research was with the director and my cast. I did watch The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston!
Moderator: What was your most memorable moment from filming?
Mike “The Miz”: My most memorable moment is one having to do with Francia. I’m so glad I got to be with her in this movie because she taught me a lot on the acting realm and was a constant professional. But there was one day where she was trying to do this savate kick for the movie. And let me tell you something, I can’t even do a savate kick. I’m the type of person that likes to give people a hard time, and I enjoy doing little pranks, if you will. If I see someone getting a little aroused I have to keep pushing that button. So I kept pushing it and at one point she was like, “You have to give me a moment!”
So I gave her a moment, and she did the savate kick and it was literally the most perfect kick. I think I’m going to take credit for her savate kick, because of the energy that I gave her during that moment.
Francia: That made me so mad, haha! That was a pretty memorable moment for me.
Mike “The Miz”: Another memorable moment for me was that I had my first on-screen kiss.
Francia: Oh yes! I was really excited about that!
Mike “The Miz”: I’ve been on TV for a while and I never had a movie or TV series where I’ve had a kiss with another actress, so this was my first time. I guess you could say I was pretty nervous about it, because I didn’t know what the rules were. I just went for it, and I think it was Francia’s best kiss she’s ever had on screen, to be completely honest with you. I mean I’m a really good kisser. You can ask my fiancé!
Moderator: What traditions or rituals do you have for the holidays?
Francia: I like to cook a lot, so I’m really excited to cook next week for Thanksgiving. I’m the only one doing it, so I will be up bright and early. Other than that, I like to sleep and watch Christmas movies. This year I will have my entire family watch “Christmas Bounty” over and over again!
Mike “The Miz”: I don’t know how to cook. If you asked me to cook you macaroni and cheese I could get you that, maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so you definitely don’t want me cooking.
Normally WWE has Survivor series on pay-per-view right around Thanksgiving, which is happening this Sunday. Then I fly to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, which is my hometown. I celebrate a day that I call “Miz Fest”, which is every Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I rent a school bus and I bring about 60 of my high school friends– yes I said high school — I basically bring them all on the school bus and we just have a blast through the entire city of Cleveland.
The next day my family goes over to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. We eat my aunt’s dry turkey and her other food that she usually cooks. I’ve never seen someone try so hard to cook great food and still cannot do it well. So my Aunt Lynn isn’t the best cook, but you have to give her an A for effort.
During Christmas, I always love the Christmas movies. I love Christmas Vacation, I love Elf, and now I’m going to be watching “Christmas Bounty”. I’m actually having a little viewing party on Tuesday over at my friend’s house in Cleveland, and I think everyone’s going to really enjoy “Christmas Bounty”, because there’s something for everyone. It’s not just for girls, it’s not just for guys, it’s not old people, young people, it’s everybody; there is something for everyone. If you like comedy, if you like drama, if you like romance, if you like a little action, guess what, you’re going to get it all in “Christmas Bounty”, and it’s going to show that true holiday spirit.
Moderator: What should fans expect while tuning in to “Christmas Bounty”?
Mike “The Miz”: It’s one of those feel good movies! I think everyone watches their special Christmastime movies. This is a movie that’s going to be right up there with all the other ones. I think people are going to really watch, and when they’re done watching this movie they’re going to come away with a smile on their face, they’re going to cuddle with their loved ones a little closer. I think it’s just one of those movies that will stand the test of time, and I think people will be shocked to see how great it truly is.
Francia: I agree! It’s just one of those feel good movies that you enjoy watching, and you take yourself away from reality a bit and you tap into someone else’s happiness, and you’re around your loved ones and you’re cozied up in your house. It’s one of those movies that’s a perfect ending to your night.
Mike “The Miz”: Here’s what I want everyone to do on Tuesday night. I want you to get some popcorn, I want you to get your most comfy clothes on, I want you to snuggle with one another, and I guarantee you by the end of that movie you guys are going to look in each other’s eyes and say, “I love you.”
Moderator: Can you give a brief synopsis of your characters and “Christmas Bounty”?
Mike “The Miz”: “Christmas Bounty” is a movie about Tory Bell, played by the lovely, gorgeous Francia, who does an amazing job. Tory Bell is from New Jersey, she has a New Jersey family, she’s raised there, and her family is all bounty hunters. Francia’s character wants to get out of that life. She moves to New York City, becomes a school teacher, is living the average, ordinary, everyday life like everybody else. She meets a new guy, who’s played by Will Greenberg. She has this new life.
Tory has to come back to New Jersey with her bounty hunters to protect her family, and her new fiancé tags along to meet the family. The family is very eccentric; it’s very loud, it’s very New Jersey. My character is the ex-boyfriend who is a bounty hunter with her, and we basically have to find the bad guy before he finds us.
There could be a love triangle. You’re going to have to tune in at 7:00/6:00 Central this Tuesday, November 26th to check it out.
Moderator: What preparations did you have to take to make it work between the two of your characters?
Francia: We met on set! I was working as an actress on “Secret Life”. I’ve been training my entire life for something like this. As I mentioned earlier, I did martial arts for ten years.
I think we both just came in with an open mind. We both just wanted to just make a great project, we both were really passionate about the script, we both loved the script, and there was no reason to not get along. Mike’s a great guy and he has a great outlook on work, his work ethic is incredible, and he was really trying to make this character great. He was really into learning how to get in deeper with the character and not just have very surface choices. I really wanted to make it look great when it came to fighting, so we worked together to make sure that happened.
I can see us being friends for a lifetime, but we’ve only known each other a few months! I’m really grateful that he’s in my life, even though he gives me a hard time sometimes, but he’s like a big brother to me.
Mike “The Miz”: Aw, me too! It was an instant connection between the entire cast; we all just clicked, and it’s not every day you get that, to be completely honest with you. I’ve been on TV shows where people don’t like each other, but they have to work with one another. This couldn’t be more opposite; everyone was truly likeable, everyone liked each other and wanted to be around each other. Some people would come to set during their off days just to hang out with one another because we were such a close-knit group.
To prepare for this movie I think “The Real World” got me comfortable in front of cameras, and then the WWE got me comfortable in front of a live audience and theater. I’ve also done acting coaches, I’ve done Improv Olympics, so to prepare for this movie I got involved with my acting coach and then just listened.
Whenever I do a movie I always like to base my character off of a couple different characters. When I was in Marine 3: Homefront I went with the Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis type of theme. With this one, since Gil did “10 Things I Hate About You”, I watched some of his movies and his work. Heath Ledger was in “10 Things I Hate About You” and really connected with me with this kind of character. I took that realm and brought it to “Christmas Bounty”.
Gil is a tremendous director, and did a great job with the entire cast. He made everyone look great and be at their best, and created such an ease on set that you can feel.
Francia: I think we all had the same goal coming into this project, and I think it really shows on camera and it really created a bond between all of us. That’s what’s important with every cast — having the same goal to get to the end result. No one was trying to be the star, no one was trying to stand out more. We all really just wanted to work together.
Moderator: Could you talk about where “Christmas Bounty” was filmed?
Francia: We were on location in Vancouver at a house. I loved it out there — We had so much fun! We were at a mall at one point; that was fun. We both live in LA right now, so we had to leave our home.
It was raining a lot, but the weather did not disagree with us at all times. There was a day where we needed to shoot outside and we could not afford to have rain, and it did not start raining until we stopped shooting and we were done for the day. It’s a great city. I loved it out there.
Mike “The Miz”: This is a very fast paced movie and anything weather wise could have really affected the movie, but luckily we got very lucky with a lot of the locations. Vancouver is gorgeous, it’s beautiful, it’s very green. I like the rain, because I live in Los Angeles now, and it’s never raining. I never get to see rain anymore. I’m from Cleveland. I like thunderstorms; I like a little rain in my life. So going up to Vancouver, seeing that rain, seeing the greenery. The people are just absolutely wonderful and so nice.
Moderator: Did have an action background (martial arts and WWE) help for the action sequences in “Christmas Bounty”?
Mike “The Miz”: Along with WWE, acting in :The Marine 3: Homefront: really got me prepared for all the action scenes for “Christmas Bounty”. I think WWE is as action packed as they come; it’s non-stop. It’s what we do, learning the performances, adding little things here and there to make sure that the scene flows right and it’s perfect.
Francia: I think Mike had a bigger advantage than me, because he does it all the time. First, I’m not use to action sequences. Second, when I grew up doing martial arts I actually hit people, so it was really hard for me not to actually hit some of the stunt guys or the actors. I was at an advantage, because it helped me with the choreography. It helped me really show that I make it look real. But I was at a disadvantage, too, because I did bruise some people up sometimes.
Mike “The Miz”: You did a very good job, Francia! I think people are going to debate whether or not she showed me up on these action scenes or not, because she has some really cool acrobatic scenes in there. There’s a scene where she’s on a guy’s shoulders. It’s pretty incredible some of the maneuvers that she pulled off.
Francia: You’re so sweet. Thank you. I did do all my own stunts! I was fighting to do my own stunts. The only stunt I didn’t do myself was jumping off the building in the beginning of the movie. But other than that, I’m on the car, rolling off the car, all of that was me.
Moderator: If you could describe your “Christmas Bounty” character’s [Tory and Mike] in one word what would it be?
Mike “The Miz”: I would say “strong”. That’s not just muscle wise, but strong mentally.
Francia: My nickname on the movie is Tornado, it’s Tory “Tornado” Bell, so I’m just going to say tornado.
Moderator: What was your favorite scene in the whole movie?
Francia: The fight scenes, the action scenes for sure. Seeing the chaos and having to fight all these guys and really having my dream come true to do action was amazing.
Mike “The Miz”: We did a lot of fun stuff in the bar scene! I’ve shot guns, I’ve done fight scenes, I do it all the time, so I like more of the drama stuff where you could really dive into the drama. There’s a lot of love, there’s a lot of romance, there’s a lot of people torn in different directions. I really enjoyed the emotional roller coaster that my character had to go through.
You will see in the credits, we do this little dance number and it was just so much fun. We spent the whole day doing this wonderful scene, and then at the end they were like, “Just go dance up there and see what happens,” and we all just had a blast and it was great.
Francia’s a professional dancer. Will [Greenburg] and I are not professional dancers. We know what we get from “The Grind” on MTV. Francia gets her moves from professionals. She’s hanging out with Selena Gomez and dancing around with her. I’m a little outside; I’m really good at doing the Harlem Shake.
Moderator: What’s your number one gift on your Christmas list this year?
Francia: The success of “Christmas Bounty”. That’s what I want – for everyone to enjoy it!
Mike “The Miz”: I don’t like giving or receiving gifts because I don’t like that initial reaction. Although I do enjoy the love and the family aspect of Christmas, and I love eating with my family and friends and reconnecting with them. I think we all can sit down and watch “Christmas Bounty” together and really enjoy that. So that’s what I enjoy about Christmas and the holiday time.
Moderator: How did you [Mike] manage to take the MTV brand that you created into your dream career?
Mike “The Miz”: I still look at my life to this day and I’m in awe of it and I don’t know how I did it or why it happened. I would say it’s all a little bit of everything; it’s preparation, it’s hard work, it’s determination, but also there’s a little luck involved. It’s not willing to settle for anything less than success. People always told me that I couldn’t do something. When I tried out for The Real World people were like, “What’s going to stand you out from 40,000 people?” And I would tell them, “I don’t know, but I’m still going to try out.” I try out and I make it.
Then once I wanted to be a WWE superstar people were telling me that, “You’re not 6’ 7”, you’re not 300 pounds, you’re not full of muscles, you’re not athletic enough,” and I just wanted to prove them all wrong. So I think it’s my motivation and my dedication to prove everyone wrong whenever they tell me I can’t do something. So I think it’s a little bit of everything, but I think it was just my mentality that I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Moderator: How much of The Miz did you bring into your [Mike] character in the movie?
Mike “The Miz”: None. Whenever I come to these movies, with “The Marine 3: Homefront” and “Christmas Bounty”, I don’t want people to look and go, “Oh that’s The Miz.” I want them to go, “Oh that’s Jake Carter. That’s a new character; that’s something I haven’t seen from The Miz before.” And in “Christmas Bount”y I want them to say, “Oh Mikey Muscle is a completely different character.” I want them all to have their separate entities. But whenever I’m around backstage you definitely get to see The Miz and witness The Miz, because it’s more fun that way.
Francia: I am going to interrupt! When I met Mike he was so welcoming. He had his dog with him, and I’m a dog person. He treats her like his own daughter. So it was nice seeing the soft side to him.
Mike “The Miz”: I get it all the time, by the way, that “I love Mike but I hate The Miz.” I get that at least once a day, so it’s nice. It’s definitely one of those things I know when to turn it on, I know when to turn it off.
Moderator What’s your favorite thing about each of your characters?
Mike “The Miz”: My favorite part was just how different he is compared to me. I’m not really a Jersey type guy; I don’t really wear leather jackets. He was just fun to play, because he’s very sweet, and granted I’m a sweet person, but I think Mikey Muscles is a little bit more Jersey than I am. So it’s nice to play someone different from where you’re originally from. I definitely turned on a lot of Jersey music stations. I watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey just to see how these women really talk, and it was a lot of fun putting on a little bit of an accent. So it’s cool.
Francia: I love the heart that Tory has. The minute she felt her family in danger she ran back and wanted to make sure they were okay. She has a big heart for her family, for her fiancé, and even for Mikey Muscles, her ex-boyfriend. The movie is all around love, and you definitely see Tory’s heart grow and show throughout the movie.
Moderator: What projects are you [Francia] currently working on?
Francia: I actually just got back from Atlanta yesterday, and I ran into Mike at the airport. I shot a pilot for Lifetime called “Unreal”. It goes behind the scenes of reality TV. This one in particular is a popular reality contest similar to “The Bachelor”, and I play a field producer. I’m working along Shiri Applebee and Megyn Price and a wonderful cast. Marty Noxon is one of the show creators, along with Sarah Shapiro. I’m excited to get that project going next year once Lifetime picks it up.
I also recorded a Christmas song, so I’m dropping that right before Christmas. It’s called “Wish List” so it’s going to be my first single coming out.
Moderator: Do you think you [Mike] might want to make more of an acting career?
Mike “The Miz”: With WWE I think there’s a tremendous amount of acting that we put across. The Miz is arrogant, egotistical, cocky, believes everything he is, and more, so with WWE you’re doing a lot of that kind of stuff anyways. WWE Studios has been doing a great job of dishing out some really good movies as of late, I mean “Marine 3” being one of them, but also “The Call”. We have “Scooby Doo” coming out in March, so I’m really excited about that because I got to be a voice in “Scooby Doo”. Anytime you get to play a voice in “Scooby Doo” you have to be pretty ecstatic, and I was. So that’s always fun as well.
I’m also dipping into I have my own radio show on SirusXM 87, “Sirius Fantasy Footbal”l. It’s the fantasy football show, but it also has a little bit more than just fantasy football; it has a little bit of wrestling, a little bit of pop culture, so I have fun with that as well. As far as acting goes, I love it. I do have the acting bug, and WWE satisfies that bug for now. Hopefully I can get more movies with WWE Studios and keep the whole trend going.
Moderator: What’s your favorite Disney theme park?
Francia: I love going to Toon Town in Disneyland. I’m so mad that it closes so early, because by the time I get to go it’s already closed!
Mike “The Miz”: Disneyland.
Moderator: What is your favorite Disney ride or attraction?
Francia: Space Mountain! Hands down is the best ride ever. But also Roger Rabbit. I don’t know why I have such a love for that little ride.
Mike “The Miz”: It’s a Small World after all. I like that one.
Moderator: What is your favorite food or restaurant within a Disney park?
Mike “The Miz”: Funnel cakes.
Francia: I love the chimichangas they sell at California Adventure, they’re really good. The corn dogs at the entrance at Disneyland are really good, and the churros are really good. I eat a lot. Oh, the turkey legs, you have to try the turkey legs.
Mike “The Miz”: Oh, man, turkey legs definitely. I couldn’t have said it better. Turkey leg is good.
Moderator Who is your favorite Disney character?
Francia: I’m going to say Jasmine, because I want to play her if they ever do a movie.
Mike “The Miz”: I say Mickey Mouse, but I also like Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit.
Be sure to tune-in to ABC Family this Tuesday, November 26 at 7/6c for the premiere of “Christmas Bounty” during the Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas!
Images are courtesy of Image courtesy of © 2013 WWE, Inc. All rights reserved.
In our second Q&A feature for “Ravenswood”, this week we feature actress Britne Oldford.
The Canadian/American actress who was trained in music, dance and theatre, Britne made her television debut back in 2008 for the TV series, “The Latest Buzz” and would later be cast for the TV series “Skins” and “American Horror Story”.
And eventually landing the role of Remy Beaumont in ABC Family’s “Ravenswood”, a spinoff of the popular hit drama series “Pretty Little Liars”.
A series that takes place in the fictional town of Ravenswood, Pennsylvania, the series revolves around five strangers whose lives become intertwined by a deadly curse that has plagued Ravenswood for generations. And now all five work together to solve the mysterious curse.
The series connection to “Pretty Little Liars” is through the character Caleb Rivers (portrayed by Tyler Blackburn), who goes to Ravenswood to help his girlfriend Hanna Marin (portrayed by Ashley Benson). While en route to Ravenswood, he meets Miranda Collins (portrayed by Nicole Gale Anderson), who is going to Ravenswood to find her last remaining relative. And while she visits her uncle’s home, something freakish happens and she ends up rescuing Hanna.
Hanna asks Caleb to stay in Ravenswood to help Miranda and for some unknown reason, he finds a tombstone with his name and picture in the town cemetery, and it’s enough for him to stay in Ravenswood a little longer.
In the series, Britne Oldford’s character Remy is an employee at the Ravenswood newspaper, “Ravenswood Gazette”. Her father is the editor-in-chief and she helps Caleb find the death record of his lookalike. She is also the girlfriend of Luke Matheson (portrayed by Brett Dier) and is the first person to discover the theory of the Ravenswood curse.
To help promote “Ravenswood”, Britne Oldford recently took part in an ABC Media Q&A. Here is a transcript of the media Q&A:
Moderator Will the relationship between Remy and Luke continue to evolve or will Remy focus more on the curse?
Britne I think that the curse is all consuming at the moment, and will continue to be. But the relationships with everyone do evolve and do grow, so I think that that’s definitely something that we’ll see in later episodes.
Moderator Will viewers continue to learn about the curse in the winter finale, and what the pact actually is?
Britne We find out a lot more information about the pact and, perhaps, potential people who are involved in the mid-season or the winter finale.
Moderator Could you describe your character for those who may not be watching?
Britne Remy Beaumont is a very bright, determined, I think fairly stubborn at times, young woman who’s always seeking justice and wants to find out the truth behind everything that’s going on in her town.
Moderator What would you say drew you to this role?
Britne What drew me to the role of Remy, and the show in general, is that I do love supernatural things and shows – especially growing up. She was a strong female, and I think that there needs to be more strong female roles out there, especially for everyone, for every age group, but young women, and I thought that she could possibly be a role model and that’s why I was drawn to her.
Moderator Will we also see any more development with Remy’s relationship with her family?
Britne Yes! All of the characters family relationships develop gradually throughout the season. There isn’t too much that happens in the fifth episode with regards to that, but you’ll definitely see more.
Moderator Is there anything that you’ve brought to the role that may not necessarily have been in the script?
Britne I think that what I’ve brought to the role would be just a level of composure that wasn’t necessarily specified with the character of Remy. But otherwise, she’s been pretty straightforward.
Moderator What is it like working so closely with Brett Dier?
Britne Working with Brett is always so lovely. He’s an absolute riot on set, and we’re really good friends so it’s always a good time.
Moderator What’s the best encounter you’ve had with fans in New Orleans?
Britne We go to the movies a lot, and the people who work there have seen us go very often – so they recognize us, and have kind of taken a liking to us. So it’s just great being able to talk with them, have some R&R and talk about just anything in a very casual setting.
Moderator What is your favorite part of watching the show as a fan?
Britne I get so engulfed in it even though I read all of the scripts, and I’m there filming it. I love watching all of the spooks. Also, knowing that the fans are watching and that they’re having an even more intense experience than I am.
Moderator If you could compare Ravenswood to any other supernatural show, what would it be?
Britne I have to compare it to Scooby Doo, but just because there’s a younger group of people with these mysteries and what have you. I think that it’s very different because there is a group of young teenagers in a town having their relationships grow, and seeing the characters evolve as people as well as trying to figure out what’s going on with this curse, and how it’s affecting them. There are a lot of ensemble teen TV shows out there that do not have supernatural aspects to it, or undertones, so I think that’s how it’s different.
Moderator Has Remy always been a sleepwalker, or is this something that has started because of the curse?
Britne Ah ha! You will definitely be finding that out very soon.
Moderator How did you get your start in acting?
Britne I got started in acting professionally only when I was about 17. I was born and raised in Toronto, and I went to an art school there called Earl Haig Secondary School, which I loved, and I was a drama major so I was studying theatre very heavily. I thought I would be doing theatre for pretty much the rest of my life, being happy doing it back home, but I went to an open call for Skins, which was the first big show that I was on, or big project in general, and from then on I’ve been doing this whole thing.
Moderator How did you feel when you found out that you got the role?
Britne Oh, I was thrilled! I was so happy when I found out that I got the role of Remy, because I was originally going out for Miranda, and it got down to Nicole and I, and I knew she was going to get it. She had the look, she had it — I just knew. And I was going along for the ride, and just having a great time that day, and then the following day I was at the airport and got a call from my management and my agent and they were like, “There’s good news and bad news.” and I was like, “Oh. Well, of course the bad news is that I didn’t get it.” And they were like, “Good news. They’re offering you a different role.” So I was thrilled that I got a job, first off, and then when they told me about Remy, I was so pleased. I was so pleased.”
Moderator What is your dynamic like on set with Tyler, Nicole, Merritt and Brett?
Britne We’re all pretty funny, and crazy loud people. So when we’re all on set together it’s a total riot! Fortunately, we get things done, but the dynamic between everyone is very different, but we all care about each other very much.
Moderator How do you feel about the interactive social media of the series and live tweeting the episodes?
Britne I think that it’s awesome to be a part of this whole family and to really be able to connect with the fans because they are a huge reason why we’re on the air. They’re really the backbone of bringing the show to life and keeping it going, as well as our careers as artists outside of the show. So it’s a huge deal, and I’m so grateful to have them and to be able to share with them.
Moderator Is there anything that you can hint or tease about the mystery happening between Collins and Mrs. Grunwald?
Britne There is a lot of mystery on them. Honestly, I have no idea. I know that they have a definite connection, and they are working together, but in regards to what they are working towards? I don’t know!
Moderator Is Remy’s personal style and fashion similar to your personal style or is a bit different?
Britne My personal style is definitely way different than Remy’s; way, way, way different. I wear too much black, I always have ever since I was a kid. But it’s funny, though, because I have noticed that some of her style has been creeping into mine, especially color-wise. I’m realizing that I can mix and match really crazy things and it look interesting, if not good. So yes, our styles are definitely different —she’s quite preppy and kind of quirky, and I’m kind of more quirky and dark.
With the popularity of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”, it was a matter of time before a spin-off series would be created. And sure enough, I. Marlene King, Oliver Goldstick and Joseph Doughtery would eventually create a teen drama mystery-thriller known as “Ravenswood”.
A series that takes place in the fictional town of Ravenswood, Pennsylvania, the series revolves around five strangers whose lives become intertwined by a deadly curse that has plagued Ravenswood for generations. And now all five work together to solve the mysterious curse.
The series connection to “Pretty Little Liars” is through the character Caleb Rivers (portrayed by Tyler Blackburn), who goes to Ravenswood to help his girlfriend Hanna Marin (portrayed by Ashley Benson). While en route to Ravenswood, he meets Miranda Collins (portrayed by Nicole Gale Anderson), who is going to Ravenswood to find her last remaining relative. And while she visits her uncle’s home, something freakish happens and she ends up rescuing Hanna.
Hanna asks Caleb to stay in Ravenswood to help Miranda and for some unknown reason, he finds a tombstone with his name and picture in the town cemetery, and it’s enough for him to stay in Ravenswood a little longer.
In the series, among the five teens are twins Luke (portrayed by Brett Dier) and Olivia Matheson (portrayed by Merritt Patterson). A young woman who wants to live her life and is often concerned of what people say about her mother.
Both characters were recently introduced in the “Pretty Little Liars” 2013 Halloween special.
To help promote “Ravenswood” and the Halloween special, Merritt Patterson recently took part in an ABC Media Q&A.
Patterson made her acting debut on the ABC Family show “Kyle XY” and was cast in the film “Percy Jackson: The Lighting Thief” and also has starred in “Supernatural and the Disney feature “Radio Rebel”.
Recently, Patterson co-starred alongside Kim Coates (“Sons of Anarchy”) in the feature film “Rufus” and will also appear in the upcoming films “Primary”, “Kid Cannabis” and “Wolves”.
Here is a transcript of the media Q&A with Merritt Patterson:
Moderator: How do you feel about Olivia becoming a fan favorite?
Merritt: It’s really exciting. This is all new to me, so I’m very excited and I’m glad people responded well to Olivia.
Moderator: What did you bring to the role that may not necessarily have been in the script?
Merritt: Olivia and I are really similar, which was great as far as our tendencies and how we deal with things. I think I brought more of a subtle characteristic to her because she is prom queen. And I think when you think of prom queen, you think of over-the-top. It’s in my nature to be a little bit more subtle, so I think I added that to her character.
Moderator: What can we expect from your character in the first few episodes?
Merritt: Olivia’s kind of in a different social bracket at the beginning of the show, which is why I think she’s a little bit more separate; but obviously, as the curse continues and they continue to find out more, she’s brought together with the other four. She continues to do research on her father’s murder, and she also has a supernatural experience for herself coming up, which is pretty exciting; so I’m looking forward to both those events.
Moderator: Can fans expect the same twists and turns that Pretty Little Liars is famous for? Do you personally enjoy those elements?
Merritt: Definitely, yes! I think that’s what’s really great about our show and what’s similar to Pretty Little Liars — are the cliffhangers, twists and turns. So you can definitely expect lots of those; and I love that. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and it keeps it interesting. I’m excited, and I think people will respond well to that.
Moderator: Do you think the subtle sparks between Miranda and Caleb will put a strain on Hanna and Caleb’s relationship?
Merritt: Yes, I think it will. I think the fact that he is in a different town, that would put a strain on any relationship. Miranda and Caleb are very similar. Their characters are very similar, so they get along really well right off the bat, which could be taken wrong from someone else, especially in a different town.
Moderator: Will Hanna be visiting Ravenswood often?
Merritt: She doesn’t during the beginning. They definitely do keep in contact, it’s mainly over phone conversations, so she is in some of our episodes, but not in person; not yet.
Moderator: Is there any one particular media – between big screen movies and TV production – that you prefer?
Merritt: No, not really. I’ve always been drawn to film just because that’s what I love. As far as being on the sets and working with people — I love being on a set and being a character and doing a story. Each one is so great because you’re learning about a different character, so you get to learn different aspects that you might not have otherwise known. I’m open to everything.
Moderator: Do you find it hard to break out of film mode? How do you lighten things up from all of the drama on Ravenswood?
Merritt: Yes, this is new to me—the drama—and the first few episodes were very dramatic. We’re introducing the storylines and the characters, which makes it action packed. That was a bit crazy, but now things have started to get into a different pace. All of the cast gets along really well. So as soon as they’re saying cut, we’re laughing and making jokes which keeps things really light; so it’s really great.
Moderator: What is Olivia’s relationship like with her brother?
Merritt: I think their relationship right now is strained. I think the whole family is strained. They’re going through a lot with the murder of their father, and her mom has been hiding out. She’s obviously struggling, and I think Luke deals with it by being very angry. I don’t think he knows how to deal with it; neither does Olivia, but she’s trying to pretend like everything’s okay. I don’t know if it has fully hit her yet, but I think their relationship is very strained because of that. She doesn’t understand Luke’s process and how he’s dealing with the events. There’s some miscommunication there, but ultimately they’re twins. They’re family and they love each other and they’ll always have each other’s back. I think it’s like any relationship with siblings. I think it’s very up and down.
Moderator: How did you feel when you learned that you had gotten the role?
Merritt: Oh my gosh, I was so excited. It was crazy. When I auditioned for it, I put it on tape in Canada because I’m based in Vancouver, B.C. At the time, I didn’t really think I had a chance, because it was an American television show. Usually it’s a lot harder for Canadians to get on American shows unless they’re filming in Canada; then we kind of have a leg-up, so I was shocked and ecstatic.
Moderator: Can you tease a bit about the dynamic of the character relationships with one another?
Merritt: We all have stronger connections with different people. Olivia and her brother have a strong connection; and then Luke has a strong connection with Remy, because they’re dating. It’s a bit rough right now with their parents, but they have that. Remy and Caleb kind of bond, you see in the first episode that they’re immediately drawn together because they both want to find out more information on this curse. Then, obviously Caleb and Miranda have a connection, and they’re friends right off the bat. It’s like we each have a stronger connection with someone else in it. In the third episode, I build a stronger bond with Miranda, which was really exciting; I was happy for that. There’s a bit of a riff between Caleb and Luke, because Luke is very protective over myself and Remy. I don’t think he knows Caleb yet, so he doesn’t really know what to think of him. For the most part, we all get along, which is good, because we’re all going through this together.
Moderator: How much are these new events going to alienate Olivia from her friends and her social standing as the homecoming queen?
Merritt: I think she feels ostracized. She is realizing that the things she thought were important before are no longer important to her. That kind of separates her from her friends and it strains the relationships.
Moderator: What was it like to film Olivia’s “turning point” when she realized everything is changing?
Merritt: In episode two you see more of the strain on her relationship with her friends and her boyfriend. You see a lot of strain in episode two that she’s growing further and further apart from them because she’s so distracted by everything that’s going on.
Moderator: Why do you think the town of Ravenswood is treating Olivia so bad after her father’s murder?
Merritt: The town of Ravenswood thinks that our mother killed our father, so the whole family is being ignored and hated. They think that our mom murdered our father and therefore we’re all connected to this murder. I think they’re just putting us out there on our own. Nobody really trusts or respects our mom, and therefore the kids are being painted that way as well.
Moderator: What do you think it would take to get out from under the bad treatment from the town?
Merritt: I think Luke and Olivia are trying to figure out who murdered their father, because it doesn’t seem like the cops or anyone in the town is. They’re really pushing to find out who did it, so they start to take things into their own hands and they find clues along the way. Once the murderer is revealed, that will obviously help and make people realize.
Moderator: What’s your favorite aspect of Olivia?
Merritt: I like that she’s a very caring person; she cares a lot about all the people around her, and she’s very protective of them all, and I enjoy that about her. She’s not this crazy popular girl who lives in her own world. Yet she’s still homecoming queen.
Moderator: How does being ostracized affect her as a person?
Merritt: She’s really floating right now. She’s unsure, grasping for anything at this point because it’s all new. She’s constantly making new revelations, like “Oh, that’s what I used to love – it doesn’t mean so much to me now,” and “Oh, this person that I had so much in common with now feels so different”. So she’s constantly dealing with that. The curse isn’t a good thing, but at least she has something with those five people that she can connect to.
Moderator: How do you feel about the transition between Vancouver and Los Angeles?
Merritt: I actually have remained based in Vancouver. I have been to L.A. for testing; I did live there for about a month last year during pilot season, but I haven’t done the big transition yet. I was waiting for the right moment. I would love to be down there, but it just hasn’t presented itself yet. I do love L.A., and it’s definitely a different vibe because the entire city is involved in the industry. Whereas, Vancouver, it’s a very small group of people in the industry, so it’s definitely a huge change. I enjoyed it while I was down there, and I would like to be down there again soon.
Moderator Is there another female actress you feel could portray Olivia?
Merritt: I don’t know off the top of my head. I immediately think of Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley. They’re the right age bracket and they’re amazing; so either of them could play it really well I think.
Moderator Have there been times when you were actually scared or creeped out on set?
Merritt: Oh, for sure! The great thing about New Orleans is that it’s on location, and the locations here are amazing. There’s so much charm and history to this city. We’ve filmed a lot in a graveyard, which surprisingly isn’t that creepy, they’re really beautiful. We have filmed in an abandoned hospital and we heard stories that part of it was haunted. There was water dripping from the ceiling and people have heard footsteps. So there had definitely been a few times we were like, “Oh, did you hear that?” I’m sure we’re getting ourselves worked up, but it’s for sure on our minds.
Moderator How hard is it for you as an actress to convey the creepy feeling of the show to the audience?
Merritt: The locations are huge, and they play a huge part because it’s so much easier to get into that headspace and that energy when you’re surrounded by an actual location that adds itself to the scene. That’s helpful, and the writing is wonderful too, so it’s pretty easy, and once we all get into the scene and we start going, we build off of each other and that helps as well.
Moderator: Is there anyone on the set of Ravenswood that you look up to as a mentor, or get along with really well?
Merritt: We all get along really well, and I think we’re really lucky to have the cast that we have, especially the core five. Everyone’s done a lot and they’re well rounded in all different aspects of television and film. Tyler obviously has been through this already with ABC Family and Pretty Little Liars, so he understands how the whole process works. That’s all new to me, so it’s good to have him and watch how he deals with it. Then, obviously Meg, who plays Mrs. Grunwald, has been in the industry for a while, and she’s really talented. Having her around is really great, and hearing her stories and having her opinions. She’s a really great person to have if you have any questions or if you’re concerned about something, talking to her is really great. She’s wonderful. I actually have a scene with her that we just filmed and it is my first one-on-one scene with her. She’s so intense that she would throw me and I would lose my lines because she was just in my face. It was crazy and wonderful, she’s brilliant.
Moderator What is your favorite Disney Park?
Merritt: I’ve only ever been to Disneyland, which I loved. I loved California Adventure. Tower of Terror is by far my favorite. I would like to go to Disney World! I actually had this little girl on our set, Isabelle, who plays Max — She is from Florida and was telling me all about Disney World the other day. There’s a ton of different rides. I love amusement parks.
Moderator: What’s your favorite Disney ride?
Merritt: Probably Space Mountain. I love that one.
Moderator: What’s your favorite food or restaurant in the parks?
Merritt: Last time I was there I had pineapple soft-serve and it was amazing. I’ve never had it before and I think I ate two or three; they’re so good!
Moderator: What’s your favorite Disney character?
Merritt: It’s probably one of the Disney princesses. I grew up watching those movies as a kid, and I loved them. I love Belle; she’s one of my favorites, and Ariel, those are probably my top two.
Moderator: Is fashion something important to your character and the show in general?
Merritt: Definitely! I think it helps define a character. We’re lucky Blair [head of Ravenswood wardrobe] is so wonderful! I think what Olivia is wearing is helping her and helping me get into her character. I think that goes for all of us. I love Miranda’s outfits, too. I would personally dress more like Miranda, but I have fun with Olivia’s wardrobe.
Moderator: What’s your relationship to the ABC Family social media now that you’re on the show?
Merritt: I’ve always had a Facebook, and I did get Twitter about a year ago. It wasn’t until the last few months that everything has really started to blow up. During the premiere last week, my Twitter was crazy! It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s fun, and I feel like I’m getting the hang of it. I did get an Instagram account because of the show. I thought that would be good. I like Instagram because it’s like a little photo diary. I’m getting the hang of it.
Moderator: What is your Twitter account for everyone to follow?
Merritt: It’s @MerrittPattrsn. Thanks for asking!
He has come a long way since his musical debut, but Andy Quach has matured and has become one of the biggest VPOP stars that is based in the United States.
From his exciting, beat-driven dance tracks “Hua – Promise” and “Em Da Quen – Forgotten” or belting out romantic ballads such as “Nho – Missing You” and “De Em Ra Di – Letting You Go”, the pop star has shown how much he has evolved as a music artist but also a businessman with AQ Entertainment.
And for his upcoming duet album, the singer teams up with AQ Entertainment’s newest star, Ngo Nhu Thuy for “Forever Love”.
J!-ENT recently had the opportunity to interview Andy Quach regarding his musical career and also his upcoming album.
Before we get into discussions about your music, let’s get to know more about you. Reading your bio, you were born in Saigon, Vietnam. You are now living in the US but having visited Vietnam, what do you miss the most each time you come back to the US?
ANDY: Well to be honest, I left Vietnam at a very young age. I’ve been back to visit only three times, so I don’t really know much about Vietnam. But, if I have to pick what I miss most, I’d say the food.
What kind of person were you back in high school? The party guy? The Musician? Artist? Athlete?
ANDY: Athlete. Because I loved to play soccer & basketball. I was one of the high school all-stars for soccer.
Who did you listen to a lot when growing up?
ANDY: At a young age, I listened to the Four Kings of Hong Kong (Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Leon Lai and Aaron Kwok). Once I got older, I focused more on K-Pop artists like Bi-Rain and Seven.
If I was to look into your MP3/CD player right now, which artist or song would you be listening to at this moment?
ANDY: Ne-yo. Because I love his voice and songs. Most importantly, his song writing skills are really inspiring.
While growing up, at what age did you know that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
ANDY: At age 20. That was when I joined a local band and started to believe that I could make it professionally. But then again, even with talent and hard work, we still need a lot of blessing, so I thank God for granting me my 21st Birthday’s wish of becoming a professional singer.
Let’s talk about your music. Back in 2007, you released your debut album “K.O.”. Every first album is a learning experience. When you look back on your first album, what memories come to mind?
ANDY: Well, the “K.O.” album was a special and really good learning experience for me. It was my first solo album. After splitting with Vpop (a boy band that Andy was a member of), I decided to go a different route, which was Hip-hop & R&B. At that time, Hip-hop and R&B were still very rare in our Vietnamese music. But, I followed my heart and took a chance. It paid off. After my “K.O.” album, I was established as one of the first Vietnamese Hip-hop & R&B artists.
You had a solid collaboration with Cat Tien on that album, you also worked with Linda Chou. Musically, what was it like to work with these two talented individuals?
ANDY: It was really wonderful working with them. We had great chemistry musically due to our close friendships. In addition, Cat Tien and I used to be together, so our hit songs were about our break up, and you know fans always love painful break up songs. A broken heart is something that almost all of us could relate to. As artists, we have to be willing to be transparent with the matter of the heart sometimes. As for Linda Chou, she’s like my little sister. I introduced her to Vietnamese Music industry. She knew very little Vietnamese in the beginning, because it wasn’t her first language. But, she’s always been very talented, hardworking and a fast learner. Therefore, she picked up the language quite quickly. I really enjoyed working with her. Seeing her establishing herself as a well known artist makes me very proud.
In 2008, you released your second album “Showtime”. It featured a good number of Asian pop songs rewritten in Vietnamese. But it was also an album that people criticized because they wanted to see more originality from you as a musical artist. Was this part of the reason why you made a switch to a new label to achieve creative freedom?
ANDY: Yes, that was a big reason to why I made that switch. The first two albums, “K.O.” & “Showtime” , were produced by Van Son Entertainment, one of the big labels that I signed with at the time. I was still very new to the industry, still learning and especially still being controlled by the label. And even though those two albums helped establish my name, it also made me realized that I needed to make a transition from being just a performer to being an artist. At this time, I really started to understand the difference between a performer and an artist. So I stepped up my game by writing my own songs and getting ready to produce original material to build up the artist side of me. When my contract was fulfilled, it was an easy call for me to make that move—for the sake of complete creative freedom. That was how AQ Entertainment was born.
In 2010, your album “AQ3” was released. Let’s first discuss the move to AQ Entertainment and you starting your own label. How difficult was that for you?
ANDY: It was an easy call for me to go independent and have my own label. I wanted full creative freedom, and followed my vision, which is raising VPOP to the next level. But, as to any new and meaningful ventures, it’s extremely hard to be on my own with new label. Nothing is easy especially when we want to make a difference in this business. I can tell a lot of people don’t believe in my goals and vision, which is okay. It takes time and perseverance to instill belief, of which I am willing to invest. Thankfully, my family, friends and especially my entire AQ Entertainment team always push me, keep me on track, and keep things moving forward. When the glass feels half empty, it’s good to be reminded that it’s actually half full. “Teamwork makes dream work” .
Your music for “AQ3” focused on originality, what was the experience of working on this album?
ANDY: It was a huge challenge. We had to prepare for an entire year, which is quite rare for a Vietnamese album. From writing, instrumental productions, hours and hours of studio time, making music videos, working out seven days a week to get the magnificent physique. (Laughing) The entire team worked really hard on it, because we all believed that when “AQ3” dropped, AQ Entertainment would be represented as a label for new music and Andy Quach would be re-introduced as an artist, not just a performer. So, it was the making-a-statement album, and thank God our hard work didn’t go unnoticed.
The production quality for the album was very good and the collaboration with Huynh Nhat Tan and rapper Thai Foon was also great. What was it like working with these two?
ANDY: Mr. Huynh Nhat Tan is considered a big brother to me. He took me in and guided me through this arduous musical path ever since I got into the business. In my heart, I believe he’s the best producer; therefore, all my albums were executive produced by him. There would be no AQ (Andy Quach) today if it wasn’t for him. As for Thai Foon, hands down, he’s a talented rapper. I love the fact that whenever I gave him different tracks to write to, he’d always come back with multiple artistic flavors to compliment them. Besides Mr. Huynh Nhat Tan and Thai Foon, I have to give credit to my other teammates as well. My god-brother & co-founder of AQ Entertainment, Vinny Vo. If it wasn’t for his influence, his vision and his advice, AQ Entertainment wouldn’t even exist. Mic Vo & Timothy Wynn from FCI (First Class International), Long & Bill from Possessed Beats and Liby V for making me crazy beats. In addition, thanks to two
other rappers who go by the names of Higher and Vanity for their beautiful flows. Kevin Dinh for his amazing artwork. Last but not least, my little god-sister, Thao Nguyen, for being there for me from day one and for always lending me her ears whenever I needed to vent.
After “AQ3”, you released the compilation album “Chinese Melodies” and a remix album “Play Me”. First, let’s discuss “Chinese Melodies”, how did you become interested in Chinese music and what was your concept for this album?
ANDY: That’s a great question. I’m both Vietnamese/Chinese, so Chinese music was also a major part of my growing up. I knew that a lot of our older Vietnamese audience are familiar with and love those classic Chinese love songs. So, I thought I should show my appreciation and do something for these particular fans, while showing my Chinese side through the half Viet & half Chinese songs in the “Chinese Melodies” album. And the other meaningful incentive is that the album covers most of my and my parents’ favorite Chinese love songs. It was also dedicated to my parents. It still is their most favorite album by me (smile). So as you can see, I had great and wonderful reasons to do this project, as a performer.
And for “Play Me”, what was it like to make your first remix album and what talent was involved for the remixes?
ANDY: As for “Play Me”, that was simple because it’s a remix album of all my top hit songs. I just wanted to reintroduce them in a new and dancing light. I purposely chose the title “Play Me” to keep it fun. It’s just a playful project dedicated to the fans who prefer to dance and go crazy a bit before the stress get them crazy, opposite of the “Chinese Melodies” album so to speak. In terms of talent, I had young producers from Vietnam Trung Hieu, Europe Jay Wang and our own AQ Entertainment producers FCI, Possessed Beats & Liby V to add their own flavor, creativitity and perspective. Also, a great chance for us all to connect internationally through music.
In 2012, you released “Crossroads”. Two years in the making… What was the biggest difference in the making of this album versus “AQ3”?
ANDY: For every album, we always aim to raise the bar or take it to the next level. And because music always evolves with time, we want every album to be better than the last. The difference between the two albums was the combination of everything from the beats, the songs, the production, and especially the direction. For the beats, we had more producers for “CrossRoads.” I believe my song writing skill had improved by then, therefore the material sounded more mainstream. So the challenge was and is always about giving the fans what’s now—the sound of now. Cannot come out with new albums and only have old material on them all the time—sometimes is okay due to the nature of our industry, but not all the time. As mentioned, at some point, after much soul searching, I have to make a decision to transition from being a performer to being an artist by promoting originality. It’s not an easy decision, matter of fact it’s extremely hard in our industry and I understand it’s not for everyone. Therefore, I feel completely blessed to be able to transition into that artist side of me—becoming that true me.
I have to say that “Hua – Promise” was an exciting, upbeat track and your live performance and music video definitely showcased a good amount of choreography. But I’m curious about the song, how long did it take you to create and also for you and the dancers to get the choreography down?
ANDY: Yes I agree, this song was pretty interesting. I heard this song in my sleep, then popped up and finished writing the song within an hour. I knew it would be a hit, so I went ahead and released it before the album was even out. We also shot a music video for it and it was quite a big production that we put in. The challenge was the dancing. It’s a cool hip-hop song, so I had to dance. And as you all know, I’m not a dancer. But thanks to Christopher Cuenza for his awesome choreography and extra sessions, I was able to get all the moves down. So the whole process took about 2-3 weeks. I consider this track as one of my top five hit songs. I even got to perform it in Vietnam on a very special big live show. Loving it so much, I even released a remix version of it. You can find it on my youtube channel www.youtube.com/andyquachmusic.
I noticed a big difference in the production quality of your music videos from “Hua – Promise”, “Em Da Quen – Forgotten” and “De Em Ra Di – Letting You Go”. With many artists, they leave it up to the director to come up with the video but with your music videos, do you have creative input?
ANDY: Since it’s important for me to have control over my own artistic image, I got involved from beginning to the end of every project. For all the songs that I wrote, I always pictured myself in the storylines, so most of the ideas and concepts for the videos always started with me, then the director added on his input and vision.
In the making of “Crossroads”, what was the most challenging song to make in the album and why?
ANDY: I have to say “Hua – Promise” because of the big production that we put in. It was financially and time consuming. But the effort was worth it because we all knew it would be a hit.
Your upcoming album to be released this year is “Forever Love.” Can you tell us more about this album and what can fans expect?
ANDY: The “Forever Love” album is a very special album for me and Ngo Nhu Thuy, our newly signed artist with AQ Entertainment. It will be my very first duet album and it’s the first debut for her as well. With this album, fans get to hear and see a softer side of me due to a good number of ballads. It’s a different approach compared to all my solo albums; this will be more fitting and suitable for fans of all ages.
With the creative freedom you have as a music artist, what is your approach to how you deal with music now. Are you a perfectionist when it comes to the lyrics or sound of your music?
ANDY: Yes, I’m a perfectionist, and that’s why all of my albums take longer to be released. I have to pick the right lyrics, the right sound and especially the right flavor for me and the fans. Sometimes I frustrate people in my team just because of the details in every little thing. Not because I am being difficult, but more along the line of my love and respect for the art. But thanks to their patience, hard work, and especially their understanding that my goal is to produce the best material for our fans. The fans deserve the best from me, individually, and from our team, collectively.
For the music video “Forever Love”, you introduce Ngo Nhu Thuy. A stylish music video and a song with cool beats and a pretty solid duet. I noticed that there are a few songs on the upcoming album in which you are working with Ngo Nhu Thuy. How was the music collaboration between the two of you?
ANDY: As I mentioned, Ngo Nhu Thuy is our new artist, so I took her under my wings and tried to guide her with the best of my ability. I know if she’s presented in the right light, then she will make the AQ Entertainment family look good and vice versa. Her musical direction is a new challenge for me as well, because in addition to being an artist myself, I have to take on the role of a producer. So far, everything has gone well and I’m really happy with her progress.
As 2014 is around the corner, with the new album coming out, seeing how
your career has progressed since your first album, what is the biggest difference between Andy Quach now versus the Andy Quach when you released your first album? And what has been the biggest learning experience you have learned overtime of being a pop star?
ANDY: The biggest difference between the AQ back then and the AQ now is wisdom and maturity. Time has taught me to be patient, work hard, keep pushing the bar, never give up, gotta have love and respect, and above all, stay humble.
Let’s get to know more about you outside of the music industry, what are your interests or hobbies?
ANDY: Outside of the music industry, I’m just like any other regular guy. I love sports, video games, movies and enjoy having dinner with my friends.
If you have one word to describe yourself, what word would that be and why?
ANDY: “Fighter” because I don’t quit.
In my interviews we do a fun fill in the blank rapid question, I’m going to give you five sentences and you fill in the blank:
a. Each time I go to Vietnam, the food that I always have to eat is ________.
b. I love to see the audience’s reaction when I perform _________.
ANDY: My new songs
c. The last movie I watched in the theater was __________.
ANDY: “World War Z”
d. The music video that I really enjoyed filming was ___________.
ANDY: “Hua – Promise”
e. If I have to share a guilty pleasure that my fans do not know about, it would be___________.
ANDY: Playing a video game late at night. That is my relaxing time.
I know you have a few projects lined up to promote your upcoming album. What projects or events would you like to plug?
ANDY: Since my new duet album “Forever Love” has just released, we have plans to go on tour to promote the album. Our first stop will be in Sacramento on Oct. 18th and more will follow. So I hope that all my fans will come out, support, and get to hear me & Ngo Nhu Thuy perform live all the new songs from the album.
What would you like to say to your fans?
ANDY: For this, I would like to address my fans directly. I like to thank every one of you from all over the world for your love, support and acceptance through all the past years and the years to come. Out of appreciation, I promise I’ll keep on fighting and improving to give you my absolute best. AQ & AQ Entertainment will not disappoint you if great and original music is what you’re expecting.
Lastly, I would like to thank J!-ENT for giving me a chance to connect with all my fans, Vietnamese and non Vietnamese alike. From my heart, I appreciate you!
Photography by Kevin Dinh
In June 1993, J!-ENT was born. Originally a featured page on the Neo-Tokyo 2099 BBS, it quickly became the official website for entertainment and pop culture.
But J!-ENT was much different back then as it is now. Back then, it was a website that covered Asian Entertainment and Pop Culture. Before focusing on entertainment worldwide.
As we celebrate our 20-year anniversary, for our once-a-year special annual issue, we return to our roots of the type of coverage we did back then for this annual issue. Featuring a total of 575 pages, our largest yet, featured in this interview are:
On the music side, the 20th Anniversary Annual features interviews with Porno Graffitti, Home Made Kazoku, Aoi Eir, Luna Haruna, Kylee, Andy Quach, Hiroshi Uesugi. Plus AKB48 Group coverage and a special feature on AKB48 worldwide fandom. Plus excerpts from past J-Pop interviews which include TRF, Olivia, HYDE, Hitomi Shimatani, Maki Goto, Akko of My Little Lover and Toshinobu Kubota. Plus a few of J!-ENT’s J-Pop reviews from the 1990’s.
On the anime side, the 20th Anniversary Annual features Atsuko Ishizuka, Ayumi Fujimura, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Reki Kawahara, PSYCHO-PASS Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada. Plus excerpts from past interviews and articles from 1993-2013 which include Ryo Horikawa, Kappei Yamaguchi, Masahiro Ando, Kotono Mitsuishi, Aki Tsunaki, anime clubs and more!
Also featuring cosplay interviews and J!-ENT event coverage from a variety of events and conventions from March-September 2013.
Currently, we have the following available for download for FREE:
* If you have problems downloading, please try this mirror link of the file above.
* If you have problems downloading the above Zip file, please try this mirror link of the file above.
Since her television debut in 2010 on “Days of Our Lives”, we have seen a promising career for actress Kylie Bunburry.
From starring in the film “Prom” and “Sitter”, Kylie now stars in the hit ABC family drama series “Twisted”. A dark drama series about a 16-year-old named Danny Desai (portrayed by Avan Jogia) who killed his aunt when he was eleven years old. Having spent five years in juvenile detention, he returns back to his hometown of Green Grove, New York.
But quickly Danny learns that life in Green Grove has changed as people look at him differently. And to make things worse, when a classmate is murdered, the town thinks he is the person who committed the crime.
Now Danny works to clear his name but most importantly, to keep the secret of why he killed his aunt.
Kylie plays the character of Lacey Porter, once the best friend of Danny and now one of the most popular girls in school.
With the first half of season one coming to a close (and will return back in January 2014), actress Kylie Bunburry recently took part in a press Q&A.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A with Kylie Bunburry:
Moderator What was it about this character that really drew you to want to play her?
K. Bunbury I think what drew me to this character the most was her realistic reaction to Danny coming back and also the amount of layers that she has. She wasn’t immediately open, which I thought gave me a great platform to take my time and develop her. Obviously when you first meet her, she’s very cold and apprehensive to letting Danny back into her life and it takes her time. She acted the most realistic between her and Jo.
Moderator Was there anything about her that wasn’t scripted that you added to her?
K. Bunbury I think I added everything to her, really. When it comes to characters it’s really about putting yourself into these imaginary circumstances, so a lot of it is me.
Moderator Did you celebrate winning at The Teen Choice Awards?
K. Bunbury We didn’t do a lot of celebrating, no, but there was a lot of congratulatory text messages and phone calls, yes.
Moderator How does it feel to be part of a show that’s doing so well and such a hit with the fans?
K. Bunbury It’s absolutely wonderful. We all feel extraordinarily blessed to be a part of something that’s really cool and unique. Also, it’s one of those shows that has everything you want for the demographic. It has that whole murder mystery aspect and it has the focus on all these relationships. It’s truly great. I’m just very happy to be a part of it.
Moderator Is there anything that you’re hoping for your character in the new season?
K. Bunbury I’m hoping she warms up a bit because it’s hard to play this cold character the entire time. Yes, I really hope that she warms up a bit and that you get to see her goofy and silly side. I guess that’s just me saying I want people to see my goofy and silly side. I also hope that her and Jo’s relationship starts taking off and goes in a more positive direction.
Moderator Do you honestly think Danny will give up on his feelings for Lacey so easily in order to save his friendship with Jo?
K. Bunbury I don’t think he has given up on his feelings for Lacey. I think that he just knows what he needs to do at this time to salvage his relationship with Jo and also with Lacey, because Lacey sort of made the decision to no longer be with him. I think that their feelings for each other are very real and they’re there and you can’t just dismiss those just because of the circumstance.
Moderator How do you think the show will explore the storyline of the recent revelation that Lacey’s father is gay?
K. Bunbury I’m actually very excited to see more of Lacey’s home life. I don’t know what direction they’re planning on going, but I hope that they do explore it because it’s not something that you see very frequently. I’m actually very curious because I think that Lacey and her father can now have a relationship or the relationship that they never really had. I’m excited to see where they take that.
Moderator Do you think Lacey and Danny will patch things up?
K. Bunbury I’m not sure if they will, but what I do know is that the only reason that they’re not together is because of Danny’s lies. It’s not because they’ve lost interest in each other or lost feelings for each other.
Moderator Where do you see their relationship heading for the future?
K. Bunbury Their relationship is a little stifled right now. I think that until Danny comes out with all of the truth, that Lacey’s not going to put up with anything. That’s just me. I know if a guy continued to lie to me, it would take a lot for me to let him back in my life.
Moderator Is it possible that a romance between Lacey and Archie will kick off again?
K. Bunbury Anything is possible! I don’t think, for myself personally, that Lacey has those feelings for Archie anymore. I think that she respects him and she realizes that she definitely betrayed his trust. She hurt him as a friend and as someone that she cares about. I don’t think that she has romantic feelings for him any longer. I guess anything could happen and there are only so many guys on the show, so they could recycle the relationship.
Moderator What has been your favorite aspect of the Regina investigation and what do you think will stun viewers in the finale?
K. Bunbury The last minute of the show tomorrow night is the most shocking! When I read the script at the table read, we were all shocked. So that’s very exciting! You discover something bad about a character that you would never expect. You would never expect it from this person. It is someone that we know and love.
I’m curious about what is going on with necklace. What’s going on with that necklace? What does it mean? What does it all mean?
Moderator What has been your favorite episode so far that we’ve seen?
K. Bunbury I think my favorite episode would be episode ten, the one where Rico and Lacey become comrades of sorts.
Moderator What would be the biggest difference and similarity between yourself and Lacey?
K. Bunbury The biggest difference is that she is very controlled and not as welcoming or open to people when they first meet her — and that’s not how I am at all. The biggest similarity is probably that I relate to her a lot. Playing off that everything is okay is definitely something that I can relate to. Also her confidence with who she is!
Moderator What have been your fondest memories from Season 1?
K. Bunbury One of my fondest memories is just really developing this character and putting all myself into it. Also, becoming a family with the cast and crew and meeting the people that I’ve met. In terms of episodes all of them have been special to me!
Moderator Does the cast ever hang out together off camera?
K. Bunbury Yes! We all get along very well, so that’s great.
Moderator Did the cast do anything special on the last day of filming for the season?
K. Bunbury I had to leave the day after we wrapped so I wasn’t there for any specific celebrating!
Moderator Is it possible that the person in the Danny mask is someone completely off our radar, or will viewers feel it is blatantly obvious once their faces are revealed?
K. Bunbury I don’t even necessarily think that they’re going to reveal the faces under the masks. I think we pretty much know that Tyler was behind all of the pranks, so I don’t know if they’re going to be exploring that as much. “The nerd pet” just picked up a mask and put it on and recorded Danny and Lacey. Then we kind of know that Tyler was behind it all, but maybe there’ll be more to it! There’s so many other things in the finale that they’re leaving open ended.
Moderator Would you go for ‘bad boy’ Danny, ‘hot jock’ Archie, or someone else entirely if you were in Lacey’s position?
K. Bunbury I would go for Rico.
Moderator With Danny expelled, do you think Jo could forgive Lacey and become friends with her again?
K. Bunbury I’m sure she feels extremely betrayed by Danny because he kept that secret from her. I don’t think Danny being expelled will bring Lacey and Jo together right away. I think that it’s going to take some time, as it should, because that’s going to be hard for Jo, because she’s in love with Danny.
“Twisted” airs on ABC Family, Tuesdays 9/8c
We have seen actor Jean-Luc Bilodeau grow up on ABC Family. From “Kyle XY” to starring in the telefilm “16 Wishes” followed by the TV series “No Ordinary Family”. But this time, Bilodeau is the main actor in the new ABC family comedy series “Baby Daddy”.
The half-hour comedy series made its debut in June 2012 and was created by Dan Berendsen, known for his work on the TV series “The Nine Lives of Chloe King”, “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Hannah Montana: The Movie”.
“Baby Daddy” stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Ben, a man who’s ex-girlfriend left a baby girl on his door step. Now Ben, the surprised and inexperienced new father, must raise the baby with the help of his mother Bonnie (as portrayed by Melissa Peterman), his brother Danny (as portrayed by Derek Theler), his best friend Tucker (as portrayed by Tahj Mowry) and his close female friend Riley (as portrayed by Chelsea Kane), who happens to have a secret crush on him.
Actor Jean-Luc Bilodeau recently took part in a media Q&A to promote the third season of “Baby Daddy”.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A with Jean-Luc Bilodeau:
Moderator What are your hopes for Ben in Season 3?
J. Bilodeau My hopes for Ben were definitely to find a girl, find a more motherly figure for Emma. Having someone around for Emma is always important. I hope that he keeps his job. I hope that he doesn’t make any career moves. I feel that Ben being a bartender for the show keeps him young and funny. I don’t really look like a bartender, so I think it’s really kind of cool that I get to play one and I’ve never had a job like that before. So yes, keep the job, get a girl, and then just let the hilarity ensue. Let the writers just take control of each episode and make every episode a funny one.
Moderator What could you tease about Ben’s relationship with Riley?
J. Bilodeau Season 3 picked up where we left off in Season 2. We’re building the love triangle and turning it on fire a little bit. We give some closure to that love triangle at the end of Season 2 and it starts with Ben trying to make the move now. He’s realizing that she’s been into him for so long and it’s time for him to take advantage of it. He realizes that she’s probably the best example for Emma and he’s definitely working toward it. But I don’t want to tease too much. You got to watch the show!
Moderator How did you came to be on the show?
J. Bilodeau I just auditioned like every other normal actor out here. I got the first audition, went in for Alyson Silverberg – our casting director – and did a good job with her and then just moved up the line; worked with producers, director, and then went to the network and just climbed the ladder. I loved the script from the very beginning. I didn’t need to take much convincing to really work at it and to get on it, so my team and I really, really worked hard on it.
My relationship with ABC Family was great. I had already worked with them on a show for three and a half years, so it was time for me to be back on the network. It was painless, it really was. I had a really great time during that period finding Ben and working with Michael Lembeck – our director – he really helped me ground Ben and really find who his character was inside me. It was just a regular audition process and it only took about a week and a half from the first audition to getting the role. It was pretty painless.
Moderator Did you have to show how you could handle a baby in your auditions?
J. Bilodeau Yes, actually in the audition they had this weird toy. It almost looked like a dog toy, this little fluffy thing and that’s what we had to carry as a baby. Instead of using that, I brought in a hoodie and rolled it up and pretended that was the baby because I just couldn’t take myself seriously holding this big fluffy dog toy. It changed a lot, obviously. On day one we got the real baby. It was my first time ever handling a baby, so it was fun.
Moderator What do you find most rewarding about acting?
J. Bilodeau I’d say working with the people and the locations. I love film sets. I love the food. I love the people, the personalities; I guess just going to work every day is the best part. It’s a great setting. I don’t think I could ever have a desk job, so I get to be mobile. I’m on set. I get to walk around kind of doing my own thing, being independent — it’s just a really good vibe. Everyone on a film set is very happy and they all love their jobs, so it’s a cool environment to be a part of. Seeing whatever you’re working on, the show or the movie, seeing it progress from day one to the last day and seeing all the pieces put together, it takes a village, but it’s fun. If everyone works well and everyone is cohesive, it’s a really, really, really rewarding experience.
Moderator If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do while you were there?
J. Bilodeau I’ve always really, really wanted to go to Egypt and go inside some pyramids and just hang out there. I don’t know why. I don’t like hot weather and I don’t like the desert, but something about the pyramid and the mummies and all their history there, I’d love to go check it out. I want to sky dive in every cool country I go to, so I’ll probably sky dive. I want to travel through some pyramids and stuff. Maybe wake up a mummy.
Moderator Have you ever been able to use your dancing talents on Baby Daddy?
J. Bilodeau Yes, we did a dance episode in Season 1. I believe it was Season 1, Episode 7. We had another dance episode, and when I say dance episode, I mean we’re not all dancing the whole episode. It’s not a musical. We just have a moment in the script that I break out in some dance moves. But yes, I danced for quite a while and the producers know that. It’s been such a long time since I’ve taken a class, so it’s always very nerve wracking for me and I’m my hardest critic. I would dance for ten years and the producers and writers like writing that in, so I’ve had to use it a couple of times.
Moderator Are there any chances of us seeing you on Dancing with the Stars any time soon?
J. Bilodeau I’ve thought about it. I think I’d do pretty well, just because of my dance background. I don’t know if it’s the right time for me to go on that show, but Chelsea did it and I work with her and she loved the experience. It’s something to think about in the future definitely.
Moderator Could you talk a little bit about what it’s like working with your cast?
J. Bilodeau It’s so great. I’ve been blessed with an amazing cast to work with. Ever since the beginning, I’ve worked with the people on Kyle XY and they were amazing. I never thought I’d be able to equalize to that. I never thought I’d be able to work with such an amazing group of people again and I did.
Now I’m working on Baby Daddy and these people are just as great as the people on Kyle XY. It’s a really great group. We’re all so different from each other, which makes it so funny and unique. We’re just such a weird looking group of people together you know. We just like to have fun and we like to just make each other laugh and there’s no ego. There’s no tough personalities; we’re all very easy going.
We just want to get our work done and have some fun and make a good TV show. We’re all friends hanging out with the cast on weekends and after work during the week is a regular thing, so we all love each other very much. It’s a great, great, great chemistry we have.
Moderator With summer coming to an end, what are you looking forward to in the fall? Are you a hockey fan?
J. Bilodeau Definitely, that’s number one! Hockey is coming up pretty soon. I think I have about a month left until the first preseason game starts. Fall is my favorite my time of the year. I love it. I’ll try and make it back to Vancouver a bunch. I love going back home for that. Everything turns orange. You start to get out of summer, start making your way into the winter, everyone is wearing jackets. Vancouver lights up in the fall, so I definitely go back there for a bit. I just want to spend some time with my family. I love that season, and then winter and start snowboarding!
Moderator What guest stars might be coming up on Baby Daddy?
J. Bilodeau We have a bunch! We had Matt Dallas recently. We also have Greg Grunberg coming back as my dad. Wayne Brady was on earlier this season.
Lacey Chabert comes on and plays about six episodes and she’s absolutely incredible. We have Caroline Rhea play Riley’s mom. We have a ton of really great people to work with. We had a really great line-up of people to work with this season, especially Lacey Chabert. She’s the nicest human being on the planet. We love her. We wish she could just come back on the show and be a series regular, she’s so funny.
Moderator What celebrity guest star would you like to have appear on the show?
J. Bilodeau I love That 70’s Show and I would love to have Topher Grace somehow come on the show as a guest star. I know he doesn’t really do guest stars at all, but he’s super funny. I’d love to rehash his character from That 70’s Show into our show somehow. I think it’d be really funny. He’s an extraordinary actor, a great comedic actor and he’s cool.
Moderator Do you tune in to watch any other ABC Family shows besides Baby Daddy?
J. Bilodeau A little bit. I don’t want TV that often. I’ll watch Melissa & Joey sometimes before Baby Daddy. I’m friends with Lucy Hale, so I’ve Pretty Little Liars a couple times. I have watched Twisted, my buddy Avan Jogia is on that show. I don’t watch that much TV, I think I should probably watch a little bit more, but I love the ABC Family shows.
Moderator Do you have any other projects that you’re working on besides Baby Daddy?
J. Bilodeau Nothing right now, I’m just working on Baby Daddy. We’re halfway through Season 3 right now and we’ve got 15 more episodes to shoot, so I’m working all the way till January. Hopefully I can line something up afterwards, but I’m just working on my show and focusing on Ben and his baby.
Baby Daddy is seen on Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family
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: