J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith interviews Andy Quach (Web Version) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

October 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


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.

Download the Interactive PDF version of the interview


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

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 ________.
ANDY:  Pho

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


J!-ENT 20th Anniversary Annual (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles) – 575 Pages!

October 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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:

J!-ENT 20th Anniversary (Low-Res Version) – 58.2 MB

* If you have problems downloading, please try this mirror link of the file above.

J!-ENT 20th Anniversary (Mid-Res Version) – PDF inside ZIP FILE (109MB)

* If you have problems downloading the above Zip file, please try this mirror link of the file above.

J!-ENT 20th Anniversary (Hi-Res Version) (1.8GB)

Andy Quach solo interview only


Media Q&A with Kylie Bunbury of ABC Family’s “Twisted” (2013) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


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


Media Q&A with Jean-Luc Bilodeau of ABC Family’s “Baby Daddy” (2013) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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


Media Q&A with Katie Leclerc of ABC Family’s “Switched At Birth” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles) (2013)

August 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


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.


Day 2 at D23 Expo (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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.”

D23 EXPO – Hollywood Records recording artist Bridgit Mendler performs at Disney’s D23 Expo, the ultimate event for Disney fans at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California (August 10). (D23 EXPO/Matt Petit) DISNEY FANS. © 2013 Disney

D23 EXPO – Hollywood Records recording artist Bridgit Mendler performs at Disney’s D23 Expo, the ultimate event for Disney fans at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California (August 10). (D23 EXPO/Matt Petit) BRIDGIT MENDLER © 2013 Disney

D23 EXPO – Cast of Kickin’ It greet fans and sign autographs at Disney’s D23 Expo, the ultimate event for Disney fans at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California (August 9). (D23 EXPO/Matt Petit) LEO HOWARD, JASON EARLES, OLIVIA HOLT, DYLAN RILEY SNYDER © 2013 Disney

D23 EXPO – DISNEY LEGENDS CEREMONY – Anaheim, California (August 10, 2013) – Those who have contributed to the creative legacy of The Walt Disney Company were honored in a special presentation, hosted by Tom Bergeron. The full list of honorees includes renowned celebrities, technology pioneers and artists. (D23 EXPO/Jordan Murph) JOHN GOODMAN, BILLY CRYSTAL © 2013 Disney

D23 EXPO – LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN: LIVE ACTION AT THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS – Anaheim, California (August 10, 2013) – The Walt Disney Studios showcases the Studios’ exciting live-action release slate, including Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Tomorrowland,” “Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World,” and much more. (D23 EXPO/Jordan Murph) TOM HIDDLESTON, NATALIE PORTMAN © 2013 Disney

D23 EXPO – LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN: LIVE ACTION AT THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS – Anaheim, California (August 10, 2013) – The Walt Disney Studios showcases the Studios’ exciting live-action release slate, including Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Tomorrowland,” “Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World,” and much more. (D23 EXPO/Richard Harbaugh). ANGELINA JOLIE. © 2013 Disney

Here are videos from D23 Expo on Saturday:

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Media Q&A with Cierra Ramirez (2013) (of ABC Family’s “The Fosters”) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


Cierra Ramirez has come a long way as an actress.  From earlier roles on “CSI: Miami”, “Desperate Housewives”, Cierra would eventually appear in multiple episodes of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and on the final season of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and her first feature film with Ava Mendes in the 2012 film “Girl in Progress”.

And now, Cierra Ramirez stars in the ABC drama “The Fosters”, playing the character Mariana Foster.

The series revolves around a bi-racial lesbian couple Lena (portrayed by Sherri Saum) and Stef (portrayed by Teri Polo) who raise a biological son and several adoptive children. Lena, an altruistic school principal wants to save children and tries to introduce new children into the family, while Stef is a police officer who is not always aware that Lena has brought new additions to their growing family. Especially with the addition of Callie (portrayed by Maia Mitchell), a troubled teenager who is known to turn family’s lives upside down.

In the series, the character of Mariana Foster is one of the adopted daughters who is the fraternal twin sister of Jesus.  She is popular, smart and cares for her appearances a lot.  But she has recently connected with her real mother who needs money and so Mariana resorts to drug trafficking.  But when she gets in trouble, she puts the blame on the new adopted and troubled girl of the family, Callie.

“The Fosters” airs on Mondays on ABC Family, 9/8 central.

Recently, ABC Family held a media Q&A with Cierra Ramirez to promote the show.  Here is a transcript from the Q&A:


Moderator    How will the relationship with Mariana’s mother continue to evolve this season?

C. Ramirez    I would definitely say that Mariana’s secrets will definitely come up and haunt her. She still has to go through what happened in all the betrayal and the lies and the secrets and it’s all going to come back and she’s going to have to deal with it.  So, it’s not the last that you will see of her.

Moderator    Are there any other projects that you’re working on during the upcoming break?

C. Ramirez    At the moment, I am not.  I am in Houston, Texas right now visiting with friends and family, so I’m busy with that.  But I still am auditioning so if anything comes my way that would definitely change.

Moderator    Can you tell me a little bit about the reactions you’ve been getting from people about the themes of the show?  What kind of things have you been hearing, positive or negative?

C. Ramirez    The biggest reward I usually love as an actress is getting feedback and seeing different audience members relate to the character or the plot or anything like that and, thankfully, everyone has been so positive.  People have found this very relatable and universal, so it’s really fun to hear lots of people’s stories and seeing how they can just interact with the show, so it’s been a blessing.

Moderator    Do you think a show like this can make people change their minds on the topic of same sex marriage?

C. Ramirez    I definitely do think that it could, it’s about time a show like this has been on the air.  There’s never been anything like it and it’s about time.  It has perfect timing with everything that’s going on in the world and with Prop 8 and stuff like that. I think it can help people become a little bit more open to the idea of it, to same sex marriage and the idea that families being raised in certain households like that do turn out all right.

Moderator    What was your reaction to this story and the characters that were in it?

C. Ramirez    I’m a sucker for mom and daughter stories.  I love being able to relate to that and being in other people’s shoes.  But I just was so drawn to the writing.  I thought it was so real. Like I said before, it’s time that a show like this has been aired.  I just fell in love with the script, every single one of the characters.

I think they’re all amazing and people can really identify with their cleverness and their wittiness and I just think it’s great.

Moderator    Were you able to pick your character?

C. Ramirez    No, I wasn’t able to choose.  My auditioning process was actually very strange.  I literally auditioned for the show the day I found out that the series I was on, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, was not getting picked up for another season.

I put myself on tape.  They were testing for the role of Mariana and I didn’t think I’d make it in time, but I later found out that I did get the role.  So, it was really fast, but it was such a blessing to just hop on from one project to another.

Moderator     Could you talk a little bit about your character in your words for people that may have not yet watched The Fosters?

C. Ramirez    Mariana is a 15-year-old girl.  She’s very optimistic and with that comes a lot of curiosity, especially coming from a fostering background.  She’s very curious in finding out about her background, where she comes from.  So, she gets in contact with her birth mom and goes behind her parents’ back so she gets herself into a lot of the trouble and a lot of betrayal, a lot of secrets.

Moderator    What quality do you love about her?

C. Ramirez    I love her wittiness.  That’s one thing.  I’m not very witty, so I can kind of live vicariously through her.  She has very good comebacks. Whereas I would just kind of take it and put a smile on my face.  But she’s very witty and very fashionable and even though she does get herself into a lot of trouble, she does have a very good heart.  So, I really love that about her.

Moderator    How is being on The Secret Life of the American Teenager different from The Fosters?

C. Ramirez    It’s very different in the sense that when I got on Secret Life it was already in its fifth season, so I was the newcomer with all of these people who had been bonding for four years and they were family, not only cast mates.  So, it was a change, but everyone was so welcoming and so warm that I wouldn’t have really known any difference.

But, it was actually really fun to go through the whole pilot experience with the cast of The Fosters.  So, we’ve gone from the get-go and it’s really been fun.  It’s been a blast.

Moderator    Is there ever a time with Mariana when you just kind of want to shake her and steer her in a different direction than she goes?

C. Ramirez    Of course.  But I do know, she’s 15, she’s growing, she’s going to make these mistakes and that’s what it’s all about.  I know that she is a little bit more adventurous than other 15-year-olds may be, but she does have a very good heart.  So, I know that no matter what she goes through it’ll all turn out well in the end.  I am genuinely a fan of the show, so I love reading the different scripts, getting them, I just love it.  I love getting to know what’s new with Mariana, what trouble she’s in.

Moderator    Is her relationship with Jesus going to continue to improve or are there going to be more roadblocks for them?

C. Ramirez    I think so, because she has kind of accepted the fact that he is dating her best friend and she’s going to have to deal with it, whether she likes it or not.  She can’t let go of the few people that she loves.  So, I definitely think that their relationship will get better.

Moderator    How do you define family?

C. Ramirez    This show, in particular, definitely goes along with the ABC Family slogan, “A New Kind of Family”.  And that’s definitely what I think it is.  But family for me is someone, or it could be anyone; you don’t have to be related to them, just like in the show, but it’s someone or a group of people that will accept you no matter what, through thick and thin and will always be there for you and love you unconditionally.

Moderator    What are conservative groups who don’t watch the show missing?

C. Ramirez    I definitely think it’s just the openness.  They need to have more of an open mind to something that’s such a big deal right now.  It’s the biggest thing in the world right now.  It’s a big issue and it needs to be more open.  That’s what I love about this project.  I’m hoping that it can get through to lots of different families and it can become a better issue.

Moderator    How does it make you and your cast members feel that The Fosters has been nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the category of Best TV Breakout Show?

C. Ramirez    We actually all found out together.  The producers told us and we were all on set.  We were freaking out, I mean, literally.  It still hasn’t even really hit me.  But I’m, along with the audience, I’m there voting.  I’m voting every day.  I’m very excited and I can’t wait to see what the outcome is.  I’m just really excited no matter what. And the fact that it was nominated four episodes into it is such a blessing.

Moderator    Does anyone on the cast plan on going to the Teen Choice Awards?

C. Ramirez    I think everyone is.  We’re all excited.  Definitely.

Moderator    Could you talk a little bit about what it’s like working with Maia Mitchell, Jake T. Austin and the rest of the cast?

C. Ramirez    They are just so amazing.  They’re actually my reason to wake up every morning.  It’s such a blessing to come to work with such amazing and talented people.  I can’t stress that enough.  It makes work fun.  It’s not work.  It’s constant laughter whenever we’re filming, on and off screen, so it’s just an amazing group of people and I’m so blessed to know them and work with them every day.

Moderator    Which episode is your favorite?

C. Ramirez    I would definitely have to be a little biased and say the Quinceanera.  Mainly because who wouldn’t love being dressed up for a whole week like that.  I never actually had a Quinceanera, so I got to experience one through Mariana and it’s televised, so I mean it’s the best of both worlds.  So, it was a really fun episode and the dance scene was probably my favorite.  We had to rehearse for that, so that was really fun.

Moderator    Who has influenced you as an actress and who you would love to work with someday?

C. Ramirez    That’s a good question.  I would definitely have to say Angelina Jolie, which is something I know everyone says.  But I just love her so much as an actress and as a human being.  I just love everything she does.  I respect all of her work.  There’s not one project that she’s ever done that I’ve never been a fan of.

I think she’s just so passionate and I would love to follow in her footsteps one day.

Moderator    Are there any really funny behind-the-scenes moments on set?

C. Ramirez    There has definitely been some funny moments.  I think it would have to do a lot with phones on set, because we’re all so very tech savvy. We’re always on our phones, every single one of the cast members.  So, it’s really funny when a certain cast member’s phone will go off in the middle of a scene while we’re filming because that happens a lot.

It’s really bad, but it happens a lot to me.  I’m very well known for hiding my phone in really weird places.  I can hide it in a refrigerator during a scene or under that bed. It’s pretty bad, but at the end of the day we can all laugh at it.

Moderator    Has your new dog gotten into any trouble when you’ve brought her to set?

C. Ramirez    I’m actually playing with her right now, it’s so funny.  I’ve actually tried to smuggle her onto the lot, but they’re pretty strict about that.  So, she has gotten into some trouble.  Well, that cute little thing, how could she get in trouble?

Moderator    What kind of film roles are you looking for now or what do you hope comes across your table in the next two years?

C. Ramirez    The roles I’m definitely looking for taking on are, generally the roles have been in; I’ve gone into different roles with the same mindset.  I’ve loved taking on roles that have a very universal message that lots of people can identify and relate to – and at the end of the day can get people talking.

I’m actually a very dark person so I really want to get into some really dark roles, maybe some thrillers.  I’ve never done one of those, so I think I’d really want to get into that, but definitely something that would get lots of people talking.

Moderator    What do you think of a show that comes along like Devious Maids that portrays Latina’s in that light?  

C. Ramirez    I usually try to get into roles that are very universal.  I try to stay away from those stereotypes, mainly because I just feel like every role that comes my way is a gardener’s daughter or something like that.  But, it’s just the way you make it.

With Girl In Progress you saw, my mother was a struggling teen mother, who was struggling with two different jobs.  She was a maid and she was working in a restaurant as a waitress.  So, I mean it really just depends.  I’m for them.  I just try to stay away from them.  I don’t really care for stereotypes.

Moderator    Is there a certain film that is your favorite?

C. Ramirez    I would definitely have to say Girl Interrupted.  I can watch that so many times.  I can watch it four times a day and still want more.  I love Angelina Jolie, obviously.  I love different roles, just getting into it, something that’s the complete opposite of who I am.  I love a challenge, so I would definitely love something like that.

Moderator    How do Mariana’s parents [Stef and Lena] take to finding out what she has been up to?

C. Ramirez    Well, the idea of meeting her biological mother had come up in previous episodes.  They had been asking her if she wanted to and she told her parents that she wasn’t ready. But she was still in contact with her mother, even though she said she wasn’t.

That’s definitely going to come up, the idea that we did tell you that we were ready for you to meet her, but you told us and you still went behind our backs.  There’s a trail and it’s all going to unravel. So I guess we’ll just have to see.

Moderator    How was it on set when you guys were shooting the last episode of the season?

C. Ramirez    The last episode of the season probably had to be one of my most favorite filming processes.  It was very giddy.  The whole set, everyone just kind of felt like it was the last week of school in a way.  It kind of was.  It was very fun and you’ll just have to see, it’s a very extravagant, very big episode.  So, that alone, it was just so fun to film and everyone was just having a blast.  I miss them already, though.

Moderator    Did the cast do anything together on the last day of filming?

C. Ramirez    We weren’t all filming together on the last day.  There were certain people that had wrapped on a certain day of the week, so we weren’t all there together.  But I fortunately had the last scene of the last episode, so I was there for everyone, the entire cast, the entire day until wrap.

The producers and creators of the show all had a champagne toast at the end.  I wasn’t there for the wrap party, but this was my wrap party, so I got to say goodbye and thank you so much to everyone.  It was bittersweet.  I cried.  I’m a crybaby.

Moderator    Do you ever get a chance to make it to any of the Disney parks since you are under the big Disney umbrella?

C. Ramirez    Oh, my gosh, yes.  I actually just went the other day for a premiere, but I didn’t get to ride any of the rides, except the Cars ride.  I’ve only been to Disneyland and California Adventures, but it was such a blast.  I’m working on getting my year pass so that’s been really fun.

Moderator    What is your favorite Disney character?

C. Ramirez    I definitely have to go with Ariel.  I loved The Little Mermaid growing up.

Moderator    What is your favorite Disney Park worldwide?

C. Ramirez    I’ve only been to one, so I would definitely have to say probably California Adventures, because I’m growing up and those are kind of the more adventurous rides.

Moderator    What is your favorite Disney ride?

C. Ramirez    The Hollywood Tower of Terror.

Moderator    How about your favorite Disney food or restaurant?

C. Ramirez    Favorite Disney food or restaurant; This is not a very Disney restaurant at all, but I love the fact that every time I go to Starbucks they have those little Disney cups.  For my birthday I went, I think it’s called Club 33. The little secret room, so that was really fun.  Not that many people I know have gone, so that was a blast.

S. Sander    What is your favorite Disney movie?

C. Ramirez    The Little Mermaid.

For more information on “The Fosters”, please visit the official website.


Katie Tardiff of ABC Family’s “The Vineyard” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Alfonso Ribeiro on ABC Family’s “Spell-Maggedon” (ABC FAMILY)

Currently airing on ABC Family is the new original docu-series, “The Vineyard”, created and executive-produced by David Broome (“Biggest Loser”) and Brian Smith (“Masterchef”).

Set on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, the series follows a group of locals and transplants living together for the summer.  Seven girls and four guys which includes a Latin pop princess, a romantic and pre-med student.

But living under tight quarters, rivalry sets in and it becomes a summer of trouble but also romance.

To promote the new series, Katie Tardiff of “The Vineyard” recently participated in an ABC Family media Q&A.

On the show, Katie is pursuing a fashion career and wanting to make a difference in the world.  She is also unsure if her boyfriend of 4 years is the person she wants to be with for the rest of her life.  So, she has participated in the show to find out if time away from her boyfriend will help her decide if her boyfriend is her true love or not or if it’s time to move on with her life.

Here is a transcript from the Q&A session with Katie:


Moderator    This show The Vineyard is a little different than what’s on the network now days.  Could you talk a little bit about how you got involved with the show?

Katie    I had done a photo shoot for a small company on Martha’s Vineyard and I’m actually not entirely sure of how it was passed along, but someone involved with that had passed along my information to the producers.  They knew I had summered there and spent a bunch of time there, and Yong Yam, one of the executive producers, called me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of it.  It kind of all went from there.  It was this past November she gave me a call, and that’s kind of it.

Moderator    What can viewers look forward to specifically from you on the new season?

Katie    It’s pretty common for people my age to be confused about what they want to do with their life.  I feel like people ten, twenty years ago they’d graduate from school and it was right to a job.  Now I think people are spending more time trying to kind of figure out what they want to do.  They’re taking a year off.  They’re going abroad to kind of get a grasp of the bigger picture and get a better feel for what they want to do instead of jumping right in to things.  That’s where I am in the show.  I’m working in the city in fashion, but at the same time I’m traveling and I understand that there are more important things in the world.  Then, of course, there’s the relationship – I’ve been in a four year relationship and that’s not easy either.  People are getting married and I’m at a place where I’m asking, “Well, is this the person that I want to be with the rest of my life?”  It’s difficult.  I met him when I was very young so it’s trying to find myself, to sum it up.

Moderator    Can you tell us a little bit about the show, so what to expect?

Katie    You can expect kind of a little bit of everything.  The cast is beautiful.  We lived it up all summer.  It’s a mix of doing amazing things all over the island to people’s relationships, to infinite relationship, to best friends and trying to get over certain issues that people have with each other and the whole process of coming to a new place and meeting new people and kind of being forced to form relationships with them, which is always going to have an interesting ending to it.  You can’t expect to stick a bunch of new people together and not have something interesting come out of it – you’ll have to watch.

Moderator    Did you know anyone in the show before it started?

Katie    I knew a couple of people that I had met on the island beforehand.  I had spent some summers there so I knew Jackie, Gabby, and Lou beforehand.

Moderator    Are you guys all still close now that you guys are done taping?

Katie    Oh yeah!  We have a group text that we’re all always texting, sending pictures, and saying things like, “Oh my god, did you see this article?”  So yes, we stay in touch and everyone is great.

For more information on “The Vineyard”, please visit the official website here.


J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 – Day One by Dennis A. Amith and Angelo Delos Reyes (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

July 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It has now become one of the must goto events for Japanese pop culture fans in California.

The first day of the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 brought several thousand people to Japantown in San Francisco on July 27th.

And for their fifth year, organizers of the event wanted to go bigger and better, so this year’s  pop culture-themed street fair would incorporate music, fashion, cinema, art, anime, cosplay, architecture and cuisine.  But also incorporate a Sunday concert not in Japantown but at Union Square.

Among the guests at this year’s event include pop and fashion icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu; The American debut for all female rock band LoVendoЯ led by recent Morning Musume graduate, Tanaka Reina; art director and founder of 6%DOKIDOKI, Sebastian Masuda; “PES project: NEXT GENERATION “CROSS COLLABORATION” director Hidekazu Kohara; voice-over actors/pop unit Sweety (Yui Hasegawa, Sayaka Takenouchi and Yurika Takagi), rock band The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass; pop artist Kylee; the human beat box DAICHI; architect Kyohei Sakaguchi; “Library Wars” director Shinsuke Sato; “Dreams for Sale” director Miwa Nishikawa; animator Katsuya Terada; and Harajuku Kawaii models Eva, Ayumi Seto, Yura and Saki Sato.

The day began with a press conference featuring Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Sebastian Masuda and the Kawaii models.  Despite having traveled the world, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu explained to the press that this was her first time visiting San Francisco.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu told the media, “As you already know, I have been to Los Angeles and New York on tour.  This is my first time in San Francisco and I have yet still to walk around the city but I want to see the fans in San Francsico.  And the message I want to make is that we have been working hard in putting together this dream project because we wanted to bring the experience of shopping in Harajuku to San Francisco.”

Sebastian Masuda talked about bringing Kawaii culture to America.  Masuda said, “When we started, it was a niche market.  Now that (Kawaii) has grown to a mass appeal, we wanted to move forward and try something new and convey and this Kawaii culture to more and more people.”

When discussing her reaction to her growing international fanbase, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu said, “I was quite surprised about the reaction overseas, because when we made those music videos, we were making them for the Japanese audience.  But when it went up on YouTube, reaction was coming from all around the world.  I was very surprised but it makes me very happy!”

After the press conference, many people attending the festival showed their interest of purchasing the Harajuku inspired clothing and merchandise at the New People store.

Felicia Gonzalez of Cerritos, California traveled all the way north to the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 with a group of her friends, dressed in their lolita outfits.  A regular attendee to the event for the past three years, Felicia was excited for the event to see Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and the Kawaii models but also a fan of Sebastian Masuda’s work.

“I love Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s fashion sense.  She inspires many people around the world and today, me and several of my friends are hoping to shop at the New People store.  Each time we come here, we end up spending a lot but this is an event that me and my friends are really excited about!  I’m still surprised that Kyary and Sebastian are here at this event!  I hope I can meet them,” Felicia said.

For Anthony Medina of Milpitas, California talked about his first time attending the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL.

Anthony explained, “I haven’t attended the previous festivals but I am a big Morning Musume fan and since Tanaka Reina graduated from the group earlier this year, I have been following her rock band LoVendoЯ.  I was surprised to find out that she was coming to this event!  So, I’m waiting to get an autograph and maybe take a picture with her later today.  I’m really excited to see her and to also watch Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s performance.  But also, to watch DAICHI perform, as I follow him on YouTube.  I’m also looking forward to watching Kylee and SWEETY perform but also finally getting a chance to watch ‘Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo’!  I have been waiting to watch that film, so I’m really looking forward to watching it.”


The first day of the J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 featured the opening ceremony which included a sake barrel breaking, Takara Sake USA presented a performance with human beat box DAICHI, a Vocaloid Dance Contest SOLO competition, guest of honor Director Miwa Nishikawa, a Harajuku Kawaii! Event, a music performance by pop artist Kylee, artist Katsuya Terada, J-POP IDOL 2013, a music performance by The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass and concluded with performances by the voice actor trio Sweety and LoVendoЯ.

While many anime and cinema fans came for the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco to watch “Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo”, “How to Build a House”, “Lesson of the Evil” and “Dreams for Sale”.

The J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 concludes on Sunday, July 28th with a fashion contest by BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT, a performance by human beatbox DAICHI, a Vocalloid Dance Contest GROUP competition, artist Kyohei Sakaguchi, CAL Raijin Taiko, Pocky Eating Conest, Slime Girls, a Real Escape Game, the Cosplay Masquerade in Japantown.

While at Union Square from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., a free live outdoor concert featuring Kylee, LoVendoЯ, DAICHI and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Meanwhile for the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, screenings of “Wolf Children”, “Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower”, “Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II” and “Rurouni Kenshin”.


Media Q&A with Alfonso Ribeiro of ABC Family’s “Spell-Maggedon” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

July 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Alfonso Ribeiro on ABC Family’s “Spell-Maggedon” (ABC FAMILY)

When it comes to recognizable talents of the ’80s and ’90s, Alfonso Ribeiro is one of those talents.

Known for playing the leading role on the Broadway musical “The Tap Dance Kid”, his dancing would lead him to appear on the popular 1984 Pepsi commercial featuring Michael Jackson.

This big break would lead Ribeiro to prime time television, appearing on the popular ’80s show “Silver Spoons”.

But for many, it’s his notable role as Carlton Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-1996) that many still remember Ribeiro for and his memorable “Carlton Dance” to Tom Jones “It’s Not Unusual”.

Since then, Ribeiro has hosted game shows such  as “Your Big Break” and “Catch 21” and has directed episodes for television series such as “Meet the Browns”, “Are We There Yet?”, “Things We Do For Love” and “Shake It Up”.

Now, Alfonso Ribeiro will host a new primetime game show on ABC Family titled “Spell-Mageddon”.

To promote the new game show, Alfonso Ribeiro recently participated in an ABC Family media Q&A.  Here is a transcript from the Q&A session.


Moderator    Could you talk a little bit about how you got involved with the show?

A. Ribeiro    I went in and they had called my management and my agents and wanted to see if I’d come in and be interested in reading or doing a screen test for the show.  I felt like the idea was something that was really kind of interesting and intriguing to me.  I definitely went in.  I met with them.  I did a little screen test to see how it all worked.

ABC Family and the producers decided, I guess, that I was the right one for it.  We just jumped right in and we started filming, literally, like ten days later.  It was a quick jump in, but something that seemed really exciting and fun to do.

Moderator    How familiar do you get with the contestants?

A. Ribeiro    You can only get so familiar with them, obviously, because it is a competition.  You never want to give up anything or let them know what’s coming ahead or anything of that nature.  You really are not allowed to talk much with them.

Obviously, our producers do a full interview with them.  I have the paperwork on each contestant and kind of know their bio; the highs, the lows, why they’re playing, what they’re good at, what they do in their life.  I have a lot of information on each contestant, obviously, before the show starts.  We’re not really allowed to do too much interaction.

Moderator    What do you feel is going to set this game show apart from maybe other game shows?

A. Ribeiro    I think that we’ve obviously spent, at least for me, a lifetime of watching game shows, and ultimately it’s all about the competition.  We’ve watched these spelling bees forever.  The difference here is that it’s still a spelling bee but the distractions really kind of set it apart.  It’s really a comedy show whereas most game shows is really simply about the game and how do you play it and who’s going to win.  All of that still exists, but with the comedy aspect in terms of the distractions, the things that we are doing to these contestants are amazing.

We’ve got one game called Zapped where they’re trying to spell these words [while] we’re zapping them.  Then we also have water that we’re shooting in their face and we’ve got a fire extinguisher going off on their back.  We have blue icy slushes dumped on their head all while trying to spell; never knowing which one is coming next.  The reactions of the contestants are priceless.
For me, what I really find that’s going to set it apart is the comedy of all of this.  Obviously, this is on ABC Family’s comedy Wednesdays following Melissa and Joey and Baby Daddy.  I think that the comedy aspect of this show is what’s really going to drive people to the show and keep people coming back week after week.  It is really, really funny.  Every episode that we’ve shot I’m laughing in the episode because I can’t do anything other than laugh.  It really is just that funny.  I think that’s what will set it apart.

Moderator    How do you go about preparing yourself to host such a show?

A. Ribeiro    You prepare yourself by listening.  You ultimately learn how the games are played, what your part in driving the game, moving it along, keeping it moving.  Ultimately, just being on your feet, thinking on your feet, ready for what’s coming up.  It’s really a lot of ad lib.  Ultimately, I bring us into the game.  I take us out of the game, but in between while the game is being played I’m just ad libbing with the contestants.  I’m rooting for them.  I’m laughing with them.  I’m laughing at them.  It’s all kind of connected.

I don’t think that there’s really any preparation for this until you get in there and kind of see what it’s going to be and you just go with your natural instincts.  I think that’s basically what I did.  I just kind of went with whatever I felt in each segment.  It feels like it really worked.

Moderator    What do you think it is about these spelling competitions that are intriguing to so many people?

A. Ribeiro    I think most of those spelling bees are with kids.  Our show is very different.  We have adults doing it.  It’s the idea of there are words that we kind of know.  The real spelling bees where there are words that we have no idea what they mean, the fact that these young kids are able to know what the words are, understand the meaning, the country of origin, all of those types of things; I think it’s quite fascinating.

What we do on our show that’s a little different is obviously we’re not taking words that people have never heard of.  We’re taking words that people absolutely have heard and used and use in a daily basis and should know the spelling, but our distractions are what really take us in a very different way than those spelling bees.  We’re having fun with these crazy distractions.

We’ve got one game where we have a dunk tank and we’ve got these kick balls and we’re launching these kick balls into the bull’s-eye.  Every time it hits the bull’s-eye our contestants get dunked into literally ice cold water.  We fill the dunk tank up with ice.  Then we fill it up with water.  We let it sit for 15 minutes so that it melts enough that it’s really just mostly super, super, super cold water.  While dunking them into this tank while making them spell, the reactions are hysterical.

I think that people are fascinated with the spelling bee.  When I got involved with the show, when I really saw the idea and kind of saw how it was being done I was like, duh.  This is one of those shows were you go, this is an obvious television show.  I think America, when they see it, will fall in love with it.  I think it’s just so funny.  It’s so much fun to watch.  The contestants are having fun while having all these things done to them and it’s really cool.

Moderator    Do you think people are going to watch the show for the spelling since it’s a little more lowbrow?

A. Ribeiro    I disagree with the lowbrow aspect of that.  Obviously, the spelling bees are maybe super brow versus being an everyday show.  I don’t think it’s lowbrow in any way because we’re not spelling cat.  We’re not spelling dog.  We’re spelling psychedelic, psychology.  We’re spelling words that some people have a hard time spelling if they’re not good at spelling.

It’s still difficult in many ways.  It’s just not words that you’ve absolutely never heard of.  There are words that you might be able to spell, but you might not also.  The distractions are what really kind of keeps the fun of the show going.

Moderator    What is the age range for the contestants on here?  Is there a particular age range that you really like to see on the show?

A. Ribeiro    Well, our age range is 18 and above.  You kind of have to be an all-around intellectual, physical person.  For me, I just want people who can spell.  I want people who are fun and are of great energy and character.  We’ve got some characters that are on the show.  I think that is what makes great TV.

Just being a super nerd who knows how to spell and has zero personality; that’s not what we’re looking for.  We’re looking for those big personalities, big fun.  Certainly we’ve got some characters on the show, but these are also people who have won spelling bees growing up.  They are intellectual, but they’re physical too.  We have a guy who plays semi pro football who’s on the show.  We’ve got a great range of characters.

Moderator    What’s it like working with ABC Family compared to some of these other studios that you’ve been associated with?

A. Ribeiro    It’s always about the individuals.  A channel, in general, is made up of a group of people.  The people that I’ve work with at ABC Family have been wonderful.  Obviously this is a short run so far.  Hopefully this show goes on for many, many, many years and I have a long running relationship with them.  The talent typically doesn’t really spend a lot of time with the network people.  You spend a lot of time with the producers of the show and that’s who you really spend your day-to-day with.

Everybody at ABC Family has been wonderful, obviously under the Disney brand.  I’ve worked with Disney as a director.  A little bit of an actor but mostly as a director on Shake It Up, which has been a lot of fun.  They’re a great company and there are a lot of great people.  I have a lot of friends that work for the company and in my everyday life.  It’s been really fun.

I’m actually really proud to be part of the ABC Family because one of the things that I’ve noticed looking back on my entire career is that most of the things that I’ve done have been shows that are designed for families to watch.  Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, even though it was in a different network, was a show that you could sit with your grandma, your grandchild, and everybody in between could sit there and watch an episode and enjoy it together.  Most of the shows that I’ve done have really been that.

ABC Family is a network that is designed around that idea.  It’s an adult network that kids can watch and adults can watch together.  I think the family aspect is super important.  I think we’ve lost a little bit of that in the last couple of decades.  I think the idea of families sitting down together to watch television is a wonderful thing.

Moderator    Could you talk about game shows you watched when you were a kid?

A. Ribeiro    Even as a kid I sat down with my parents and we watched game shows when I was a kid.  Every night at dinner we would watch game shows and then sometimes we’d turn it off and do our own game shows sitting at the dinner table.  Family entertainment has always been important to me.

Moderator    How and when you did decide to get into acting?

A. Ribeiro    I started at eight years old in 1979.  I was in New York and I auditioned for a PBS TV series called Oye Willie and I got it.  It was the first audition I had ever gone on.  I was really fortunate to land a role in my first opportunity.  I’ve been working ever since.  I’m 30 some odd years working and I’ve been very fortunate.

Moderator    Is there anything [acting, directing, hosting] that you prefer over the other?

A. Ribeiro    I love doing a little bit of everything.  Growing up my dad was my manager and the thing that we always worked on in my career was the idea that if you had a basket of eggs you never knew which one was going to hatch and when they were going to hatch, but if you were capable of doing everything that was in that basket you were going to have the opportunity and a long career.  That’s kind of what has happened for me in my career, obviously, dancing, singing and acting.

I’ve learned to direct so I’m directing mostly now.  I’ve learned to host.  I’m writing.  I’m creating.  I just believe that when you give yourself the opportunity to do many things you’ll be around a while.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be good enough to work in all of those different arenas.  It was a goal from the beginning to learn how to do it all.

There are very few, as they say, triple threats anymore, but back when I was a kid and before I was born that’s kind of what everybody needed to be.  Now we have actors that just act.  We’ve got singers who just sing.  I grew up in a time when you kind of learned to do it all and I’m fortunate to be able to have worked in all of those arenas.

Moderator    Did you have a chance to try out some of those obstacles before the show started?

A. Ribeiro    I was smart enough to know that you don’t have to actually experience something to act like you know what’s going on.  You see, that’s the whole acting thing.  You don’t have to be a killer to play a killer, right.  To be on a game show where they’re doing all these things to the contestants I’ve learned that it’s better to not do it but to experience it through their involvement.  The only unfortunate thing was in one episode we’re shooting these kick balls at the contestants.  This one kickball had a wonderful curve and it hit me dead in the face.  So I’ve experienced it; not by choice [laughs].

Moderator    Did you have a favorite game show that you liked to watch growing up?  If so, who was your favorite host and what was your favorite game show growing up?

A. Ribeiro    My favorite game show was Family Feud as a kid.  Richard Dawson was my favorite host growing up because we watched that basically every night.  That was the last show we watched before going to bed as a kid.  I certainly loved him on that show.  As a kid we just watched them all.  I loved Dick Clark.  He was awesome in Pyramid.  I just loved them all.  This is my second “game show” and I’ve enjoyed the role of host in this genre.

Moderator    What is your favorite distraction game that you’ve had on the show?

A. Ribeiro    My favorite is the Zapped.  I absolutely love that one because the idea of zapping them as they’re trying to spell, it really does create the most comedy, I find, in every episode.  The next favorite is the game that we call Shower Power.  It’s pretty cool.  We put them in a shower and there are all kinds of things happening to them while they’re trying to spell; getting soaked, getting icy blue slush dumped on their head.  We have like a sprinkler system that’s just literally hitting them in the face the entire time.  The reactions are awesome.  It’s just brilliant.  Those are really like two of my favorite.

My third would obviously be the dunk tank.  When I tell you it’s ice cold water it is super cold.  You put your hand in and within a few seconds you’re like okay, I can’t take that anymore.  We’re dunking them fully up to their necks in this water.  The screams that our contestants make while trying to spell is awesome.

Moderator    If you were a contestant on the show how do you think you would do?

A. Ribeiro    I would be smart enough to not be a contestant on the show.  Spelling was never my strong suit as a youth.  Our smartphones really make me look wonderful.  This is not a show for me to be a contestant, which makes it perfect for me to be a host because I can certainly empathize with our contestants when they get a word wrong.

Moderator    What are some of the obstacles that they have to do?  

A. Ribeiro    We’ve got “Head Banger,” which is basically when we get down to three contestants we put them in a machine that basically has a big hammer that comes down and whacks them on the top of their head.  Do you remember that game where you had the frogs and they’d come up and you’d have to take the hammer and you bop it back down to get points?  Well it’s kind of inspired by that.  It’s hitting them in the head as it’s shooting up.

We’ve got pies in the face.  We’ve got water shooting at them at the same time, we’ve got people off on the side shooting them with hoses of water.  We’ve got fake fire extinguisher coming up right up from underneath them which is pretty crazy.

We’ve got a game where we put them on a board where we spin them around upside down and we’ve got these cannons that basically shoot food at them.  It’s food hitting them in the face and in the body as they’re being spun around.  That one is pretty good.  That one is kind of where they go upside down.  We’ve got one where they’re just going around and around in circles.  We’re dumping honey on them.

It’s very physical.  There’s a lot of physical stuff that we’re doing to the contestants as they’re trying to spell.  In some of the rounds we put one contestant up there and they have to try to spell as many words in 60 seconds as possible while all of this is happening to them.  There are many different games.  Each episode doesn’t have the same games in them.  There’s some that we do every time and some that we do differently in each show.  We kind of mix it up a little bit.

Our final game is not a physical game, it’s just all mental.  It’s sounds.  It’s letters.  It’s all going off in their face where they’re trying to spell the words thinking of the letters but the letters are being shown to them right in their face and sounds and all kinds of craziness going on.  We’re coming at them in every different way possible.

Moderator    Do you have a favorite moment from the show so far?

A. Ribeiro    My favorite moment is actually in our opening game, which is Buzzed In, which is our obstacle course, we have this log that gets swung down from the ceiling.  There was this one little blonde girl about 5 foot 2, that as she came over one of our humps the log came down and caught her in the chest and literally lifted her up off the ground, spun her over in the air and she landed on her back.  She was safe.  She was okay, but then it happened again.  Then the next time she made it underneath the log without getting hit except she stood back up and the log came and wiped her out from behind the third time.  So it was a great series of events that happened to this lovely young lady.

Moderator    How does it feel to be forever associated with Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air?

A. Ribeiro    It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time.  Obviously, the fans who have adored me and loved me and show me their love on a daily basis is flattering to say the least.  It’s certainly wonderful to know that people have loved what I’ve done on that show for now over two decades.  The curse part is when you’re literally at a urinal in a public bathroom and people walk up to you, tap you on the shoulder and ask you to do a dance for them it’s typically not a good time.

This happens to me often, which is the curse part.  I always say, “You’re asking me to dance for you.  I’m not just going to dance for everyone as they come up and ask me to dance.”  It’s like, that’s not okay.  At the same time, like I said, I take it in stride and I laugh with them about it because it certainly means that they’ve enjoyed what I did on that show.

Moderator    Do you still stay in touch with the cast members from Fresh Prince?

A. Ribeiro    Absolutely.  It’s very funny because you’ll read in the magazines or whatever Fresh Prince reunion and I’m always like, “What reunion?”  It’s not a reunion if you get together with your friends.  It’s a reunion if the network picks up the show and does another episode or we do a movie.  That’s a reunion; not us getting together, having dinner, and someone taking a picture and going, “Oh look, it’s a reunion.”

I spend time with Will, with Karen, with Tatiana.  I see James Avery every once in a while.  I was fortunate enough to actually direct Daphne Maxwell Reid on an episode of Let’s Stay Together, which is a show that I direct.  So I get to see people all the time and it’s wonderful to see them.

Moderator    What other game shows that have aired in your lifetime would you like to take a stab at?  

A. Ribeiro    To be honest, mine would be the dancing and the singing stuff.  Those are the things that I enjoy more than anything.  The Jeopardy stuff is not really where I’m at.  I like to use my talents in some way versus my brain.  I think there are people out there who are smarter than me.  So I let them do those types of game shows.

I certainly enjoyed Price Is Right growing up and watching that show.  I don’t do much shopping anymore.  I’m fortunate enough my wife loves to do the shopping, so I would probably have a hard time with the prices now.  The singing and the dancing shows were certainly shows that I’ve enjoyed.  I did a show called Celebrity Duets that I actually won and won $100,000 for my charity.  Those are the shows that I enjoy.

Moderator    How do you think Carlton Banks would do on a show like Spell-Mageddon?

A. Ribeiro    I think Carlton Banks would win Spell-Mageddon.  Obviously, he was super smart.  He was still relatively athletic.  He was unwavering in his convictions.  I think Carlton would’ve done very well on that show.

Moderator    I’m sure you’re a Disney fan right?

A. Ribeiro    Absolutely.  I’m a fan of Disney.  I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter who watches an awful lot of Disney.  Obviously, I direct Disney channels Shake It Up.  I’m a fan through my child in that way.

Moderator    Do you make it to the parks and things like that?

A. Ribeiro    Of course.  We go to Disneyland and Disney World all the time.

Moderator    What is your favorite Disney character?

A. Ribeiro    Well, you’ve got to go old school.  So you’ve got to go Mickey Mouse.

Moderator    Favorite Disney Park?

A. Ribeiro    I love Disney World because obviously it’s bigger.  It’s greater.  You’ve got everything.  You’ve got everything that you could ask for out of Disney all there at Disney World.

Moderator    What’s  your favorite Disney ride?

A. Ribeiro    My favorite Disney ride?  It’s close, because I love Tower of Terror but I’m also a huge Space Mountain fan because Space Mountain has been around longer so as a kid I enjoyed it.  As the new rides I do love Tower of Terror.

Moderator    What’s your favorite food or restaurant in a Disney park?

A. Ribeiro    Blue Bayou.  Every time we go we certainly make a reservation when we go to Disneyland.  We definitely go to Blue Bayou.

Moderator    What’s your favorite Disney movie?

A. Ribeiro    Favorite Disney movie would have to be my daughter loves The Little Mermaid so I guess I have to go with that one.

For more information on “Spell-Mageddon”, please visit the official website here.


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