7!! (pronounced as “Seven Oops”) is a band that has caught the attention of Japanese music fans all over the world.
From their theme songs used on the anime series “Naruto Shippuden”, the band which consists of vocalist NANAE, drummer MAIKO, guitarist MICHIRU and bassist KEITA were welcomed in the USA with performances in San Jose, California and New York.
After their performance in the U.S., J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith had the opportunity to interview 7!!
ABC Family’s Q&A Session with Vanessa Marano of “Switched At Birth” (2013) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
ABC Family’s Q&A Session with Vanessa Marano of “Switched At Birth” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
With “Switched at Birth” having shown its summer premiere for 2013 (the second half of season two), we revisit actress Vanessa Marano, one of the main lead characters of ABC Family’s hit drama series “Switched at Birth”.
Vanessa has starred in TV series such as “Scoundrels”, “The Young and the Restless”, “Dexter” and “Without a Trace”.
“Switched at Birth” is a one-hour scripted drama that tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital.
Vanessa Marano plays the character of Bay Kennish, a girl who grew up in a wealthy family with two parents and a brother, while Daphne Vasquez (played by Katie Leclerc), who lost her hearing at an early age due to a case of meningitis, grew up with a single mother in a working class neighborhood. Things come to a dramatic head when both families meet and struggle to learn how to live together for the sake of the girls.
The series also stars Lucas Grabeel (“High School Musical”) as Bay’s brother Toby, Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”, “Caroline in the City”) as her mother Kathryn and Constance Marie (“George Lopez”, “Selena”) as Daphne’s mother Regina.
An ABC Family Q&A session was recently held with Vanessa Marano to promote the final half of episodes for season 2 of “Switched at Birth”.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A session.
Moderator Was there anything about Bay that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you added to her?
V. Marano Bay, in the pilot, wasn’t as comedic as she’s turned out to be. She was a little bit gloomier and I’d say even a little bit angrier than what she is, and then sort of through collaboration with directors and writers she becomes a little bit more comedic.
Moderator What kind of moments should we be looking forward to this season?
V. Marano This season is summer, and so we think of summer so bright and happy and fun in the sun, and it’s a very dramatic season, particularly for Bay it’s quite life changing for her.
Moderator Could you tell us more about the upcoming “What-If” episode and how it affects the families?
V. Marano The “What-If” episode is probably my favorite episode this season. I think it’s going to be a very satisfying episode for fans and it’s a whole “what if the families found out that the girls were switched at age 3 rather than at age 16?” “What if Regina had told the Kennishes what she had found out about the girls being switched?” And so I think it’s going to be very satisfying for fans because they get to see that, it’s in this whole push-and-pull of “did Regina do the right thing?”, and they get to see whether or not she did. And a lot of it has to do with John’s justification of what Regina did, and he’s still so angry about it and how everything would have turned out for each character.
So it’s really fun, because you get to play a character that you’ve been playing for so long but you also have completely different circumstances than what your character had grown up with. And Switched has always been about nature versus nurture, so this is what if the nurture wasn’t what it was because everything changed when the girls were three.
Moderator Will the change in family dynamic continue this season or will she be able to repair her relationships within her family?
V. Marano Well, she repairs the relationship with Daphne, which is nice. I like that those two can’t stay mad at each other as much as they used to. They used to really be able to stay very mad at each other. They’ve also evolved more into sisters. But this is a really big season for Toby. He’s usually a character that’s in the background that you lean on for support, but it’s a very big season for him. He’s talking about getting married, and whether or not that’s the right decision, and so it’s a lot about growing up and figuring out if you’re doing something for love, if that’s the right decision or not.
Moderator What has been the best thing about the show?
V. Marano I would say the people I work with. I really enjoy the entire cast, and the entire crew, and the producers and writers. I really do like everybody that I work with. And it’s nice to be in a situation where you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere for 12 hours and you haven’t gotten any sleep, but you like everybody around you.
Moderator What have you learned from working on the show?
V. Marano Sign language. I didn’t know sign language before the show, but I kind of know sign language now.
Moderator Do you find yourself subconsciously using ASL in your normal everyday conversations?
V. Marano I wouldn’t say I use it in my normal everyday conversation. But, yes, I definitely get into a mode when I’m whispering to somebody, because usually when I’m not using it on set for a scene, Katie and I, when they’re rolling and you’re not allowed to talk, we’ll sign a little bit back and forth just to talk in the middle of shooting. We’re mature like that. And so usually if I’m in a situation where I’m whispering and I have to be quiet, sometimes I’ll just end up doing it because I’m kind of used to mouthing the words while I’m using my hands. And it happens a lot with my sister and my one friend, Megan, and they always go, “Dude, I don’t know sign language. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that. You’re not helping yourself.”
Moderator Has it been hard for you to learn it?
V. Marano Yes, it has been. It’s throwing yourself into a completely different element. It’s nice, though. It’s nice to be able to challenge yourself in that way, because Switched is a story that we all know. It’s a story about searching for identity and it’s a story about searching for a family, but it’s done in this different way involving the deaf community and involving deaf characters, and involving sign language. And so you can’t really get bored because you’re seeing a story that you’re familiar with told in a different light.
Moderator Could you talk about how Bay is feeling right now about both of the moms?
V. Marano Well, Bay right now is bonding more with Regina, and that’s not, even though I don’t think Kathryn sees it that way, anything against Kathryn. It’s just she’s never had an opportunity to bond with Regina and it always felt like Daphne and Kathryn got all of this mother-daughter time and Daphne still got to be a mother-daughter with Regina, and Bay got nothing. And so this season is really about them finding their mother-daughter connection, Regina and Bay.
Moderator Can you share a funny story with us about being on set?
V. Marano A funny story about being on set, let’s see, well, there are so many things. We all get along just so well. The only thing that strikes my mind immediately is Katie was a huge High School Musical fan, and at one point it was like 4:00 in the morning and Lea Thompson, you know she’s done Cabaret on Broadway, she’s done her share of musical theatre, as has Lucas Grabeel, who was in High School Musical, and everyone was tired and delirious and Lea at one point was like, “Just teach me the dance, teach me the dance from high school musical.” And so Lucas did it and Katie’s eyes lit up with this look of excitement. It was hilarious.
Moderator What was it like filming the all ASL episode that aired in March? Do you think there will be another one?
V. Marano Well, it was the first time it was ever done on television and it was the first time a whole episode had been done in sign language. So it was kind of nerve-wracking actually, because you were doing something that had never been done before, so all of a sudden you have this huge responsibility to do it right. And so it was actually pretty difficult, but the result was amazing. I hope we’ll do another one. There are no words for doing one right now. But it turned out great and it was really cool, because Switched in general is something that’s never been done before, there’s never been a show with a lead character that is deaf and so many deaf actors. So to be doing something that I’d never even done before on top of that, with an entire episode that was done in sign language was pretty cool to be a part of. Things that are groundbreaking, really.
Moderator If Toby and Nikki do get married, who do you think will be Bay’s date to the wedding?
V. Marano Oh, that’s a good question. Let’s see, episode three just aired, I don’t know if I can give away who Bay’s date is going to be to the wedding right now considering where we’re at.
Moderator Is Bay how you expected her to be in the “What-If” episode, or was it surprising to you?
V. Marano Personality wise, actually Bay hasn’t really changed that much. Personality wise she has changed the least out of everybody. The biggest difference with Bay is when we first meet Bay in the pilot of Switched at Birth, we see her as this confident, truly her own person type of teenager, and then her world gets turned upside down by the switch; all of a sudden she is vulnerable and she’s struggling and she’s building up walls, and everything she’s known is a lie. So we really catch Bay to the point of a nervous breakdown when we first meet her in Switched, and it’s just in the seasons that we’ve been shooting have been building her back up to become the person that she believes she was born to be. So this season we have Bay in the “What-If” episode being raised the entire time knowing that she didn’t belong to Kathryn and John, knowing that she was raised in a situation where she wasn’t a Kennish, and so that definitely changes her perspective on things. It doesn’t necessarily change Bay, but I think it numbs her a lot more.
Moderator Do you feel like your daytime experience helped prepare you for this role?
V. Marano You know what, I’ve said this so many times in interviews, I was so against doing a daytime show when I first got offered The Young and the Restless. I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. That doesn’t feel like it’s me. I don’t know if I want to do it.” And my mother talked me into it. My mother was like, “You need to do it.” And it was truly one of the best experiences I had personally and acting wise. I think I learned so much from that show that I really do apply to every role that I had afterwards. As far as memorization goes, I learned so much, as far as trusting your instincts you learn so much, and my hat is off to any daytime actor, because what they do is way harder than what anybody else in television does.
Moderator Where would you like to see your character go next?
V. Marano Let’s see, I really hope Bay keeps growing the way that she’s growing. She’s a character that kind of takes two steps forward and one step back, and so by the end of the series I just hope she’s a well-rounded person.
Moderator Are there any special celebrity guest appearances that you know of that are planned for this season?
V. Marano Well, we have a few returning characters, that much I can say. Everyone’s seen Blair Redford return as Ty. Bill Lucking is going to be returning as John Kennish’s father, and we also have a few more returning characters from the past season, so we’re going to be seeing a few people that we haven’t seen in a while.
Moderator If they would have a celebrity guest star, who would you like to see guest on the show?
V. Marano Well, I’m obsessed with Helen Mirren, so if we could get her that would be awesome.
Moderator Will Emmett and Bay be able to be just friends?
V. Marano Again, we will see. It’s funny, part of the “What-If” episode is a what-if for Emmett and Bay, so we get to see circumstances changed, what they would have been.
Moderator Are there any other struggles that Bay will be dealing with this season?
V. Marano Definitely Ty and Bay is a struggle. Bay and Emmett is a struggle this season. And Regina and Angelo and Bay all living under the same roof turns into a struggle as well, because it’s just not exactly what everybody expects it to be. But you know what, what family is?
Moderator Could talk about how similar or different you are from Bay?
V. Marano It’s funny, I think I’m actually very different from Bay. Obviously I’m playing her, so it doesn’t appear that there’s much of a difference, like the cadence of the way we speak is very similar, our humor is very similar, because the way that I inflect some certain words reflects on that. But there are so many times when I read a script and I’m like, “What are you doing, Bay?” Because Bay, believe it or not is, and she gets this from being raised by Kathryn Kennish, she almost is an optimist. She goes into every situation making a crazy decision and thinking that it’s going to turn out totally fine.
She decided to go to deaf school and she’s like, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Well, Bay, the worst thing that could happen is that this group of kids who have been neglected from society because of the fact that they can’t hear are going to be judgmental towards you because you’re parading on to their campus thinking that you own it. Come on, Bay, think things through. Or like, “I want to run away to Mexico. What could be bad about that?” A lot of things, Bay. Running away to Mexico isn’t really the right decision. And just the main one, I’m going to move my biological mom and my “switchster” into the guest house across from where my parents live. There won’t be any fighting even though they’re complete opposites. She just doesn’t think things through and thinks everything’s going to turn out just fine, which is something that she gets from, not her biology mother but from being raised the way she was. And I constantly find myself saying, “Oh my God, think things through, Bay.” But she wouldn’t be the Bay that we all know and love if she did.
Moderator Do you possess any musical talent yourself?
V. Marano None whatsoever. We actually don’t know where Laura [Marano] gets that from in our family. I have a cousin on one of my family who’s really interested and talented musically, and the rest of us don’t have that gene at all. It’s really weird, but she has it. But, you know, kudos to my sister. I am very proud of her. The episode that just aired on Austin & Ally she actually wrote the song that she sang. So that’s really cool, 17-years-old and writing a song for the show that you’re on is pretty impressive and I’m really proud of her. I was sitting there in my parents’ living room with her, and I was like, “Yeah, you are finally you, Ally Dawson, played by Laura Marano.”
Moderator Would you like to work with your sister in the future on any projects, and what would that be maybe?
V. Marano Absolutely. I would love to work with my sister. I love my sister. Really anybody who will have us, I just want to work.
Moderator Who has influenced you professionally and who you would love to work with some day if you could pick anybody?
V. Marano Well, I would say Helen Mirren is the answer to all of those questions. But there are so many people, like I would love to work with Christopher Durang on a play. He’s one of my favorite playwrights. I think he’s fantastic. There are so many directors, and so many writers, and so many actors that I’ve learned so much from, from watching, but I would say influence wise so much of what I got influenced by was my mother directing theater. That was my perspective on acting, was because my mom was a theater director. So I would say the way that I learned things and the way that I thought of acting really came from that.
Moderator Do you have a Twitter handle?
V. Marano I do not use Twitter. Well, at this point it just makes me super unique, doesn’t it? I made a decision a very long time ago that I didn’t really be involved with social media. I don’t think I’d be very good at it. Judging by me answering all of your questions, do you really think I could keep it to 150 characters? I don’t think so. It is a great way to promote the show, it’s a great way to get to know your fans, but to me the more important, all-knowing thing of making eye contact with somebody and connecting with somebody that way and having a conversation with somebody face-to-face, I value so much more than hiding behind a computer screen and doing it that way. So I get it, I understand it, I do not naysay on anybody who does Twitter, I totally get it, it’s just not for me personally.
For more information on “Switched at Birth”, please visit the official website here.
For fans of the Disney XD television show “Aaron Stone” (2009-2010), many will remember actor David Lambert as Jason Landers.
And now, David is back on another television series for ABC Family titled “The Fosters”, from executive producer Jennifer Lopez.
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, David Lambert plays the role of Brandon Foster, the biological son of Stef and her ex-husband Mike. A musically talented individual who is caring for all his siblings, his kind nature makes him a bit naive to things that are going on with people around him.
“The Fosters” airs on Mondays on ABC Family, 9/8 central. Recently, ABC Family held a media Q&A with David Lambert to promote the show.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A with actor David Lambert:
Moderator Congratulations on The Fosters. How did you get started in acting?
D. Lambert Acting goes back a little ways for me. I supposed I started with theater growing up. It was mainly a social outlet and it was just kind of something I did for fun. I met a lot of good friends through it so it really kept me involved. Then as I got older, I’d say probably when I got to like seventh or eighth grade, I was living in Atlanta, Georgia at the time and I went for an open call for an agent, a local agent out there, a woman named Joy Purvis and she ended up picking me up.
I sort of was just going with it. I wasn’t really taking it seriously at this point. I just wanted to see what would happen. I guess one thing led to the next and I ended up going out to L.A. with my mom and seeing what would happen. I was fortunate enough to see good things happen to me, I ended up working and things just grew from there.
Moderator What celebrities, past or present, do you look up to or may inspire you in your career?
D. Lambert I’d say from the present Leonardo DiCaprio was always one that I really respected and looked up to. His work is amazing. I really like the roles he picks. He’s got some of my dream roles. If I could pick any role to play he’s got a few. So he would probably be on the top.
I actually really like Christopher Walken. I find him a really interesting actor. He’s such a character that I love everything he’s in. And you know, I love some of the greats as well, like De Niro and going back to like Marlon Brando and James Dean as well. I’m kind of a sucker for classic movies and kind of the old-timey feel. I watch a lot of that stuff.
Moderator I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about Brandon and Callie’s relationship?
D. Lambert They have a really interesting sort of connection right of the bat. In the pilot he’s really drawn to her and feels the need to help her. It is sort of reciprocated by her, but it’s one of those things where neither really knows what’s happening there. They just understand that there’s this connection.
Whether it’ll grow or not it’s kind of up in the air at this point, but they do understand there’s this mutual feeling between the two of them and it’s definitely a special connection. So yes, I guess it’s just one of those things that has to develop over time, but it’s not necessarily set in stone that they are in love or whatever. It’s just one of those odd connections, I would say.
Moderator What is it like working with Maia Mitchell and the rest of the cast?
D. Lambert They’re great. This cast is honestly one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with. It’s one of those things where I go to set and I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to is getting to work with these people because everyone—with me, I have such a different connection with all of them and neither is better than the next but it’s such a unique connection with every single person. So every scene is very fun. It’s a really fun experience to work with everyone.
Maia’s great. Maia’s really, really awesome. She gives it her all just like everyone else does really. Everyone goes above and beyond to make this show as real as possible. It’s a respect thing. I admire my cast. I really respect them and I think everyone’s super talented.
Moderator I’m curious; what was the audition process like for The Fosters?
D. Lambert The audition process was—honestly, it started like any other audition for me in L.A. I just went to the first meeting and it was just for casting. From there I got a callback and that was a pretty regular feeling. I just kept coming back and then it was after the third meeting that I was really like, “Okay, this could go somewhere. This is interesting.”
But it felt normal and then it kind of just came out of nowhere for me and then before I knew it I was testing. I feel like that tends to happen. Whenever you book a job you don’t even realize how close you’re getting until you almost have it pretty much. So it was definitely one of those things for me. It almost blindsided me how fast everything moved.
Moderator How would you describe the character of Brandon if you had to tell somebody who maybe hasn’t watched the show yet? How would you describe him?
D. Lambert He’s the oldest in his family and he’s the biological son of one of the mothers, Stef, who’s played by Teri Polo. He’s a gifted musician overall, but his instrument of choice is piano. He’s classically trained in piano. He’s always playing really beautiful pieces from Rachmaninoff and all of those guys.
He’s brilliant and he’s a very smart kid and a little mature for his age just due to this unique setup that he has with his mothers and with his dad. He’s essentially raised by three parents so it makes for very interesting situations that he just has to deal with very normally because that’s just how it is for him. It kind of gives him an edge over other kids who don’t necessarily have to deal with that.
He’s a very fun character for me to play. He’s a really good kid though. He means well and he has a really big heart. Family is everything for him. He loves his family and he would do anything for any of them. So it’s a very special character to be playing.
Moderator I was wondering if you, in your words, could explain why you think people should tune into this show? Why it’s different from other family dramas?
D. Lambert In this day and age we’re kind of lacking in family dramas overall. I feel like we could use more and sort of step away a little bit from the big explosions and all of this visual eye candy that seems to be in everything these days. This show really sort of slows down and focuses on just the characters really.
Besides just the fact that there’s a same sex couple and we do have all of these relevant and current topics, the show really is a classic show. It has very classic vibes to it, in terms of a family drama, and we hope it’s very relatable.
The show has a way of just introducing these topics and these issues and being very blunt about it, which I sort of love. We don’t beat around the bush. We just say it how it is and we expect audiences to just be able to handle it and see how these characters deal with it, which I think makes for really good TV.
I think it’s a really great show to be a part of. It’s something that excites me whenever I read the new scripts. I think that people will be surprised at just how interesting these people are. And they’re not necessarily doing anything out of the ordinary. The kids go to school and they just deal with whatever it is that’s happening that day.
But it just makes for really interesting stuff because they don’t always do the right thing. They sometimes make mistakes just like kids do in high school but they learn they lesson as well. They always redeem themselves. It’s a very relatable thing to watch, as a person. So for me, I love that about the show. I love that everyone gets his or her chance to make a mistake but then learn from it.
Moderator Do you have any good stories from set so far, since there are so many of you especially in the house, in the Foster house and everything?
D. Lambert It’s really funny. We honestly have a really good time on set. Everyone does. From the adults to the kids, everyone is on the same page and we all have the same amount of fun. There’s no real line drawn in the sand or anything like that, which is great because sometimes you run into that on sets, which is really unfortunate. But on this set everyone is very tight knit, very close. I could go up to any of the cast members and have a full-on conversation with them and it’s very comfortable for me.
I’m trying to think of good stories in particular. I know Cierra Ramirez and Jake T. Austin, who play Jesus and Mariana Foster, the twins, had to dress up at one point to take these Halloween pictures, these sort of family Halloween pictures. So Jake had to dress up in this really great jester costume and I actually ended up getting a picture of it just as he was standing right in front of me. I don’t know, that stuck with me so much because it was so hilarious to watch him walk around in this jester costume for the hour or however long he had to wear it for.
But besides that, really, we’re always fooling around. There are so many jokes made. We try to keep it light because there are a lot of dramatic scenes that we’re filming and we think it’s important to not drive ourselves insane. So we try to lighten up the mood whenever possible.
Moderator What attracted you to the role of Brandon Foster?
D. Lambert I think he’s definitely the most similar to me from any character I’ve played. I think that’s really interesting for me. I haven’t really experienced that much with a character. So for me to be able to relate with him the way I can and sort of very easily imagine how he must feel in a lot of these situations. It’s very interesting for me. It’s not a stretch.
It’s one of those things where I don’t have to, in my preparation, work so hard to make it relatable in some way for me because I’m already mentally there. So it’s a cool role for me in my life because I get to play Brandon but also incorporate a lot of David into Brandon. That makes for really an interesting experience for me I guess.
I play piano in my life. I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere as good as Brandon is, but I’ve been playing for almost seven years now. I’m self-taught so I’m kind of on the other side of the spectrum from Brandon. He’s very precise and classically trained and whatnot, but we do share a love for music. That’s something that’s really cool to sort of portray on camera in the way that I get to with Brandon.
I don’t know; he’s a really interesting guy. I love that I get to have him and get to play him because he’s definitely a really close one to me.
Moderator How is filming The Fosters different from filming Aaron Stone and other shows you’ve done in the past?
D. Lambert Well it’s my first hour drama, in terms of TV. That’s interesting just in terms of pacing and the hours we’re working and how we do it. So that was a first for me. Aaron Stone was a half hour so we were getting two episodes done in like eight or nine days, whereas with this we’re getting one episode done in the same time. It’s interesting. We’re filming like little movies almost is what it feels more like.
It’s awesome though. It’s a really good, demanding, challenging experience and as an actor you can ask for nothing more. You want the challenge. You want to be kept on your toes. This is definitely doing that for me and I’m learning so much. I know even after this first season I’ll walk away feeling twice as much of an actor as I did walking in. I’ll just be that much better and that’s really great to know that this job is doing that for me.
Moderator You talked some about the similarities between you and Brandon. Can you tell us some about the differences between you and your character?
D. Lambert Yes. We definitely have differences as well. Brandon is very headstrong and a little impulsive when it comes to his emotions. He doesn’t necessarily always think things through and I feel like I’m a very analytical person. I’m a little in my head. That’s just kind of how I work. I’m very internal and I think a lot. I play things out in my head, whereas Brandon I would say is more external with dealing with things.
That’s an interesting change for me. Having to vocalize and externalize what I might be feeling inside. That’s something that Brandon would do. That’s a cool difference. As an actor, you obviously want differences. Its just Brandon is such a blend for me with similarities and differences.
I guess just his situation is obviously different from mine. The things that he has to deal with I’ve never had to deal with but I definitely had my share of—just like anyone else—troubles in my family. Things I’ve had to go through with my family. So I can relate with him still even though it’s not the exact situation. I can still relate to how it must feel as an older brother and son. So yes, I guess it’s a tradeoff.
Moderator Do you have any other future plans other than The Fosters in the works?
D. Lambert No, not entirely. There’s a smaller little indie movie called The Lifeguard that went to Sundance earlier this year. I think it’ll be coming out this summer. I wish I had exact dates, but I heard June.
I’m really proud of that project. It stars Kristen Bell and Martin Starr and Mamie Gummer. That was just a nice little project that I got to work on and I learned so much from that. It was a more mature role for me. So yes, as an actor I’m always so excited about those things that I get to stretch my legs and really get to do something that’s hard to do.
But besides that, no, I’m looking forward to taking a little bit of a break after filming and then I’ll be crossing my fingers and hoping for more of The Fosters. I would love to get to play Brandon some more and get to see where this family goes. So I guess we’ll just have to see what the future holds.
Moderator So Talya and Brandon’s relationship, how does that change now that Callie’s in the picture?
D. Lambert I think it’s one of those things for Brandon, at least, that he doesn’t even realize. He’s only now just beginning to realize what it means to have Callie around. That’s an interesting thing for him. I think Talya was much more quick to notice what this may do and to notice that Brandon may be interested or at least care for Callie, which is enough for Talya to lose her mind. It is only going to make for more interesting situations down the road, especially between the girls.
I think Brandon’s a little slower, in terms of picking up on things that are right under the surface. So for him he’s almost innocent in the way that he wants to make sure Callie’s good in this new environment, in this new world that she’s kind of been thrust into, but at the same time he does have a girlfriend. He’s not linking the two yet, whereas maybe Talya is seeing [it] a little differently.
So it’s a fun thing that he has to sort of slowly realize. Like, “Oh, oh, I see that this might look this way and I guess now it’s sort of a little triangle here.” That’s just a fun little situation, one of the many that he is faced with, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
Moderator What episode are you guys filming now or are you done?
D. Lambert We are actually almost done. We are on episode eight now, finishing up episode eight and then moving to nine. We will be done soon I believe. I’m sort of getting information on and off. I kind of just show up to set and work and they will tell me what I need to know.
Moderator You mentioned earlier about playing music, especially piano. Do you see maybe pursuing music in your career?
D. Lambert That’s an interesting question because I sort of go back and forth. I love music so much. It’s really something that I hold dear, but I think as of right now I would much rather be an actor who just happens to play music than someone who’s trying to do both. I know acting has been just my number one passion. I don’t want to steal focus and put it other places. I’d rather commit 100% to one area and sort of develop that part in my career.
As of right now, just as a young person and where I’m at in my career, I think it’d be much smarter to try my hand at many, many different types of projects with acting and be all over the place with acting. Music will always be there. I own a piano. I have it in my apartment. I play it every day and I have a lot of musician friends who I play with.
It’ll always be there so I can always change my mind down the road, but I think it would be smarter for me to focus on acting. Acting truly is a love of mine. So yes, I think music will always be there but I’m definitely more of an actor.
Moderator How much of the actual playing of the piano and stuff do you actually do on the show?
D. Lambert I actually am pretty adamant about meeting with the composer on off days and rehearsing pieces that are coming up and from there we’ll discuss what I feel like I can handle and what I can’t. Usually what it’s worked out to so far is with more of the classical pieces, that is stuff that we use more playback on and whatnot, the more intricate, elaborate pieces.
But any original compositions that Brandon is playing or coming up with is me. So yes, usually the original stuff that Brandon is writing and all that stuff is usually me playing it live on the day and then the more classical pieces are things that I kind of need help with, just due to the difficulty of the piece.
Moderator You mentioned earlier that you’re self-taught in piano. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what inspired you to start playing?
D. Lambert Honestly, it started one New Year now almost seven years ago. It was my resolution to learn an instrument. It was my New Year’s resolution. So I went into the attic of my house and we happened to have this really old, beat up keyboard. It was about like half a piano. It wasn’t even a full size and I ended up just plugging that thing in and playing that for the next year.
The way I started was I took some lessons in the beginning but I ended up not having the patience for it, to be honest. So what I ended up doing was just listening to the music that I wanted to mimic and try my best to sound like it and figure it out on the keys. So now, flashing forward seven years later, that’s still essentially what I do. It’s worked for me.
It was definitely a lot of work at the beginning. It was a very clunky experience, but now it’s really cool because I’m getting to a point now where I can really explore with styles and different types of music and all that stuff. The piano’s a great instrument. It’s a really cool place to start musically because from here I could learn another instrument and still have an idea for just the general theory of music and the basis.
So yes, it was just one of those things that I loved. I’ve always loved music and now I just love it more now that I can sort of give more to it by playing an instrument.
Moderator How is your role as Brandon affected your outlook on foster families?
D. Lambert It’s an interesting thing because the show is all about how do you define family. That’s something that we say a lot with the show. What they mean by that, I think, is that it’s a same sex couple; it is adopted kids; there are foster kids, but it doesn’t really change the fact that we’re still a family.
It doesn’t matter if you have two moms or two dads or whatever, adopted siblings, foster siblings, at the end of the day you’re still going to go through the same problems that any ordinary or more generally accepted family would go through, and that’s the thing when you watch the show. You don’t feel like you’re watching this gay couple. You don’t think that when you watch it. You just see these two women raising these kids and they just happen to be together.
That’s the beauty of the whole thing. We’re not preaching it. We’re not trying to jam it down your throat, this image of these two women. We’re just saying that they can still be a family. There’s no difference, and it makes for really interesting situations, I supposed.
I learned a lot by playing Brandon. I learned a lot just more along those lines, just realizing in myself. I was like, “Wow, these two women can do this. There’s really no difference.” I watched the show and you don’t even think that it’s weird. It feels right. It looks right and they’re a family. That was something I realized only after filming it and watching it was how subtle it is. It’s a great thing. It’s really, really cool.
Moderator Are you looking forward to the instant feedback that you’ve been getting from fans about The Fosters?
D. Lambert I am. It’s really amazing. That’s like another kind of first for me. Having something like Twitter so integrated with the show is a really cool thing. I think it’s one of the beautiful things about living in 2013, that we have these means of connecting all around the world. It’s crazy.
But all the feedback has been amazing. It’s really, really cool to be able to—the episode has aired and now you can go on Twitter and see how people are responding because they really do, they add up. There are hundreds, thousands of people just talking about it and it’s really great to see people just enjoying it.
We’re only two episodes in and people are already saying things like it’s their favorite show and the characters are their favorites. It’s good to hear because we put a lot of work into the show. It’s a little bit of payoff, which is nice.
Moderator Was there anything about Brandon that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you added to the character?
D. Lambert I think like with most shows after a couple episodes the writers tend to cater to the actors and they start pulling little bits and pieces and mixing them. Brandon has definitely become more like me over time and I’ve probably become a little like Brandon, but that’s one of the beautiful things with acting.
You sort of—it’s a give and take scenario with any character you play. You do give a little bit of yourself but you also end up walking away with a little bit of that character, which is always a really cool thing for me. So yes, I’d say all the kids in the show really evolve. They do a lot of growth because they have so many things that they end up dealing with just overall.
So I would say—I know just for me, as an actor, every new episode it’s almost like I have to relearn my character because I have to take into consideration, “What have you learned in the past episode? What does that do to him in this next episode? And then what mistakes or lessons does he learn in this upcoming episode and what will that then do to him?”
So it’s a constant arc and it’s a constant stepping up with these characters, which is really fun for me and it’s yet another challenge that I get to constantly face. So yes, it’s a really cool thing. I think Brandon’s an ever-changing character. They’re all ever-changing characters, especially the kids.
Moderator We’ve seen Brandon kind of lashing out at his dad right now and I wondered if you could describe how Brandon feels about his dad?
D. Lambert That’s one of the most interesting relationships that Brandon has, I feel, is with his dad. You’ve got Mike, played by Danny Nucci, who’s a brilliant actor, awesome guy, who he hasn’t really been around. Like Brandon said, he calls every couple days, five-minute phone calls and that sort of gives you an idea of the relationship that they’ve had for some time probably.
Mike’s at a point now where he’s realizing Brandon’s only getting older and he has to make some moves now or it’s never going to happen for them. So Mike now is in the process of trying to make his way more and more back into the picture, which only poses more problems for Brandon because now he’s faced with, “What do I do? My dad’s coming back in. I have my moms. Who do I take orders from? Who are my parents? Do I have three parents? Do I ignore my dad? Do I ignore Lena? Whom am I supposed to be listening to?”
I think with his dad in particular, they are close and they do connect in a lot of ways, but there’s also a sense of frustration, especially on Brandon’s side that maybe his dad didn’t make these moves soon enough. “Why is he doing it all of the sudden? Why does he care so much all of the sudden?” It only happens more and more and there are more troubles that Mike deals with that in turn makes Brandon have to deal with them. So it’s a very interesting thing. It’s a very interesting thing.
I had my own problems with my dad growing up so that was yet another really, really personal issue that I actually ended up connecting with Brandon a lot on and I could really understand that whole relationship and how that must be for him. So it’s a very cool thing to have to play.
Moderator Is there any chance you’d be interested in doing musical theater here at some point?
D. Lambert Yes, you know, musical theater was where I started. It was actually one of those things where I felt like if I found a play that I really, really enjoyed enough I always said that I’d have no problems going back on stage because I feel like that’s where I started. So I kind of owe it that much, you know?
I love theater. I really do. I still respect it a lot and I think it takes a lot of work and dedication. I have a lot of friends still who are very into theater and are in New York and going to conservatories for acting and whatnot. Yes, it’s a very cool thing.
Moderator Do you have a favorite theater role that you’ve ever played?
D. Lambert All my memories are of all the community theater and little black box theaters that I did growing up. I did Oliver. I did Oliver Twist once and I got to play Fagin. That was a lot of fun. It was the musical and I loved the play. We did that over a summer. Yes, I still remember that entire experience. So yes, Oliver was a really great one for me.
Moderator There was a line in last night’s episode that kind of struck me that Jesus said to Brandon when he said, “Well you’re not giving up anything.” What is Brandon’s relationship exactly with the twins like?
D. Lambert I think it’s an interesting thing because Brandon is such a focused kid and he really does have goals and aspirations and places he wants to go with music. It might lead to him composing one day. Who knows where Brandon wants to go with his piano. He does want to go places. He’s in school for now but it’s just because he has to be.
I feel like Brandon has a lot of things he wants to do in his life and he’s very focused on doing them. So there are a lot of scenes with the twins where it’s not necessarily that he’s favored it’s just that the moms recognize that this kid will probably go places in his life and they just want him to have the best chance at doing that.
It’s sort of mistaken for favoritism or whatever, but it’s just one of the many situations in the house that they have to deal with day in and day out. Maybe that’s a situation that maybe a lot of families don’t have to deal with. But then there probably are a lot of families that do have to deal with that. It’s a very unique situation of The Fosters.
At the end of the day Brandon does not look at Mariana and Jesus as adopted. They grew up—they brought the twins home when they were babies and Brandon’s only about a year older than them. So it’s one of those things where they all grew up together. They all look at each other as blood even if they aren’t actually blood. So I think at the end of the day its just words that are said but they all really do love each other and they really do look at each other as a family.
Moderator If you could look into the future, where would you see Brandon with his career with his piano?
D. Lambert I don’t know. Like I said, I think he could go so many places with it. He could become a composer or just a musician in general. But I really do think he’s one of those kids who’s just so gifted it would be a shame if he did nothing with his music. I think he will. He will just get older and probably go to school for it. Go to college studying music and I think it’ll only go up, up, up for him. He’ll just keep working his way up and getting better and better.
Moderator What advice would you give to your fans if they wish to become actors or actresses?
D. Lambert I’d say it’s the craziest profession that you could possibly do so you better really love it. That’d be the first way to start it off, but I don’t know. For me, it started out as something that I just did for fun with friends. I really didn’t have any dreams of becoming famous and being an actor with lots of money and lots of cars and things. That was never something that I saw myself doing.
Acting developed and as I got older I realized I really did enjoy telling stories and touching people and doing things that not many people get to experience in their lives, going places that not many people get to see. Getting to be different people for me is very, very exciting and sort of I look at it as the greatest game of pretend ever made. Everyone’s in on it and it’s just great. You get to play all day, and it is also your work, and you can study it. There’s never an end game. You can always get better. There’s never an end game with acting.
So for me, I think it was all those things put together, but it definitely didn’t happen overnight. That was something that evolved and I had to realize that, as I got older. So for fans, I think everyone’s going to have a different journey, but if you find something that you love that much that you can pick at it and talk about it all day then it’s probably for you and you should definitely go after it. I would say the sooner the better.
It’s just one of those things where it’s very hard to tell anyone what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s more of a feeling that they just have to—if they really do feel the need they should go do it because it will work out. Things have a way of working out for people who give it their all and are in it for the right reasons. I truly believe that.
So for me, it’s just a matter of staying on the right course and doing the things that I want to do at the end of the day. So if people can make those decisions and be smart about where they want to go in life, I think there’s no limit to where you can end up.
Moderator Are there any personal messages from you to your fans that you’d like to pass on?
D. Lambert I can’t really think of anything profound or anything but I’d probably rely on what I just said. I think watch The Fosters I guess and then check it out and I guess that’d be it.
Moderator Like you, Maia Mitchell is also very into music. Do you think that we’ll ever see a Brandon and Callie collaboration on the show?
D. Lambert Yes, it’s definitely likely. I feel like Callie is sort of into the guitar and she seems to have been in episode two that aired last night and it seems like she’s kind picking it up. So there’s definitely a likely possibility that they will end up jamming at some point. Who knows? Brandon’s definitely always playing music in the house so I would definitely say that’s okay to say that they would end up playing more music together for sure.
For more information on “The Fosters”, please visit the official website.
On June 8th, ABC Family premiered it’s new comedy clip show “Dancing Fools” hosted by Melissa Peterman (“Reba”, “Here Comes the Boom”, “Working Class).
The show features the funniest, most outrageous and memorable dances caught on camera. The dancers from the top two clips of the week get to compete on stage for a chance to win $10,000.
For Melissa, since her acting debut on the film “Fargo”, she has appeared on television and is best known for her role as Barbra Jean on the TV series “Reba” (2001-2007) and has appeared on sereis sucha s “Surviving Suburbia”, “Rita Rocks”, “Working class” and “Pretty the Series”.
But for her role on “Dancing Fools”, Melissa not only hosts the show but she also provides her own humorous voice-over narration for the video clips featured.
In promotion of the series premiere of “Dancing Fools”, a media Q&A was held with Melissa Peterman to discuss her new series. Here is a transcript from the series:
Moderator You seem like you’re just naturally funny.
M. Peterman I like to think that, but my husband would probably disagree sometimes, but I think that I find humor in a lot of things.
Moderator How did you discover your natural talent for comedy on stage and on TV?
M. Peterman I had always loved theater. People are really surprised, I was kind of a quiet kid but I was a natural observer. I loved to watch people and part of it was I was close to six feet tall in high school and got into theater. When you got someone to laugh it was like the power of “if I can just get them to laugh with me and not at me”, it was a powerful—the ability to get a laugh out of somebody, it doesn’t matter if you do it for a living or not, that’s an amazing feeling, humor is the glue that gets everyone together and it was a great defense for me in a way in high school. If you’re funny, it doesn’t matter that you’re towering over every boy there, and then I learned to embrace my height so it was a good combo. I think I was just on stage. I did a lot of theater in high school, and when I first got that first laugh, I was addicted.
Moderator Speaking of your humor and using it in your show, “Dancing Fools”, you do these voiceovers for the videos, and they’re really funny. I was wondering do you prepare for those when you’re recording them, or do you make it up on the spot?
M. Peterman We had a great team of writers led by Brennan Huntington who is fantastic and we had a couple of writers who used to work for the “Ellen” show. So we had a great team that would come in and they’d been watching them and they’d send them to me and I’d watch them and mull it over. So, I was able to have jokes prepared, but a lot of times, we would get in the booth and start watching them and either tweak that or I’d have an idea or they’d have an idea. So, we had a template that sometimes we went off of.
There was one, and we could not figure out what to do with this. It’s this older gentleman and I think he’s dressed as a baby dancing and we couldn’t come up with anything because it was hilarious but a little creepy but we wanted it to be funny. So over time, after a couple tries, we just came up with a voice of, “Hi, my name’s Clark Stevens. I’m here to audition for the part of the baby. Goo-goo gah-gah.” We just went “Okay, that works, we can do that.” So, a lot of times, we had a template, but we would definitely stray from it depending on what was happening in the booth at the time.
Moderator Were you part of the evolution of the series or did they come and talk to you about it because they know you’re naturally funny?
M. Peterman Phil Gurn, who’s the producer, I’ve worked with him in the past. He did the Singing Bee which I did for him for CMC, and so, he knew me as the host but he came to me with this idea, and no, that was all them. I thought it was such a great twist of it’s got the feel of America’s Funniest Home Videos but with dance, but then the twist is there’s a game show element. There’s a live element of getting them to come dance live, I think is just genius, and that was the most fun to see the people that we were watching all week over and over again because that’s what I love about the videos too.
Even though we don’t want to admit that we’re getting sucked into watching videos on YouTube at our work, we do. I love watching any sort of fun video like that, and so, it was fun to have them, to be watching them over and over and then to see them come live, and who doesn’t like a chance to win $10,000 for a video that they might have done in their basement or at a wedding reception for fun? So, I just thought the idea was a great twist. You just love to watch it. You can’t stop yourself.
Moderator Any chance we can get you a part on “Melissa and Joey” and just do a Melissa Peterman trifecta on Wednesday?
M. Peterman I would think that would be amazing to do. I would love that. I’m a big fan of the show and the Melissa and Joey cast and our cast, we share some of the same crew as in we share some of the makeup people that have to do both shows, and I just have this feeling that Melissa Joan Hart and I would—everyone who knows both of us are like “You guys should do something together. You would love each other”. So, I’d love to do something with her.
Moderator What’s your favorite part about working on Dancing Fools?
M. Peterman Meeting the contestants. I just love genuinely—I think everyone has a story and I love meeting new people and we met some amazing people. I like hearing people’s stories and what they do and I love that and also the professional dancers that we have, I love trying to dance with them. That also makes me very happy.
Moderator How does “Dancing Fools” differ from any other dance competition show that’s on television today?
M. Peterman Because at any given point, we could have a ten year old or a grandma or two best friends or bridesmaids or groups—at any given point, you could have a 5 year old or a 80 year old coming to dance live and compete. So, I think that’s what’s very different.
Moderator What is your most embarrassing dance memory?
M. Peterman How much time do you have? Probably one of the earliest was my first dance recital and I think it must have been eight or nine or something like that and we were doing 99 Red Balloons. Imagine an eight year old girl with red turtleneck, leotards with the balloons and so, we’d rehearsed it without the balloons because we were going to carry helium balloons and then let them go right when the “da-da-da-da” started and we let them go, and I guess nobody thought that when helium balloons are released in an auditorium or a stage and they hit the lights they would all explode, and so, all these balloons just started popping and all of us were screaming but we were trying so hard to keep it together and keep dancing and I might have wet my pants. I was afraid by the balloons popping and the sounds and it was pop, pop, pop. So, that was the first, which was just a high bar to set for many years of embarrassing dance moments.
I love it when you think you’re killing it at a wedding and you’re like, “Man, everyone is watching me dance” and then you realize your dress is tucked into the back. That’s happened before. I’ve had a lot. I guess I’m not that embarrassed by it because I enjoy it so much that I figure things happen and I’m not the only one they happen to, but yes, thinking that you’re killing it and realizing that the reason they’re watching you is not the reason you think.
Moderator “Dancing Fools” is a perfect show for you to host, then.
M. Peterman It’s a perfect show, and I love it. I love game shows. I love dancing. I imagine I’m a much better dancer in my brain and I do love to dance. These two best friends [did] a dance that they sprung at a wedding reception and it gave me so much joy to watch them because you could just tell they were having the best time ever and we could not stop watching it over and over again. We bring them to do it live and it turns out that they had said that the wedding was going to be the last time they were going to do this dance together. They’ve been best friends since they were 14, and we brought them out of retirement on Dancing Fools to redo it and they were just the nicest guys, both recently married. One’s expecting a baby. I love those stories, and they were amazing.
Moderator Are there any comedians that have influenced you or that you admire?
M. Peterman Carol Burnett is a huge [influence]—I watched her Saturday night when I was a kid and just fell in love. Gilda Radner, I absolutely adored and would get to watch Saturday Night Live at my aunt’s house when I slept over and my parents didn’t know, so Gilda Radner, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin. More recently, Tina Fey, I think is just a genius, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, anyone who’s fearless. I feel like that’s what I love to see in another woman comic, be fearless and don’t worry about being pretty.
You’ll do anything if you know it’s funny, and you don’t care how you look and don’t be afraid to be the butt of the joke and I think that’s just the secret. It was very exciting for me when we were shooting Baby Daddy that Hot in Cleveland shot next door and Betty White was like four doors down from me, and I wrote her a letter and sent it over to her dressing room and she said I could come over and meet her, and for me, she did three of the most—Rose Nylund and Sue Ann Nivens—she created so many amazing sidekicks that were just hilarious, and she’s 92 and she’s fearless. So, for me, it’s any woman who is completely fearless and willing to go for it and commit.
Moderator When do you find time to sleep with everything that you’re doing and what else do you have coming up?
M. Peterman Well, it looks busier because they’re all airing right now. The reality is I’m done shooting them all so now they’re just all airing. So, it’s extreme periods of business followed by a good chunk of time off, but during the shooting, it was extremely busy.
I do it because I do have so much downtime when it’s over, and I have a husband who’s a stay-at-home daddy so I have that support at home, but it appears busy because they’re all airing at the same time. Right now, I’m off until July 15th when I go start Baby Daddy again, but it is busy but I enjoy it so much. If it was a show that I wasn’t having fun on or I didn’t enjoy, I don’t think I could do it or commit to that much, but I’ve honestly really enjoyed everything I’ve been doing. So, it’s fun. It’s never a job when you like what you’re doing. So, that helps.
Let’s be honest, what I get to do is—I’m not a miner. It’s a great job and I’m really blessed and lucky to get to do what I love. So, I still think as an actor when most of your career people are saying no to you, when people are finally saying yes, it’s really hard to say no especially if it’s a project that really appeals to you.
Moderator When it comes back to “Dancing Fools”, can you tell us some of your other favorite moments from this season, what else we have to look forward to?
M. Peterman There’s this awesome kid. His name is Juan and he dances as a character that is called Granny Myrtle, and when I first saw the YouTube clip, I was completely blown away because I thought it was a 90-year-old grandma dancing to Black Eyed Peas and completely killing it. I just thought “Oh my gosh, this grandma is amazing and I need to know what she’s eating because I need that”, and it turns out it’s this young guy and we bring him to dance live and I always like to go meet everyone before the show and I was just talking to him and he had the greatest story.
He created this character because he felt that he’d been bullied before and he didn’t have a lot of friends and he just started to make up a character and he thought what would be fun and make people happy and he came up with this Grandma Myrtle character and would go spontaneously dance and bust her out in public places, and I just remember this kid and I wanted his phone number and I wanted to keep up with him because I just thought what a great story, but he created a character because he felt sort of different. That’s again, like the human interest of seeing them live that makes me really, really happy.
Also, I think looking forward to you’ll get to see a lot of our own professional dancers. I do hone in a lot more as I get more comfortable, which is sort of funny, but there are some great contestants, and to me, that’s the best part of the show.
Moderator As far as “Baby Daddy” goes, what attracted you to the role of Bonnie?
M. Peterman Because she doesn’t have an editor. She just does whatever she thinks, and when you first audition, you basically just get that first pilot script so you don’t really [know the character]. [Creator] Dan [Berendsen] was so great and I think every great pilot, the characters are already super defined right there, and when I read it, I just loved her. I thought she was loud. She could come off as overbearing and whatever, but at the end of the day, she would kill for her kids and she was funny. It was a completely different character from Barbara Jean but it still had some of the fun elements of things just come out of her mouth, and she was single and she was this woman who her kids are all grown up and they’re on a new journey and she’s divorced.
So, she has a whole new chapter coming up and she’s not 22, but she gets to still date and see what happens now that you’re not a mom full time anymore. So, that sort of attracted me. I don’t know if you’ve seen the cast, but that was sort of attractive too to get to work with them every day.
Moderator You’ve acted in movies, television programs, you’ve hosted, is there one that you prefer over the other?
M. Peterman I don’t know. I always kind of think of myself as an actress first in a way, but the hosting comes so naturally because of my improv. I don’t think I prefer anyone over the other. I think what I like about it is if I go host, I think that makes me a better improviser because it makes me faster on my feet, and if I go improvise, that makes me a better standup, and if I go do standup, that works on my timing which makes me better at a sitcom role, and if I go do a movie, that’s a whole other sort of muscle. Everything’s smaller and it’s a little bit—just a very different feel. So, I think I enjoy them all because I think they make me better and help me exercise a different muscle that makes me better for another thing. I don’t know if that makes sense.
Moderator I was wondering how close do you get with the contestants?
M. Peterman As I’ve hosted a few other shows, I found that if you take the time to go before the show starts and say hello, welcome them and take a moment to chat with them, it puts them at ease and they can have fun because here’s the thing—their time on the show is—this is the clip or the moment that every family’s going to watch at every holiday. They’re going to e-mail it to everyone. This is their time to shine and this is their moment. They get to be a star and this is the clip that their family will air forever.
So, I just always think it’s really important to go say hello and welcome them and it puts them at ease and they can have fun, but I always spend a few minutes or even longer before the show starts with all of the contestants there. I don’t follow them home or anything, but I would a couple of them. They were pretty fun.
For more information on “Dancing Fools”, please visit the official website here.
J!-ENT Interview with Aoi Eir and Luna Haruna by Dennis A. Amith and Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interview and Articles)
For many anime fans, Aoi Eir (note: Eir is her first name but for the label, Aoi Eir is used) is a name that many remember for her songs featured on “Mobile Suit Gundam AGE”, “Fate/Zero” and most recently with “Sword Art Online”.
But what is fascinating is how Aoi became a music star.
Originally hailing from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Aoi was first noticed through her music videos posted on the Nico Nico Douga video sharing site.
As a person that has been interested in music at a young age, in high school, Aoi used to have a high school band. After graduating, she continued to pursue music and by 2011, she released her debut single “Memoria” that was used on the series “Fate/Zero”.
By 2012, she would have two hit anime theme songs with “Aurora” which became the fourth opening theme song for “Mobile Suit Gundam AGE” and her third single “Innocence” was released in November 2012 and was used as the second opening theme song for “Sword Art Online”.
For music artist, Luna Haruna (note: Luna is the first name and Luna Haruna is used by the label), she is an anime fan and loves gothic lolita.
Her song “Overfly” was featured as the second ending theme to “Sword Art Online” and recently debuted at #7, a pretty solid showing since her debut single “Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau” (which was used for anime series “Fate/Zero”).
A big anime and music fan, by the time she entered junior high, she became obsessed with gothic lolita manga characters and Western clothes. By the third year of junior high, Haruna Luna was auditioning for the Internet radio program of “Renta Magica” and won the opportunity to perform the opening theme.
And from that point on, her life would immediately change. Haruna Luna would become an imoto-kei amateur model for “Kera” fashion magazine and modeling for “Marui” but with anime as her passion, she would become popular for competing and becoming a finalist for the fourth All-Japan Anime Song Grand Prix. With this new found popularity, she was signed to SME Records.
For both Aoi Eir and Luna Haruna, with their work on “Sword Art Online” and “Fate/Zero”, both performed in concert in April at Sakura Con in Seattle. Their very first performance in the United States.
J!-ENT recently had the opportunity to talk with the duo alone and also take part at the Sakura-Con press conference:
Here is our brief interview and a transcript of the press Q&A with Aoi Eir and Luna Haruna:
J!-ENT: Many people are probably wondering how your stage names came about. Can you please tell us?
Aoi Eir: “Eir” is actually the name of a Norse goddess. It has always been my childhood dream to become a singer, but there was a time that I had given up on this dream. And at that time, I thought about becoming a nurse. I had even started studying to become a nurse and so I became very fond of the goddess Eir, who was the goddess of medical skill and healing. So I got “Eir” from that, and as for “Aoi”, I had always been very fond of the name “Aoi” or “Aoi-chan” and always thought it was cute, and my username on the computer had always been “Aoi”. So it’s always been a nickname that I liked a lot, so I combined the two and came up with “Aoi Eir”.
Luna Haruna: As for me, I have always admired the name “Luna” since I was a child. And I have always liked the moon, so I chose “Luna”. I was also using the name “Luna” while I was a magazine model (dokusha model) and got the name “Haruna” added when I started singing. The head of my agency was the one that came up with “Haruna”, because I thought it was would nice for people to refer to me as “Luna Luna” someday, so that’s how we got “HaLuna Luna”. Also, the kanji for “Haruna” means good luck, and that was another reason it was chosen.
J!-ENT: Did you know there were many people in the US who listen to and are fans of Japanese music? And are you pretty surprised to see the support that you are receiving from fans around the world?
Aoi Eir: I had heard about it, but I had never seen it until now. I was able to experience their love of anime up close. There was a person that said they had learned Japanese through anime, so I felt their love for anime very strongly. I go to Winter Comi and Summer Comi quite often and had seen people from overseas there, so I had known that it was popular to some point. But I had never imagined the love was so very deep as I found out here… I’m very moved and I felt that I had to step it up a little myself.
J!-ENT: Is there any American food you’d like to try or places you’d like to visit while you’re in Seattle?
Aoi Eir: Starbucks is really famous, so I had some Starbucks coffee. I’d like to walk around as well, but haven’t had the chance to just yet. I’m hoping we’ll be able to do that tomorrow, and then I’m hoping to enjoy various American style foods. I was rather surprised to hear that it’s very common to eat sandwiches and potato chips together, so I’d love to do that.
J!-ENT: The first Starbucks is actually in Seattle, at Pike Place Market, so please check it out.
Aoi Eir: We totally will!
Luna Haruna: I love Subway, and I really love their oven potatoes (Note: they’re like french fries and not available in the US) and I’m wondering if they’re different in the US. I eat them all the time in Japan. So I’d love to try the US version if they’re available. I’d like to conquer that. I heard that it’s the biggest fast food chain in the US, and that there are even more Subways than McDonalds.
J!-ENT: What kind of students were you in high school? The artsy student? The book worm? The prankster? The athlete?
Aoi Eir: I wasn’t the smart kid at all (laughs). I played basketball quite a bit, but I also loved music and had started getting more interested in it while I was playing basketball in high school. But I never really explored it until I got into high school. In high school, I formed a band. I started playing the guitar in junior high school, and then in high school I started a band, doing the vocals and playing guitar. I even studied the bass guitar a little bit. So it was in high school that I really started to explore music.
Luna Haruna: By the time I was in high school, I was already a complete otaku. The thing was, everyone in my class was an otaku. Not to mention, it was an art class, so everyone was really good at drawing and everyone was able to draw manga. So it was completely normal for everyone to be reading manga during class. You pretty much couldn’t find text books in our desks… so it was a very interesting class. We were able to express ourselves to the max, so it was a very fun high school life.
J!-ENT: Both of you had the opportunity to have your songs featured on two popular anime series. How was that first experience when you heard your song on an anime series?
Aoi Eir: It didn’t feel like it was real at all at first… So every week, I would be watching the episodes just to confirm that it was real. Yet still, I felt, “Is this really happening?” Now I’m a little more used to it, so now I concentrate on what I can do to repay all of my fans and how I can express myself even more.
Luna Haruna: I feel the same way. When I first saw the anime footage going along with my own song, I was so moved. My overall goal in life is to become one with the anime world, so I felt that I had come closer to that goal, and I took a picture of the footage with my phone… Even though you can’t hear it.
Aoi Eir: I did that, too! (laughs)
Luna Haruna: And then, I uploaded that to my blog.
Aoi Eir: I took a picture of when my name shows up in the credits.
J!-ENT: If there is one word to describe yourself, what word would that be and why?
Aoi Eir: I think the word “fun”. I’m always having fun. I’m having fun when I’m performing, and singing. I’m having fun all the time.
Luna Haruna: It’s not one word, but rather one phrase: anime otaku. I really believe that anime is my life. I believe that anime is the only way that I can truly express myself. So I intend to keep pulling through as an otaku.
Last night at your concert, people seemed to enjoy your song from “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, the collaboration, what made you pick your songs last night and do you two plan on doing anymore collaborations in the future?
Aoi Eir: I personally love ClariS and ClariS and I are actually from the same hometown. I look up to and respect them very much and so I’d like to do more collaborations with them.
Luna Haruna: I also like doing collaborations. Since I usually sing by myself, singing with various other artists is always stimulating and is also a learning experience. It’s also very exciting so I’d love to do it again.
American Robot Records has recorded various artists and found that most artists have a routine. What are things that you concentrate on before recording or during recording?
Aoi Eir: I actually work out. I think that having a strong core is very important, so I get a good night’s sleep, drink a lot of water and then do a lot of sit ups. Then I try to imagine the world of the particular song I’m recording and then I record.
Luna Haruna: Expression is very important to me, so I read the lyrics and let my imagination go to work. I love anime very much, so it’s very important that I don’t ruin that world. I keep that world very important to me and imagine the lyrics, and then go into recording with that image in my head.
J!-ENT: Before performing to an American audience, was it a bit stressful, scary, exciting? How were you feeling when you found out that you would be performing in America?
Aoi Eir: I was a little nervous, but the people of Seattle are very passionate and there are many people who are very good at having a great time. So I was also able to have a great time and perform. In the end, I was a little nervous, but my feelings of excitement were much, much greater.
Luna Haruna: I was also very nervous and excited at first. This is my first time anywhere overseas, so I was very excited about what kinds of environments I would see. And last night, I was able to perform at the concert and it almost felt like it wasn’t the first time I was here. Everyone welcomed me so warmly and I was very happy that I came.
So how have you evolved as a singer? Since you both have been singing since a young age, has your presence in the anime world changed you?
Aoi Eir: Before I debuted, I had always just worried about my pitch. But as a singer, I want to express something, to say something. That is vital in being a singer, but before I debuted, I hadn’t thought of that at all. But since I’ve debuted, I’ve always considering how much people would be accepting my songs in their hearts and how I can excite the people who come to my concerts more and more. I think about those points very much now.
Luna Haruna: I have always loved anisongs and singing in general. Now that I’m a singer myself, I am able to experience bringing smiles to the people who listen to my music and see that there are people who feel something when they listen to my songs. So I want to become an even better singer and I was able to really understand the wonderfulness of songs, so I actually feel like I was given an even bigger dream to pursue and I’m having a lot of fun. So I’d like to become an even better singer.
Aoi, how does it feel to have two top ten singles so early in your career?
Aoi Eir: Honestly, I never thought that would happen, so I was very surprised at first. It actually felt quite unreal. But I feel that was able to happen because I have so many fans who support me and I’m currently trying to figure out what I can do next so I can repay all of them for their support.
Luna, how was it working with the legendary Kajiura Yuki on your debut song?
Luna Haruna: Well, I loved the TV anime series, “Gundam SEED” which Kajiura Yuki-san did the music for and I have always loved the worlds she was able to create through her music. So when I was told I would be able to work with someone has amazing as her, it was very surreal. When I listened to the song I was going to sing, I was able to really get a feel for the world that song created and I was very happy.
What do you like to do to relax when you’re not singing?
Aoi Eir: I play games. I absolutely love the Xbox 360, PS3, PSP and Nintendo DS and I’m playing all the time. And among all of those, the thing I’m most into right now is online gaming.
What types of online games? MMOs? Shooters?
Aoi Eir: I mainly play FPS’s. For example, I love “Left 4 Dead” and “Gears of War” very much. Well, I guess “Gears” isn’t technically a FPS, but I also like “Call of Duty” as well.
Luna Haruna: I’m very much an anime otaku. I love watching anime and walking through Akihabara. I go to a lot of events and even get on the first train to do so, so I’m very passionate about being an otaku. Anime is my everything.
Now that you’ve worked in anime, is it something you’re eager to continue with? Is there any particular anime you’d like to work with in the future? If not, what is your true passion in music?
Aoi Eir: I have always loved and grew up with anime since I was in kindergarten, so I’m very honored that I’m able to sing anime theme songs. I’d definitely like to continue singing anime songs. Also, I’d like to try even harder so the audience overseas will continue listening and enjoying my music as well.
Luna Haruna: I feel the same. I would love to continue singing anime songs. I believe that anime is a vital part of Japanese culture and I was able to feel the excitement of becoming one with anime. So I’d like to continue to convey those feelings and worlds that anime creates to the other anime otakus.
Are there any other Japanese or Foreign artists you’d like to collaborate with?
Aoi Eir: For Japanese artists, I’d have to say I would absolutely love to collaborate with Mizuki Nana-san, Nakagawa Shoko-san, and Hirano Aya-san. As for American artists, I really love rock music, so I’d love to collaborate with Linkin Park.
Luna Haruna: I would love to do a collaboration with ALI Project. I had been able to collaborate with them before for an event for KERA, a Harajuku fashion magazine, called GothLoli Revival. But this time, I’d like to collaborate with them musically. I love the fashion and the world of gothic lolita so I’d love to express that with them. It would make me very happy.
For the songs you did for “Fate/Zero” and “Sword Art Online”, how much input do they give you and how much input were you able to give? Do you try to read as much of the source material as much as possible or do you just try to go with a general feeling of the material?
Aoi Eir: Since I got the song before it’s actually an anime, I go back and read the original work and try to imagine the feelings of the characters and try to convey those into the lyrics, since i also write lyrics myself. So I do use the source material to heighten my feelings for the song I’m about to sing.
Luna Haruna: So far, I’ve been singing the songs that appear in the second season so there is already a story that’s been created. So I go back and watch that, read the original material, and if there are prior series involved, I go back and read or watch those as well. Being an otaku, I really like to delve into that world and I love each individual character and try to keep in mind what they are trying to express as well as the world of that anime itself. I then take that and imagine how to interpret that into the songs.
How does it feel to be able to start out as an anime fan and now be able to do work that is involved in these anime? Does being an anime fan give you a different perspective doing these songs?
Aoi Eir: When I was watching anime, I didn’t think much about it, but now that I’m on the side that’s involved with making an anime, it can be hard to find the right feelings, words and voice that I’m trying to express. For example, thinking about what wording would impact the fans the most and in the songs, thinking about what parts should be softer in singing to help convey certain feelings. So I discuss all of this with the director and it’s a lot of fun going through this creative process and there is also a difficulty doing so. I believe that this has all been learning experiences for me.
Luna Haruna: Up until recently, I was on the side that was watching the anime. But now that I’m on the side that is creating anime, and expressing the worlds it creates to other fans, I think it’s only natural as an otaku. Seeing my voice being connected with the visuals of an anime, I feel like the real world and the anime world have finally connected, and I feel that a lot of dreams have been answered.
Haruna-san, you’ve mentioned that you walk around Akihabara. This question is for the both of you: have you been recognized on the street, and if fans approach you, how do you react?
Luna Haruna: Well, when I walk around Akihabara, I’m dressed very plain. So it’d be pretty hard to track me down, but if a fan were to find me, I think we’d be able to get excited together about anime and such so I’d be very welcome to that.
Aoi Eir: When I had gone to Akihabara in search of a brand new game that had come out, and my album came out on January 31st so there was a very big sign with my face on it… but no one had found me. I was even eating a crepe in front of that sign, and even then, no one approached me, so I’d like to try even harder.
With both of your successes with “Fate/Zero” and “Sword Art Online”, what other series are both of you aiming for to contribute your voice to?
Aoi Eir: I love fighting and in games, I love fighting games and even when watching anime, I watched alot of shows with a lot of fighting in it. For example, “Dragon Ball” and “Sailor Moon”. So just like “Fate/Zero” and “Sword Art Online”, I’d like to work on even more series filled with intense fighting.
If you had a chance to work on “Accel World”, would you have done it?
Aoi Eir: I would have loved to! I love ALTIMA and when I hear their song from “Accel World”, I get very excited.
Luna Haruna: As for me, as long as it’s an anime, I’m very happy. As long as I can sing anime songs, that itself is a dream come true for me. So if I can work on any anime, it makes me very happy.
Are there any American or western artists that have influenced your works?
Aoi Eir: They may not all be American, but Marion Raven, Slipknot, and Evanescence. Other than that, because of my father, I love Whitney Houston. I sing her songs a lot at karaoke. Also, on our way here, I was watching Eminem’s music video.
Luna Haruna: I mainly listen to ani-songs, so I don’t listen to very much western music. But when I want a slight change of atmosphere, I listen to U2, and I used to listen to Britney Spears quite often.
For more information on Aoi Eir, please click here.
For more information on Luna Haruna, please click here.
Single/album images are courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Convention photo of Aoi Eir and Luna Haruna was taken by J!-ENT’s Michelle Tymon
Media Q&A with Constance Marie of ABC Family’s “Switched At Birth” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles) (2013)
Actress Constance Marie is well-known for her role as Angie in the family comedy sitcom “George Lopez” (2002-2007), the television show “American Family” and her role as Marcel Quintanilla in the 1997 film “Selena”.
Having had a career which began as a dancer in films such as “Salsa” and the TV series adaptation of “Dirty Dancing” back in the late ’80s, Constance returned to television as Regina Vasquez in “Switched at Birth”, a one-hour scripted drama that tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital.
“Switched at Birth” is a series that focuses on Bay Kennish (portrayed by Vanessa Marano), a girl who grew up in a wealthy family with two parents and a brother, while Daphne Vasquez (portrayed by Katie Leclerc), who lost her hearing at an early age due to a case of meningitis, grew up with a single mother, Regina (portrayed by Constance Marie) in a working class neighborhood.
Things come to a dramatic head when both families meet and struggle to learn how to live together for the sake of the girls.
In the series, we have seen the character of Regina Vasquez go through tough times and put in rehab due to alcoholism. But also, a real life situation happened to Constance who was diagnosed with double tendonitis, carpel tunnel and cubital nerve damage from learning American Sign Language (ASL) and having to perform it on the series.
Because of her injury, it was written into the show how Regina is unable to communicate with her daughter, now that she can not use sign language because of the permanent damage.
With the second half of season two about to air on ABC Family on June 10th, Constance Marie talked about the upcoming season, her character and also her injury in a media Q&A.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A.
Moderator Could you talk about how your relationship with Bay will develop in the second half of the season?
C. Marie That’s one of the great things that happens right when the show premieres is Regina comes out rehab and realizes that how things were before are not going to work for somebody who is in rehab. She ends up living — or residing for a short while anyway– at Angelo’s house, and somehow the way that [Executive Producer ]Lizzy Weiss wonderfully works it out, they end up living there also; and so the entire Vasquez/Kennish family, but the Kennish being Bay this time, get to know each other and live together in the Vasquez house.
C. Marie I know, well, actually I guess it’s Vasquez/Sorrento/Kennish house.
Moderator Can you talk about if we’ll be getting to see you sign at all this season now that your hands are a little bit better?
C. Marie Well, the thing about that is they’re still not what they were and every once in a while I try it out and the problem that this kind of injury, it just flares up and you use your arms so much in life just normally besides the sign language, so I think it’s going to be a bit longer. I keep asking with my doctor and the problem is he’ll say we don’t know yet until it goes away because it just has flare-ups; and you can’t stop the flare-ups without stopping the activity that’s making it flare up, and in this case being the sign language, so unfortunately not yet. I’m hopeful. I’m very hopeful. I’m a very strong woman and I just hope that it’ll come back soon.
Moderator I hear that when Regina comes out of rehab, she’s actually coming out a little bit early. Is that really a good idea or will we see her alcoholism continue to play out, or is she good now for a while?
C. Marie I think what happens is Regina realizes how much her rehab stay has sort of added to the disconnect between Daphne and her. She realizes that she’s missed so much time with the girls as it is that her coming out early to honor a tradition that she and Daphne had ends up being a mistake; and she has to remove herself again. That’s why she ends up at the Sorrento house, Angelo’s house, for a while because she just made a mistake and it was too soon. But she is clearly on the path of trying to stay sober, so will do anything including moving in with Angelo if that’s what it takes to stay sober to get space from the Kennishes.
Moderator Does that mean we’ve seen the last of the boyfriend? He kind of gave her the old I’ll call you when I’m back in town kind of thing when he left?
C. Marie Oh my goodness. I swear I’m envious of my character’s life. She has so many beautiful men everywhere. Actually, yes, that storyline as of yet that I know doesn’t pan out. We focus more on Regina’s rehab. One of the things that are great this season is before it was all about Daphne and everybody getting to know Daphne and the struggles that Bay and Daphne had together, but this is really a chance for Bay and Regina to connect and to explore that relationship, which was really not touched on in the first season at all.
The dynamic of that and we include Angelo into that and all of us living together is really and truly an amazing, amazing dynamic that gets to be explored. Also the thing is Ty is back; Blair Redford is back on the show by popular demand. They get to explore those relationships, that relationship and him and his PTSD and coming back from war. It’s really, really amazing how dynamic the show is even still.
Moderator The wardrobe on “Switch at Birth” is fantastic. Do you get any say on what you wear on the show?
C. Marie Thank you so much. I am going to relay that to our wonderful wardrobe department.
It’s sort of a collaborative process because especially since Regina has gone through so many transformations from more earthy … artist, hair stylist forward trashy dressing a little bit too young to her drinking phase and rehab days and now since she has a new job that I’m not sure—I can tease on it, but let’s just say she’s very, very fashionable; and my wardrobe just gets so much better.
Moderator Speaking of Regina and art, she’s a very artistic character and obviously you have artistic abilities within acting, I was wondering do you have any additional artistic talent?
C. Marie I did major in art. I can paint and draw. I was also a dancer, which is also an art form and acting. I can sing, but if I have to. Lea Thompson is an amazing, amazing singer. I can carry a tune and she can also direct, which is she is going to end up directing an episode, which I’m so excited to take direction from her. She was also a dancer, so we’re just really multi-faceted over here at Switch at Birth.
Moderator It comes through in your part in so many ways. I really enjoy watching you.
C. Marie Thank you so much. I love that this show is very empowering for women and women’s struggles, and it focuses on how much women have to hold it all together and particularly the Regina character being a single mom, a working mom with a deaf child. Really that’s one of the things that attracted me to the role was because it was an homage to the single moms of America, who oftentimes are more seen as victims instead of these empowered, well rounded still flawed characters that we can champion and role model. I really love that.
Moderator Could you tell us a little bit about what it’s like working with Katie and Vanessa?
C. Marie It is wonderful. I am so appreciative and it’s so refreshing to see young women as centered and talented and grounded and just hard working, quality individuals. I cannot gush enough because at the age that they’re at to be this together is just inspiring. It’s like when I grow up, I want to be Vanessa Marano, that’s how amazing she is. Katie Leclerc, this being one of her first major vehicles has such a wonderful attitude and such a wealth of talent. I really, really respect my TV daughters and we get along swimmingly. For that many females to work together and have a united front and really respect each other, it’s just so wonderful. I really and truly love it.
Moderator There’s rumor to be what if episode coming up this season.
C. Marie It was amazing because Regina, my character, traditionally throughout the show has carried a lot of the blame and a lot of the residual effect of everybody blaming her that she didn’t tell about the switch, which is interesting as Lizzy Weiss told me that my character knew from the pilot; and at first I was conflicted by that. Then I realized that I, probably, Constance, would not tell either because your child is four years old and you’re not going to give away a child that truly believed that you are the mother.
In this episode, the what if episode that’s airing in July, it’s so exciting because my character does tell. It has a crazy butterfly effect that changes everybody. There are physical changes, emotional changes with the daughters, you won’t even recognize them, and John and Kathryn’s relationship is different. My character’s life is completely, completely different and it’s just riveting.
When I read the script I cried like three times and it was just so moving. I think everybody is going to really be intrigued by this what if episode and just how far it stretches the effect.
Moderator Is your own daughter about the same age?
C. Marie Exactly. I had to shoot some scenes that as an actor I had to go to places that were incredibly, incredibly difficult and I might not even be able to watch them, they’re so moving and well written. Our writers just did such a great job creating this what if reality. It’s so expansive and I was like I never thought about how that would be different and how that would be different and how they would be different; it’s amazing.
Moderator We should all watch this one with a box of tissue, huh?
C. Marie I would say definitely.
Moderator What was your inspiration in creating the Easy Greeny Mommy that you have on your website?
C. Marie The inspiration for me was I struggled with fertility issues for three and a half years. One of the things I did was a tremendous amount of research about what could be impeding my fertility like toxins or BPA in the plastic bottles we drink with water, all that sort of stuff. Once I ended up getting pregnant and having a baby, I realized oh my gosh, I know about the toxicity of the environment so much, why don’t I also translate all that information to my daughter.
One of the things was I’m so proud that I used cloth diapers instead of the petrochemicals they have in disposable diapers. I used glass bottles. I would tell people that I would meet as a mom and they would be like, where do you get this information from? That made me realize somebody needs to come up with some things that can relay the information to a mom in a simple way, not so many details that it’s overwhelming because literally you’re not getting any sleep. You’re breastfeeding. You just need it easy and so I got Easy Greeny Mommy.
Moderator Do you plan on having a book coming out with more details in the future?
C. Marie Yes. I have to say Switched at Birth, to maintain that quality and that character Regina it takes a tremendous amount of time, so I have had to put the book a little bit on the back burner. It’s something that’s always in the works, so when I have an episode that I’m not in so much, which thankfully that hasn’t really happened yet, the book has to take the back burner to Switched because that’s my number one love right now.
One of the best things about Switched is that I hear that moms and their children watch it together, and especially the daughters and the moms. I think it’s a wonderful bonding experience that I’ve heard is a phenomenon and sometimes they even get the dads in there, too, which is wonderful.
Moderator Congrats on Switched at Birth receiving three Teen Choice Award nominations this year.
C. Marie Yay, I’m so excited. I want everybody to vote for our young talent, because they deserve it. They’re actually using their celebrity for good, and I think that needs to be rewarded.
Moderator Is there anyone you’d love to work with some day?
C. Marie Of course, Meryl Streep; that would be number one. I would be willing to play anything in any scene, even a shrub, with Meryl Streep. I mean there’s nobody better, if you ask me. She’s wonderful.
Moderator Are there any other additional struggles for Regina this season?
C. Marie One of the struggles that she has is dealing with the rehab—that’s huge, and when and if she and Angelo ever are to get together. That is a huge one and that is an amazing push me/pull you relationship; and the dynamic between Gilles Marini and myself is truly, truly wonderful.
Plus she also had to deal with the baggage of this new baby that he has and how far involved, is she going to help raise that new baby? Is she going to be insta-mom to an out of relationship situation that Angelo, a one night stand that he had? That is a huge dynamic and also the resentment and the relationship of Bay, that’s something we’ve never really explored and that she has to handle with kid gloves.
It’s now with Daphne, Daphne has always been the one that I championed and I stuck by. Now Daphne is threatened by Bay living with me and me getting to know Bay, and so you get to see a side of Daphne you’re not used to seeing.
Moderator What is your favorite episode from the ones that have aired already?
C. Marie Oh, that’s tough. I would say just because of the cathartic moment that it was the one when I tell Daphne about the suitcase and that I knew about the switch. That moment gives me chills when I even watch it; and the pretend wedding to Angelo was so awesome. I love my reaction at the end, you know like what am I doing here? That was great.
Moderator Could you tell our readers a little bit of a behind the scenes moment or something fun that would give them and idea of what it’s like to be on the set at Switched at Birth?
C. Marie People would be just crazily surprised at how funny D.W. Moffett is, and you see him as this intense dad and how silly he is and how funny he is. I think people would be also surprised to see how silly Lea Thompson is. She is just hilarious. When she gets really tired, she channels her inner Ethel Merman and it’s hilarious.
I think people would be surprised at how long it takes to shoot every single scene. We’re there for hours. Yesterday Gilles Marini and I and Vanessa Marano shot three scenes in Angelo’s apartment and it was just like all day long. We literally just go change our clothes and come back and do a completely different scene. One right—and they’re out of order. People would be startled by the process.
Moderator How does it feel knowing you are part of such a positive impact on the ASL world?
C. Marie Honestly I feel truly, truly blessed. Working on the show has expanded my mind and now I can say that I speak a fourth language; and I’ve just fallen in love with the deaf community. They have been so helpful and so supportive of this show. Now that I’m not signing it doesn’t mean that I still can’t read the signs and communicate with everybody. It just really has been refreshing, but to me the most important thing is that, because I’m very active on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, that’s a major mode of communication for the deaf community.
A lot of hearing students, I’ve heard back from them that they’ve actually petitioned their high schools to start having American Sign Language as a second language in their high school. A lot of people have been motivated to become interpreters because they really didn’t even know that it was a career path and it was a language that they would fall in love with. Then the vast majority who have learned sign language by watching the show because there’s never been anything like it before where you could actually see the words as it’s signed and all you would have to do is freeze frame and watch the language.
They’ve learned and some people have told me stories where they run into somebody with sign language and they can sign nice to meet you and that that deaf person was so appreciative that they tried to make the connection with them. I cannot sing the praises of Lizzy Weiss and ABC Family enough for taking the risk to do a project like this and I’m just really proud.
The biggest compliment I got was when I was in rehab for my arm, and they had never dealt with anybody who had this repetitive motion syndrome and the nerve damage from sign language before.
I’m in the middle of my rehab and my therapist realized that there was one other person who was an interpreter who had a little bit of rehab done on her arm. She tried to introduce us and the interpreter turned to me and she said, “I know who you are and I really love your work. I believe you as a person who has been doing sign language for 12 years.” I was like yes! If an interpreter will tell you that, then that’s the best compliment in the world. I really felt like yes, I’ve done something good.
Moderator How is Regina’s relationship with John and Kathryn?
C. Marie Let’s just say John and Kathryn are not happy with the fact that I’ve been in rehab, and they’re not happy with the fact that I’m actually returning from rehab, because everybody has gone on with their lives. They’ve bonded with Daphne; Daphne has been living with them. Now they haven’t had to deal with the co-parenting issues, which are a major part of the drama. The Kennishes are wonderful parents. Regina is a wonderful parent. We just do it differently. Let’s just say Regina doesn’t get a warm welcome when she comes home.
Moderator We see Regina and Angelo living in the same house. How does that pan out? Do they see sides of each other that they didn’t expect to see, or learn more about each other?
C. Marie Yes. Let’s just say Angelo knows nothing about being a parent, so he thinks like this easy breezy and that doesn’t necessarily happen. Also you get to learn a lot of the cultural things, how Bay’s life would be different with different kinds of food and different artistic outlets. It’s not quite a what if episode, but it’s just a different view on parenting. To say that that threatens the Kennishes would be an understatement.
For more information on “Switched at Birth”, please visit the official website here.
For the cast of ABC Family’s comedy series “Baby Daddy”, a few of the cast members have grown up on television.
Actor Jean-Luc Bilodeau got his big break as the younger brother on the sci-fi drama series “Kyle XY”. Tahj Mowry had appeared on television at a very young age, starring in series such as “Full House” and “Out All Night”. While actress Chelsea Kane grew up on series such as “Cracking Up” and “Jonas”.
But for actor Derek Theler, he graduated from Colorado State with a degree in pre-medicine while modeling for a variety of commercials.
But with a dream of wanting to become an actor, Derek eventually got roles in TV series for “Conan” and “90210″, leading to a big role “Baby Daddy” and a lead role in the web series “Project: SERA”.
Derek Theler plays the role of Danny Wheeler in “Baby Daddy”.
A series which 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.
With the summer premiere of “Baby Daddy” having aired on ABC Family on May 29th, Derek Theler recently took part in a media Q&A to promote the series.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A with Derek Theler!
Moderator It’s great to see Baby Daddy back. Can you talk a little bit about what the trials and tribulations Danny will be going through this season?
D. Theler This is a great season for Danny. There’s a lot of great storylines happening with him. He’s trying to figure out what he wants to do with his love life. He’s experimenting going out with different girls on dates, and he eventually finds a girl that’s more of a steady girlfriend for him, and there’s more hockey stuff.
It’s really great to work on a sitcom where they actually bring big sets in and try to make it look like Madison Square Garden. So, that’s really fun. You get to experience the boys trying to figure out how to raise a baby together. It’s pretty fun just to see the three boys together. Since we have the first season out of the way, now you get to understand them a lot more and we even get to go through an episode—a flashback episode where you get to see all the boys in high school and Riley in high school and their mom throwing a birthday party. It was actually one of the most fun episodes to shoot.
Moderator Was there anything about Danny that wasn’t originally scripted for you that you’ve added to this character?
D. Theler I’ve heard from the writers and producers that my character off the bat wasn’t supposed to be very sweet. He was supposed to be kind of a womanizer, kind of like a professional athlete that didn’t have as much of a heart I guess, and so, I really like the way that he’s changed and the way I’ve been able to try to bring him to life because he’s really likable. You feel for the guy. He’s a sweetheart and he never means to do any wrong. He just accidentally kind of makes the wrong choices sometimes and it takes a little bit longer for him to get it.
Moderator How does it feel to have the show be such a hit that it gets renewed for season three before the second season even airs?
D. Theler I feel so blessed. It’s really an amazing feeling because I wasn’t working consistently going into all this. So, it’s still great to be able to work at a pilot, have the pilot picked up, which is a first season and have people really respond to it and then work on the second season which we just finished which was absolutely amazing because everyone’s so close with the cast and the crew and then to get re-upped for the third before we were done filming, it was the very last day of our second season shoot, the day where everyone was like oh, we’re really upset and sad and we don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to work with each other again, the cast and the crew, and we get the word that we have a full season three pickup, it changes that day and the rest of our hiatus dramatically. We’re not waiting by the phone to know if we’re going to go back to work with our family. So, it was an amazing experience, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to know that I get to go back to work with my best friends.
Moderator What originally attracted you to the role of Danny?
D. Theler Originally, I really wanted to work on a sitcom. It’s fun. The hours are great. You get to stand up and tell jokes all day, and Danny specifically because he’s a professional athlete. I consider myself an athlete. I played sports my whole life and I try to keep myself in really good shape, and I thought it would be so cool to play an athlete and be able to tell jokes all day and also, to play a character who’s kind of pining for his best friend. I don’t really have any way to relate to that. I didn’t really have a crush on my best friend growing up or anything, but I thought that it was cool and I like to see the stages and how we was developed throughout.
Moderator Are you guys going to have any guest stars next season?
D. Theler We have a great lineup of guest stars. We have Matt Dallas coming with Jean-Luc from Kyle XY and Lacey Chabert from Party of Five who plays one of my love interests. Greg Gunberg comes back. It’s going to be a really exciting season with all the guest stars that get to come, we were pretty excited.
Moderator Which guest star was the best on a set, who you had the most fun on set with?
D. Theler That’s a tough question because I don’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt. I’m going to have to go with Lacey because she played my love interest and she was just a sweetheart with everybody on the set.
Moderator When did you decide to go into acting?
D. Theler My story’s a lot different than a lot of actors out there. I’m born in Alaska, grew up in Colorado, went to college in Colorado, went to Colorado State and I actually finished my degree. I got my degree in pre-medicine because the plan was to actually go to med school but that did not happen obviously.
So, I just didn’t want to have any regrets. I didn’t want to not take a chance on something I wanted to do because midway through college—my whole life I wanted to act, but through college, I decided that this was the thing that I really wanted—my dream was to work in LA as an actor. So, I started saving up money through college and my parents were helping me through college. So, I finished my degree for them, and as soon as I saved up enough money, I moved to LA and just kind of went for it and moved here without knowing anybody, and I got very lucky with a couple of commercials and then found great representation and fell into this and I couldn’t be happier.
Moderator You did mention that you played sports growing up and being that you’re a professional hockey player on the show, did you actually play hockey?
D. Theler Hockey wasn’t one of my sports. I’m not a good skater, believe it or not. Everything we do on set is with inline skates, and I’m not a great skater. I kind of fake it honestly, but I did play floor hockey, and my sports growing up were football and basketball, basketball especially. So, that’s the answer to that.
Moderator Has Danny really taken a step back in going after Riley and letting Ben go after her. Is Ben not even going to go after her this season? What’s going to happen with that?
D. Theler That’s a good question. There’s a lot happening with the whole love triangle this season. Riley’s never, ever out of the picture for Danny. He does get a real girlfriend and he does go on several dates with other women, but I think it’s just him kind of trying to defend himself and take his mind off something that he doesn’t think he’s going to be able to obtain and he’s always there. He’s always there for Riley if she need anything and the whole Ben question, it is a couple of very interesting episodes where Danny needs to decide if he’s going to help his brother out because he may have some feelings for his dream girl or if he’s going to hold him back. So, you’re going to have to tune in for that.
Moderator Could talk about your relationship with Melissa and Tahj on and off screen?
D. Theler It’s great. I just saw them two days ago. I just went on a trip to San Francisco with Tahj. We did a little bit of work for the show and then we had some fun together, but I see Tahj about once a week probably. We’ll go grab a drink together and catch up.
Melissa has a family and she’s working on 18 shows right now it seems like, but we keep in contact, all of us do, the whole cast does. We’re very close. We have emails and mass text and we always know what each other is up to and we really care about each other and we can’t wait to go back to work with each other. Specifically, Melissa and Tahj, I would say that I keep up with them via e-mail, text and I do see Tahj quite frequently.
Moderator Did you guys play pranks on each other?
D. Theler Pranks, everybody asks these prank questions because we were such a close cast and it’s funny. There are several things that we like to do. I don’t know if it’s specifically towards the rest of the cast, but one thing that we always like to do on our Friday night tape night is steal the golf carts from Hot in Cleveland together. We park them all over the lot and just kind of leave them. It’s pretty hilarious.
We have golf cart races and we mess with each other’s dressing rooms sometimes, steal things out of—especially the three boys. We steal things out of each other’s dressing rooms and it’s fun. It’s a really fun set to be on because it’s not only the cast, it’s the crew too. They really mess with us.
When we have props and things, they always try to throw us off during our scene by writing funny things that only the cast would know about like on all of our props, and it’s great. I promise you this next season since we’ve had so many prank questions, we’re going to come up with a lot more for you.
Moderator For Danny and Tucker’s characters together, are there any kind of funny, comedy stuff that the two of you guys will get into, some hijinks or anything?
D. Theler The bromance is still definitely there. These two characters are pretty much the only ones who didn’t know each other going into this pilot episode, but yes, they’re buds. They have a cool like bromance connection and I try to set up in the—especially the first episode coming out in the second season, I’m forced to set up Tahj’s character with a supermodel friend of mine and he gets pretty excited about that. So, we go out on a double date, and of course, supermodels are pretty tall usually and Tahj is not. So, that’s pretty funny.
Then, another episode coming up soon, we lose one of Emma’s favorite toys and Tucker and Danny have to find a way—it’s pretty much like a Mission Impossible episode to find a way to get this toy back and we think that the neighbor above us stole it, so we actually break into her apartment to try to steal it back for Baby Emma.
Moderator Are there any other big things with just your character and Emma’s character, and how much did you work with kids at all before this?
D. Theler Before this, I actually—I have quite a bit of experience with kids. I worked at a daycare for a couple of years going through high school and college. I did youth sports camps. I ran all the camps through my college.
I was pretty much a camp counselor. I made all my money working with kids while I went through college and tried to put myself through college. So, I have experience. I was very comfortable with kids.
As far as storyline with Emma, Danny’s always kind of there. I had several really nice scenes with Baby Emma and just everybody always gets a couple of big scenes with Emma every couple episodes and it’s pretty much the same as far as evening it out, the baby time, with all the rest of the storyline. So, I don’t think I have any real stories I can remember right now with Emma, but I just know I was holding her at least once almost every episode.
Moderator Do you have any additional pleas for your fans for the live tweet off next week. We love your campaign video. It’s hilarious.
D. Theler I’m so proud of my campaign video. They begged me for followers with my shirt off. I do though; I’ve taken it as a competition and I’m expecting to win this.
If you guys don’t know, we’re having this Baby Daddy tweet off campaign and we want to see who can gain the most followers by the time the premiere is over, and I think I have a real shot at this. I think I do. I made my campaign video. I have some strong points, but I want to win. I want to gain as many followers as I can and I want to see the rest of the cast humiliated because that’s just the way I am.
Moderator This morning you were talking about the tweet off. Will you guys all actually be getting together while you’re doing that?
D. Theler To my knowledge, yes. We’re going to be at the studio together during the tweet off, the whole cast I think, as the show premieres.
Moderator Can you let us know where were you when you found out you got the role of Danny?
D. Theler I did the test like a lot of actors do going through the network test, which is a pretty tough experience, and I was hungry. I went to KFC, I think. I was in KFC drive through and I got the call from our executive producer, Dan, that I got the role, and that was very exciting, so I basically just squealed tires out of the drive thru and got home and I live in a house with all my buds, a bunch of boys and I took them all to a steak dinner to celebrate. That’s the story of me getting the Danny role. I think dinner was at Sizzler. I didn’t go that big, but it was still exciting.
Moderator What do you think has made this show such a huge success so quickly?
D. Theler I think I know exactly what it is, and I think it’s honestly the chemistry between the cast and the crew and how much we like each other. We truly, truly care about each other, the entire cast, and I’m sure everyone’s said this before, but we’re very close. I actually live with Jean-Luc, my TV brother. I live in a house with him. I see him every single day and we know a lot about each other, almost everything about each other.
I see Chelsea very, very often and we catch up, and it’s just an amazing thing to have. It’s such a close-knit cast because we know so much about other and we care about each other and there’s nobody that’s on the outskirts of the crew. We all really love to come to work and get to see all of our best friends. We’re really that close, and it’s just amazing that we get to keep doing it and I hope we do it for a lot longer because up until this point, there hasn’t been a single day where not everybody got along like a family. It’s amazing.
Moderator How do you think Danny has grown since Baby Emma came into their lives?
D. Theler Well, he’s grown a lot. Danny has grown a lot because he, as a character, didn’t really know much about babies especially. He’s always kind of been a team player. He’s on a hockey team, but it really is the baby coming into the equation really brought the whole cast together. It brought all the characters together because they needed to come together for this one human being, and nobody really knew how to handle it and all of them just converging as a family learning the important parts of raising a baby, and I think that also helped him learn how to express his feelings especially with the whole Riley situation like he’s maturing. He’s becoming more of an adult even though he has a long way to go, but he’s starting to take some chances and realize what he wants in life as well just because his little brother had to grow up so fast.
Moderator Could you tell us how Danny is similar or different from yourself?
D. Theler That’s a good question. Danny is very similar to me as far as his intentions, and like I said before, he’s such a team player. He’s always there. He’s the guy that you can really rely on. He’s always the guy that if you’re in a jam, he’s going to come through for you if he possibly can, and I think that’s pretty similar to me.
One of the differences is definitely how long it takes him to get the joke. He’s the slow one of the crew when it comes to understanding the plan, but he always eventually gets it together, but it’s funny. He has a lot of great moments throughout this next season about everybody else understanding what’s happening, understanding the plan and he gets it a scene later. I’m glad to say that that’s not one of my personality traits.
Moderator Is there anything you’re working on during the hiatus, other projects that have come about after the success of Baby Daddy?
D. Theler The funny thing about this hiatus is it was very short because we’re going back to work here in like a month and a half and I feel like we just got done, so I didn’t have quite enough time to really do something that I wanted to do. One of my goals is definitely break into film and I want to do action movies as well. I want to do thrillers and action, like a superhero movie would be exactly the kind of thing that I really want to work on eventually, but at this time, it’s basically just a lot of promo work for the show and interviews and a lot of photo shoots.
I have a photo in UsWeekly coming out today, which is cool and traveling too. Time off is good. It’s good to see your family, and I’ve traveled a lot in the last few weeks just gearing up to go back to work for a long time for the third season.
Moderator Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes moment or memory or something that you could share with our readers?
D. Theler What I love about our show is if you come to the live tapings, we are there for the fans, and a really cool thing that we almost try to do for every episode is just completely blow a scene, and we’ll throw a character that’s not supposed to be in that scene until the very last take, we’ll throw a character that’s not supposed to be in the scene in there and we’ll just improvise throughout the rest of it and that’s probably one of my favorite things about our show is you never know when that’s going to happen. So, you have guest stars or main characters even popping out of the closets or coming out of the bathrooms and just blowing the scene and then we just work through it and keep playing it up for the audience. That’s my favorite thing that we do on our live tape nights for sure.
There was a moment when I have a date at the house, at the apartment, and I have a very intense emotional scene with Riley, and then, my date is supposed to reveal herself, and during the last take, it turned out to be Matt Dallas and he pretended to be my lover and we just played it up to the audience and we went through the scene way longer than we should have, but that was a pretty fun moment.
Moderator If you had to be one of the Avengers, which one would you be and why?
D. Theler Tough question. I’m a huge, huge comic book fan. I love the superhero movies so much. If I had to be one of the Avengers, I would go with Thor. I would have to. I just think I look the part too much and I’m a fan of all of them, but Thor would be something that I think I could put on. I think I could make it happen.
Baby Daddy is seen on Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family
ABC Family’s Q&A Session with Ken Baumann of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
Images courtesy of ABC Family
Back in 2008, the critically acclaimed ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” received a lot of attention as it focused on a normal American family and a shy daughter, a musician who went off to band camp and had a one night stand, to later find out she was pregnant.
The character Amy Juergens (played by Shailene Woodley) struggled with abortion, adoption and in the first season, she decided to keep the baby and during her tough time, she found love with the one student who cared for her, Ben Boykewich (portrayed by Ken Baumann). As for the baby’s father, Ricky Underwood (played by Daren Kagasoff), he was the bad boy who lived life dangerously and had some personal issues which led him to seek out sex and never took any responsibility.
Over the years, viewers have watched these characters grow older, take responsibility for their actions and make mature decisions. Amy and Ben had broken up, while Amy started to get closer with the baby’s father Ricky. And the question everyone was wondering if the two will be married or will they go their separate ways? But what about Ben? What will happen to him? Is there a chance that he and Amy will be together?
A series which lasted for five years, here we are in 2013 and with the final episode of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” is set to air on June 3rd on ABC Family.
Recently, a media Q&A with actor Ken Baumann was held to promote the final episodes of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” but also to discuss life after the series.
Here is a transcript from the media Q&A session.
The following images are below are of the “Secret Life of the American Teenager” cast members (from L-R: Greg Finley, Megan Park, Daren Kagasoff, Shailene Woodley, Ken Baumann and Francia Raisa) in 2008 and in 2013.
Moderator What was it like just ending the series with everyone because you guys have been together for so long?
K. Baumann Difficult. Emotional. Lots of tears. I thought that I would be able to hold my composure together on the last day, the last day of filming, but I didn’t, which was fine because everybody was sort of a wreck. It was just hard to know that you’re not going to see your family for the next few years, just because you get to know the people so well, the cast and crew.
Our show, I think, was a rarity in a few ways. Everybody got along, and I mean everybody, which was almost like surreal, like the Twilight Zone, and the hours were great. So people were happy to go to work. They didn’t dread the 14 or 15-hour days. It was rough. That said, I think that also sort of shows in the final episode with a little extra emotion that I think the audience will definitely pick up on.
Moderator Are you working on any new projects or shows coming up?
K. Baumann I finished a project not long ago called “Call Me Crazy” that aired on Lifetime. That was a blast and a really, I think, import movie. It’s five short films directed by five female directors and they’re all about mental illness. I think the movie does a very good job of presenting mental illness in a way that’s not sensationalized and it attempts to really connect to the truth of the pain and difficulty of living in mental illness.
Beyond that, I just got my first novel published on May 14th. It’s called “Solip.” I’ve been sort of doing the book promotions, reviews, book tour thing now. So that was very exciting for me.
Moderator Would you say you’re happy with the way the series ended for your character?
K. Baumann I think so. I think so. Jokingly, I think it would’ve been great if Ben could’ve jumped out of a plane and died in a parachuting accident or been involved in another terrible arson or have become a fabled criminal, but none of that was in the card probably for budgetary concerns. But yes, I think so.
I think that the tone Ben ends on is very, very, very different from the tone he began in the pilot. I think the character arch was pretty huge. I think that more importantly where Ben ends up in the final episode it serves the sort of emotional arch of that final episode, which I think ultimately the finale episode’s got to function as an episode on its own. I think that it really does. I think it’s one of the best in the series.
Moderator Do you have a favorite moment from filming the show?
K. Baumann It’s hard. It’s really hard. I have so many. The one I think back to the most was just the pilot and meeting everybody for the first time and not knowing everybody and how nervous everybody was and excitable and how brand new Daren was to the rhythms of the set, which was hilarious, and now he’s like old pro.
I feel like the pilot I think about the most and that it just was that none of us had any idea that the show would become so successful and then run for five years. We all thought like at best we were going to put in another ten episodes and that was that. Yes, that to me I think was the thing that left the strongest impression.
Again, I’m like incredibly close friends with the entire cast and most of the crew. So it was an experience that I don’t know I’ll be able to have again, working so closely with a group of people for so long.
Moderator How do you think the fans are going to respond to the ending?
K. Baumann That’s a good question. I don’t know to be honest. I’m very curious. I know that all I can speak to is how I responded to the ending, both in watching the last few scenes being filmed and reading the script, the final script. I think it is a very emotional ending and it’s an ambiguous ending. I know that it’s going to frustrate a lot of people. I’m very curious.
Regardless, I think that it is an appropriate ending. I think that it makes sense with the sort of arch of the entire show and I think that—yes, it’s just really emotional. It just felt right. It just felt right to me when I read the script and was there watching it be filmed.
Moderator Do you think the fans are going to be expecting the ending or will they all be surprised with what happens?
K. Baumann I don’t know. I’ve seen a little bit of the teasers. I think their expectations could be on the money but I think that there is a bit of a surprise there at the end. It’s not such an explicit narrative surprise, but it is definitely emotionally surprising, I think.
Moderator I feel like we have a lot to congratulate you on with the success of the show, of course, your book and sort of newly being married now. So congratulations and I hope you’re feeling well with your health as well.
K. Baumann I am. I’m in total remission. I feel great now thank you.
Moderator With the finale coming up, of course I wanted to find out what do you hope that fans really take away from just watching the series for so long in general? What do you really hope that they just take away from watching?
K. Baumann That’s a good question. When I think about the TV shows that I admire the most or that I was most sucked into, especially when I was younger, I think that the thing that was most important to me was feeling inspired by such a large story and the privilege of wrapping yourself up in this fictive world and the life of these characters that have been so laboriously painted by the writers and the cast and crew and directors and wardrobe designers and everything.
I also think that with a show like Secret Life the stories from its fans and viewers that have always excited me the most where when people told me that the show really helped them feel more comfortable in their bodies, like more comfortable just with their experiences that they’ve had to deal with, be it being a teen mother or dealing with sort of romantic mishaps in high school or getting married early or losing a parent.
That always was nice because that, to me, proved what fiction and literature and television can do, what stories can do, which is just make someone feel less alone and give someone an opportunity to be empathetic or feel like they’ve been empathized with.
And then the other thing that I think excited me the most that I heard from viewers was the idea that the show made them or encouraged them to talk with their parents and talk about sex and drugs and rock and roll. And just to be honest with them. So I think that those two things were really heartwarming to me and surprised me.
I watch a lot of TV that just helps me turn my brain off and sometimes I forget what TV or what long-form narratives can really do to people. And I felt like those were two really inarguably good things that came from this show.
Moderator After getting to play such a deep and heartwarming character is there anything that you learned about yourself from playing him for so many years?
K. Baumann That’s a good question. I think that I learned to be less neurotic, because Ben is such a nut. I think, yes, I think I learned how to just calm down a little bit. It was good. Ben sort of provided me a model of how not to be in the later years of the show, which I think is incredibly valuable.
And it was also just nice to be sort of like a spoiled rich kid, but like fast and witty and charming and a smart-aleck. All that stuff was fun. It was fun to play. And like I said, at the very least I got to work on something for five years straight and build it a little bit more every day, obviously with all of the guidance in the world from the writers. So that was nice.
Moderator How have you and the cast changed throughout the five years because there have been so many marriages and so much that has happened to you guys in your personal lives?
K. Baumann Yes, there has been an incredible amount of change. It’s hard. As I said earlier, when I’m thinking back to the pilot it almost feels like alien territory being that young with everybody and trying to recall how everybody behaved before everybody sort of grew up. But everybody did grow up. We were all still pretty young and doe eyed.
Again, I probably won’t get that experience again because even if I hop onto another thing that runs a decade I will have started it as an “adult” and will end as an adult or as I still thought that. Most of us, Shai and me especially, were just teenagers. It was really nice.
It was basically like going to high school but you actually learned from doing the job that pays you money and everybody is incredibly nice and people care about you. It was like some weird inverse dream world of high school. Everybody was celebrated and financially supported to be creative and all goof off and make this thing together. I guess that’s how I think about it sometimes.
Moderator And if you could write Ben’s future, what would it be?
K. Baumann Well I think in keeping with my five-year long theme of making up ridiculous stuff when asked this question I’ll continue with that. I think that the character Ben will become an oil tycoon and create the world’s first peanut butter museum and then go on to marry Cindy Crawford. I think she’s married, but obviously that doesn’t matter. So I think that’s Ben’s future. I feel it. I feel it really strongly.
Moderator What kind of projects do you have lined up now that the series is over?
K. Baumann Right now I am gainfully unemployed and I’m writing a lot. I think there’s an unsung narrative to the actors’ lives that in between jobs you’re looking for work. You’re meeting people and going on auditions and that’s where I am right now, which is fine.
I think that is a time that not only helps you get other side projects done, but like I said, it’s allowed me to focus on my book that just came out and write a lot and sort of own up and try to work hard enough to be able to call myself a writer without feeling like a liar.
But it’s also allowed me to sort of have a little down time and think about what I want to do next, what kind of project and where I want to end up or whom I want to work with. So there’s nothing in the pipeline at the moment beyond writing projects, but it’s not at all a problem lately. I’m looking forward to stumbling into the next piece of work.
Moderator Would you rather go into another sitcom or are you looking to break into movies? What kind of acting are you looking to go into?
K. Baumann That’s hard. I don’t find myself thinking in terms of what kind of thing I want to do. Generally I think about what kind of people I want to work with. Although I will say I do love the idea of sort of the six months schedule of the feature film where you just do it for a little while and then you’re free again.
But at the same time I had a great experience on TV and the idea of working with people for years and years and getting to know them and really working deeply on a project, that sounds pretty good too. But for the most part I just focus on people, the people I want to work with, actors, writers, directors, producers, and companies. But again, I’m pretty open right now. I’m looking forward to meeting a new group of folks.
Moderator How was being on Secret Life changed your life?
K. Baumann In every way possible I’d say. Just at sort of the very basic level of giving me someplace to go every day, well not every day but close to every weekday for eight months at a time. It gave me a job. It paid for the roof over my head and my food. It allowed me to buy a house and live in the neighborhood that I want to live in.
It gave me a huge list of people to fill my wedding with. It introduced me to hundreds of people that I now call my friends and some of them are practically family. It allowed me to pay for the health insurance that paid for my hospital bills when I got sick.
It’s endless. It radically changed my life. Both with time and money it let me start my publishing company, Sator Press. So yes, I think that it changed my life in every way.
Moderator About your publishing company, are you working on any new books right now or just the one that just came out?
K. Baumann With my publishing company, the last one I published was called “Confessions from a Dark Wood.” That came out late last year. “Solip,” the novel I wrote, I didn’t publish. I got published by another company called Tyrant Books. Right now for my press, Sator Press, I am looking at submissions. I’m in the reading process now.
Moderator Are you writing anything right now to get published?
K. Baumann I am. I’m working on edits for a second novel that’s coming out late this year called “Say, Cut, Map.” That’s coming out from a small publishing company called Blue Square Press. And then I’m working on like a mystery book project that I can’t talk about yet but I will be able to talk about soon and I’m very excited about it.
Moderator I’m a big fan of the show and as a fan I wanted to know if you could share your favorite behind-the-scene moment with us?
K. Baumann Honestly, I would say that it all sort of boils down to a bunch of people sitting on cast chairs, not working, waiting to work and just kind of chewing the cud. That’s a Texas expression, just sort of talking. I think that that was it.
We had tons of times that were fun or sort of exotic like me and Shai and Daren and Greg and Francia and Megan all went to New York for Press. That was a blast. And me and Greg and Daren, of course, had I think one too many drinks at the bar, which is a big surprise there.
The exotic stuff was great but ultimately the stuff that I think I’ll remember the most will be just hanging out, waiting to work and all just talking. Talking and making each other laugh, cracking jokes, showing each other the stupid YouTube video of the day. That was great.
Moderator Do you remember what it was about the character at the beginning that made you want to play him?
K. Baumann I remember when I read the sides for the first audition I remember being attracted by sort of the Ferris Bueller vibe that I was picking up of this kid who’s just too smart for his own good and fast and witty and kind of like a wheeler-dealer. So that was what initially attracted me.
I just thought like, okay, anything even close to Ferris Bueller and a young kid that’s sort of scheming in school; that was immediately attractive to me. I think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a masterpiece and one of my favorite movies, if not my favorite movie. Yes, so I think that that was what attracted me at first.
Moderator On the last day of set did you guys get to pick your favorite prop or something that was your favorite memory or something like that?
K. Baumann I think that a few things were stolen off the books but I don’t remember stealing anything. However, all the cast was given the option to go through their wardrobe and basically like buy everything at half off, which was pretty rad. I ended up buying a few sweaters and a few shirts that I thought were great and very comfortable.
But no, for the most part now when most shows wrap up the prop department and everybody likes to keep all their goods because most of the stuff is rented anyway from other studios. It’s hard to steal too much, but I do have some clothes that are hanging in my closet that will always remind me of work.
The final episode of “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” will air on ABC Family on June 3rd, 8/7c.
Young actor Jake T. Austin is a child actor that many teenagers have grown up watching (and also listening). Having played Max Russo on “Wizards of Waverly Place” for six years and was the voice of Diego for the children’s educational, animated series “Go, Diego! Go” for four years, Jake literally grew up as a child actor working on television since 2000.
Almost 20-years-old, Jake is back on another television series for ABC Family titled “The Fosters”, from executive producer Jennifer Lopez.
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, Jake plays the role of Jesus Foster. A teenager who has been through the Foster system several times with his twin sister and were adopted by Lena and Stef five years ago. Because Jesus has grown older, he assumes a paternal role for his sister, Mariana. Both were initially reluctant to allow newer foster kids into the family but grown to embrace them.
Set to premiere on ABC Family on June 3rd at 9/8 central, ABC Family recently held a media Q&A with Jake T. Austin to promote the show.
Here is a transcript from the Q&A with Jake T. Austin:
Moderator How many episodes have you filmed so far of the season?
J. Austin We’re midway through the production, so we’re about halfway through the amount of episodes that we’re going to be starting out premiering. The show premieres on June 3rd, so that’s when fans will get an opportunity to see the first episode.
Moderator Please pass my thanks onto the rest of the people in charge of the show because I was a foster kid growing up, so I’m really looking forward to the show.
J. Austin I’m glad you are able to relate to the story we’re trying to portray. It’s important for us to portray that as accurately as possible and to act as a voice and to speak to that issue specifically.
Moderator The show is based upon a foster home setting for you character. Did you have to do anything special to prepare for this role?
J. Austin As actors, we did our homework, and we did some research into the foster care system; also getting to meet with some foster kids and people who had had firsthand experience and firsthand knowledge. The show picks up where I play a twin who had been through the foster system and [was adopted by the family five years ago]. He’s, along with his sister, living in a new traditional family home. So he’s moved on from the foster home when the series picks up.
Moderator What are you hoping the fans will be able to take from the show as far as the portrayal of the foster home aspect?
J. Austin I’m hoping fans will be able to relate to the message, which is the definition of family doesn’t necessarily have to do with who’s in your family, but more so how you look at the relationship. More importantly, the show will hopefully shed light on some bigger issues and some larger topics that may be controversial to some.
Moderator Twins are always supposed to have that special bond, what did you and your costar do to kind of get that twin vibe going?
J. Austin To fall into that, the cast and I have spent a lot of time together and we’ve built a great chemistry. So going into the series, we were just really looking forward to exploring new story lines and new avenues that our characters can take. But we’ve gotten along so well, and I think our relationship off-camera really plays into our performance.
Moderator This show is groundbreaking in that it’s featuring a same-sex household. What is it like to be a part of this show?
J. Austin It’s great to fit into this show, especially at a time when a lot of issues are being brought to light. And to also act as a voice for a lot of those issues and to portray a character that feels very real and grounded and someone that’s very close to me. It’s a blessing to be working at this time and just to be involved in the show like this. That can bring and open the doors to so many new families, hopefully. That’s just what I’m looking forward to.
Moderator What was it like working with the rest of the cast along with your twin on screen?
J. Austin Working with the rest of the cast has been, so far, a great experience. Everyone’s learning from each other and everyone’s excited to see where the story line and where the show is going to take off.
Moderator Can you give a little more information about your character?
J. Austin I play Jesus Foster, who is the brother to Mariana, they’re a set of twins who have been in and out of the foster system pretty much since birth. They’ve embraced the idea of welcoming new foster children into their home and they live under the same roof as a same-sex couple in San Diego. The show picks up in a time when Jesus is coming into his own as a man and also assuming a paternal role for his sister.
Moderator What drew you to your role as Jesus Foster?
J. Austin What drew me to the role of Jesus was the opportunity to tell a groundbreaking story, in my opinion, and to be a part of something that was so real and so relatable. It’s a blessing to be working at a time when jobs are slim and unemployment is rising, so I’m very grateful to be in the position that I am and also to shed light on some of the topics that we’re going to be introducing on the show.
For me, it’s just an opportunity to explore my depth as an actor and also to tell a great story.
Moderator What sets The Fosters apart from any other drama series that’s on television today?
J. Austin What sets “The Fosters” aside from most content that’s out there is – in a world that’s seemingly driven by consumership and selling things to you, so to speak, “The Fosters” just wants to tell an honest story, using very relatable and real people and real story lines. We’re able to convey this message and share in the hardships that the family experiences, the triumphs that they feel at the end of the day, which is really where we see the story going: a story of ups and downs and really telling a tale that hopefully a lot of Americans can relate to. And also international folk.
Moderator Where does it film, actually?
J. Austin We’ve been in production, filming on location throughout Los Angeles, including Warner Brothers, as well as San Diego.
Moderator What’s it been like working with such great, veteran actors, like Teri Polo? Have you learned a lot from them?
J. Austin Yes. Working with someone like Teri Polo definitely enhances your ability as an actor. It forces you to pick up on your craft and also engage in the story to your fullest extent. Being on set with people who are driven to tell the story and people who are excited to be a part of this adventure is really motivating. At the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to instill through the story.
Moderator You’ve mentioned Jesus’ relationship with his twin sister. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? How Jesus and Mariana interact with each other, or what that relationship is like?
J. Austin Jesus assumes a paternal role over Mariana’s character. Both Jesus and Mariana have been in and out of the foster system since birth, they’re reluctant to welcome any new faces or any new members of the family into their home, at first, but ultimately find serenity and they find happiness in their new family. Through their misadventures and through their mistrials, they are able to build a closer bond as they enter that next phase into their lives, which is adulthood, which is where the series picks up.
Moderator What’s The Fosters about, how would you describe it?
J. Austin I would say “The Fosters” is a relatable, grounded story about a same-sex couple raising foster children. It’s an hour drama that also features so many other elements.
Moderator @matilda on Twitter wants to know what it was like working with Selena Gomez?
J. Austin Working with Selena Gomez was a blessing. Getting to do Wizards was a huge, instrumental part of my career, which is the series that Selena also appeared on. For me, it was just a huge part of my life and a huge chapter in who I am. Getting to work with Selena Gomez was definitely impactful and so much fun, because she’s so talented and she’s awesome.
Moderator What are your thoughts about the success she is currently having with her career?
J. Austin I think it’s great. It seems like she’s exploring new sides to her career that people didn’t expect. It’s just interesting to see where everything is going.
Moderator Do you stay in contact with her a pretty good bit?
J. Austin We’ve tried to stay in touch, most of the cast. Some have been better about it than others. But with everyone’s schedules and with everything that’s happening, it’s hard to keep tabs. It’s hard, also, to find a time when we’re all in the same location. But we have kept in touch.
Moderator How hands-on is Jennifer Lopez with establishing the show and creating your particular character? Has she helped you get to know him?
J. Austin I do know Jennifer Lopez had firsthand say and handpicked a lot of the characteristics that are going to be featured on the show as well as incorporating her style and implementing her own flavor and charisma. The show will feature, I think, a new side – it’s arguably different, but it’s more controlled, in a way. But Jennifer Lopez has had a lot of control over style. It’s been great to have someone that you can emulate and be so involved in a series like this.
Moderator Do you think the name of your character is kind of a metaphor for who he portrays in this particular series?
J. Austin Jesus, in my opinion, is an instrumental character in the series. I think the aspect of religion does play a part, but it’s hard to see where they want to take that character.
Moderator My first question is about the dynamic that we’ve seen Mariana kind of wanting to see her birth mom, meet her, but Jesus is more standoffish. Is that something we’re going to see in more episodes to come?
J. Austin I think Jesus’ apprehension to meeting his biological mother deals with his distrust of the foster system as well as a lot of skeletons that he’s unable to release in his closet. Hopefully, as the show grows and as the character develops, audiences will be able to see that back story with Jesus. Hopefully we’re able to learn more about where they came from and how he deals with moving forward.
Right now it’s so early and it’s very fresh. For me, as an actor, to remember the pain and the hardships that foster children endure everyday is essential to me playing the character.
Moderator What do you think is the hardest part about playing your character?
J. Austin The hardest part about playing this character is, at times, to not get too comfortable. Although there are so many differences in our personal lives, Jesus and I feel very parallel and I feel very parallel to Jesus in similar ways. There are certain things about our personalities and our characteristics that are identical. So for me, it’s very easy to fall into the shoes of this character. But, as well, it’s hard to contrast and show differences.
Moderator How was filming The Fosters different from filming Wizards of Waverly Place?
J. Austin Filming “Wizards of Waverly Place”, at a time when I was younger, was very different from “The Fosters”. I think Wizards was instrumental in my knowledge of the industry and also it was my first, live action, major series. So having done that and then moving onto “The Fosters”, on a major network and also dealing with a different element to the industry, it definitely, in my opinion, improved my game and improved my performance. Drawing from the experiences I had on Wizards and learning from either mistakes or improvements that I was able to make throughout the course of the show, I’m able to take every experience I’ve had and put it towards “The Fosters”, which is more challenging, longer in length because it’s an hour drama, and it’s also different in the subject matter. So for me it’s, all across the board, a new way to express my talent.
Moderator You have acted in both movies and television series. Is there one that you prefer over the other?
J. Austin I don’t prefer movies over television. Any opportunity to tell a story, for me, is a great chance as an actor. Also to play different characters and to challenge myself as an actor is the most important thing.
Moderator After spending so much time on Wizards, how easy is it, or difficult is it, for you to say yes to committing to another TV series that could last, again, another five years?
J. Austin For me, it’s not so much the length of time that you’re forced to commit to something. I was more curious as to the direction of the show and if it was something I saw myself being a part of. Judging by where everyone’s head was at, it seemed like a great fit for me.
Right now, I can honestly say this is something I’m happy to be a part of. Although, whether this show goes for nine years or ten years, when you commit to something, it’s important you take everything into account, including the people, including the story, including things just outside of money. So for me, it was important to realize the magnitude of the opportunity and also to realize that the show could go longer than expected.
Moderator Are you finding you’re getting projects, now, sent your way that are allowing you to show that you’re grown up? That you’re not just a little kid anymore?
J. Austin My work as a child actor has definitely contrasted to some of the work I’ve done earlier. But I still consider myself so young and so eager to learn. Hopefully I start seeing more challenging roles that put my talent to the test. But I’m still early in my career and just eager to get more credits under my belt.
Moderator There is what is known as “The Disney Channel Curse,” where young stars, such as yourself, come up and have great success with their shows, and once that show ends, they have a hard time transitioning to other projects and having the same level of success. How has that affected you, or has it affected you?
J. Austin It’s been hard to remove yourself when everyone can put you in a box and say this is going to happen and, almost, depict your future based on what they’ve seen in past experiences with other people. Taking my life and everything that I’ve gone through into account, I don’t see myself as just a one-sided actor or just somebody of 15 minutes of fame.
To ensure more work, I feel it’s vital that you treat everyone with respect. If you go into everything with an eagerness to learn, which is where I see myself anytime I go on set. Anytime I step on set, for me it’s an opportunity of being at film school, in my opinion.
I’m just eager to learn and hopefully people will read into that. I’m not so concerned with the impact that being involved with the Disney Family is going to have on my career. More so I’m concerned with the impression that people have on me as well as my dedication to the craft, which is something I want to prove through my work.
Moderator Are you worried that fans will always associate you with Max Russo and have a hard time accepting you as Jesus?
J. Austin There are a lot of people on iconic shows like “Saved by the Bell” and “Full House” – certain sitcoms where characters have built that relationship and fans have built and grown alongside people for so long, they feel like they’re almost there. I want to embrace being Max to the fullest extent, because for me that was the inciting moment in my career. That has led me to so many greater opportunities.
So, whenever a fan comes up to me and mentions Max, whether it’s now or 20 years from now, I’ll speak about it like I just stepped off set. That’s something that is very close to me and that’s something that I’m not ashamed of at all. Wizards, in my opinion, will always be at the fans’ disposal; people can always see it, people can always know where to find it. It’s nothing to run from.
Moderator You are the first ever youth spokesperson for the Ronald McDonald House New York. How did that come about?
J. Austin Being the first youth spokesperson for Ronald McDonald House had actually come to my attention at an event. William Sullivan, who is the chairperson at Ronald McDonald House, had presented me with the opportunity. Growing up in New York, and my mom being an oncology nurse, I just had extensive insight into what a lot of these patients endure.
My eagerness and my wanting to know more, I think, is what provoked me to get more involved. Visiting the house on numerous occasions for numerous events, building a relationship with some of the kids there – it really forces you to look at things from their perspective. The more time you spend in an environment like that, with such bravery and such courage, it makes you want to spend even more time there.
That’s where my involvement came about. I was eager to help in any way possible and I was just grateful that they offered me the opportunity to be a spokesperson and a youth ambassador. The first youth ambassador, which I’m very proud to hold.
Moderator What do you think is a must-see when you come to NYC?
J. Austin Most people would say the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. I would definitely say the Beast or Circle Line – something where you can go from the Hudson River to the East River and see the city from an outward perspective. Definitely just training it, just taking the A-train all the way uptown and then going all the way downtown and walking around. Going to the East Village and just walking, I think, is the best thing. Seeing as much as possible. It’s 26 square miles and there’s really a lot to see, so it’s hard to say specifically what.
For more information on “The Fosters”, please visit the official website.
Media Q&A with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada (of “PSYCHO-PASS”) by Dennis A. Amith and Michelle Tymon (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
In Japan, Katsuyuki Motohiro is a respected director. From directing the popular “Odoru Daisousassen” drama and film series (known as “Bayside Shakedown” in Asia and the U.S.), “Udon”, “Shaolin Girl” and “Space Travelers”, Katsuyuki Motohiro was given a chance to work on an anime series. And in this case, become the executive producer for Production I.G.’s series “PSYCHO-PASS”.
Working with director Naoyoshi Shiotani (“Blood-C”, “Blood-C: The Last Dark”, “Tokyo Marble Chocolate”) and producer Joji Wada (“Guilty Crown”, “Kimi ni Todoke”, “Robotics;Notes”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”), the three were invited as guests at Sakura Con 2013 to promote “PSYCHO-PASS”.
The following is a transcript of the press conference with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada, a few of the key names behind the Production I.G. animated series, “PSYCHO-PASS”:
Since you started working in anime, how have you evolved and what would you say is your greatest lesson that you learned.
Shiotani: The first thing I thought about was how I could make that piece different from everything else. For example, while talking to the executive director Motohiro-san yesterday, instead of what would be popular, we like to make something we enjoy. That would be the priority. For example, using a very unique design, since the story takes place in the near future. And as for romantic situations, we didn’t put a spotlight on that too much and let the audience think about that on their own. We wanted to make it a piece concentrating on strong male bonds/friendships and I think that the audience enjoyed that very much.
Motohiro: My job for this project as the executive director, was to stand in between the director and the producer, so I left most of the creative side of the work to them. I also protected the director from the producer, to protect their creativity and to protect the script. I think this is what the position of executive director has evolved to.
Shiotani: He really did protect me quite a bit in all sorts of situations. For example, it’s required in TV animation to play an ending song but in “PSYCHO-PASS”, we used arrangements that fit with the story. For example, there were times where we had cut out parts of the song. But of course, the producers of the song would be concerned about this, because of one of the sponsors is Sony and it’s sung by an artist from there. So there were many times that I would be called down to talk to the producer and I would ask Motohiro-san if he’d like to come along and he’d stand in between us.
Motohiro: That was very specific. (laugh)
Wada: Maybe a little too specific, and they won’t understand. (laugh)
This is primarily for Motohiro-san. You are known for your live action work, like “Bayside Shakedown”, but how did that experience play into animation and what were some hurdles you faced transitioning to animation?
Motohiro: When I’m directing live-action, there are many references and homages to animation and this is ended up helping create popular live action series. As a way of giving direction, I would have the actors act things out like they were in an anime from the past. So this time around, I was able to actually able to see the world of anime, since I don’t really know much about it personally. So I was able to go in and work with everyone and get to know more about things I thought were rather mysterious to me. And as for my involvement working with people on the ground level, such as the animators, and the script writers, my primary job was to be their support.
Akane’s appearance evolves from a sweet and innocent girl to almost haunted in the final episode without any physical change. Was it difficult to plan this into the character?
Shiotani: This definitely wasn’t decided as we were going along. From the beginning, one of the aspects of the story was how the heroine, Akane, would evolve and grow. She as the heroine comes in between the main character, Kougami Shinya, and his main rival, and enemy, Makishima Shogo. And up until that point where she goes in between them, they’re both veteran detec, so to have her grow and mature enough that she could actually stand in between them was a big part of the story. That was intended from the start.
Shiotani: And another thing was Akane exists to be the audience’s perspective into this show. So when Akane questions certain things or wonders about certain things, she is doing so from the audience’s point of view and the more the audience understands, the more Akane grew herself and eventually works herself into the standpoint of one of the main characters herself.
For students pursuing to become future directors, I’d like to ask Motohiro-san to give us a message.
Motohiro: The reason I decided to become a director, simply put, is because I love doing it. So to do something that I love as a profession, there are many misfortunes, but as long as I keep it as my hobby, I can think about it happily. But as soon as I make it into a job, I have to consider the fact that many people are going to be viewing my work so I have to make it something that many people can view and laugh and cry when they see it. So for students, and this is how I pursued it myself, but I think of it as pursuing your dreams, I think will make you happier in the end. I have no regrets and I think I’d be content with dying at anytime.
Episode 16 was the true highlight of the series, but then in episode 17 and 18, there were animation issues. How do you feel about the transition between those episodes.
Shiotani: You have stumbled upon something that is rather hard to talk about. This is a bit difficult. The reason that episode 16 was such a success…
Wada: This really is sort of hard to talk about…
Shiotani: You must have watched very closely to point out that very sort of thing. I do agree that episode 16 was the best episode in the series and an episode that I am very proud of. But one thing that you should be aware of is that everyone involved in “PSYCHO-PASS”, was really pushing things to the very limit. And this is something we did at the limit of our abilities. Right before I started working on “PSYCHO-PASS”, I was working on the movie “Blood-C: The Last Dark”, literally right up to the point where I started working on “PSYCHO-PASS”. So just three months before starting on “PSYCHO-PASS”, I had been working on a the film, so I had to just jump right into the new series that was in full on production and there was not enough ramp up time there. So from there, I kept concentrating on how to make this series that would run for six months a great series. However, there was just one moment where I had run out of stamina, which was during episode 17 and 18. And a bunch of people ran out of stamina after pushing for episode 16. And I knew that might become apparent, so we had clear plans to work extra hard to make things great again from episode 19. However in the end, episode 17 and 18, we ended up having to leave much of it to luck and had to ask everyone to just do whatever they could.
Wada: Episode 17 and 18 is what is great about making a TV series.
Motohiro: Are they going to get that?
Shiotani: It’s the “loose” part of the series.
Wada: Yes, the “loose” part.
Shiotani: If we want to go into some details, episode 17 and 18 were made outside of our team, and we had asked another company to help us out with those two episodes. There was probably the aspect of us not being able to support them very well. They might not have been able to use the same techniques we were using or may not have been able to express the near future world of “PSYCHO-PASS” very well since we were lacking in schedule time as well as being able to communicate things. So we were able to pick things back up from episode 19.
Shiotani: But as for the retail product, we are completely remaking episode 17 and 18, so they’ll be completely different.
What do you like to do on your off time?
Motohiro: I love to watch movies.
Shiotani: If I consider the time working on “PSYCHO-PASS”, I’d have to say that I didn’t really have any free time. So I would sleep for a little bit, wake up, and then continue working on “PSYCHO-PASS”… that’s how I spent a whole year.
The one thing that I think slightly comforted me while working on “PSYCHO-PASS”, was to listen to the songs of the most popular idols in Japan right now and I would even go see them live even though it meant I would lose some sleep.
Wada: I think you can mention their name.
Shiotani: Momoiro Clover Z, who is popular among our workplace staff.
Shiotani: And right at the time where I felt that I couldn’t go on anymore, Motohiro-san took me to meet Momoiro Clover Z.
Motohiro: I had gotten platinum tickets.
Wada: Indeed, he is the executive director.
Shiotani: Thank you very much for that.
Do you feel that “PSYCHO-PASS” is an anime series that can receive a live-action film or drama series adaptation?
Motohiro: Of course!
Shiotani: He told me from the beginning: Please don’t make anything that we can’t make into live-action.
Motohiro: Now that we have 22 episodes of the animation complete, and now that it’s being distributed in the US as well as the series being novelized, but I believe this is all material for my live films. (the three are laughing hard)
What actors would you consider for the live-action?
Motohiro: There’s already quite a bit of buzz on the internet on who should play who.
Shiotani: Do you look at all of that?
Motohiro: Yes, I do. But right now, with the Japanese economy, I don’t think a live-action would be possible at this moment, unless Hollywood wanted to step in.
Now that you’re here in America, are there any foods that you have wanted to try or any shops that you have been wanting to visit in Seattle?
Motohiro: Right now, I feel… like I’d like to have some more seafood. Especially the crab where you have to actually smash it with a hammer. It was really good!
Wada: There is something the three of us are currently regretting. When we got the clam chowder, we all ordered a cup, but we should have gotten the bowl! (all three are laughing)
Is there any American media that influenced your work?
Motohiro: One of my favorite directors is George Roy Hill, who directed such movies like “The World According to Garp” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Shiotani: I have many, many influences, but for “PSYCHO-PASS”, one of the biggest influences was “Seven”. I like David Fincher a lot, so in the opening, there is some influence from “Fight Club” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.
If you recieved more funding to produce more episodes of “PSYCHO-PASS”, would you create more episodes of “PSYCHO-PASS” and include a fan service episode, for example when they all go to the beach? Also, I heard that you wanted to lose “moe” so you purposely made the world of “PSYCHO-PASS” a rather dark world with very little cuteness.
Shiotani: In Japan, we call that the “Onsen Episode”. It pretty much happens because things get hard on production, so if we put in an episode where they go to the onsen, it’ll get high ratings and it’ll be easy to work on.
Motohiro: Would we do it if we had money?
Shiotani: Those episodes are made because of the lack of funds.
Motohiro: In a similar case for TV dramas, we take all of the cast and staff to an onsen and we wrap up all the shooting in one day. Since the actors take off their clothes, the ratings go up and the staff gets really excited as well because they get a short vacation. However, this was the first time I heard that it was done in anime as well.
Motohiro: We did want to lose the moe and focus on a show where the guys could be passionate about something. But because the guys were so passionate and on fire, in turn, the female audience totally got into the show.
This is a question for Motohiro-san, but what is your next goal as a director?
Motohiro: Right now, I have a lot of kouhai/juniors right now, so right now, I’d like to give them some great movies to work on. Mr. Shiotani is one of those people as well. Right now, the directors that are making hit movies, are all my juniors, and so I start to feel a sense of urgency as well and work harder as well. Then I start to feel that I need to make an even better movie and feel like I need to liven up the Japanese movie and entertainment world.
Where did your limits come from in limiting the violence in the show? Were they clearly defined going into production and how did that affect your execution of the series.
Shiotani: The story itself is quite violent and involves a lot of body horror, for example, like a person’s legs and arms being attached oppositely and a head being within a head, or there being a face on a stomach. So as to how to deal with that in the TV series, Gen Urobochi-san just let us deal with it. The reason any of that is in the series is not because we wanted to make a violent series, but we wanted to make an artistic series that just happened to have some violence included in it, and we wanted people to view it like they were looking at some piece of art. There were parts that were done off camera and if it needed to be seen, it was seen as well. And when it involves the main characters, we wanted to do it very beautifully and dramatically and make it very memorable. However there were two instances we were told by the TV station that we had gone overboard and so we had to fix those instances so they could be aired.
If you three had the chance to collaborate again in the future, would you like to and what genres and projects would you like to explore?
Motohiro: Well right now, if we were going to do something again, “PSYCHO-PASS” is doing rather well and gaining quite a bit of popularity, so I would like to work on a continuation of the series.
Shiotani: I feel the same. That was the short answer. (laughs) The series is an original and it finally felt like what we had all worked very hard on had just taken shape and we had created something very big. And the way the story was written, it feels like we had only covered just a part of a story that has much more episodes that have yet to come to light. So it’d be great if we could pick up the series from any of those other episodes.
What type of personality does it take to do the jobs that you all do?
Motohiro: As a director, I need to make sure that things aren’t too concentrated but not too loose, either. There are aspects that I personally concentrate on, but I know there are parts I can leave up to the rest of the staff and I think that is very important.
Shiotani: There are many different kinds of people so it’s hard to say, but I think having a very distinct on and off switch is very important. I think people who can become idiots are great. I think it’s best when people are super serious when they’re working, but when they’re not, they can totally turn that switch off and dumb themselves down, otherwise you sort of lose your mind. I think your body holds up better when you can separate the two, working seriously and having fun, and can think about it positively. If you become an idiot, those around you will do the same, and it’s easy to get along and then you can see what they are like on the inside and it’s something that can be applied to my work. So in the end, it’s actually a very serious approach.
Wada: The most important thing about being a producer, is to not give up. I had heard that many people wanted to create an anime with Motohiro-san and he has had a lot of offers, but I think we’re all here now because I was the only one who didn’t give up.
What sort of process do you go through to achieve the results that you want on a project?
Wada: The most important process or procedure is in the beginning, all of us: Motohiro-san, Shiotani-san, Urobuchi-san, and Amano-san all decide on what exactly we want to work on together and to not forget that up until the very end.
Shiotani: I usually make sure I say, “Yes, I can.” to whenever I’m asked if I can do something, but then I go and panic about it when I’m by myself. I make sure to try not to decline anything. Accept everything… and then worry about the details later. (laugh) I think there are a lot of people who say they can’t do something because they’ve never done it before, but I think it’s more fun to do things that you’ve never done before. It’ll be super hard, and you might be killed, but it’s super fun to do.
Motohiro: In Japan, there’s a saying, “Accept those who come to you, and do not chase pursue those who leave you”, so I accept all of those who come to me, and make sure I just say goodbye to those who leave me and see them off. I think this is important in many aspects. This means that many people with a lot of talent come to me, including Shiotani. And there are also a lot of people that things don’t work out with and they end up leaving. This way, I end up making great things with other people that can see eye-to-eye with me and I think this process has been very successful so far. I always make sure I have a beacon or antenna up, looking at and studying various things, I think that’s important as well. That would be my process.
What’s your criminal coefficient?
Wada: Yesterday, a fan of PSYCHO-PASS calculated this for me, and I was told it was 300. Apparently there is an app out that can calculate this..
Shiotani: While I was making “PSYCHO-PASS”, I would have to say it was too big to measure, judging what those said about me and how I looked making it. But right now, I’ve calmed down… but my dream is to be so calm that it can’t be measured, like Makishima. That is my goal. I want to become just a brain. (laugh)
Motohiro: I’ve reached the enlightenment level. Once you reach the enlightenment level, your criminal coefficient becomes unreadable. So no matter when I’m measured, it will be low. I am always calm and never get angry… I make sure that they can never find out the coefficient.
I know that “Odoru Daisousasen” ended with the final movie in 2012. But what are the chances of a spin-off series with the characters of Shunsaku Aoshima, Shinji Muroi, or Sumire Onda?
Motohiro: Sadly, there are no plans for any spin-offs. The movie that was released last year was indeed the final of the whole series.
Photos are courtesy of Michelle Tymon, J!-ENT