Matt Young may be the busiest man in Show Biz but he’s got time for you

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I recently had the great fortune of meeting Matt Young via social media and I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring him to you all. Being a fan of Hallmark movies and knowing so many of you who are, I know this will be a real treat for us. Matt was part of the Hallmark Channel movie, A Summer to Remember and this coming weekend (Saturday, August 18th) he appears in Pearl in Paradise. But, there’s so much more to Matt and so much more coming up from him.

Matt’s family was part of a Netflix documentary Gayby Baby, which was about families with same-sex parents and he is in the TBS series Wrecked. His resume is quite diverse and includes Theater, Television, Film, dancing, and he finds time to coach others with acting and public speaking.

Now, allow me to introduce you to Matt Young, actor:

Q: You have quite the acting/professional resume. You’ve been in film, theater, and on television. Can you tell us some of the things you love about each and some of the challenges of each? 

Matt Young: I got my start in NYC in the early 1990s when I was a student at NYU.  I came to New York with the dream of being a professional actor, having performed in community theatre in my hometown of Gardner, Massachusetts.  Within 3 months of landing in NYC, I was offered a role in my first professional show, a three person play over the Christmas season, in which I played a reluctant angel Gabriel.  I spent my NYU years performing in downtown theater spaces, and as an extra in Hollywood and independent films on the streets of New York.

I studied to be a Broadway dancer, and was on my first Broadway tour (in Europe) within months of finishing my degree.  I love the physicality of live theatre, especially musicals, where you have to perform 8 times a week to a responsive audience.  Though it can be brutal on the body.  And because I’m from an older generation of performers, where “the show must go on”, I rarely miss a show.  My last tour of a musical, the 2012 Australian tour of Annie, I never missed.  I only missed about 9 performances of my first USA Broadway tour, A Chorus Line, back in the 90s.

So when I got my first lead role in a television show (the Australian/New Zealand/Canadian tri-production of Captain Cook:  Obsession and Discovery), I couldn’t believe how easy it was!  Physically, I mean.  All I had to do was immerse myself in the role, and it fell into place.  I was able to live within the character for the whole 3 months of shooting, so all I really had to do was show up on set and be me as the character on that day.

Film is a bit more intense than TV, as the emotions are experienced on a greater level, but have to be performed more realistically (I find television to be similar to live theatre).  Because you are so largely displayed in a film, the camera sees everything.  So it’s almost like all you have to do is think, and the camera will amplify it.  So I find that very satisfying, because even though I find it mentally exhausting, I love authentic looking film performances.

Q: You are also a director. Did you always want to direct or was that something you were inspired to do as your career grew/evolved?

Matt Young: I direct (and choreograph) live theatre, and recently choreographed a dance scene for the upcoming faith-based film The Other Side of Heaven 2 which will hit US theatres in April 2019.

I approach everything as an actor (especially choreography), so I think it was a natural progression in my career.  I’m a bit of a control freak, and have a habit at looking at everything I do with an outside eye.  Also, as I coach actors for auditions, I am constantly having to analyse scripts and imagine what the end product will look like on-screen or on stage.

I have been asked to direct independent films since my early 30s, but I have always put it off.  I think I have such a respect for film directors, that I’ve always felt a bit unworthy.  And the amount of work is enormous.  As a Dad, I’m constantly weighing up the time commitment and trying to attain that work/life balance.  I have acting students here in Fiji that are chomping at the bit to create a film, so I think I’m just going to have to put aside my insecurities and reservations and do it this year!

Q: How did you get started as a coach? How does one go about hiring Matt Young Company if they are in need of coaching for public speaking, acting, etc?

Matt Young: When I moved to Fiji with my family, in 2014, my kids were on my husband’s work visa, but I was here as a tourist.  Fiji is a developing country, and even though since late 2014, Fiji is one of 3 countries in the world which has a constitution that says you cannot discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, when we arrived, there was no box to tick on any form that allowed the same-sex partner of a Fijian resident to attain residency in the country.  So, I had to either keep leaving the country every 4 months to renew my tourist visa, or I had to start a business.

Since I had been informally coaching actors for years in Sydney (especially in US accent for stage shows and Hollywood auditions), I knew I could coach actors.  A friend who was formally in the media here in Fiji suggested I should be a media coach, focusing on spoken English.  And public speaking seemed an obvious choice, since I know how to prepare speeches as an actor.   So, to be able to gain residency in Fiji, and remain with my now husband and our adopted children, I started Matt Young Company (original name, I know) and became a coach.

My friend and acting colleague in Australia, Gabriella Masselli McGrail, started recommending her students to me for online coaching, and I started working within the NGO sector in Fiji, as well as coaching the contestants for Miss World Fiji.  But I really hit my stride when I became the speaker coach for Ted X Suva.  Finally, I could use my theatrical training to help public speakers reach emotional depths to tell their stories.  I now work with lawyers, corporate leaders, actors and emcees here in Fiji.

If you’d like to learn more, look for Matt Young Company on Facebook or learn more on my website www.mattyoungactor.com.  I do Skype coaching, as well as give feedback on video submissions, and many actors or speakers in the USA, the UK, or Australia/New Zealand find it convenient to work with me, as the time difference in Fiji works in their favour for “after hours” coaching, as it is often in the middle of my working day.

A Summer to Remember

Q: You’ve been in a few Hallmark Channel films now, A Summer to Remember and now Pearl In Paradise. I am a huge fan of Hallmark Channel, their movies, and their shows. I also know they have kind and loyal fans who are very active on social media. How has it been to be inducted into the #Hallmarkies family?

Matt Young: Ah, Hallmark!  The #Hallmarkies are remarkable.

When I was on tour with Annie in 2012, it was the first time I understood the power of social media, especially Twitter, in engaging with fans/the audience.  I met some amazing musical theatre fans who hosted me in every city of the tour, and made some great friends.

Annie in a way, led to Hallmark.  The adoption of our two boys came through in February 2012, about two months into the run of Annie.  So, here I was in a show about a childless man who adopts a child, and it changes his life.  And we had moved through the foster system and finally were able to bring legal validity to our family.  It was an amazing synchronicity.  And I had decided to do Annie specifically because I had been doing a lot of theater and television that dealt with the military and violence, and I wanted to be in a production that my kids could watch without having to deal with those grown-up concepts.

So when I heard Hallmark was filming in Fiji, and I was a submitted for a part by my Australian agent, I was keen to do more family friendly content.  Something that my kids could watch, and that their grandparents back in Gardner, Massachusetts could share with their community as well.  I was blessed to be cast in two movies, and hope I will be cast in others, whether they are filmed here or in North America.

Through the move to filming in foreign locations, Hallmark has become more diverse by default (South African actors in Love on Safari, Fijian actors in Pearl in Paradise).  But also, as I was thankful to the podcasters at The Bubbly Sesh for noticing, Hallmark is consciously hiring an age diverse supporting cast.  And if one or five of us happen to also identify as LGBTIQ, even better.  You will notice Dr Bailey wears a wedding ring.  What’s not to say that he is married to a man?

Q: You were born and grew up in the United States but now live in Fiji. How did that come about? 

Matt Young: OK.  It’s kinda a long story, but it’s good, so bear with me.

In 1999, I had just finished a production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Cape and Ogunquit Playhouses in New England.  I was out of a job, and I ran into another A Chorus Line alumna, who was choreographing a show for a cruise ship and needed a dancer.  At age 27 I signed up for my first cruise ship contract, and hated it, as I thought I should be on Broadway proper.  But, eight celibate months later, we finally landed for an overnight in Sydney, Australia, a week before Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  And you should remember, this was before e-mail, social media, or dating apps.  I walked into a bar and ran into my friend Emelio, from New York, who I never expected to run into half way around the world, and he introduced me to this Aussie guy named Peter, who he had just met.  Peter and I hit it off and had a great night together, and spent most of the next day together before I got back on the ship.  I thought that was the end of if, as I lived in New York, and he lived in Sydney.  But Peter was persistent, and we ended up meeting up in my next port of call in Australia.  Then he was transiting through Singapore on his way to London when our ship came to port.  And when I got off the ship in Southampton, he was in London, so we spent the week together.  I then went back to New York, where he came to visit, then he invited me to come back to Sydney during the Olympics.  By then we had well and truly fallen for each other.  So, jump forward to 2014, after living in Sydney together for 14 years, when he asked if I’d follow him to Fiji, where his company was relocating him, I said yes.  So we packed up the family, and have been here for almost 5 years.

Q: With the Hallmark Channel connection, I have to ask: How was to work with fan favorite Catherine Bell from Hallmark Channel’s Good Witch on A Summer to Remember?

Matt Young: Oh, yes, Catherine Bell!

Catherine is so beautiful in person, it took my breath away.  That hair!  I spent the first few takes just trying to not freak out.
But then I calmed down and got to work.  She is a very professional and generous actress, and has worked with the director, Martin Wood, many times.  So it was really just hanging on for the ride. They knew exactly what they needed, and it happened very quickly.
I enjoyed our onscreen relationship, because, really, all I had to do was act like she was my best friend.  And who wouldn’t want Catherine Bell as his beast friend?  A real joy.

Q: As a married gay man with two teenage boys, how do you feel about the current LGBTQ challenges in the States and all over the world?

Matt Young: It should be noted that though we had a commitment ceremony in 2002, we only were legally married in the USA in 2015, when state marriages started to be federally recognised. Australia only just changed the law to allow same-sex couples to be legally married, so our US marriage is now recognized there as well.  

I think because we have been so used to not having the same rights as everyone else, we just got on with our lives, and hoped the rest of the world would catch up. Our marriage is not legally recognised in Fiji, where we currently live.  But we hope one day, in our life time, it will be.  And the boys have never articulated it, but it must have been hard for them to have to explain that their two dads were not “allowed” to get married for the entire time we lived in Australia.  We were able to foster and adopt (the adoption laws were changed in 2009), but not legitimize our relationship.  It was exhausting to carry that for so many years.

I fear for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community in the USA under the current government.  I’m sort of glad that we are not living there at the moment and we don’t have to be confronted with the US news every day.  And we are planning a trip through Russia, and many of our friends have advised us not to talk about our relationship, especially as we will have our 16-year-old son with us.  So we selectively have to go back into the closet, depending on where we are.

However, I’m an optimist, so I think this is a moment in US history that will pass.  I think it is inevitable that the USA, and the rest of the world, will continue moving forward and recognising that people have different sexual orientations and gender identities.  Certainly for our sons, a person’s sexual identity will never be something they won’t understand or accept.

Q: Your family was one if the subjects of the Netflix documentary ‘Gayby Baby’. What was that experience like? What kind of feedback did you get from it? Did you learn anything during or after filming it? 

Matt Young: The filmmaker, Maya Newell, was friends with our mate, an Australian actress/filmmaker named Natasha Bassett.  Maya lived literally across the street from us.  When she initially approached us about being in the film, which shows the experience of growing up in families with same-sex parents, through the eyes of the children, we were not that interested.  We didn’t want our kids to feel exploited, and we didn’t want to give ammunition to haters to attack our family.  But Maya needed a male couple with kids that were our kids’ ages, so she assured us that the boys would be taken care of, that we would be shown all the footage that was going to go into the film, and that we could at any time let her know if we wanted something removed from the edits.  She is an amazing filmmaker, with great integrity (and the daughter of same-sex parents herself).

She worked with us for about 2 1/2 to 3 years, first focusing on our eldest son, and then focusing on Graham, as Michael started to grow out of the age of the other subjects in the film.  We were extremely used to having her around, so there is no artifice.  She would see our lights go on in the morning, from her window across the street, and call and ask if she could come over.  She accompanied the kids to school, to the supermarket, to sports, to church, and finally to Fiji.  What you see in the film is about the last 6 weeks that she filmed with our family, when we moved to Fiji.

Of course, our greatest fear came true when the film became well-known, and was about to be theatrically released in Australia.  One of the national newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, ran a front page article attacking the film and the children, saying they were indeed “not normal” and that the film should be banned in Australia.  Again, Maya stepped in, got counsellors to talk to all the kids and the parents, and stood firm that we had an important story to tell.

Obviously, the public agreed.  The film has been shown on tv by Australia’s national broadcaster, Netflix picked up the film, it had a theatrical release in Australia, and it has been seen in film festivals around the world.

And Graham, our son who is featured in the film, is incredibly proud of that snapshot of his life.  Ebony, one of the other kids from the film, and Graham catch up every time we head back to Sydney.  We marched in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with the other families, and he and Ebony were interviewed for tv.  He travelled to the Northern Territory in Australia and talked about his experience as a foster kid who was adopted by same-sex parents while the adoption law was being reviewed there – it passed, allowing same-sex couples to adopt.  So overall, through all the struggles and worries we had as parents, it turned out to be a gift for our son, and our family.

Q: You’ll also be appearing in the TBS series ‘Wrecked’, which begins in a few weeks. Are you still in production for that or is the season already filmed? Tell us about the show and your character. 

Matt Young: Wrecked finished filming this season in Fiji in May.  I was a core cast extra last season, as they needed other plane crash survivors to occupy the island, (it’s a parody of Lost), along with the main cast.  I was upgraded in Episode 7 of Season 2 to a named character, “Sad Dirty Survivor”.  There is a running joke in the show about the main cast not being aware of the adventures of the rest of us on the island, so it’s a bit of fun to look for me throughout Season 2 in the background!  But at the end of Season 2 – spoiler – the rescue ship we were all on sank and we all piled into 3 lifeboats, with the 10 main cast members landing on a new island!  What happened to those of us on the other boats?  You’ll have to watch this season to see if that question is answered.  I can’t say more.  But you can watch the entire Season 2 on the TBS app.  And the show is hilarious!  The cast was allowed to improvise the dialogue in the last take of every scene, the “fun run”. The actor who plays Steve, Rhys Darby, who I also stood in for during Season 2 filming, was particularly hilarious in those runs.  And some of that material made it into the final cut.  I love comedy.  I’d love my character to keep coming back each season, but I’m at the mercy of the writers.

Q: With all you have done, what are some things you want to do that you haven’t yet?

Matt Young: Although I toured with Broadway musicals in Europe, Canada, the USA and Australia, I haven’t actually performed in a Broadway show on Broadway.  So that is something I need to do within the next 5 years.  I love comedy, so I’d love to be in the principal cast of something like Wrecked.  I’m a sit com kind of actor, so I’m trusting someone will offer me a contract to be a series regular on a sit com.  I love film, so I’m looking to get more film work in Hollywood and abroad.  And I want to play a gay man in a feature-length movie, as I almost always get cast as “straight” or “married”.  I am a married family man, so that makes sense, but hopefully someone will write a role for me.  I worked on a short film which was on the Festival circuit this year called XYXY, in which I played a scientist who was able to create a child for my husband and myself in the lab.  I really hope that gets developed into a feature.

Q: Since we are living in a time of “reboots”, what are some shows you’d like to see come back and roles you’d like to tackle? 

Matt Young: Stargate.  I’d be a great spaceship captain.  Fame. As a dance and/or drama teacher.  Pretty much anything that has to do with dance.  I’m often being looked at to play a ballet master or choreographer, and did a stage show called Goodbye Miss Monroe in which I played Jack Cole, Marilyn’s dance director for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  I’d do that show again in a heart beat.  And in terms of comedy?  Bring back ALF. I’ll play the father of the family he lives with, Mr Tanner.

Q: Where can we find you and online?

Matt Young: If you want to find me, at the moment I’m here in Suva, Fiji looking after my family!  But you can follow me on social media: @mattyoungactor on Instagram and Twitter and Matt Young – Actor on Facebook and You Tube.  And as mentioned, my website is www.mattyoungactor.com.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Matt Young: I absolutely cannot live without the ocean, and the ability to go swimming in it.  I love it so much I moved to an island! And we are recent boat owners, so that makes it even more accessible.

The one thing I wish we could all live without?  So many things – hatred, bigotry, close-mindedness, climate change, addiction, suicide – the list goes on.  But if I have to limit it to one thing?  I wish we could all live without depression.  Since we cannot, make sure you see a doctor if you feel you are suffering. And get help. It could save your life.

Brandon Haagenson Shined his way through Afterglow

Brandon Haagenson headshot

Last year I was sent tickets to a little play at the Davenport Theater in NYC. At the time, it was a limited run and they wanted people to review and promote it. I LOVE NYC theater so I happily accepted and read up on it. From the press releases it looked so interesting and slightly risqué with the disclaimers about nudity and the shower scene promos. The beautiful thing about it was the story seemed so relatable and the actors were all fresh-faced, it was a no brainer to give it a try.

What I didn’t know was how blow away I would be by the performances. I took two friends from Los Angeles with me the first night and we all couldn’t stop talking about it through dinner and drinks afterwards. I knew that night that I wanted to see it again. Thankfully, the show was extended so many times, it gave me an opportunity to bring different groups of friends from various cities three more times! This past week, I was offered tickets once again and, once again, I jumped on the chance to see it, bring another friend, and enjoy! Then I was offered the added bonus of interviewing one of the stars, Brandon Haagenson, who was in every single performance since day  one!

After+Glow+Promo.pngA few things to note, every person I took with me agreed with me that the nudity was something that was simply part of the story and added to the intimacy, vulnerability, and humanizing of the characters. It made them real, it made the story real, it added to the ability of the audience to relate on a deeper level.

The bad news is, the show will end its run in NYC on Sunday, August 12th. The good news is you still have a few weeks to catch it and to watch Brandon bring Josh to life. Another piece of good news is that I had a chance to have a delightful conversation with Brandon and I’m sharing it here!

Here’s a little official info on Afterglow:

AFTERGLOW is a raw, one-act play exploring the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between three men and the broader implications within their relationships. Josh and Alex, a married couple in an open relationship, invite Darius to share their bed one night. When a new intimate connection begins to form, all three men must come to terms with their individual definitions of love, loyalty, and trust as futures are questioned, relationships are shaken, and commitments are challenged.

AFTERGLOW opened to strong audience and critical reviews who called the play “A must-see! Afterglow is necessary, honest and vulnerable.” Pride.com; “Compelling, raw, and sometimes uncomfortable (as any honest theater piece is), This is a show not to be missed!” Advocate; “Frank, explicit, insightful, unflinching, vivid and honest. Gelman’s characters grapple articulately with issues many gay men regularly face. Vivid and honest depictions like these that foster a greater understanding of the way we live now.” Towleroad; “Afterglow is inherently watchable, well-paced and a compelling introduction to Gelman’s theatrical voice.” Huffington Post; “Compelling. The trio is exceptionally easy on the eyes. It effectively adds to the authenticity of the story. Afterglow succeeds as it titillates.” Gay City News; “Raw and beautifully complicated, but above all, relatable.   No gay New Yorker should miss this play.” Unicorn Booty; “Fresh and riveting. S. Asher Gelman has set the bar high with his first play, Afterglow.  Gelman is nuanced as both a director and a writer. The nudity—and it is extensive—is presented with a charged eroticism rather than gratuitous titillation. There is no long-term afterglow for the characters in Gelman’s play. But for the audience there surely is. It comes from experiencing an impressive calling card from a gifted new playwright and director.” OffOffOnline; “Afterglow is a raw and real. Playwright S. Asher Gelman brings to the stage the very personal story of open relationships with heart, grit and a non-gratuitous exploration of the complex theme. This is not just another gay play or limited exclusively for the LGBT community but a play for everyone.” BeautyNewsNYC; “Compelling. Highly charged and extremely sexual. They certainly know how to grab our attention.” Times Square Chronicle; “There is amazing acting happening on stage. Afterglow is a bittersweet love story that will touch you.” ReviewsOffBroadway.com.

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The cast of Afterglow includes Joe Chisholm (Regional: The Little Mermaid, My Fair Lady) and Brandon Haagenson (National Tour: Beauty and the Beast. NY: My Big Gay Italian Wedding) and David Merten (Regional Theatre: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, And Then There Were None (Judson Theatre Company). Creative team includes Ann Beyersdorfer (Scenic Designer), Fabian Aguilar (Costume Designer), Jamie Roderick (Lighting Designer), Alex Dietz-Kest (Sound Designer), Mike Ross (Dramaturg), Nina Kauffman (Assistant Director), Kate Lumpkin (Casting Director), Laura Malseed (Production Stage Manager), Will Chaloner (Assistant Stage Manager), Evan Bernardin Productions (General Manager), and Gwynne Richmond (Company Manager) AFTERGLOW is presented by Midnight Theatricals.

And now, here is my interview with Brandon:

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Q: I’ve found Afterglow has a different message for different people. What is the message you take away from it and has it changed since you first read the script?

Brandon Haagenson: For one, Alex and my relationship on stage has become more intimate. The marriage has become stronger over time.

The message is totally different too, it used to be a story about a polly-amorous couple but now, it’s about a marriage and what you need from someone. The longer we run, the more it became about this marriage and what they need from each other that they aren’t getting.

This causes Josh to land on this guy, Darius, and he truly thinks he can have it all. But, boyfriends and husbands are different. What makes someone “husband material” is different from what a boyfriend is.

Q: Congrats on all the success! Afterglow was extended so many times and with good reason. How did that feel?

BH: SO exciting! The first few times, it was like “OH WOW”, then it felt like it would run forever!

Q: Did you have any reservations about the nudity? 

BH: I didn’t. I always said I would do it as long as it served the piece I was working on. There was no nudity in rehearsals and it was never about hot bodies or showing off your body. It was a natural part of the story.

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Q: You were in every performance, so that probably helped you to develop Josh more over time. Did you change anything about him from the first performance to now? 

BH: Totally! When I first started there were a few decisions he made that I wouldn’t. So I played him as this other person. I built Josh around someone who only tells half of the truth.

After playing him for a while, I started playing the circumstances and I started feeling like Josh was me. I feel more connected to him now.

Q: I ask this to everyone because I feel it tells a lot about people. What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

BH: I absolutely cannot live without family. I mean long-term friends, my family back home, friends I consider family. The cast became family as we worked together all this time. Family means more than just blood relation.

I wish we could all live without beating ourselves up. The more you want to be successful, it seems the more you have to be your own bully at times. I wish we could all learn to live without doing that.

 

I truly hope to see much more of Brandon in future performances as he goes on to the next projects in his career. I also plan to catch him in Afterglow one more time before it ends and I encourage you to go see it if you haven’t or go again if you have! It really has evolved and the characters have so much depth. Head over to Afterglow’s website for ticket info and times.

I’d also love to talk to him once Afterglow is done to ponder what happened to the characters or where he thinks they may have ended up. No matter what, I plan to keep an eye out for him and the rest of the cast!

Why I Wanted and Needed to Get Involved with Eastsiders: Season 3

I’ve been plugging along in Social Media, Social TV, and Entertainment for a few years now. I’ve been picky about what projects I get involved in and what I lend my name to because I want to make as much of a positive impact as I can. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a few bad experiences or worked/associated with some people I shouldn’t have, but even that has made me wiser and I hope stronger. Without the not-so-great experiences, I may not have been led to the really positive, amazing ones I have had and am having recently.

Today, I’m musing about a very positive experience and one I have been getting asked about a bit lately. I thought it would be nice to address it in a post so more people could find out about it. Recently, I decided to lend a hand in a TV series I absolutely love and have been watching since season one premiered online. Eastsiders  is a little show that could and a show that has had a huge impact on so many people, including me. As far as the industry is concerned, it is a show that went from a web series, to television (appearing on LOGO), and then to NETFLIX  as well. It has won a Daytime Emmy and has been nominated for multiple awards for everything from writing to acting.

It’s no wonder it has garnered so much award attention. The multi-talented  Kit Williamson

is the writer, creator, and director and he also stars. Van Hansis stars alongside Kit as his longtime boyfriend. John Halbach (Kit’s husband and Eastsiders Producer), Matthew McKelligon, Constance WuBrea Grant, and Stephen Guarino also star but just like other favorite shows of mine, they all play an important role in the story. There are so many guest stars that come in, like my friends Jai Rodriguez and Tuc WatkinsWillam Belli, and Traci Lords. Is it any wonder I fell in love with this show?

It begins as a story about the impact of infidelity on a gay couple in Silverlake (another reason I fell in love with the show. It takes place in the places I LOVE) but it becomes so much more than that. At its core, it is about relationships of all kinds and you begin to see that there really aren’t many differences in straight, gay, bi, etc when it comes to relationships and life’s trials. We are all basically perfectly imperfect and that’s okay even if it doesn’t feel okay all the time. I truly believe the show and Kit’s writing are the voice of a community and a generation. It’s a voice I’ve needed to hear, one I think we all need to hear, and it’s my voice too. It’s a voice that is amplified by the passion of the actors and all involved in every episode. It’s one that makes you proud to spell your name LGBT for sure!

One of the wonderful things about Eastsidersis the fact that it has been largely supported by crowd funding and fan support. When I saw the season three Kickstarter campaign, I donated as soon as I could. Then I rewatched season one and two on Netflix and realized I wanted to do more. I needed to be a part of this amazing experience that I’ve been watching from afar. I noticed there was an associate producer spot open and the rest is history.

To make the experience even more interesting and meaningful, a few episodes of season three premiered at OutFest in Los Angeles this past July and I got to attend. I actually got a chance to sit down with, talk to, and celebrate with the cast. Everyone was exactly as I expected them to be and even more! I think I fell in love with each of them and the show all over again.

 

I am actually hoping to do something with them again in the near future and maybe even sitting down with Kit and John for an interview at some point. When Kit asked me what I’ve been up to, I recall saying to him and John, “Life just keeps getting more fun” and I truly hope that continues to be true. I’d also love to continue doing meaningful things that have a positive impact. In the meantime, I am looking forward to Eastsiders season three becoming available to the masses so I can share it with all of you and I look forward to continuing my journey with all of you as well. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have the support of the people I do via social, in person, and in my travels. I hope you will all extend that support to my new Eastsiders family as well.

Eastsiders on IMDB

Watch a trailer

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Interview with Sean Cunningham, Director of the Friday the 13th Franchise

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In October I was honored to be part of the San Pedro International Film Festival, where I got to walk and work the red carpet, see some amazing new Indie films, support those filmmakers, and celebrate the industry. One of the two weekends was October 13th to the 15th, which meant we were in attendance for Friday The 13th. This Friday became the horror night, which was the perfect opportunity to show the original Friday the 13th film.

What was even more serendipitous was the fact that Sean Cunningham was in attendance that evening too as a special guest. Mr Cunningham is quite an interesting artists and a pleasure to talk to. I think I learned more in those few hours than I have in a long time about movies, filmmaking, and the industry as a whole. He was also gracious enough to grant me an interview and sit down in front of a camera for a change.

One of the things we talked about was his new project, The Nurse With the Purple Hair, a

Social Good film that shows what hospice care is and what it can be. It’s the story of Michelle Lasota who makes the switch from surgical nurse to hospice nurse after the death of her father.

Sean met Michelle at Fan Expo in Toronto, CA, and was captivated by her stories about her hospice work. As filmmakers often do, he turned his interest into a project.

To date, the film has been viewed by focus groups from Vitas Healthcare, Skirball, and Kaiser Permanente. This has been their reactions:

– A catalyst to break through American culture’s denial of death.
– A great tool to bring awareness to what hospice is really about.
– Takes the mystery and fear out of hospice and dying.
– I feel brave, inspired, and honored to start a conversation that matters.
– A true look at a caring hospice nurse and the wonderful qualities of hospice care.

Here is out interview from SPIFFest:


Also,  a passion project of Sean Cunningham’s is the Nurse with the Purple Hair. Here is the trailer.

 


 

SPIFFEST information can be found here.

Charles D. Clark

I was recently blessed by being introduced to Charles D Clark via mutual Twitter friends and was so impressed by his kindness and his story that I had to get him for an interview. You may know Charles from his role on Empire on Fox or his role on Greenleaf on OWN TV. You may have been lucky enough to hear him speak and hopefully have been motivated and inspired by him as well.

Charles is not afraid to talk about his past, the path he has been on (including the wrong turns), and his hopes. It’s refreshing to see someone with a dream who also knows he has responsibilities along the way that he cannot ignore. I hope we see lots more of him on the small screen, the big screen, and at his speaking gigs!

Q: From looking at your resume, clearly you have so much to be thankful for. From looking at your website and social media, clearly you know how to show your gratitude. As we go into a new year, what are some of the things you are most grateful for from 2017?

Charles D Clark: I truly am grateful for life itself. One must have life to live to do great things. I’m grateful for my family, friends and my social media fan base because as we know social media is very, very important in marketing and branding.

Q: Speaking of the new year, what are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Charles D Clark: Where do I start lol?! I just want to become the next greatest actor. In that transition I want to also not just inspire, but to continue to change lives through my platform as a professional actor and speaker. I simply want everyone to win.

Q: I see one of your buddies is someone I admire greatly as well, Devon Franklin. How did you guys connect and what is the best advice he’s given you?

Charles D Clark: I meet Devon by entering one of his contests that was partnered with an AT&T social media movement called Inspired Mobility. Devon chose 4 winners who created the most inspired impactful quote. I was blessed to be one of the winners. From there I was honored that Devon became my mentor and friend. Both Devon and Meagan are truly a blessing to my life. Their commitment to spreading God’s love & wisdom through books, films and global events is phenomenal.

Q: You are on two shows I enjoy, ‘Empire’ on Fox and ‘Greenleaf’ on OWN TV. Can you tell us a little about your experiences working on both?

Charles D Clark: Well, let me start with Green Leaf first because I was just on there as a featured extra once. However, the experience was amazing meeting the main cast and Kirk Franklin who was a special in the episode. To be on an OWN Network set, and mind you I’m an Owner so I’m part of the family, lol, it was a great experience.

On the other hand, Empire was the highlight of my acting career that opened up so many doors ! To start as background driving 13 hours from VA to Chicago approximately 7 times under 2 months is nothing but superb dedication and crazy faith! I didn’t complain and I put a lot of work into it because even as a background the Empire cast and production treated me like family. Now I have a ( Director’s Pick Recurring Role ) as one of Shyne’s main goons/enforcers. To be officially part of a prime time hit show is a dream come true. Xzibit is phenomenal and always gives me great wisdom. The entire Lyons family is simply amazing and down to earth. Terrence and Taraji are just gifts to this world.

Q: As someone who has been chasing his dreams and living them, what advice would you give to others out there who are in the beginning stages of doing so or who are struggling with it all?

Charles D Clark: Simple..Listen to God and not people!

Q: How did you get involved in motivational speaking and what drew you to it?

Charles D Clark: Motivational speaking came natural for me. First you have to have a testimony. My father died when I was 6. In my late teens I got involved with drug dealing and gang banging. When I was about to turn 22 I was arrested and served nearly 8 years in Federal Prison. Then I got I started sharing my story to churches, schools, events, boys homes, and any other place that God sent me. My name started spreading and I won 5 awards as a speaker and through my advocacy I won another AT&T contest as the grand prize winner called ” 28 Days Moments That Matter “. This contest was during Black History month, which is 28 days in February. AT&T wanted to recognize the newest leaders in this time. Because of my work and advocacy during the Baltimore Riot in bringing peace and love along with my volunteering work, AT&T chose me.

Q: If you weren’t an actor, what other fields would you see yourself in?

Charles D Clark: Well, I majored in psychology and I was working with individuals with mental & physical disabilities, so it would in that field. I love helping people and supporting those who feel like there is no hope.

Q: Where can people find you and keep up with you online?

Facebook: Charles D. Clark

Twitter: @cclarkinspire7 IG: @cclarkinspire IMDB: http://m.imdb.com/name/nm5645633/

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Charles D Clark: I cannot live without God, my mother and my beautiful 7 year old daughter Cynne’ Clark. I wish we could all live without hate. I’m totally against racism and even though I’m not gay I will not hate anyone because of their sexuality. I love all people because only God can judge. All love and no hate is what I stand for!

Q: What’s up next for Charles D. Clark?

Charles D Clark: There,s so much, especially since I’m a SAG actor now! God gets the Glory! Expect to see me in even bigger roles and on the big screen. The main thing is not just stardom, but just being a part of making this world a better place. I can’t do it by myself but I can be apart of the process.

 

Have you met Kit Williamson and John Halbach – Actors, Writers, Producers, and Travel Influencers? Tweet 8 Like

Many of you may know Kit Williamson from Mad Men and his Emmy nominated and award winning show Eastsiders(Where you will also know his husband, John Halbachfrom). I am lucky to have become part of Eastsiders as an associate producer in season three and I am even luckier to be able to call them friends now as well. As a matter of fact, I just saw them in NYC when they were here to promote the third season of  Eastsiders at New Fest last month.

If you followKit andJohnon social media you may have also noticed they have become quite the travel/luxury influencers these days and that is what I wanted to highlight them for here. Of course we must note that Kit is working on some amazing writing and directing projects like Girls Like Magic AND Eastsiders Season Three is available to pre-order at Amazon right now.

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I have no idea how they find time to do all they do and take the fabulous trips they do BUT

I do know that they make the trips look as fabulous as you’d imagine, plus are able to bring us all along via social media. Earlier this year, they took a trip across Europe that included time in Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague. Then they returned to LA for the premiere of Eastsiders Season three at Outfest but soon after headed to Palm Springs for some more amazing views and Instagram photos!

Recently, they spent time in NYC, where I am from (after a brief stay in one of my favorite cities, Toronto), and introduced me to the Williamsburg Hotelin Brooklyn. I actually lived right there in Williamsburg for a but but never visited this truly luxurious hotel right in my home town.

During their time in Europe, Kit and John experienced some of the local culture, explored the usual tourist sites, and definitely enjoyed the local cuisine. I spoke to John about it at the Eastsiders premiere party after Outfest in Los Angeles and he expressed interest in doing it again as well as traveling to other places. At the after party for Eastsiders at NewFest in NYC, Kit expressed the same feelings to me about traveling and I expressed my interest in joining them on a few adventures (can you blame me for trying?).

There experiences traveling and influencing have led them to start their very own magazine called Where Gentlemen Go to showcase all the latest and hottest trends in travel, health, home, fashion, and more. As they say, “Go Out, Go Home, Go for It – A gay men’s travel/ lifestyle blog for modern gents.” I suggest you check it out, you will see a familiar face there from time to time. I am truly proud to be a part of Where Gentlemen Go because it’s a place for guys to go to share experiences, thoughts, tips, and their favorite things and places.

Please make sure you follow both Kit Williamson and John Halback on Twitter and Instagram for to view pictures of their trips and upcoming adventures and projects. Also follow Eastsiders and Girls Like Magic, you won’t be sorry.