Monday, January 30, 2012

Emma Bell!

Emma Bell in Cool

"The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. 
He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead."  I believe magic is all around us and wants us all to acknowledge it. True happiness,creativity and love all comes from that place."
-Albert Einstein

Happy Monday!

I  hope you are having a great day and off to a great week. I am very excited about today's blog. I have known Emma since she was a young girl. She has been to parties at my home and she has even assisted me as a stage manager on some of my shows and then she moved out to Hollywood, and except for Facebook, we really haven't been in touch with each other. When I was out in LA earlier this month and reconnected with her mother, Tessa Bell, an old and dear friend. When Tessa started telling me about all that Emma had been doing, I said I simply had to do a blog interview. I'm glad that Emma was excited as I was about this and now I desire all of my blog followers to help me celebrate Emma Bell today!

The first ever show Emma remembers seeing was Peter Pan in NYC. Cathy Rigby played Peter and when "he" shows Wendy, John and Michael that they can fly because of the fairy dust, Peter flew out over the audience. Emma was so enraptured. It was truly magical. It was on Broadway and Emma remembers all of the lights. Interestingly enough, Peter Pan, either with Mary Martin or Cathy Rigby, has been a common thread as far as a first theatrical experience with several artists that I have interviewed. 

The arts were a very large part of Emma's life growing up. I can attest to that! Her mother's side of the family were all incredibly musical and on her father's side were a plethora of writers. Her father worked for a news station and would always take them in to see certain taped shows they would be airing. She grew to love musical theater and dance especially. When she was 12, her mother became a cabaret singer  in NYC and Emma followed her onto the stage.I want to say her that Tessa has been an incredibly encouraging mother and supporting her kids in their artistic endeavors.

The show that Emma and Tessa did together was called, "Miracles in a Minor". Emma was 13 and the idea of driving into the big apple every weekend to perform was exhilarating. They played at "Don't Tell Mama" on Restaurant Row.  Tessa would be on for the first half of the show by herself and then Emma would appear mid-way during a duet. Emma said she was always so nervous behind the scenes, coaching myself that it would all be ok and I could do it. She remembers the song, "I Don't Care" running through my head. That show was very fun and quite challenging for Emma. It struck her how one night the room could be filled with people and the next there would only be crickets applauding them at the end of the numbers. This was her first experience of the double-edged sword of the business and Emma is grateful to have had it early on.

All My Children's Amanda Setfried
 Emma's first professional job was an 'under 5' on  the ABC soup-opera-All my Children. By this time. she was 14 years old and busing myself into the city after each day at school. She had sent out a mass mailing of some homemade headshots her Dad shot, and low and behold, was called in to extra on the show. From there she worked upward to the 'under 5' status which basically means she had less than 5 lines in a scene one time. Amanda Seyfried was the lead on that show at the time.

Emma believes, as I do, that arts in education is imperative. It's upsetting when the arts are the first subject to be cut from curriculums. More importantly it's sad any subject has to be cut. Human beings are instinctively creative. When we are young is when our imaginations are running at their highest capacity as well. They've proven it's easier to learn languages or math alongside music. Being comfortable expressing yourself through dance, music, drama or art helps build a confidence and forces the child to use their brains in different ways thus strengthening their capacity to think intuitively. Not to mention all inventions come from imagination. The light bulb, running water, the first car etc. Obviously she feels very strongly about art in education.

What makes you cry out of the blue when you see or hear it?
If I hear the "Braveheart" soundtrack playing anywhere.. I mean ANYWHERE... I instantly start crying.


Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)

I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen 
 Carol Channing is fabulous! I must admit most of knowledge and ultimate love of her came from your influence Richard! I absolutely think she deserves every acknowledgment there is. She is most deserving of that award! 

Most recent appearance
 My most recent job was as the lead in Final Destination 5. It was a fun/challenging shoot in Vancouver. It's a great popcorn movie. Now no more dying in movies! For my mom's sake!

Next appearance
My next appearance is up in the air. I have shot several independent features, but in this economy no ones knows if they will every see the light of day. So it's on to the next. Right now is pilot season, when all TV shows cast their new series. Fingers crossed!
 
What is your biggest success in Show Business
 Working on the Walking Dead has been my most successful job on a multitude of levels. Firstly, I was able to work with some very big entertainment giants. Frank Darabont directed the pilot episode and was instrumental in the creation of the show. I have loved him ever since 'Green Mile'. I hadn't watched 'Shawshank Redemption' until much later on. There was also Gayle Anne Hurd, who I've heard about through my mother for years as being her role-model for woman in the producing world. Alongside an amazing cast of people, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden, Jeff DeMunn and Steven Yeun. All that aside, it was also a character I could really since my teeth into. The series was started from one of the most popular Comic book series as well, making the pressure to create and live an adequate rendition for the fans daunting. People have fallen head over heels for the show and it's incredibly gratifying. I am only on the first season, but it's still the project most people associate with myself. 

What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that
 My lowest lows are circular. I think I have a 'lowest low' every year. This business is roller-coaster. One day you can be on a hit TV show and starring in a world-wide blockbuster and then 6 months later, not be able to pay your bills. Kinda like the room full of an audience or no one in the theater. Whenever I am in one of those low times, rallying my loved ones and spending time pursuing other interests in my life is what definitely gets me through. There have been a few times where I got so desperate I thought about leaving it all and going back home. Then I remember I chose this path and have to stick to it to get to the top. The good thing I always remind myself, is that what goes down must come back up and it always does.

What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
 I wish money didn't rule this industry. The world really. I can't tell you how many amazing stories there are out there desperately trying to be told. Unless they have millions of dollars, or a star actor or director attached, the story becomes just a nice idea instead of a wonderful reality. It used to be, 5 years ago, that actors would be cast in independent films based on talent and/or being right for the character. It was a platform for undiscovered writers, directors, cinematographers, and actors to emerge. Of course there are always going to be those independent films that accomplish that thankfully, but it seems more and more film makers can only get money for their stories if they have famous people attached. This leaves little to no room for unknowns to be known. (This, by the way, is a very common thread in most of my interviews)

Who are your TOP FIVE models and influences as an artist?
 This is a great question and one I feel unprepared to answer, but I'll give it a shot. Certainly I have been influenced from every fairytale I've ever read, or any performance I've witnessed that touched my heart. Certainly I have favorite actors I would love to emanate. Those would be Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet.  They are both strong and beautiful actors. Meryl Streep continually shows me that there is ALWAYS more to learn as an actress.  For my other artistic endeavors as a writer, I'm gonna be super cheesy and say Shakespeare. I started reading his plays and sonnets when I was a pre-teen. I had never experienced such perfectly written passages of what the heart feels. He is just a word smith and brilliant. Lastly, being in and around nature inspires me everyday. Art is beauty in whatever form that takes for the individual. I find nature the most beautiful.

What do you think ultimately made you become a performer? 
I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. I've always wanted to tell stories, or more exactly, live in stories. The world is such a wondrous, beautiful place, but it's also full of tragedy. Sometimes that can be overwhelming; When we think of all the things we can do better for the world and all the things that need to be changed. At first the idea of being able to portray other people for me was  a way to experience different realities. Ones that were full of happiness or ones that forced me to deal with unhappy feelings we all have inside of us. As I grew older, I realized I'm a story teller. If it wasn't the medium of acting it would be another medium. I love expressing all the stories out there, hard and easy. And it's a way to connect to people. We've gotten further and further away from our natural connection as humans, art connects us all.  
 
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career? 
My problem and fuel as it were is that I'm a perfectionist. The not so simple answer is yes and no. Yes because I have been able to support myself as an actor for the better part of 8 years now. Yes because I have an amazing team behind me and have worked with some of the most amazing people in the business. Yes because I regularly get out there to take advantage of the opportunities a lot of people don't have. No because in my mind I would like to be past the lows that I talked about earlier. No because I'm not quite in the position to do the projects that really speak to my heart. No because I still have auditions where I feel like the worst actor in the world. It's an upward climb no matter what peg of the ladder you are on. This I am aware of. Plus in those moments of not being content I vow to push harder, to keep growing and striving towards my ultimate goals as an actor and person. 

Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
I have accomplished things I've set out to do, but I am no where near the end of the list. I have a LONG list of things I want to accomplish in this world, some having nothing to do with entertainment. 

What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
I think I stated this before, but people are incredibly instrumental in keeping my spirits up. Having supportive, imaginative, amazing friends helps me through darker times. Also having other interests in life besides acting. I write. I sing. I do environmental work. I babysit friend's kids. I go for long hikes. 

How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss.
 I definitely don't know how to answer this question. I am terrible at self promotion. The internet with it's multiple social/ entertainment platforms is like the wild west to me. It's the wave of the future certainly for most entertainment, I'd assume theater goers as well. I don't personally agree with skeptics who say theater will become obsolete. People want to feel that connection that can only be had by seeing a live person perform.  As far as getting people to see theater in the future, I think the work will speak for itself. Plus some interactive internet marketing. That might help. Targeting young people to get involved in theater. Convincing them that it's not just for the older generations to appreciate. 

A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
 Aside from world peace and no more poverty or hunger, my three wishes would be, that the world came together to abolish using fossil fuels as a form of energy, and used the renewable, sustainable resources all around us. My second wish would be that every individual was treated with respect and love, no matter what their social status, color, gender, religious belief, and there was no more killing due to these differences. Oh and it would be rad to have wings. 
 
If you could travel anywhere in the world and spend some time there, where would you choose, and what would you do?
So my other dream in life besides my entertainment aspirations and environmental endeavors is to live in the south of France, riding a bike along cobblestone streets and making amazing organic chocolate products. I would be like Juliet Binoche in 'Chocolat'. If there was a wandering gypsy man who looked like Johnny Depp I would greatly appreciate it. 
What would you ask God if you could right now?
How we can stop the war of religions in the world?

What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional.  
 Some local LA theater with friends. 

If you could change places with anyone in the world for 24 hours, who would that be and why?
 I was recently introduced to an amazing humanitarian and woman named Somaly Mam. She was a victim of involuntary prostitution in her homeland Cambodia when she was a young girl. She now runs an organization that rescues girls from the same future in Cambodia and several other places around the world. Her life and the lives of those she helps, are so outrageously  different from mine I would love to see what it's like. Also to know and live in someone's shoes who carried both the honor and responsibility of what she does would be eye-opening. Her story reminds me that I can always be doing more good in the world.
 
Thank you, Emma, for the gifts you give to the world! 

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                              Tomorrow's blog will be...CELEBRATING CAROL CHANNING...on the occasion of her 91st Birthday!

 Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL...with NO challenges!


Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TOMORROW!

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Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  and HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS


TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com


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