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From Kendall to Sara:
Alicia Minshew’s Rise above ‘Soapy’ Stardom
By Mende Smith
A conversation with actress Alicia Minshew reveals that life after daytime television can be beautiful. Born and raised in the South Florida sunshine, Alicia was the third of four girls. A minister’s daughter, she began acting and performing plays for her family and soon realized that the acting bug was going to stay with her all of her life. Cast regularly in community theatre productions and high school musicals, young Minshew received a musical theatre scholarship to Indian River College. Alicia believed her next spot would be on Broadway.
“I knew at a very young age that I wanted to act,” Alicia said. “I just remember saying I actually wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to be a theatre actor, and it was something my parents always supported.”
Alicia landed her first commercial while still in high school. And although she did attend almost two years of college, once she started making money doing what she truly loved, college aspirations faded out like the small set lighting of the local theatre and the spotlights on her were ever-growing. As an MTV-style VJ on a small satellite TV show, she really got the fever. “I said, ‘You know, the heck with college. I‘m making money.’ So, I started acting classes and eventually moved to New York City with my boyfriend at the time.”
In New York, Alicia found an intensive acting school. The William Esper Studio prepared her for television while she made a living doing commercials for her first year in the big city. Soon after Alicia's first film role with actor Richard Lewis and a few indie projects, she auditioned for All My Children. The soap opera set was soon to be her professional home away from home. Cast as Erica’s daughter, Alicia found herself on stage with daytime TV icon, Susan Lucci.
“When I auditioned for All My Children, it was kind of a secret role. They didn’t really tell us who it was going to be. I think they wanted to keep it a secret. So when I finally got the part, they said, ’By the way, you’re playing the part of Kendall Hart, Susan Lucci’s daughter,’ and then I got nervous. [Laugh] Because she’s the queen bee, she’s the queen of daytime, and I wasn’t sure how she would react to me. Thank God she is an amazingly sweet, grounded, awesome woman and kind of embraced me from day one and we’ve been friends ever since. It was definitely my first big job,” Alicia said.
For almost a decade she played the role of Kendall Hart, memorizing a 30- to 40-page script every single night before filming the next day. The makings of steady work in television came with a price. Alicia worked through the last era of daytime TV, when there were fewer cable channels drawing viewers from prime-time stations. From there, she moved into the film industry.
“It’s funny,” Alicia said. “When I first got the job, I was happy … people make fun of soaps and, listen: there’s silly story lines, people come back from the dead, there’s evil twins, all that stuff. But, if you can kind of just suspend your belief, act like it’s real and have fun with it, it’s a really fun gig.”
Alicia never thought her first TV gig would become a 10-year role. She said she had hoped for three years and held fast to the idea of moving on after that, but the lifestyle that soap opera stardom afforded her proved hard to leave.
“Once you’re in it and you have this lifestyle and you’re working with these people that become your family, it’s a hard job to walk away from,” Alicia said. ”It was inevitably going to come to an end. I watched a ton of other soaps slow down and get cancelled. It was a long time before our show did, but we all knew it was on its last leg.”
By the last season of All My Children, Alicia had already given birth to her first child and was contemplating her withdrawal from the role before the show was cancelled. She recalls planning to leave the show when her contract ended, longing to “spread her wings” by trying different things. When she left the show, there were tears. The family that Alicia had been working with every day for years was coming to an end.
“I was sad for the fans because the fans are really die-hard and really love the show, but there was also a part of me that was excited to start this new chapter,” Alicia said.
The auditions that followed came easier then. As a seasoned television actor, Alicia embodied a new confidence in her abilities after acting every day for the past 10 years. She was still challenged by being “the soap actress,” and so part of her life after All My Children was focused on reinventing herself as an actress, not “just the girl who played on the soap.”
“People still see (me) as the actor who played Kendall Hart, so I am trying to do other things and move past that,” Alicia adds. “At least my acting muscle was being used every day.”
Alicia was glad to learn that she landed one of her film roles last year because the producer was a fan of All My Children, and felt that casting Alicia in her American love story Desires of the Heart was a little bit like paying it forward for the show’s fanfare. Desires of the Heart, screened this year at the Cannes film festival last night.
“When I go on auditions, I have casting directors say, ‘We really loved All My Children,’ and I do think that audiences are kind of used to seeing people cross over now. We have reality stars, people from American Idol who are doing TV shows, and I think people are getting used to seeing different personalities in TV and movies now, which is great for people like me.”
And although Alicia is moving from the face of daytime television to the big screen, she is still an active mom to a 4-year old. While Alica was wrapping up the show, Willow volleyed between Minshew’s husband and their “wonderful nanny.” She recalls how fortunate she was to have a team for Willow’s early years. Today, Alicia plans her working schedule around her daughter’s birthday parties and family events. She said all the juggling can sometimes become a struggle, but she wears her life well.
“I think it’s really about balancing. When I’m in work mode, that’s really what I focus on and when I’m home with (Willow) and taking her to her gymnastics classes, I’m all about her. Again, it was harder in the beginning but now I've kind of found my groove. I finally found my groove.”
Dancing is another passion that Alicia has pursued since she was a child. Whenever she gets a chance to get out on the dance floor, she said, she is right there. She said that if she was not an actor, she would have become a professional dancer. In her spare time, Alicia takes classes and dances with her daughter. Her grandmother, now 103 years old, dances at family gatherings and parties, too.
“I guess it is in the genes,” Alicia said with a laugh. ”We could all learn something about celebration from my grandmother.”
Alicia's career has taken her from New York City to L.A., to Atlanta and even Canada. Her husband, Richie Herschenfeld, owns a string of restaurants in New York. Alicia said she can work as an actress anywhere!
In one of her most recent, diverse roles, on Crystal Chappell’s lesbian-centric web series Beacon Hill, Alicia plays one of the lead roles, Sara, a reporter who is very much in love. Alicia described the script as Dallas meets The West Wing.
“There is some really great writers working on this show,” Alicia said. ”I got to work with some people that were on All My Children with me and I got to work with people that I’d never met but whose work I’d always admired, especially Sarah Brown, who plays my girlfriend. She was on General Hospital and I always loved her work, so it was really cool to meet her and get to work with her for a while. Beacon Hill is streaming now on the Beacon Hill website. And Season 1 DVD will be available later in the year. It was really fun and different. I had never done a Web series before.”
Alicia credits her family with being her biggest influences. Her parents supported her through the ups and downs of her career, emotionally and financially. Growing up with their support, she said, saved her. She aspires to be as great a parent to her daughter as her parents and grandparents were to her.
“My grandfather was really the only other actor and performer in my whole family,” Alicia adds. “He used to do Vaudeville and he used to put on little shows, and we used to kind of sing and dance and do silly little shows together. So I think I would watch him perform and that inspired me: ‘Oh, I want to do what Grandpa’s doing.’ He only did it at local theaters and stuff, but I thought, ‘This is really cool!"
When asked if she would do any of her life differently, Alicia said no, adding that she has been blessed with a great support system and credits her close-knit family for her success. She offered advice to young actors, saying if they share her love for the craft, than they should never give up.
“Not to sound cliché,” Alicia said, “but you really have to believe in yourself because it did take me several auditions and several acting classes and several restaurant jobs before I got the steady job on All My Children. I just had to believe in myself and be very, very persistent and don’t take things personally. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean you’re not good. It just means that you weren’t the right person for the job but you’ll be right for something else. So I really believe you have to do it because you love it. Don’t do it for the money, don’t do it for fame. Do it because you love it and just be persistent. Just keep at it, keep at it, keep at it.”
Alicia feels just as passionate about education as she does about her acting career. The community literacy support organization City Year is one of her favorite ways to give back.
“I actually learned about (City Year) when I was in Los Angeles,” Alicia said. “I actually visited one of the schools in Los Angeles and…I've just reconnected with the City Year here in New York. …City Year is…an organization that finds low-income schools where the dropout rate is really, really high, and it’s this program built to keep these children in school. So when I was in California, for instance, I went to a school in L.A. that was not in a very safe neighborhood and it was just a lower-income school. (City Year is) a really wonderful program that … encourages the children to do the after-school programs and to do something good with their time after school, and they’re basically just trying to get the kids to stay in school. The organization is making leaps and bounds for these kids.”
Now, Alicia fanbase spans from TV to the web, active Twitter users, and to the community of education.
“I love that even though the projects I am working on now is not a soap, the fans just want to be supportive,” she said. “So I think for that, I have to just have a lot of gratitude to the fans…soap fans are the most loyal fans and even if you move on from soaps and do other projects, they are always there to support you and that’s another thing I’m really lucky to have, is people that support the new things that I work on.”
In the years since portraying Kendall Hart, Alicia has come full circle in grace and beauty. Her story offers hope to the modern American family, to the continuing study of acting, and to the brightest of television’s rising stars.
Photocredits: Top Photo: Peter Hurley, Desires of the Heart Photos Marayann Bates
- Written by Amber Topping
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U.S. Exclusive with Actor, Guile Branco!
By Bridget Brady
- Written by Super User
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Out Of The Box:
Movie In A Box
By Mende Smith
Movie In A Box (MIB) founder & president, Roger Roth can be seen weekly in the mega-popular web-series The Gentlemen's Rant, created by John Elerick, originally developed and produced at Waterline Pictures before deftly securing a production deal with LA’s Maker Studios. Roth began his sojourn into filmmaking at age eleven, with innovation on his mind. Honing in on the necessaries of film production, his concept to modern filmmaking is evergreen. Reap interviewed MIB’s operations manager, Kyle Pavey about the new alternative to fleet filmmaking and the trend of streamlining multiple projects in the indie film tool shed from one onsite source that is making indie films more practical than their billions-over-budget counterparts.
The basic concept of MIB is simple: Accessibility. Roth’s development team will bring your idea from the page to the screen--even delivering the whole works right to your set location. From consulting to delivery, a seasoned team of MIB experts will work with you and your people to deliver stories cinematically with ease that comes from investing your time and your efforts using tried and true methods that streamline the process and eliminate waste. Roth could write the book on indie filmmaking and the manual on ease of production. Like anyone in his field, Roth has acquired a lot of equipment along the way--then he got the idea of renting it out to fellow filmmakers.
He also bought a few trucks to go along with the growth of his company and his dream was to be able to have something that could be shared. Therein the concept of MIB was born. On Demand for any project, the idea of having everything ready to go all in one truck and just roll up on a moment’s notice and shoot at feature scale or feature quality seemed like a miracle.
“The ultimate goal for Roth was to make independent films and have everything in one truck,” says collaborator and operations manager Kyle Pavey. “Once he had accomplished this for a few of his own films (including Getting Back to Zero, which is available now On Demand in many markets and Hulu), he had to share the wealth. The truck was not built out the same way that it is currently, in its current form, it has been created in a streamlined fashion since I came on board, So, what happened is Roger had this idea and said, ‘Hey, I want movie in a box where I have all my essentials in one truck and I can wake up in the morning and have an idea and go out and shoot it and shoot it like I’m shooting a movie, not shoot it like I’m shooting camera news.’ He wanted to be able to have the full scale of it.”
So, after Pavey and Roth discovered that there was a market for renting the core essentials for filmmaking to others, identifying the necessaries in one all-inclusive package for what filmmakers (along with some of the other partners needed) to accomplish a film project.
“We basically said, ‘We know what we need, now how can we get all of that into one truck?’ The truth is, you can cram it all into a truck but how can you work off that truck and not have different departments bumping into each and stepping over each other’s feet?”
By working together on the front and back end of production, they learned that it was possible. Making all of their own scheduling errors on their own projects, they are able to make preparations for client’s films. “You have to be careful on how you create it within that truck so it’s easy to use and one of Roger’s directives to me in that was, ‘Hey, I want to be able to shoot a whole movie, but I want to be able to roll up to the side of a street, hop out, just take the camera and the sound off and go in and get a shot and if the guys need, to be able to work off of the truck or work from a stage.’ So, I kind of took it into twofold and it is built out on carts, so the movie guys that are used to pulling their truck up, downloading the carts, and wheeling all this stuff close to set are very happy with the way this is because they can do that and they’re accustomed to it,” Pavey says. “At the same time, Roger can go out and have 40 lights on board and doesn’t have to take these carts off and get them up close. He can come up to a scene and get shooting.”
All of this takes place in a standard 10 Ton grip truck. The MIB team only has one outfitted currently, but they have trucks to spare. “ We used to say, ‘Built for our network and available for yours,’ we built this so it could do what we needed it to and Roger could deliver content and so forth, but we also offer creative services, where if you want us to come out and Roger direct and bring the gear, you can get a whole package deal on that and we can deliver finished content.”
Clients can hire MIB to shoot commercials too. With the on-wheels production facility, the gear, the truck, and the crew. A cash forward enterprise, MIB handles all the hairy details, work deposits, and negotiations. MIB can offer one discounted price or one packaged price for all of their equipment, have it roll up to scene and be a pretty big impact for what they get.
“Here is a little footprint,” Pavey says, “I took a photo the other day, at the end of my street, there was a Dominos pizza, and I walked by and saw 7 trucks out front and they were, I guess, shooting a commercial or something there. I took a picture of it and texted it to the guys and I said, ‘Here’s seven trucks’ and I’m looking at the gear they have pulled out and I’m saying, here’s seven trucks that I see outside the restaurant doing what one of our Movie in a Box trucks can do, and that’s kind of the point.” Pavey laughs.
MIB is still relying on internet marketing rather than aggressive marketing campaigns, and Pavey admits that the company is still in its infancy, and that neither he or Roth felt strongly about the social media piece of the venture initially. Many clients have come to them directly by word of mouth, and have done some direct selling as well, pitching services to production companies for indie films. “We’ve got some guys that do SEO and Google Ad campaigns and working on things like that where they’re rebranding and doing a lot of the internet-driven stuff, so some of it we do a little bit here and there, but we’re not pushing the gas pedal as hard there currently.”
Clients have began to trickle in for services and the company is beginning to see the results of their structure pay off. One of the first projects completed through MIB’s Gear Equity Program, was to provide the equipment for Amazon Studio’s first test feature, The Nevsky Prospect. The film shot in LA and in Russia. “We offered it to them, this was before I got there on the scene, so it was before it was in its current incarnation, but we had offered it to them as the truck and all the equipment based on their needs. They never ended up using the truck. They just came and pulled equipment that they needed from it and then, of course, took that equipment and shipped it to Russia and back, but that is kind of another feather in our cap, is being the equipment provider for Amazon Studio’s first test feature,” Pavey says.
The ultimate goal is to have an entire fleet of trucks, fully outfitted for filmmakers and to grow the size of the business slowly, to learn from the mishaps as they go along and be able to change up the fleet as needed. MIB is still growing to fit into the filmmaking industry. The website offers a number of basic and advanced packages from planning services to process to post-production.
“The other kind of grand idea--and it’s a ways off--would be that maybe one day there’s a Movie in a Box in different towns and that could be one way to coordinate partnerships across the country. Sort of like an opportunity to work onsite or remotely, building new partnerships along the way. That was a concept that Roger always envisioned as well, but we’ve got to master LA on it first,” Pavey says.
Roth’s approach to streamlining production is not necessarily the first of its kind, but Pavey assures that it is the most effective. Pavey adds that they have not seen anyone else doing film production at the scale that MIB is. The largest advantage that MIB provides is the opportunity to fix production costs. While coordinating a budget, whether it is a one day shoot with a fly pack, or an eight day shoot, the MIB model truly is truly unique. “The film market in LA is a different animal,” Pavey says. “We get calls from other places and they are blown away by the scope and quality we provide. We are renting out cameras like the ones they used to shoot The Hobbit. The feedback I have gotten from producers has been great and we are going to just keep getting better.”
- Written by Super User
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How We Got Away With It
A Film By Jon Lindstrom
By Nathan Edmondson
Jon Lindstrom has been a working actor in the entertainment industry for the last 25 years. With a long list of TV and film credits to his name and an Emmy nomination to boot, his most recognizable role was playing Dr’s. Ryan Chamberlain and Kevin Collins for an 11 year run on ABC’s "General Hospital" and "Port Charles." Several years ago, Lindstrom decided to try his hand on the other side of the camera. His directorial debut, "How We Got Away With It," is available now on VOD.
When a group of 30-something friends reunite for their annual, summer reunion, "How We Got Away With It" follows what transpires as a result of an unexpected tragedy. The crime thriller was a festival favorite throughout 2013, garnering numerous awards and accolades. A few hours before a special SAG Foundation Screening of the film for the LifeRaft Independent Feature Screening Series, Lindstrom took a few minutes to talk about his career, this film and his advice for individuals aspiring entertainment professionals.
The acting bug grabbed Jon at an early age when he saw "From Russia with Love" starring Sean Connery as the legendary James Bond. The dramatic fight scene between Connery and Robert Shaw captured his imagination and fueled his desire to be a part of creating such dramatic and complete imagined worlds. Trips to the local cinema in his hometown of Medford, Oregon and summer excursions to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival solidified his aspirations, and eventually he relocated to Los Angeles. While making ends meet bartending and waiting tables, a few auditions paid off here and there with bit TV parts. After a few years toiling away, he landed a part on the short-lived TV show "Rituals." From there, his career took off.
With his acting career in full bloom, Lindstrom’s interests expanded beyond what was happening in front of the camera. While sitting in his dressing room, he started writing his first screenplay which turned into the 2006 film "The Hard Easy" starring Bruce Dern and Vera Farmiga. With his growing writing experience and some short films under his belt, Lindstrom was introduced to McCaleb Burnett and Jeff Barry, co-screenwriters and soon to be stars of "How We Got Away With It." He read their first draft of the film, saw potential in the concept and agreed to help develop the film on the condition that he would be the director. Burnett and Barry agreed and the project was off and running.
Eventually, Lindstrom took on co-screenwriter and producer roles as well, but it took a few years for production to commence. At first, they worked on re-writes of the script to further develop the characters and the plot. Then scheduling conflicts put Lindstrom’s participation on hold. At one point, Burnett and Barry even considered shooting the film DIY style with handheld cameras and virtually no budget. Lindstrom believed the project deserved more of an investment; and once his schedule opened up, they found a window of time to shoot near Rochester, New York.
Fully embracing his role as director, Lindstrom conceived a specific visual template for the film that would help give the production a common goal. He researched films that shared the sensibility he hoped to create and would aid him in exploring his primary theme of how lies blind people in all the wrong ways. With a limited budget, his cast and crew were motivated by their passion and belief in the film they were producing together and Lindstrom didn’t want to let anyone down. From the first reading of the script, Jon had a visceral reaction to the piece and knew he could rely and trust his preparation and instincts in leading his team to success.
With "How We Got Away With It" nearing it’s official release, Lindstrom is free to move forward to his next project, directing another film in the horror/thriller genre. He can’t give too much away as they’re in the midst of establishing their cast, but Jon’s excited to be wearing the director’s hat once again.
Before wrapping up our interview, Jon shared some advice that he’s picked up over his successful and evolving career. If acting is your passion and you find yourself on set, when the time is right, go around and ask people what they do. You’ll have a better understanding of how the whole process works and also of the challenges faced by your co-workers. With the wisdom of a true professional, he offered his last piece of advice: "Whatever you decide to pursue, in the entertainment industry or elsewhere, take it seriously. It’s not a joke and it deserves your full attention."
"How We Got Away With It" has definitely benefited from Jon Lindstrom’s and his cast and crew’s dedication. Watch the trailer here, and then rent it on VOD.
To find out what else Nathan Edmondson is about, check out reel9productions.com and follow him on twitter @edmondsonnathan.
- Written by Amber Topping
- Hits: 1135
By Brittany Lombardi