FANS SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA CAMPAIGN 138

First came the campaign to give Frozen‘s Elsa a girlfriend and now fans of Marvel’s Captain America have taken to Twitter in support of giving the titular hero, played by Chris Evans, a boyfriend – with many of them already supporting the idea of Stucky, a.k.a Steve and Bucky, whose role in the movies is played by Sebastian Stan.

The call for change, which quickly gathered pace on the social media site, was started by student Jess Salerno who said:

“I feel like it sucks that people in the LGBT community don’t get the representation that they deserve. It would be so amazing for something like Captain America or Marvel to be able to portray that, and maybe just let people know that it’s okay to be who you are.  You don’t have to be scared, especially to be able to have children grow up in that way. I feel like it would do amazing things for the future.”

https://twitter.com/thewntersoIdier/status/730241173856473088

Since posting the above tweet, the hashtag #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend trended for hours yesterday.

Below are just a selection of the tweets which flooded the site in support.

https://twitter.com/stevebuckyVEVO/status/735118557873373184

Chris Evans has also said he wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of a romance between Steve and Bucky, saying in an interview:

“That wouldn’t be so bad. It’s just never been part of my approach to the character. My subtext didn’t involve that dynamic. I think even with the first Captain America film you see how drawn he is to Peggy Carter…I thought I put all that in the final scene, but maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was just gazing at Sebastian too much.”

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DAWN FRENCH TALKS LITTLE BIG SHOTS 25

Dawn French hosts the second series of Little Big Shots, the entertainment show that shines the spotlight on some of the most talented children from around the world.

With no prizes at stake and no winners or losers, the programme simply allows three to 13 year olds to take to the stage to showcase their talents and prove they are star performers!

In each of the six hour-long shows, Dawn meets each act and gets to know them before they take to the performance area on the revolving stage, and show the audience and viewers what makes them special.

Pint-sized acts from all over the UK and the world will show off their singing, dancing and acrobatic skills alongside other amazing acts including a dog handler, a Eurovision expert, a champion hen-racer, a juggling strongman and stand-up comedian!

You’re back for a second series. What do you love so much about making Little Big Shots?
There are lots of things about it that are lovely. Never mind the practical stuff, which is go to London for two weeks, where I’ve got lots of mates, and have fun during the day doing this. The team that make it are very good fun. It suits my life very well, but never mind all of that, it’s a great show. I was a bit trepidatious about it at the beginning when they asked me to do it, because it’s a show that’s come from America and it’s presented by Steve Harvey who is a very different person to me. And I was thinking, maybe this needs a kind of grown up presenter – somebody who does a lot of thinking on their feet, which was not my skill or experience at all. I didn’t want to let the kids down, or be that awful person who tries to grab all the focus all the time. But then I asked to see the American show and it was just joyful. And a big attraction for me was that you are not promising these kids are going to be big stars, there’s no prizing or judging or horrible critiques or anything like that. Everybody understands that, for that one little moment, they get to shine, doing the thing that they love doing.

What was the reaction to the first series?
Fantastic. My in-laws love it. What I really like about it is that it’s old-fashioned family viewing. It’s got kids in it, but it’s not a kids-only show. It’s for everyone. Quite a lot of what I do divides people. Some like it, some don’t. That’s fine, but this – everyone seems to love it.

The kids you have on the show are incredibly diverse, aren’t they?
They’re so different because they’re all different ages, all different sizes, colours, creeds, countries, and talents. The talent is so varied. Some of them sing and dance and they are lovely. But some of them are just kids who’ve done something silly and funny on YouTube – we had a little boy called Marshall who is four years old. He got a guardsman’s outfit at Christmas and he loved to march in it so his family took him to Windsor Castle and filmed him meeting a proper guardsman. The guardsman stood still at first, like he’s supposed to, then he went indoors and got permission from his senior to go out and march with Marshall. Marshall’s day, his week, his year was made by doing that. So we replicated that on stage. And it’s joyous because we’ve all loved dressing up.

There is a very funny scene in the first episode in which you get on your hands and knees and crawl through a dog agility tunnel. You don’t mind getting stuck in, do you?!
Honestly, I saw them setting up the agility course and I thought, ‘I see. I see. I know what’s going to happen here’. In theory, I’d rather not be that undignified. On the other hand, I knew I was just not going to be able to resist it.

Which other acts stand out to you?
The Russian aerialists were absolutely extraordinary. Tiny, tiny, little perfect little creatures. They were strapped in so I knew they couldn’t fall, but nevertheless, the courage it takes to do that. You know, there’s no feeling around any of these kids that anyone has been forced, or does anything against their will, or doesn’t enjoy what they’re doing. These kids were just beaming, absolutely beaming. One thing I actually really love is the interpreters. We have these amazing kids with their talents from Russia, the Philippines, Romania, Germany, America, you name it. And a lot of them can’t speak the language, so then you meet other remarkable kids who translate. It’s crucial to have them there, but they’re massively clever. The little boy, Kai, who is a Russian translator, has now featured in series one and series two, and he’s very funny in his own right. He will explain things of course but he will also have his own take on it. So I asked this Russian kid if they are going to buy a football team while he’s here, which is just a little joke for the audience really, but Kai is rolling his eyes at me and it’s hilarious. He gives me a kind of, ‘I know what you’re up to and this is ridiculous’, type look.

What’s it like back stage before the kids come on?
The producers are very good. They are very kid friendly, and they’re very aware that especially for kids who come from abroad or other parts of the country, they’re in a hotel and it’s a big old deal. They’re given a few little tips and, more importantly, lots of time to rehearse. When they come to the studio, they don’t meet me, and that’s on purpose , it’s best for our show if they are meeting me for the first time in front of the audience. They see a picture of me but all they need to know beforehand is that I’m this lady who’s going to talk to them. It makes it much more natural.

Is there anything new this series?
Yes, we’ve got some collaboration. I was a bit wary of it to begin with. I thought, ‘Oh, hang on. Don’t just put people together for the sake of having a new thing’. But actually, we only do it three or four times in the whole series and it’s great when it happens because you get a second bite of some of the most remarkable kids. The producers sit and think, ‘Right. Here we have this beautiful singer. What would go well with her? I know, I remember that lovely boy, the ballet dancer from the last series. Let’s get him back and he can dance in the back’. So there’s a kind of little relationship with the show going on, a bit of history. There’s a harpist who works with a singer. There’s a lovely American trio, a cello and two violins, all brothers and sisters – and we put them together with a lovely Welsh singer and they do a Disney classic. It’s delightful. Then we’ve got this gorgeous boy who plays the piano, who happens to have been blind since he was born, and there’s a Romanian singer that we put him with. It’s an extra wonderful treat.

Some of these kids must spend hours upon hours training and rehearsing. Do you have any concerns about being that dedicated at such a young age?
I’m okay with that, as long as the kid really wants to and it’s a kind of passion. And I can honestly say that all the kids that we saw, their parents are right behind them and they are encouraged, they’re not forced. They’re encouraged to do something that is their skill. Now, I’ll tell you something I really have learned with the series, is that without a doubt, if you can identify a skill that your kid has or a passion, or a love that they have for a particular thing, and if you can devote some of your time as the parent to giving them space to do it, they will get better at it. So in other words, there’s a reason why the Williams sisters are brilliant at tennis. It’s because they decided to do tennis rather than watch loads of telly! Not that I have a judgement about that particularly – I love telly, and I certainly watched lots of it with my daughter – but I didn’t, somewhere along the line, think, “Oh, now, what could I focus on that she loves, that we do that and only that?” These parents have done that, they have sacrificed quite a lot actually, to make sure these kids have access to the one thing they love, and to support them and encourage them. Most of us just go, ‘Let’s do a bit of judo and a bit of piano’, and open lots of doors for your kids. But if you concentrate on one thing, you get really good at it. Like these wonderful two brothers we had on who are the best at mixed martial arts in Ireland and they travel the world doing it, getting better and better. Max is 11 and World Champion. That reminds me, there’s another wonderful thing about this show….

What’s that?
I get loads of presents! It’s heaven. These kids come from all over the world and all over the country with all kinds of wonderful things. I get everything from little Tupperware boxes of cookies to Russian matryoshka dolls. And the judo brothers gave me a black belt. So now I’m a black belt and I didn’t even have to earn it. I’ve got a great ukulele as well, some drumsticks from this amazing little girl. As it happens, my stepson is a drummer, and he saw them immediately and said, “Oh, I like these. May I borrow them?” And I haven’t seen them since.

What would your secret talent be if you were to go on the show as a child, or as an adult?
I didn’t really ever have a proper, well honed talent! I did a bit of dancing. I certainly couldn’t sing, but thought I could, so perhaps that. What would I do now? Hmm. I haven’t actually got a tangible skill, it’s a bit shocking. Well, I can move my eyes independently. It is a bit of an odd thing and I’ve been able to do it ever since I was very little. I think for a while my parents might have thought I was possessed. But I can do it. I’m not sure it would have got me on to Little Big Shots, mind you. I might wear a silly costume or something, or do a silly dance, or something like that. I could try and amuse the audience one way or another.

You dress up for a living, of course, when you act or especially when you film French and Saunders.
Most definitely. But I’m not so good at dressing up for fancy dress parties, weirdly. I’ve got it very wrong in real life. Elton John used to throw amazing, huge great big parties and I waslucky enough to go to a couple of those. Len and I once went as Michael Jackson and Bubbles. He was Michael Jackson and I was Bubbles. Hilarious for about five minutes, and then hot, and then I could smell my own body rotting from the inside of the costume. It was a full chimpanzee outfit, I could hardly see anything! When I eventually took the head off, and just mucked about sweating a lot, at the very glamorous party, I looked around and there were all these people in very glamorous versions of fancy dress. There were all these sexy jailbirds or flappers or whatever is cool and comfortable, and glam. And I was not. I’ve done that many, many times. I will go for the gag, and the joke wears off very, very quickly. But I can still remember the joy of doing the dressing up. Of laughing a lot, you know, getting ready for the party. And we don’t do that often enough as adults. Kids do it all the time.

On a completely different note – French and Saunders was very well received at Christmas time. Does that mean there will be more?
We never close the door on French and Saunders. We can’t bear the thought to close the door on it. There are no immediate plans, I would say. That’s because Fatty and I both are very booked up this year, and even into next year, so I can’t see the window of opportunity, but the minute there is one, we’ll be in there thinking of something. Fatty has been doing Lady Windermere’s Fan, which is brilliant. Fatty’s the best thing about it, of course, but the whole thing is wonderful.

Did you love being reunited for French and Saunders?
Yes, it was very good fun. We had very little time and it was a clip show at first, that turned into more than a clip show. I think what they really wanted us to do was just to narrate between some old clips, but we couldn’t face the thought of doing that, so we did sketches, and then we ran out of time. So it was chaotic, the same old chaos, but it was very doable. One of the great joys, and something I miss, is having accurate make-up and wardrobe. On the Christmas show, I used a makeup artist called Naomi Donne who I’ve worked with since I was 22 on French and Saunders, Vicar of Dibley. And now she’s the chief on all the Bond films. But we still get together and when she’s putting the wig on me to play Giles in Gogglebox, it’s the best giggle you could have. It’s just being in the dressing up box with your best mate. Collaborating on the costume before you even hit the studio floor is half the fun.

DANIELLE PINNOCK CHATS ‘YOUNG SHELDON’ & THE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT 57

With The Big Bang Theory having proven to be a global hit since its very first episode, it should come as no surprise to learn that its spin-off, a look at the childhood and early years of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, aptly titled Young Sheldon, has also become a phenomenon. With the show about to air its debut season finale, and with season 2 already greenlit, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Danielle Pinnock, who plays Ms. Ingram in the show, to find out about her very first audition, her role as a body activist and how she feels about the reaction to and her being part of the smash-hit series that is Young Sheldon.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to pursue acting as a career? Was there one particular show/actor you watched that made you think ‘I’d like to do that’?

Danielle Pinnock: When I was 19 I was in a production at Temple University called In Conflict. It was a documentary play about war veterans returning home from serving overseas. The show was so incredible. We were even pulled out of school for a year to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway in New York.  All of the vets we portrayed were real people, based on interviews done by journalist Yvonne Latty. The veteran I played, Sgt. Lisa Haynes, was the only one we were unable to get a response from during run of the show. I heard that during her initial interview, her PTSD was so severe once returning home that she may have “fallen off the map.” I didn’t want to accept this, so I took it upon myself to find Sgt. Haynes. I called every VA hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was from, and was able to locate her and her family. During the run of the show,  I flew down to Tulsa and met Sgt. Haynes and her family. When I returned back to New York, I was determined to have Sgt. Haynes see the final Off-Broadway performance. So in the final two weeks of the run I managed to raise $10,000 to get Sgt. Haynes and her family members up to New York to see In Conflict’s last show. It was THAT show that made me want to act for the rest of my life.

TITL: Can you recall your very first audition? 

DP: Yes! Ha! My very first audition was for the middle school production of Aladdin. I played Halima, Jafar’s evil sister. It was like pulling teeth to get me to audition for this role. I never wanted to be an actor growing up, and was super shy as a child. My audition song was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill.

TITL: Which auditions, looking back on them, do you feel went really well or that you struggled with? 

DP: The reason I ended up in Los Angeles is because I auditioned for a production at the Geffen Playhouse called Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. At the time of the auditions, I was still living in Chicago and actually flew up to L.A. to be seen for the project. It was a risky decision and I would not recommend actors doing that, but I knew I had to be on point! I also knew if I was going to move to Los Angeles, I needed a job! Barbecue was one of my best auditions in L.A. Recently, I ran into Colman Domingo and he said: Danielle, you just walked in with your blue dress and commanded our attention. Working with Colman and the cast members was a dream realized. It was an honor to be included in that production.

My most memorable audition that I struggled with also happened in Los Angeles. I was going in for the role of a nurse on a sitcom. A lot of auditions in L.A. happen in “bungalows” which are really just trailers on the studio lots. I only bring this up, because the walls in most audition rooms are extremely thin so you can hear another actors’ entire audition. There was a young woman who went in before me, and her audition was so fantastic that the casting director actually booked her for the project IN THE ROOM! The entire waiting room, full of actors, heard the casting director call this woman’s agent to say the actor had booked it. However, in the waiting room, chaos ensued. People began to leave the audition and I had no clue what to do because I was NEXT! As soon as the actor left the audition room all I heard was: “Danielle Pinnock come on in.”  It was my worst audition to date. I forgot all of the lines and was just unmotivated to even give my all because I knew there was no chance of me getting booked on that project.

TITL: How did you hear about the role of Ms. Ingram for Young Sheldon? What was/is it about the character that made you want to audition for the role?

DP: Funny enough, this was a same-day audition. My manager called me on a Thursday morning and I had three-hours to prepare the sides for an Untitled project. I initially went in for the music-teacher and then Nikki Valko, the casting director, asked me to read for a brand new character they created that week “Ms. Ingram.” It was refreshing to see that casting was considering me, a plus-sized African American woman to play the mathematics teacher. Ms. Ingram is one of my favorite characters to play because she is so quirky, hilarious and extremely no-nonsense.

TITL: The show has proven to be a HUGE success in the US and is also popular here in the UK. Did you or your fellow cast members ever expect the show to get the response and reaction it has? 

DP: It’s surreal! This show is a hit internationally and I’ve never, in my entire career, been a part of such a phenomenon. Chuck Lorre is a genius and absolutely has the Midas touch when it comes to creating successful television! Working with the creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro has been a dream come true. My mom and I were in the grocery store and someone stopped us and said “That’s Ms. Ingram, Oh My God!” In the pilot, my character Ms. Ingram talks about attending Oral Roberts University and the school sent me a gift! I went to graduate school at Birmingham School of Acting UK, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, so it’s really cool for my friends, family and professors to see it overseas as well!

Aside from it’s obvious TBBT connection, what do you think it is about Young Sheldon that has attracted so many people to watch, and keep watching, it?

DP: The show is hilarious and the main cast give masterful performances. Iain Armitage who plays Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant young performer and is such a joy to work alongside. His portrayal of Sheldon Cooper is honest and relatable.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Scandal and This Is Us. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a variety of roles that really put your abilities to the test, and with that in mind, what’s your dream role? Which show would you most like to appear in and why?

DP: Working on those two shows was incredible. I was able to work on Scandal with the genius Kerry Washington; the legendary Viola Davis was the cherry on an already delicious sundae! I’ve had the opportunity to play some fantastic roles both in theatre and on-screen. To be honest, I don’t know what my dream role would be. There are so many great shows out right now. My favorites at the moment: Good Girls, Atlanta, How To Get Away With Murder and SMILF. 

TITL: The entertainment industry is cut throat and competitive, so what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on it? Is there any one piece of advice you were once given that you still look back on?

DP: A colleague of mine once said: “In this industry, you must learn to be plural.” In this industry, especially nowadays, you have to be multi-faceted. This is why there is an uprising of artists creating their own content now.

TITL: Away from TV, you’re an accomplished writer/playwright, and are passionate about creating productions that address life, living and the many issues that come with it. Does your work in that field ever cross over into your acting work and vice-versa?

DP: Absolutely. I’m actually developing an improvised Instagram series with my friend, LaNisa Frederick called Hashtag Booked. Hashtag Booked is a hilarious, raw, and shocking portrayal of what happens during the short period of time in the audition waiting room.  These “characters” are based on real-life experiences.

TITL: How are you finding your role as a vocal activist for body positivity impacting both yourself and those around you? How did you first get involved and would you like to see more individuals, especially those in the public eye, using their status to speak out about important matters as you are?

DP: The first play I ever wrote was a solo show called Body/Courage. Body/Courage was created from over 300 interviews I conducted worldwide, and it was an exploration on body acceptance. This project changed my life. The show is about my journey to find my own beauty through the voices of others. The cool thing about the show is that it introduced a constellation of characters grappling with diverse body issues including weight, illness, disability, skin color, aging, and gender transition. It was this show that got me involved in the body positivity movement. Body/Courage, allowed me to find a courage in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. The body positivity movement already has some fierce voices and it can always use more so I would encourage others to speak out.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

DP: This summer, I’ll be releasing an interview-style podcast called SHOOK discussing true stories of mental health in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a guest contributor for Shondaland, so check out my essay I’ll be writing for them in the next few weeks.

TITL: Finally then, given that the industry is ever changing, sometimes at a pace even fans can’t keep up with, where do you think the business will go and be 5-10 years from now? What would you like to see happen and do you think that such things will? 

DP: My hope for the industry in 5-10 years is that we can begin to bring more stories by women of color to the forefront. I want to see more women of color on set, I want to see more women of color in the writers room, I want to see more women of color as producers and directors. I want to see women of color win in this industry now and in the future.

Young Sheldon is currently airing on E4 in the UK on Wednesdays at 8.30PM. You can keep up to date with Danielle Pinnock via her Twitter. Header photo credit: Joe Mazza.