SHARON BLYNN CHATS ‘CAPTAIN MARVEL’, ‘BALD IS BEAUTIFUL’ & HER ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ACTORS 0 75

Currently on screen in the latest Marvel blockbuster Captain Marvel alongside Brie Larson, Sharon Blynn has an impressive resume of work to her name having appeared in several hit TV shows and movies. As an individual who has fought and beaten ovarian cancer, she’s also the founder of Bald Is Beautiful, an organisation which supports ovarian cancer programs and raises awareness. With a number of projects “in development”, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Blynn about her fond memories of her time on the CM set, the one role she’s the most proud of and what the future has in store.

TITL: Prior to becoming an actress, did you ever have any other career plans or ambitions? 

Sharon Blynn: Before I started Bald Is Beautiful and pursuing acting and modeling. I worked at a record company in NYC, specifically in jazz. My dream at the time was to eventually have my own record company or do artist development (Berry Gordy-style) to help bring gifted artists to the world. I spent many years collaborating with incredibly talented artists, forging lasting friendships, and hanging out in the legendary New York City jazz scene into the wee hours every night! Soon after leaving the music biz, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and that journey inspired me to create my Bald Is Beautiful movement, which encompasses ovarian cancer awareness advocacy, motivational speaking and community outreach, as well as acting.

TITL: What is it about acting and performing that you love so much? Now that you’re a well-established actress, could you ever envisage yourself doing anything else? 

SB: Ironically, before my cancer journey and starting Bald Is Beautiful, I could never have imagined that I would first of all remain bald much less become an actor! What I love about performing is what I love about LIFE — digging into emotion, honest self-reflection, connecting to another person, listening to people share their stories and holding space for them to feel safe doing so, telling stories that cultivate empathy and understanding, and expand our perspective about people and the world around us. Before I began acting, it terrified me, frankly, but I very quickly caught the “acting bug” from my first time performing on stage in a very special interactive, immersive theatrical show called Off the Muff (conceived, produced, and directed by my twin sis Elisa), and have found a true passion for it. Bald Is Beautiful is still the fuel behind my acting fire, so what I do in terms of acting always goes beyond performing and delves into passionate (and compassionate) activism and advocacy.

TITL: You have a varied resume of roles that span several genres including drama and comedy, and have appeared in ShamelessBody of Proof, and Lie to Me along with many other shows. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a wide variety of roles and genre styles in the work you do, and is there one you prefer over the other? 

SB: I thoroughly enjoy exploring characters in a wide variety of roles and styles, because in the end. It comes down to telling story from an authentic and grounded place. Working across genres and styles also gives me the opportunity to explore different parts of myself, and I love digging into all of those rich emotional layers. I can be a complete goofball and also a sensitive and intense woman, and I can draw from all of that for every kind of role.

TITL: Which of your past performances/roles might you say you’re most proud of and why?

SB: One of my favorite roles was a 12-minute one-woman performance piece I wrote and presented called “How Are We Feeling Today?” I originally wrote it as part of an event called “The Big C”, for which all of the featured performers were cancer survivors sharing their stories through this artistic avenue. This was the first time I’d made a scripted-sculpted representation of the full emotional arc of my ovarian cancer experience, and the director I was paired with helped shape my story into a unique expression that I would like to someday develop into a full one-woman show.

TITL: If you could appear in any other TV show past or present, which would it be and what kind of character would you like to play?

SB: This is such a tough question! There are so many shows of all genres that I have loved watching throughout my life — the first thing that actually popped into my head was to be the guest star – aka the killer – on an episode of Columbo, especially one of the longer-form 90-minute or 2-hour episodes! I think that’s because I just recently happened to catch both the Johnny Cash and Leonard Nimoy appearances in the wee hours of my insomniac cable-surfing! If I’m looking to what’s happening now, I am excited about the bold and compelling stories being told through the limited series or anthology series formats, like Big Little Lies and Sinner or True Detective, and also woman-helmed productions from powerhouses like Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Ava Duvernay, Gina Rodriguez, and others with whom I would love to work. I relish the opportunity to explore a variety of character types, from sensitive and soulful to sinister and dark to quirky and offbeat.

TITL: How did you hear about the audition for the role of Soren in Captain Marvel and did you consider/audition for any other parts? What can you recall of your audition itself? 

SB: The audition for the role of Soren came through my rep, and there was actually very little information provided at that time as far as the project and the character, and even the surrounding storyline. There was no dialogue in the audition scene, all I was given was a couple of sentences generically describing a complex scenario, so I had to create an emotional arc just using that information. It was an exciting challenge to bring a scene like that to life; in some ways more challenging than having lots of dialogue to prepare!

TITL: As a huge fan of Marvel, how does it feel to now be a part of such a huge and globally loved, brand/Universe? 

SB: As an MCU and Stan Lee fan and as an actor, it still feels a bit surreal, and I think I will always be over-the-moon giddy about it. Being in such a special role and compelling scenes, and in particular to be part of a Marvel movie that has its own landmark qualities — first female superhero lead in a Marvel movie, first female director in the MCU — is especially rewarding and meaningful as it relates to my Bald Is Beautiful message to empower women to find and define their strength, courage, beauty, and the womanity of it all!

TITL: Do you have any favorite moments or memories from your time on set that you can share? 

SB: Every moment on set for this shoot is a favorite memory for me! Genuinely! Of course, connecting and working with Ben and Brie in particular was a joy. They both have an ease and warmth that helped make the scenes feel present and relatable. Also, I adored working with Auden and Harriet as my daughter. I’d never worked with children that young who therefore had to shoot in alternating shifts, so working with the two of them was fascinating, both personally – I’m an identical twin myself – and as an actor!

TITL: Captain Marvel is smashing it at the box office on both sides of the Atlantic. Aside from the fact it’s a Marvel film, and has huge support behind it for that reason alone, what do you think it is about this film that fans and critics are loving so much? 

SB: I think the wide appeal of Captain Marvel comes from a few different angles for existing fans and newcomers alike. There is the nostalgia of the ’90s setting, the boldness of the futuristic sci-fi elements, the engaging action sequences and cool visual effects, and the combination of humor and heart. The fierceness and power of the feminine underpinning the movie at its core gives the movie an added layer of appeal not only for female viewers, but also speaks to male viewers – younger and older – in showing how balance and respect help us all rise to our highest potential.

TITL: The film has been championed by many for the way in which it – and Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers – empowers women, reminding them that they are just as strong and capable as any man. Given the recent MeToo movement and all the attention around the way women are treated in the business, just how important and timely do you think the film and this message is? 

SB: The messages of this film have always been important. The timeliness of it comes from the renewed groundswell of momentum and awareness for issues that impact women all over the world, and people are more activated and engaged in the social and political significance of it all. I like to think that the worldwide theatrical release of Captain Marvel occurring on International Women’s Day was both purposeful and magical!

TITL: Away from acting, you founded the organization Bald Is Beautiful after successfully beating ovarian cancer, with the platform helping to raise awareness and support charities and programs. Given that 1 in 2 of us will be affected by cancer in our lifetime, would you like to see more people in the spotlight, and those affected by cancer and other such diseases, speak out in support of those people and organizations working tirelessly to help beat it? What can people do if they want to get involved with Bald Is Beautiful? 

SB: Actually, my acting work began specifically as part of my Bald Is Beautiful organization’s message. It is the visual component of engaging the print, TV, and film industries in expanding how beauty and femininity are depicted. There are many ways to be of support of people and organizations in the cancer trenches, and everyone has their own comfort level with sharing about what is a very private, intimate experience, be it their own or that of a loved one going through cancer treatment. My main hope, then, is that those who do have visibility or are in a position of influence use that platform in whatever ways they feel willing or able.

As far as involvement with Bald Is Beautiful, I always invite people to share my site www.baldisbeautiful.org with anyone for whom they think it can be of comfort, inspiration, resource, encouragement, and hope.

TITL: How do you feel about social media and the impact it can and does have on industries/professions such as yours both personally and professionally? Do you think we as a society are too attached to the likes of Twitter and Facebook or is it simply another tool that for the most part is beneficial to people and projects looking to reach an audience?

SB: As with most technological advancements, there are pros and cons to what those developments bring to our personal or professional lives. It seems to always depend on the users and their intent. Social media can be refreshingly connective, and in some ways it can certainly level the field of play in terms of self-generating and disseminated our art. It can save cost and time, while also eat away at that precious time, because so many people are getting lost in their devices and not engaging with humanity and nature that abounds and surrounds us. It’s vital to have a sense of awareness around both the benefits and potential pitfalls, and be mindful about it all.

TITL: Actors often have very demanding schedules what with filming and press tours etc. How do you unwind after a busy period or hectic filming schedule? 

SB: I cherish spending time with people who are dear to me. I equally appreciate times of quiet solitude to decompress. Exercising is a form of release and reinvigoration that I do often – daily if possible – including the gym, hiking, going for a bike ride or just walking around the neighborhood. I also thoroughly enjoy diving into a Law & Order marathon! I’ve probably seen every episode, most of them more than once, but it doesn’t matter . . . that show, original and SVU, is a sort of mental “soul food” for me.

TITL: Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline you can tell me about? 

SB: I have a couple of exciting things in development and, in the meantime, continue with the Hollywood hustle of auditioning and “working out” in classes, and enjoying Life!

TITL: What advice would you give to any aspiring actors and actresses out there who are looking to make their way in the industry? Is there any advice you were once given that you would pass on?

SB: I would encourage aspiring actors to understand both the creative and the business side of the industry. Take classes, connect with other actors, do the discipline and work to hone their acting skills. And then . . . live life! One of my acting teachers stressed the importance of living a full life in order to be a full, embodied, and authentic actor and human being. That insight still holds true for me, and I strive to do that in some way every day.

TITL: Finally then, looking to the future, what’s the long-term ambition for you, both personally and professionally?

SB: Professionally speaking, I hope to continue building my acting repertoire and I’m excited about all the possibilities of what’s to come. The same goes for Bald Is Beautiful and reaching more people through this medium of TV and film work or in other ways. Personally, I hope to maintain good health, enjoy my relationships, and overall continue learning and evolving — mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – and experience unconditional joy and love in all areas of life.

Captain Marvel is in cinemas everywhere now. For more information on and to keep up to date with Sharon Blynn, follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Alexis Dickey.

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KAT HOLLAND TALKS “THE ONE”, HER NEW EP ‘RETROVISION’ & FUTURE PLANS 0 61

As she gears up to release her EP Retrovision, Kat Holland is feeling good and is brimming with ambition. Inspired by the likes of Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse, and with hopes to record a full length album in the not too distant future, she’s riding high on a new wave of success and popularity following the release of latest single “The One” and she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about her thoughts on social media, what she feels is her unique selling point and the venues she’s hoping to play soon.

TITL: Sum yourself up in a few words for me please.

Kat Holland: I am a very kind, compassionate person, I have been a lover of music since I was a baby, I have a twin sister, and I am a huge dog lover as well.

TITL: What would you say is your unique selling point as an artist? What makes you stand out?

KH: I think my music has a really unique twist to it. A lot of artists try to copy the sound of others, but I feel like mine stands out with the new, fresh sound that it carries.

TITL: Growing up, which bands and artists were you most inspired by and how do those inspirations influence the music you make now?

KH: Growing up I listened to a lot of Norah Jones, Maroon 5, Adele, and Amy Winehouse. Outside of that I listened to a lot of the Beatles and Sarah McLachlan when I was with my parents. I feel like I have tried to incorporate a little bit of all of these artists in my music. I have so many music inspirations that it is hard for me to pin down only one influence.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing and with that in mind, which song would you say is the greatest ever written and why?

KH: I would have to say Norah Jones or Amy Winehouse are some of my biggest inspirations. They both have amazing lyrics and voices. There are so many choices when it comes to great songs, but I would have to say one of my favorites is You Know I’m No Good by Amy Winehouse.

TITL: Your latest single “The One” is dedicated to your five year relationship and all the highs/lows that come with it. Were you at ever wary about putting your deepest thoughts and feelings on record and sharing them with the world, or is it something you’d maybe like to see more artists start to do, as many are?

KH: It was definitely intimidating putting such personal thoughts and feelings out into the world like that. But, I do feel like it is worth it. Being vulnerable is tough but I believe it is what makes good music, so with that being said, I would definitely like to see more artists do that.

TITL: Your EP Retrovision is due out later this month. What can fans expect from the collection?

KH: The other three songs that are on my EP are very different from my single. They are very jazz/soul/pop. Some a little more pop, some a little more jazz/soul. Fans can expect to be very surprised by what they hear!

TITL: Which song on the EP might you say you’re most proud of and why?

KH: I would have to say I am the post proud of “Losing Balance”. The instrumentals, lyrics, melody, and just everything about it I really love.

TITL: Will you be touring in support of the EP? Are there any venues you’d really like to find yourself playing in the near future?

KH: I have been booking a lot more shows for this year which I am really excited about. I hope to start touring to other cities more frequently as well. I am hoping to eventually play at Rockwood Music Hall in New York or The Hotel Café in LA sometime soon!

TITL: To what extent does and is social media helping in terms of providing you with an audience and a platform to get yourself out there to the world?  How do you personally feel about society’s connection and obsession with the likes of Twitter? Is there a thing as “too much” social media?

KH: Social media most definitely has its ups and downs. On one side, it is a really great way for me to promote my content and grow my fan base. I have gained so many wonderful fans through social media and I really don’t want the negative to take away from that. However, I do think social media can be too much at times, and I think the obsession with “likes” on twitter, Instagram, etc. can be pretty damaging to peoples’ mental and physical health.

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

KH: One of my biggest goals this year is to record a full length album! I am planning to go to LA this summer to start the process and hoping to be done recording by the end of 2019, so stay tuned!

TITL: Finally then, as the world continues to thrive and enjoy the music of both new and established artists from around the world, what’s the long term goal for you? How, many, many years from now, would you like your music to remembered in terms of the mark it – and you – left on the world?

KH: It would really be amazing to see my music leave such a significant mark to the point where people know it for years to come. My plan – and goal – is to make a solid career out of music, so I definitely don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon!

Check out “The One” below and for more information on Kat Holland, visit her website or give her page a like on Facebook. Her EP ‘Retrovision’ is available for pre-order now.

CHANTELLE ALBERS CHATS ‘THE 6TH FRIEND’ & HER BIG AMBITIONS FOR THE FUTURE 0 79

With several projects in the pipeline and following the premiere of her latest film The 6th Friend which took place earlier this year, 2019 looks set to be a great and busy year for Chantelle Albers. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to talk her admiration of Meryl Streep, her love of comedy and what she hopes to achieve in the years to come.

TITL: As an actress with a rather impressive and growing resume, was there ever a time growing up that you considered taking a different career path or have you always had your heart set on being on screen?

CA: Honestly, I’ve always wanted to act, even as a child, and I did a lot of acting as a kid growing up in theatre. I grew up in northern middle America so there isn’t a big film market there, but there was a theatre scene and I was very active with that. I remember being in the hospital when I was 4 after suffering a head injury where I fell and had an epidural hematoma, and I was watching TV with this strong burning desire to act. I kind of forced my parents to take me to auditions and rehearsals, and after a few years they were on board. I landed my first gig in a singing and dancing group called Kids on Broadway when I was 7 years old. It was my first audition ever and I sang, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. Today my parents are my biggest supporters. Some other interests I have outside of acting is psychology because I think the study of moods, emotion, the brain, perceptions, and different realities to be incredibly fascinating. That also is what drives a lot of the research when studying characters. I also have a strong interest in animal rescue.

TITL: Which actors and actresses most inspire and influence you when it comes to your career and your work? What is it about he/she/them that encourages and motivates you so much? 

CA: To me, Meryl Streep is honestly one of the greatest actresses, and what I love about her work is all the details she puts into her characters. She has played so many different characters from A to Z and they all are so meticulously filled with details and fleshed out with depth. Whether it’s an incredible accent in Sophie’s Choice, an elderly Rabbi in Angels in America, a she-devil in The Devil Wears Prada, an aging mother addicted to pain pills in August Osage County, or playing historical characters like Julia Childs. She nails it every time and adds an element of likability to all of her characters. I think it’s something about her as a human being that is really raw and beautiful. She’s an incredible talent with an incredible soul and has so much to share with the world. She is a true gift because she is beautiful from the inside out. Often times when I am researching a character, I think to myself, “What would Streep do?” Because to me she is the best. I love her taste for acting.

TITL: Your most recent film The 6th Friend premiered earlier this year. For those who haven’t seen it yet, can you give me some details as to the story? 

CA: Yes, we are very excited about The 6th Friend releasing in Europe this month! Audiences have really loved the film and what they seem to love is all the humor that is in it. The story isn’t humorous because it’s a horror film, but there’s a strong element of comedy mixed in with it and audiences have really loved it. It stars an all-female main cast of six best friends on the night of their college graduation, where they decide to trip acid for the first time. The man, Tyler, who brings the goodies over decides to stay and join in the fun, but something dark and twisted happens. There is an attempted rape and murder, but the girls end up stopping him and killing him before it happens. The girls get a taste of fame from being the murder survivors and their lives are now changed forever. Fast forward five years later where they decide to rekindle their friendship on a weekend vacation to a cabin where the nightmare continues with a surprise at the end.

TITL: What was it like to re-unite with your good friend and former The Demon In The Dark co-star Dominique Swain on the project?

CA: It was great working with Dom, she really added a lot of humor to the movie and had some great ideas on set. During filming it was really great to have her to collaborate with as an actor. She gives you a lot to play with while filming and her eye for comedy is sharp. I always feel there is a lot of humor in horror because comedy and tragedy go together. Dominique was able to add that humor in and add to the humor of Melissa, my character. Our two characters add to the comedic relief of the movie.

TITL: Any fond or favourite memories from your time on set? 

CA: I have a musical theatre background and I have always loved Bob Fosse. The FX channel is doing a limited series on Bob Fosse and his life with partner Gwen Verdon, with Sam Rockwell playing Fosse and Michelle Williams playing Gwen Verdon. FX asked me to come in and do a print shoot of some dance shots with Sam and Michelle. That was some of the best times on set, and the photos turned out amazing. They were raw, real, hard, passionate, and had a strong element of theatre life, which I have a deep passion for.

TITL: The film has won awards at several film festivals including the RIP Horror Film Festival, but do you care much for accolades like that or are you more concerned about what your fans and viewers think? 

CA: The accolades are great and are certainly appreciated because it gives you validation, and a lot of actors in the beginning of their careers are looking for validation. At the end of the day though, it’s all about what your fans and viewers think and what they enjoy. They are the ones buying, watching, and talking about your film so they are the ones we cater to. If the awards and accolades come that’s great, but the most important thing is that people watch the movie, enjoy it and share it.

TITL: What can you tell me about your latest project Promises

CA: Well this is the first movie that I sing in and I’m really excited to go into the studio to record the songs. I have a background in musical theatre as a mezzo-soprano and have been wanting to sing in a movie for a long time, so I was really excited to jump on board with it. The story follows my character who is a mother and also a musician with a terminally ill daughter. As the story unfolds, we find out that I am unable to pay for the medical care and we see how far a mother is willing to go to save her child. It’s actually based on true events the happen in Ethiopia.

TITL: Of all the roles and characters you’ve portrayed in your career so far, which one stands out the most and why? 

CA: Even though I have a horror film out, I have a deep love and connection to comedy. Comedy is one of my first loves. A character that I played in the last few years, and really enjoyed, was a character from a play that was a west coast premiere called Niagara Falls. I played the character of Linda who is the comedic relief and has a dreamlike quality to her. Meaning that when she comes onstage, you question your own reality and circumstance. She comes with a heightened awareness, has an acute eye for detail, and has an added dose of quirk. I enjoy playing strong funny characters.

TITL: You’ve guest-starred on TV shows including Modern Family and Mob City, but if you could appear in any other series, past or present, which would it be?

CA: I would have loved to work on Arrested Development and Happy Endings. To me, those two shows have some of the best writing in the 21st century so far. There are some other shows from the 90’s like Seinfeld that is also up there, but I have a really strong appreciation for intelligent writing.

TITL: Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline you can tell me about? 

CA: I’m the lead in a really cool film going around the festival circuit right now called The Desert. It’s produced by one of the creators of NBC’s Grimm, Lynn Kouf, and directed by Ben Bigelow. The style of the film is like a 1950’s melodrama, but with an added sci-fi element. It follows my character of Martha, who breaks into her son’s imagination chamber which is used for psychological treatment. After breaking into the imagination chamber, Martha is thrown into a new world, a world of desert where she is reunited with her son. Once back to the real world, we come to find out that Martha has broken open the two worlds wreaking havoc on both.

I just wrapped on a film called Waiting, which is another film that makes the audience question the reality of the movie. The characters are stuck in the room of a restaurant that seems to become more and more claustrophobic, but they are unable to leave. That is until they are allowed to leave but they all must make a bold courageous move before they can get out. It’s sort of representational of purgatory, or the purgatory of our own minds.

TITL: Actors often work long, unsociable hours for lengthy periods of time, so what do you most like to do when you get a day or period of time off? How do you switch off from a particularly stressful role or busy day? 

CA: I really enjoy getting massages. It’s healthy and beneficial for you and I think of it as a holistic form of staying healthy. It increases circulation, opens up chi, releases tension, and can help keep you centered and grounded. I also am an avid horseback rider and I have been riding horse since I was about 4 after growing up on a farm. For me being with animals is very comforting, as well as relaxing and healing. I enjoy going for a ride to clear my thoughts, be with my horse, and it’s also quite a work out when you gallop.

TITL: Finally then, looking to the future, what’s the long-term ambition for you, both personally and professionally? What’s left for you to tick off your bucket list and at what point would or will you be able to say “I’ve done all I set out to and more?”

CA: I don’t think I will ever say I’ve done it all, because there is so much to accomplish as an artist and an adult who is always growing. I have a lot of needs that keep getting added to my list of things I want to accomplish and do. With growth, comes more obstacles and more things to accomplish. What I want to continue doing is producing and acting in feature films and TV with scripts that move me. I want to partner with other investors and companies to create films and grow my creative network, but also make ground breaking films. The 6th Friend is a movie that audiences will enjoy and love, but I want to add a lot more genres and characters to my resume. I don’t want to stick with one genre because the artist in me needs to play with all the genres, styles, and characters. I’m an actor and it’s my job to create diversity within my work book of characters.

For more information on Chantelle Albers, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.Header photo credit: David Villada.