JULY/AUGUST 2011 ISSUE • 104
P E E BL PHOTOGRAPHER
MAKING MAGIC WITH
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SPECIAL RE-ISSUE BLEEP 1
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SEEING WHAT HE SEES Cover guy Colton Scally takes us behind the lens of an up and coming photographer.
HERE’S WHITNEY! “The Whitney Reynolds Show” is taking Chicago by storm. We chat with the talk-show host about how she got there and where she’s going.
SUMMER FASHION DERBY
Summer fashion never looks better than at the derby. BLEEP contributor Paul Tellefsen captures the style of the season.
SPORTY DESIGN Our Design Editor gives us the play-by-play on how she designed a kidâ€™s bedroom and how you can find inspiration from a day at the ballpark.
Letter from the Editor Every issue of BLEEP is a labor of love and a lot of hard work on the part of the writers, photographers, designers and artists, but this particular issue turned into a sort of celebration. When we first started working on this, we set goals for ourselves about readership and what we hoped to accomplish with this first year of issues. As of our most recent issue, we blew those goals right outta the water. In light of that, it’s fair to say that this issue is a celebration. A celebration of life. A celebration of diversity. A celebration of artistic freedom. There’s so much going on in this issue. We’ve got dessert in New York City, fashion in Maui, television in Chicago, magic in Texas and photographs taken in China. I encourage you to take the time to check out the people we are featuring. Go to their YouTube pages. Check them out on Facebook. Look at their websites. There are so many creative things out there to discover and we are doing our best to shine the spotlight on as many of them as we can. I love that you love BLEEP and I hope that you will continue to follow us as we grow. We are adding new features each issue and working to constantly better ourselves and what we do. That’s not really for our benefit, but for yours. After all, if you’re not reading it, there’s no reason for us to make it. So here’s to the second half of this, our inaugural year, to smashing goals and to achieving new ones. As some things come to an end (Harry Potter and Oprah), we are just getting started. Thanks again for taking time out to read BLEEP. We hope you’re inspired. Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief of BLEEP Magazine
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FOOD Cupcakes are over people. It’s time to move on and try something else. Why not start in New York?
FLEAS The Brooklyn Flea market as seen through the lens of BLEEP Photo Editor Ruth Fleurinord.
THE BLEEP QUIZ Our monthly questionnaire that’s not to be missed.
Popsicles are something we liked when we were kids and something we revisit in college when we’re trying to grow up at the same time as acting like kids again. But People’s Pops has made delicious popsicles, full of fruit and save for both adults and kids. Want a strawberry basil pop? How about Plum? All the fruits and herbs are locally grown and sustainable, and the pop are full of them. They have locations all over, from street fairs to the Highline. Don’t miss these. They will redefine popsicles for you.
People think that the Willy Wonka section at the Toys R’ Us in Times Square is the closest to the movie that you can get, but they obviously haven’t been to Max Brenner. Off the tourist radar for the most part, this chocolate Mecca is fun and delicious. Can’t decide? Get the sharing platter. It comes with a milk chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, and marshmallows, a Caramelized Banana Belgian Waffle, a chocolate egg roll, and two chocolate barks. And don’t forget to cover the entire thing in the test tube full of chocolate. Dare we say it’s the best dessert in New York? We dare.
Jack Donaghy said that cupcakes were out and we’re back to donuts. Perhaps he visited Dough before he said that. Remember when you were a kid and you got donuts from the little hole-in-the-wall donut place and they were the most perfect breakfast you’d ever had? Well take those donuts and give them flavors like Lemon Poppy, Coconut or Almond. That’s what’s going on over at Dough. Be sure to stop by their booth at the Brooklyn Flea Market on Saturdays.
LOSS OF CHARACTER?
What happens when the characters get inside the actor? by Alex Wright
I have always been intrigued by things that are abandoned: farms, homes, warehouses. In the South, there is an abundance of land. Plantation homes sink into the ground, pillars rising out of the earth like giants. I grew up running around fields and abandoned places, ducking in holes and springing out of underbrush, and I guess it is the duality of abandonment and mystery that I carry in my blood and ultimately into my acting. It runs through my veins, a dirty Mississippi clay. My poor mother always has to pull over on the side of the road and let me take photos of abandoned red barns during the three-hour trek to my sister’s university. Abandoned places hold a sense of mystery and possibility to me — it is as if their owners still lurk in the walls and in the upholstery of the furniture they decided to leave behind. I am fascinated by what people decide or are forced to leave behind — an old piano, a wicker chair, a sofa. Why did they leave? Why were these things, articles that made up my playground, not able to venture forward along with their owners? Lives used to be played out on that couch. It used to have a purpose. When I approach these abandoned pieces and draw or photograph them, I feel as if I am giving them a purpose again. I find that my work as an actress parallels these ideas of abandonment while I dig for purposes, goals and objectives for my characters. When I approach a character, I always look at it as something discarded by its last actor. What did that actor leave behind? How can I inhabit it? How can I change it, fix it, grow in it, fit my form into its nooks and crannies? Once again, I feel as if I am giving this person a purpose, giving them a voice and a body so they can tell their story. And at the end of a play’s run, after the last curtain call and cast party, I am always surprised at how quickly that character, the character I had inhabited for two months, has left. And suddenly I am the abandoned one, left only with a remembrance of lines and the way they held their chin or moved their pinkie. It feels like a breakup — you wake up one morning, and they are gone. I treat the end of the play like the end of a relationship. I hide everything about that play and character. I stick my notebooks and research and lines in a drawer and I do not open it. It makes me sad. I will never experience that person in the same way ever again. Even if I were to play that part again, it would be completely different because of the people in it and because of the time period of my life. And even though a house cannot pick 8 BLEEP
up and leave its owner like the characters I inhabit leave me, each is constantly recycled and renewed, renovated and re-owned. Every character, like a house, has its own set of walls and defenses to protect itself — these walls create mystery and intrigue. To me, the vulnerable parts that people keep hidden from others are the most fascinating. It is difficult to say why I do what I do. I had a teacher say to me once, “Good acting is like the kitchen sink.” I had no idea what he meant when he first said that, but as I grew as an actor I began to understand what he was saying. Good acting is not a showing-off technique. It is not deciding, “OK, I will cry here,” or, “I will impress the audience now with my ability to scream really loud.” Good acting is living. It is making your technique invisible through abandonment so that the audience is seeing a human being, not an actor. My technique is a combination of Michael Chekhov, Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Adler. I do not rely on one specific method, just as I do not play one specific character in every show I perform. What is important is finding the technique within the script, and then fulfilling the playwright’s wishes. Everyone’s technique is different, and I am hesitant to say that one is better than the other; however, I will say it is necessary to find a connection to the script and to the character. As an actor, if you are not enthusiastic about the story, why should the audience care? It is impossible to act without passion or commitment. With passion and commitment come action and motivation, a need to affect the other person and a desire to be heard. Certainly, these are the foundations of every acting technique. Michelangelo once said about his work that every piece of marble has a statue inside of it and that it was the job of the sculptor to find it. He also said he saw an angel inside one block of marble, and he carved away until he set him free. I see humanity inside the lines written on the page, and I deconstruct and chip away at the walls, just as Michelangelo chipped away the walls of the marble, until I find the heart, the seed, of the character. I always leave the run of a show feeling fragmented, yet unified. I am part myself, and part that character. It is as if the character has attached itself to me, and I cannot shake off her gestures or speech pattern. It is always a mystery what is left behind the walls of the character, what I never discovered, what questions I could not answer. What is always frustrating is when six months later I awake in the middle of the night and wonder how I was ever so clueless as to not choose that action or see that emotional clue. Every now and then they run around inside me, filling me with their lines like my laughter used to fill those empty spaces. I guess my characters never really abandon me after all.
WHY KATE MIDDLETON MATTERS
The wedding is over but the global reign has just begun by Ryan Brinson
On April 29, I was one of the viewers glued to my television. I wanted to see it. I needed to see it. I watched as Elton John walked in. I nearly cheered when the two most impeccably dressed people on the planet, David and Victoria Beckham, walked in. I watched patiently as the cars brought the groom and his brother to Westminster Abbey. And at the stroke of 11, I watched as Kate Middleton stepped out of that car and set the new standard for wedding couture. I and almost 2 billion other people watched at least part of the British royal wedding, millions of those people living here in America. But why? It makes sense that citizens of the British Commonwealth would be interested. This is the man and woman that will eventually assume the roles of king and queen. But why was the rest of the world so fascinated? I heard that question asked so many times by so many cynical people on Facebook. Every time I read it, it irritated me further and further. Why Kate Middleton matters is simple. In the moment she stepped out of that car in that wedding dress of perfection, she became a global icon. She became an icon of, I’m sure in time, a great many things. She will be an icon of fashion and will probably be an icon of redefining the tired royal image, but why Kate Middleton matters isn’t really for either of those reasons. Not that those reasons are unimportant or uninteresting, but the reason she matters is because she will become an icon of charity. It was said over and over that the memory of Princess Diana was the ever-present third person in that ceremony. Princess Diana unknowingly threw down the charitable gauntlet, having made a global impact that I don’t think anyone fully understood until she tragically passed away. Diana has became less of an ex-princess and more of a saint in the eyes of the people. This wasn’t because of Diana’s wedding; it was because of what she accomplished afterward.
Kate Middleton will follow a similar path. The monarchy isn’t about running the country and hasn’t been for some time. We know that. And while there are other monarchies in the world, none get the global attention that the British monarchy does. I’m not sure why that is, but this establishment of William and Kate’s union will ensure it remains true. Now that they are wed, Kate will have the support of Great Britain as she puts a spotlight and charitable dollars toward any number of causes. She will have the captive audience of the press to ensure that the world is aware of the issues and charities she becomes affiliated with. Kate Middleton will have an Oprah-like ability to rally people to help others. It took Diana some time to take on this role, but I don’t think it will take as long to set in for Kate. I think she and William knew from the get-go that they would use their fame to marshal the people of the world to charity. The other reason Kate Middleton matters is actually more foundational than the charity maven she will become. The other reason is that she’s common. Yes, she came from money, but she didn’t come from a crown. She’s a real-life Cinderella story, a common woman that girls all over the world look at and can relate to. That means they will follow her and grow with her, ensuring that their concept of charity and their understanding of a world in need will grow with her as well. Kate Middleton stepped into her role as a member of the royal family when she said “I do” in her understated and surprisingly calm tone, but she also stepped into her role of a definer of culture, her sphere of influence no longer confined to the islands of Great Britain but expanding the whole world over. Kate Middleton’s dress may matter right now, but as time goes on, Kate Middleton the person will matter more. BLEEP 9
The Long Goodbye BY RACHAEL MARIBOHO
ILLUSTRATION BY TYLER ELLIS
The first Harry Potter film I saw was “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the third film in the series. Sitting in a movie theater in 2004, I was completely enthralled by my first experience with the magical world that Harry, Ron and Hermione occupy. Since then. I have read and reread all the books, watched all the movies multiple times and attended midnight book and film releases. In other words, I, like millions of others, have been captivated by all that is Harry Potter. Like so many fans, I look forward to the release of the final film with both joy and sadness; it will be a bittersweet experience to say goodbye to the people and places that have become a part of our pop culture lexicon. Hogwarts, quidditch, Avada Kadavra, hippogriff, Voldemort, horcrux, all terms that any Harry Potter fan can define. Delving into Harry’s universe means membership into a worldwide discourse community of muggles who adore and obsess over the series. The films bring viewers into a realm of magic and mystery, where imagination, loyalty and courage are celebrated, and good always triumphs over evil. For the past 10 years, we have watched Harry and company face seemingly insurmountable odds in their quest to destroy Voldemort and his followers. Along the way, we have encountered mythical creatures and learned magical spells; we have rejoiced at the successes of Gryffindor and the Order of the Phoenix; we have grieved at the loss of beloved characters like Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore; and we have watched as a trio of young actors gracefully made the transition from child stars to adult artists, all while carrying a billion-dollar franchise on their shoulders. No other franchise has done as much for the film industry or impacted as many people as the Harry Potter films have. In celebration of the eighth and final film, I would like to share my favorite moments from the first seven films in the series. “THE SORCERER’S STONE” Though the chess game is epic, I really love our first introduction to Hagrid. Rescuing Harry from his cruel relatives and giving Dudley a pig’s tale are reasons enough to love him, but it is his gentle nature and genuine affection for Harry that endears him to viewers. We can already sense that he will plan an important role in Harry’s life. “THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS” After Hermione is cured from being petrified, she
runs into the Hogwarts hall where Harry and Ron are eating. The joy on all three of the children’s faces reflects our job that they are finally reunited. “THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN” I think the last 45 minutes of this film are brilliant, no in the least because of the great scene between Snape, Lupin and Black in the Shrieking Shack. However, I think the moment I love most is when Harry and Hermione rescue Sirius from the tower. In the space of a few seconds, we witness again the brilliance of Hermione, the courage of Harry and the joy of Sirius finally being free. That they are also able to rescue Buckbeak is just a bonus. “THE GOBLET OF FIRE” Obviously this movie contains the iconic moment of Harry and Voldemort’s first meeting in the flesh, as well as the exciting opening scenes of the Quidditch World Cup. However, the entire Yule Ball is my favorite part of this film. The professors look happy, Harry is in a tux, Ron provides comic fashion relief and Hermione emerges as a style icon. “THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX” I am actually sealing this moment from BLEEP’s editor. Harry and his friends have gone to the Ministry of Magic to rescue Sirius. As the elevator doors open, there is one brief shot of Harry with Hermione, Ron, Neville and Luna standing behind him, wands at the read. This moment foreshadows the role that the latter four will play in the rest of the series. “THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE” It is not one moment in the film, but a series of moments between Harry and Dumbledore that are so moving. When Snape kills Dumbeldore, we feel Harry’s pain and know that no other loss can really compare to the loss of the man who guarded and guided Harry. “THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1” While is may seem inconsequential when compared to the rest of the film, my favorite moment is when Harry pulls Hermione into an impromptu dance. They are both suffering from Ron’s departure, but for 15 seconds, they smile and even laugh. It is also a lovely moment of whish fulfillment for viewers who adore Harry and Hermione together.
WHEN GOOD INTENTIONS LEAD TO CONTRITION A Look at the Ethics of Blog Publishing
by Nick Dean
The choice to hide behind the internet’s cloak of anonymity should be used cautiously. While it is a shield for those looking to inform the public without fear of retaliation, it is an asset that can be misused to hoodwink readers and neglect ethical standards. For one man, the double-edged sword of online anonymity recently cut deep. The line between art and fact “A Gay Girl in Damascus,” a blog supposedly written by Amina Abdallah Aral al Omari, a lesbian woman living in Syria, has amassed more than 970,000 views from all over the world. The blog, created more than four years ago, has a variety of entries including anything from poems and music videos to critiques of the Syrian regime and details of an oppressive Syrian culture. On June 6 — Amina’s cousin posted a blog saying that Amina had been kidnapped on the streets of Damascus while attempting to visit three members of a local coordinating committee. The news of Amina’s kidnapping spread through the blogosphere, as A Gay Girl in Damascus had more than 2,000 subscribers. Later in the day, Amina’s cousin posted an update, anticipating her release and writing that, “If they wanted to kill her they would have done so.” Followers of the blog, who were hearing the news of ever-escalating violence in Syria, were outraged at Amina’s kidnapping. News outlets picked up the story and began investigating. That’s when things took a twist. On June 12, Tom MacMaster — a 40-year-old Ph.D. student — posted an apology on the blog in which he announced his authorship of the entire blog. He wrote that Amina never existed. She was never a woman living within the Syrian conflict. Rather, she 12 BLEEP
was a character developed by MacMaster, a white heterosexual male studying at Scotland’s Edinburgh University. “I only wanted to set forth real information through the use of artfully crafted fiction. I was too successful and I was too caught up in what I was doing. I ignored the consequences of my action,” McMaster wrote in the post. The blog’s title is now “A Hoax” with the tagline “A Hoax that got way out of hand. I never meant to hurt anyone.” MacMaster, while apologetic, said he was using the blog as a platform for a fictional character set in a real setting. “What I don’t regret is the fact that I did hopefully bring a good bit of attention to real human rights abuses in Syria. The real situation that real people are facing, even if thru a fictional voice. I mean, to a large extent it was almost as though I were writing a novel, “ he said in a Skype interview with The Guardian. MacMaster mislead readers for four years; a truth evident in supporters’ actions after Amina’s kidnapping. They acted as though she was a real person because that is how she was presented to readers. There was no reason to believe differently. MacMaster, in attempting to produce an innovative form of fiction, had a responsibility to his readers to clarify the nature of the blog. While his identity didn’t necessarily need to be revealed, it should have been announced that there was no woman living in Syria and that the blog was an attempt to shed light on the problems in Syria through a melding of fiction and blogging. In the technological world, ground rules for identifying blog authors and the intent of pieces are necessary. In the print media the credibility readers rely is provided through a structured news
organization with a hierarchy of editors in place to review articles. While manipulation of that system isn’t unheard of — Jayson Blair’s plagiarism for years in the New York Times serves as an example of that — it is one way that print readers build a trusting relationship with news organizations. For their online coverage, many newspapers like The Washington Post will post a picture and name of the writer along with email, Twitter and Facebook page information for that individual writer. That allows readers to inquire further about anything that may bother, please or confuse them. This increased access ultimately increases a reader’s voice with each writer. While a reporter isn’t required to respond it inquiries, a good reporter would see the questions as an opportunity to shore up their trustworthiness with readers. According to The Guardian, a LGBT blog in Syria uses pseudonyms for its authors for their protection. Two of the site’s writers, Sami Hamwi and Daniel Nassar, wrote an opinion piece in response to MacMaster’s deceptive blog. “You took away my voice, Mr. MacMaster, and the voices of many people who I know. To bring attention to yourself and blog; you managed to bring the LGBT movement in the Middle East years back,” the post on gaymiddleeast.com reads. MacMaster misused the anonymity of a blog in a way that was neither necessary nor productive. This problem, however, isn’t unique to the 21st century. In 1938 a reading of H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds was mistaken for reality my many listeners who tuned in following the productions introduction. That misunderstanding sent citizens into apocalyptic panic as they thought the world had spun into sheer chaos that was
written about in Wells’ novel. While writers, especially journalists, should be as upfront and clear with readers as possible, readers should hold themselves accountable for taking what MacMaster produced at face value. While MacMaster’s mistake is a clear sign for both professional and citizen journalists to maintain a credible stance with readers, it should be a major wake-up call to blog consumers. It wasn’t until journalists began inquiring about the blog that the truth was uncovered. Questioning the authenticity of an author should become second nature to online news consumers, especially if it is unclear who is producing the content. The Digital Age is simultaneously creating an efficient and a convoluted media realm. It is up to journalists and readers alike to clear the haze and demand credibility in order to foster a functional, informative and engaging media environment. It is often said that the Internet is a young creation and its place in this world is still relatively unknown. However, it has an obvious place in news consumption and we should weed out unethical behavior and lay a solid foundation in which digital journalism can be rooted. That process starts by maintaining journalistic ethics and interpreting them for the Digital Age.
MORE THAN MEETS THE MIND 14 BLEEP
Blake Adams may not be a wizard, but he is a true magician. From tying razors to string with his tongue to predicting the future, Adams astounds audiences with abilities that transcend the natural. Bleep writer Danielle Milam sat down with Adams to uncover the mind behind the magic.
under one of five cups when my back is turned. Then I slam my hand down on four of the five cups and the last cup, hopefully, has the spike underneath. I know a lot of magicians who have messed up and slammed their hands on the spike.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A TRICK GO WRONG? When I was 15 I had my brother chain me up head to toe and then wrap me in a canvas bag. I told him and his friends I could hold my breath for two minutes and to push me into the pool all tied up. He hesitated for a second and then gave me a gentle shove. Before this, I had practiced being chained up and thrown into a pool and I was very successful. However, I had not tried it with the canvas bag. I didn’t think it would be very different. I was wrong. Right when I hit the water the bag clung to me and I couldn’t wiggle out of the chains. Luckily I was able to skim the surface of the water long enough to scream for help. My brother WHICH TYPE OF MAGIC IS MORE DIFFICULT? had to jump in and save me. I was very embarrassed Mentalism in general is a lot harder than magic. and angry that the escape went poorly. Mentalism requires me to create a character to make people believe in my abilities. I have had many YOU DO MANY STAGE SHOWS. IS THERE marketers and businessmen offer me a nice chunk A PARTICULAR TRICK YOU GET ASKED TO of change to teach them how to get inside people’s PERFORM? heads like I do. Everyone’s favorite trick is the one that they are involved in or the one that is personal to them. If I tell HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR READING PEOPLE’S someone to think of a number between 1 and 100 MINDS? and get it right, that’s impressive. If I tell someone to I never stop practicing. Before a trick enters my think of a person who means a great deal to them, show, I must know the routine inside and out. I must someone only they know, and then I reveal the name know and understand every nuance. If I don’t, I will of that person, it becomes personal and people either get hurt or look like a clown. remember it for the rest of their lives. HOW HAS YOUR MAGIC GROWN AND EVOLVED OVER TIME? I started to learn sleight-of-hand magic when I was 12 years old. As I got older, I moved from magic to mentalism. Mentalism uses “sleight of mind” instead of sleight of hand. I try to figure out what people are thinking through their body language and through simple observation. Through these techniques, I can figure out almost everything someone is thinking. I even predicted the headlines for two different papers a week in advance.
YOU SAY YOU MIGHT GET HURT. DO YOU USE MANY DANGEROUS TRICKS IN YOUR SHOW? The most dangerous trick I do is one in which I have a volunteer come on stage and hide a big metal spike
WANT TO SEE BLAKE IN ACTION? CHECK OUT THE BLAKE ADAMS MENTALIST CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE. FOR BOOKING INFORMATION, “LIKE” THE BLAKE ADAMS MENTALIST FACEBOOK PAGE. BLEEP 15
A young interior designer can find working with his or her first client the most exciting and the most terrifying experience all at once. Who’s going to tell me what to do? How will I know if I’m on schedule? How much should a good painter actually cost? How confident am I that this paint color will look how I think it will? This doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of the questions that ran through my head as I began working with my first interiors client … as my own boss. After shaking the deer-in-the-headlights mentality, I summoned my professional confidence and set about creating a fun and creative space for my wee client. Working with 3-year-old Aiden’s mom and her ideas, I envisioned creating a transitional space from tot to little boy and beyond, inspired by his infatuation for all things sports. A Pottery Barn catalog gave us a jumping-off point, and a concept for Aiden’s “Boys Will Be Boys” room was born. Pulling a playful and energetic green out of a sports quilt for the main walls, I then transformed the fourth wall into a chalkboard. Rather than a harsh black, I went with Hudson Paint’s “So Stone,” a softer slate color that offsets nicely a few scattered chalk drawings and any artwork Aiden himself may adorn
the walls with. I drew the slate color into the green walls with a hand-painted mural of his name in a fun athletic style (which he is sure to read to mom every night before being tucked into bed). Storage is a big challenge for anyone with children, so I brought in as many storage elements as possible. You never know when having a mother as a high school teacher may come in handy … like when you need some refinished locker-room lockers. I brought in a new mini orange locker to serve as Aiden’s nightstand and more storage for bedtime stories and chalk for his chalk-wall. Just to be safe, I came up with one more creative storage solution. Turning a vertical raw wood cubby unit on its side easily produced a storage bench for both organization and a little seating. I carried the wall color onto the unit and its drawers, bringing some chalkboard paint to the drawer fronts to add an element of fun. Layering brought this room from typical to one of a kind. A custom pennant valance reflects the patchwork feel of the quilt. Vintage sports books are flanked by vintage-inspired baseball bookends, while playful blocks and other kitschy elements add to that classic boy inspiration. A hand-painted baseball clock is sure to help the little guy learn to tell time as he BLEEP 19
accumulates trophies to line his peg rack below. New sporty drawer pulls dot his existing furniture while picture frames are arranged throughout the room. There’s a moment at the end of a project when you have to say “it’s finished.” As I put in the last light bulb and flipped on Aiden’s bedside soccer lamp, I stepped back and realized that was it. I had applied the process and principles I had learned in school and had taken a room from concept to completion. Yes. I made that. Seeing something go from project boards to reality is a sort of affirmation that you’re doing what you’re meant to do. While I’m anticipating a few more “deer in the headlights” moments, I’ve got a self-belief now that no number of questions could shake … and an adorable little boy’s room to support it.
WHITNEY WHITNEY REYONOLDS KNEW WHAT SHE WANTED AND MADE IT HAPPEN. HERE’S HOW CHASING YOUR DREAMS PAYS OFF.
Ask a 7-year-old what she wants to be when she grows up, and the answers can run the gamut from lion tamer to astronaut. For Whitney Reynolds, the answer was Jenny Jones. Reynolds’ Halloweens were spent not dressing as angels or princesses, but as talk show hosts. Whitney Reynolds, the creator and host of “The Whitney Reynolds Show,” a talk show on WTTW in Chicago, began hosting newscasts at her local high school, but it was a trip to New York City as a sophomore that gave her the aha moment she needed. “I met a guy from Good Morning America that said he could get me into the show. So while all my friends stayed in bed, I took the cab, alone, early in the morning to get down to the studio,” she said. “He told me all about this program he was a part of through Baylor University and how he got to come up to New York and intern at GMA. So that decided it. I was going to go to Baylor, come up to New York and intern at Good Morning America.” And that’s exactly what she did. She went to Baylor just like she said she would and spent a semester interning at GMA in New York. From Baylor, Reynolds went on to work as a reporter at a local station and within two months was anchoring a two-hour morning show. She was only 21, but she realized that
talk was a better fit for her than reading the news as she was doing currently. Setting her sights on a childhood ambition, Reynolds began the process of creating her own show. She had begun laying the foundations for such a venture when she was still in middle school, when she dreamed of creating a show called “Wake Up With Whitney.” As viewership rose, it began to be more clear that her dream, perhaps tweaked a bit, was within her reach. “The way I pictured it was much like how Oprah does stuff. I knew I wanted a talk show minus the trash. Oprah really paved the way for classy talk TV. I knew that’s what I wanted. I moved to Chicago to be a reporter but never in a million years thinking that I’d be hosting a talk show in Chicago at 25 years old.” Leaving her reporting job in order to chase after her dream, Reynolds saw a void in the television schedule that she knew her show could fill. She began working on a show to stream online and gradually, it became “Weekends With Whitney,” backed by NBC-Chicago Nonstop. But that’s not the end goal for Whitney Reynolds. “The goal is to become nationwide. The goal is to be in everyone’s home,” Reynolds says. “With that, by being in everyone’s home, you can make an impact BLEEP 23
that much more and tell that story. Not even tell my story, but everyone’s got a story. I look at ‘Weekends With Whitney’ like it’s my baby and it’s all about the development. These are times we are training it how it will live out its life. For me, this is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” With “Weekends With Whitney” behind her and “The Whitney Reynolds Show” debuting in February, Reynolds has learned how important it is to make sure the content is relevant and important. “People always ask how I come up with 52 shows a year, and it comes from anywhere. I could be in the car or I could be in a grocery store. Some shows are stronger than others but ultimately, I think we are
following a good model,” she says. “My show is all about impacting lives. Everyone has a story. It’s so important for them to express it. One of the ways I take on an issue is if someone approaches me about an issue and I don’t know anything about it, I know I’m onto something. I’ve been around TV my whole life and if I never knew this (issue) was such a problem, then there are others who don’t know that as well.” Not to abandon what garnered her initial success, Reynolds understands the importance of the Internet to the future success of her show. “My whole motto was ‘anyone can watch me and everything is computer-based.’ I learned early that content is key. We’re in a world where people want more, more, more. So we continue to carry our show online,” she said. “Facebook has actually changed my show. I’ve been able to hone in on what people like through social media. I feel like as the world advances and the world goes more online, and as TV and online sync up, people want content.” That drive for new content is what keeps Reynolds and her team going. “Every day I wake up with new thoughts, ideas and roads to pursue with ‘The Whitney Reynolds Show.’ I’m always competing with myself. They say it can’t be done? Let’s do it!” So how does she do it? How does she juggle her staff, her production company and her personal life while still generating content that matters? “I have a to-do list every day,” she says. “I fill it in every night before and email it to myself. I still have five things to get done today, except you were one of them, so only four now.” “The Whitney Reynolds Show” launches on WTTW in Chicago in February. Be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? Crowley, Texas. I have lived in the same house my entire life. I used to resent the fact that I grew up in such a small town, but as I moved off and got to know people from other places, I realized that Crowley isn’t so bad after all. The people here are friendly, genuine and we have a real sense of community. It may be a little bit country, but that’s why I’m such a talented two-stepper. HOW DID YOU BECOME WHO YOU ARE? In short, my family. I’m lucky enough to have parents that have been married for 22 years and still can’t keep their hands off each other; a sister that would do anything for me; and nearly 3,000 cousins with which I spent my entire childhood on four-wheelers with water balloons and Slip ’N Slides. WHEN DID YOU FIGURE OUT YOU WERE A PHOTOGRAPHER? I took my first photography class in 10th grade. I think I realized I had a passion for photography the day we turned in our first small assignment. My teacher, Mrs. Best, gave us an empty roll of film and challenged us to fill it up with the things we loved. I had spent all week stressing over making every single frame on my roll a masterpiece. I took one of my friends to the Laundromat and photographed her sitting on top of an old dryer in a sun dress. I took another friend to the back roads by my house, pushed her out of the car and took photos of her lying in the street. They were all beautiful. But when I got to class that next week and started comparing pictures with some other students, I was embarrassed at how much effort I had put into that one tiny assignment. Hanging up in the dark room later that day were dozens of blurred and overprocessed images of people’s homes, cars, food and then an unexpected row of beautifully created portraits by one overachieving novice photographer. WHAT MAKES WHAT YOU SEE THROUGH THE CAMERA LENS DIFFERENTLY THAN ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPHER? I don’t believe in just “taking pictures.” A camera, to me, is a very spiritual thing. With my Nikon, I have the ability to manipulate the light in order to arrange and compose every scene to show exactly what I want to see. If I don’t want an 18-wheeler or my shadow to show up in the photograph, I simply adjust my angle or zoom in a little. Photography gives me the ability, even if in just a small way, to play God with the world around me. 32 BLEEP
My photos are different than another photographer’s because no other photographer is me. They haven’t been in my shoes for 21 years to understand why I wouldn’t want to show that 18-wheeler, or my shadow. That’s how personal photography is. HOW IMPORTANT HAS DIGITAL EDITING BECOME IN HOW YOU CREATE? Honestly, the only program that I use to edit my photos is iPhoto, only because it’s the program all my photographs automatically file into after I download them. I usually adjust the exposure, fiddle with the shadows and boost the color several times. But that’s as far as editing goes in my world. WHAT/WHO ARE YOUR INSPIRATIONS? My generation inspires me. While some old farts complain they don’t understand the clothes we wear or the music we listen to, I honestly believe that we are going to change this world for the better. Obviously I wasn’t alive when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and shaped the landscape of a nation that elected its first black president not long ago. So I don’t know how the mood in America must have been at that time. But I’m starting to sense new unrest in America. Straight and gay people all over the country are finally standing up to say that no citizen, regardless of sexuality, should ever feel the pain of discrimination. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of a generation that makes just a little more sense than the past. WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO TAKE PHOTOS? Photography is my escape from the world. If I’m having a bad day, I always know that I can pack up my camera and cigarettes and sneak into an abandoned warehouse and just forget about everything for a few hours. All I have to think about is what’s in that tiny viewfinder for a little while. And then when I’m finished and tired of exploring, I can go home and relive it all again in front of my computer.
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A TRIP THROUGH
CHINA BY TYLER ELLIS
I am... ANTI-Facebook! I’m here because... I haven’t fully learned to time-travel yet. What makes me happiest is... a good climbing tree. The color that best describes me is... caucasian. My best friends are... cooler than me. I can’t live without... Anderson Cooper. Between an Olympic champion or an Oscar winner, I’d rather be...right between an Olympic champion and an Oscar winner. If I wasn’t me, I’d be... Lady Gaga’s egg. I like it best when you... call me Big Poppa. God is... the energy that we’ve each borrowed to be here, and that we’ll have to return once we’re gone. I’m hungry for... cherries. I cry... more often about happy things. Style means... individuality. Your look should be an extension of your character. I want to go... on a road-trip across the US. The most obnoxious sound in the world is... a loud and sloppy eater. Ew. What makes me weak is... singing my sister’s twins to sleep. At this exact moment, I’m passionate about... poetry. I crave... a spicy Bloody Mary. My inspiration is... the world in my dreams. BLEEP 87