MOD Magazine: Volume 10; Issue 1; Winter 2021; 9th ANNIVERSARY ISSUE (Cover 2)

Page 1

Published by

MOD Media, LLC. assistant editor

editor-in-chief/ creative director


Velma Daimon

Shannon Phelps

Sandy Aziz

editorial photographers

Raen Badua Manon Ouimet Dominik Więcek April Alexander

Lauren Marsh Amer Mohamad Selina Yan Tong Miroslava Rogulova

Kyle Kirkwood Bonnie Nichoalds Margarita Kalmikova Emily Malan






editorial contributors Horacio Aguilar, Kristen Police, Jojo Reyes, Janine Tugonon @ One Management, Marco Verna, Kiana Cummings @ MMG Models, Giorgia Lee Joseph, Levi-Jade Taylor, Sandra Hahnel, Sasha Goddard, Lacie Jade Gittins & Alana Newton, Tessa Virtue, Julia DeBartolo, Matthew King, Kelly Araujo, Caroline Pandeli, Sandra Hahnel, Manon Ouimet, Kay Altamira, Alex Reader, Sasha Goddard, Laura Lundgreen @ Profile Model Management, Amer Mohamad, Gala Borzova, Zhenya Bazhenova, Liza @ Modus Vivendis, Suvorov Dimitry, Irina Vynogradova, Matylda Sokolowska @ SPECTO Models, Magda Fuss, Sarah Catherine Bell, Scott James, Pitta Wong, Chloe Electra, Lara Mccabe @ Priscillas Models Agency, Laurel Hunter, Louise Hall, Thassio Leal, Ruby Samuels @ Laura The Model Scout, Marie Reigniez, Jeanne S @ Mimis Management, bia, grace butler, amber perry, kiki mcbeth, Mykala Ballard @ Ford/Robert Black Agency, Diane Aiello, Berly Baray

contact information Mailing Address: 1266 W Paces Ferry Rd NW, Suite #591, Atlanta, GA 30327 submissions: | advertising: | editor: general inquiries: | telephone: (678)-744-5663

Š 2020 MOD Media, LLC. All rights reserved. All content presented in MOD Magazine is the exclusive property of MOD Media, LLC. Reproduction in part or in whole without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. MOD Magazine is a registered trademark of mod media, llc.



welcome to the 9th anniversary issue: In this issue, we’re celebrating 9 years of MOD Magazine! Of all the anniversaries we’ve recognized thus far, this one feels strangely significant—particularly because of the multitude of challenges and uncertainties we faced last year. To have entered 2021 relatively unscathed is a considerable feat that none of us should take lightly. I remember ringing in 2020 with such hope and excitement for the year ahead. As fireworks erupted on the night of the 31st, I, like many others, believed 2020 would be a special year—and it was, indeed, though certainly not in the way anyone expected. Who could’ve imagined the chaotic series of events that unfolded, from the devastating global pandemic, to the turbulent US election cycle, and everything in between?

Nevertheless, we pushed through. We survived. And frankly, we all deserve a pat on the back for doing our best. 2020 may not have been the epic decade-opener we’d hoped for, but if we remember to be kind to ourselves and approach our goals one step at a time, it’s never too late to get things back on track. Take time to appreciate each stage of your journey and feel proud of your accomplishments, big and small alike. As we turn the page on the historically dark chapter of 2020, let’s look to 2021 for healing and hope. I, for one, am optimistic about the the new opportunities and new challenges that await. - Shannon Phelps, Editor-in-Chief

contents 9 th anniversary issue

Volume 10. Issue 1. winter 2021






sheer elegance


tessa virtue






born to be wild


elisha applebaum




laila odom


Easy going


kate katzman


new renaissance


keana marie


better than i imagined




black velvet

on the cOVER Photographer: Amer Mohamad, Stylist: Gala Borzova, Hair & Makeup: Zhenya Bazhenova, Model: Liza @ Modus Vivendis, Light Assitant: Suvorov Dimitry, Retoucher: Irina Vynogradova Liza wears: Mask by Anastasia Pilepchuk

visually striking & cutting-edge presenting the most trailblazing talent of the emerging fashion community

available in print & digital For More Information Visit


OD: Tell us a little about your background. How did you initially get into ice dancing? Tessa: I am the youngest of four children in a very athletic, busy household. My parents were conscious to expose all of us to a variety of sports and activities, and skating happened to be one of the items on the list! My initial interests were gymnastics and dance, however, being paired with Scott Moir at the age of 7 changed the trajectory of my life. Ice dance allowed us to merge art, athleticism, and competition. It was an organic evolution, to say the least... I certainly did not anticipate a career in skating in those early days! MOD: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why? Tessa: Growing up, I was surrounded by fierce, strong, independent women whose fortitude encouraged me to dream big and pursue my goals fearlessly. Having internalized those messages of curiosity and ambition, I have always been compelled to learn and grow. I continue to be inspired by women I meet who are blazing new trails and setting new standards! MOD: What’s one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced throughout your career? Tessa: Like many athletes, I faced serious times of doubt and uncertainty—especially when dealing with an injury. I have a chronic issue with my shins and calves that necessitated two surgeries and thousands of hours of physiotherapy. Dealing with the pain, while trying to train and maximize potential proved to be very difficult. I was fortunate to have an amazing support network and creative personnel who helped redefine a unique approach to skating that I could manage. While this injury could have ended my ice dance career, unconventional methods (to the skating community) helped me overcome those dark days! MOD: What’s the most rewarding part of the experience? Tessa: The process! While medals, podiums, and applause were bonuses because they represented the achievement of our shared goals, truthfully, the most rewarding part of my athletic experience was the hard work. I learned to embrace every facet of the preparation … losing myself in the intense focus, rigor, and demanding schedule of my athletic life was such a gift. MOD: What important lessons have you learned along the way? Tessa: There is no shortcut to success! No quick fix… or easy recipe! It takes an inordinate amount of sacrifice, dedication, and commitment. One needs to be willing to delay gratification too. For Scott and me, practicing failure was paramount. We made it part of the storyline, instead of the unwanted plot twist, which served to benefit us in ways that really differentiated us from the competition. Additionally, you have to find what works for you individually and make your mark based on your own skillset and personality—not by trying to duplicate!


MOD: You and your partner Scott danced together for over 20 years. Tell us a little more about him and some of the things that made your partnership work so well. Tessa: Scott is fiery, bold, extremely talented, energetic, and ohso-fun to be around. His work ethic is unmatched, as is his sense of humor. I think what made our partnership work was the deep respect we felt for one another. Our primary focus was ensuring the ice was a safe place for us to create and perform. We worked on our partnership every single day, as it was the basis for all facets of our success! MOD: You announced your retirement from the sport, last Fall. What was that process like for you? Was it a tough decision? Tessa: The decision to retire came quite naturally for both of us… it just felt right at that time. We had invested everything into the sport for 22 years, accomplished the goals we had set, and wanted to leave on a note that evoked pride in both of us. Luckily, we then had the opportunity to cross Canada with our skating tour, reveling in the performances in all the towns and arenas that had supported us so significantly, and cherishing the moments of saying goodbye. It was a beautiful, heartfelt process that I am extremely grateful for. MOD: How has your life changed since your retirement and what are some things you want to focus more on, in the future? Tessa: Life has changed for everyone in the last several months, so retirement seems like it has been put into perspective. I have been able to enjoy the seemingly “normal” things in life that I missed out on as an athlete, while pursuing many different projects outside the confines of figure skating. It has been enriching, rewarding, and sometimes a little frightening—but I think that’s healthy. MOD: You’re currently studying for your MBA. What’s that experience been like so far? Tessa: I’ve known for a while that I wanted to pursue academics, so learning the ropes and diving deeply into the various facets of the business realm has been fascinating. It is a pleasure being a student again, and I’m surrounded by so many impressive people! Starting in grade four, my participation in ‘regular’ school was on a part-time basis because of training demands and travel for skating. In fact, I skipped grade eight entirely when moving away from home at the age of thirteen, as high school was more flexible schedule-wise. I did countless secondary school and university courses online, by correspondence, and in summer school. Perhaps that is why it is such a treat for me to be able to undertake this program and have it be the priority!! (I will say though, I get much more nervous participating in class with 95 other students than I did performing in front of the entire world at the Olympics, haha.) MOD: So what’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Tessa: I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be in 5 years, or even what I’ll be doing for that matter. But, I hope to be working on projects and in

ways that are meaningful, relevant, and making a difference. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so perhaps I’ll be at the helm creating my own company of sorts. The beautiful thing is, in the meantime, I have the freedom to say yes to projects and tasks that ignite a fire within… so whatever the path, it will be riddled with inspiration and invigoration. MOD: We read that you’re pretty into fashion. How would you describe your personal style? Tessa: My style is fairly simple and refined, with an edgy twist. I love pairing classic, high-end staples with unexpected and inexpensive pieces or accessories. The beauty of fashion, to me, is showcasing your personality—and even mood—through your wardrobe. It can be either the armour with which you hide yourself from the world, or the outlet through which you express your inner self. My love for fashion knows no bounds!! MOD: What’s one beauty product you couldn’t live without? Tessa: I love lipstick and lipgloss … and one color I couldn’t live without is the shade I created with MAC Cosmetics! MOD: What’s your favorite thing to do on off days? Tessa: Sleep in!! MOD: What’s your favorite book? Tessa: Gentleman In Moscow – Amor Towles MOD: What’s the best show you’ve binged recently? Tessa: Line of Duty MOD: What songs are on your current playlist? Tessa: A lot of Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, and Harry Styles. MOD: What’s your guilty pleasure? Tessa: McCain Deep & Delicious Cake … but I have to admit, I love it so much I don’t even feel guilty about it! MOD: If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be? Tessa: I wish everyone could exhibit empathy. MOD: What’s something most people would be surprised to know about you? Tessa: People might be surprised to know that some of my family members never call me by my name! When my given name was released to my siblings, my brother Kevin (age 8 at the time), collapsed and said “Tessa, is a name for a cat, not a baby!” From that point on he has called me “Saam”—as do all his friends. In fact, so does my sister, Jordan! MOD: What’s your mantra? Tessa: Be brave. Be unstoppable. Follow Tessa Virtue on Instagram for updates: @tessavirtue17





BIA wears: Black Feather Dress by T Dress


BIA is our “cover girl for certain”—and For Certain also happens to be the title of her latest EP. The vibrant, American rapper first rose to fame in 2014, on Oxygen’s reality show, Sisterhood of Hip Hop and was later signed to Pharrell’s record label. Since then, BIA’s music mantra has been to create empowering music to “encourage people to push through.” Cover girl BIA gives MOD the exclusive about her past, the present, and her future.

Wardrobe Styling: Grace Butler, Makeup: Amber Perry, Hair: Kiki McBeth

Interview by Sandy Aziz | Photographed by Bonnie Nichoalds

andy: First of all, how are you feeling lately? How has 2020 been for you and do you have any top takeaways from the year? BIA: Surprisingly, I feel rejuvenated, inspired, and optimistic. I have days where the quarantine hit harder than others, but overall, I’ve noticed the more I stay in a positive space, the more positive my outcome will be. My mantra is to stay thankful; things can change so fast. Sandy: And because it has been a challenging year, has there been anything that has particularly inspired you this year that you want to share? BIA: At first, it was really hard for me to stay focused in the house. I’m one of those people that has to be active or I’ll disengage. I found myself using white boards a lot. Finding a new hobby was something therapeutic to keep me inspired and focused.

Sandy: Tell us where you are from and where you consider to be home. BIA: I’m from Massachusetts, [so] that will always be my heart, but I’ve found a lot of peace in Miami and Los Angeles. Not sure where I’ll end up for good just yet. Sandy: What is your favorite place on Earth and why? BIA: My favorite place on Earth right now is Puerto Rico, but I haven’t been to Jamaica yet and so many other places, so that might change. Sandy: Describe your perfect day. BIA: My perfect day would be flying all my close friends and family on a jet somewhere they’ve never been for a vacation, and then making them come to the studio with me. Sandy: What is the most bizarre thing you have seen/ heard lately? BIA: The most bizarre thing I’ve seen/heard is everything about this latest presidential election.

Sandy: How would you describe yourself in three words? BIA: I would describe myself as powerful, authentic, and vibrant. Sandy: If you weren’t a singer, songwriter, rapper, and model right now, what do you think you would be doing instead? BIA: That’s a tough one. I assume I’d be doing something that has to do with beauty, [because] I love makeup and hair and serving looks. Either that or fashion. Sandy: Looking back on it now, how does it feel to think about the year 2014 and all the good things that happened, including Pharrell signing you to his record label? BIA: I feel so blessed to have had his support, especially so early on—it’s a big part of why I know so much of what I know. Sandy: How do you think the music industry has changed from 2014 to now? BIA: I think the music industry has become a lot more saturated. The good thing is that social media has helped change so many lives. In 2014, getting signed was the only way; in 2021 it’s a different world—you can sign yourself. Sandy: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? BIA: Know the business and stay loyal to the pen. Sandy: What piece of advice would you give to aspiring rappers (especially young, female rappers)? BIA: I would tell them: learn the business and trust yourself—if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Sandy: Would you have done anything differently if you could go back? BIA: If I could go back, I would have trusted myself earlier on and not been so afraid to make mistakes. I’m a Leo so I’m a perfectionist at heart. But you can’t be afraid to take risks because through risks come rewards. Sandy: Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? BIA: Absolutely, I’ve planned my life out over and over a million times, and each time God’s plan is always way better than mine. Sandy: Tell us about the song “Best on Earth.” How did this come about? BIA: My boy Russ was in LA, and he invited me to a session. We picked the “Best on Earth” beat and

Photographer: Bonnie Nichoalds, Talent: BIA, Wardrobe Stylist: Grace Butler, Makeup Artist: Amber Perry, Hair Stylist: Kiki McBeth BIA wears: Black Feather Dress by T Dress, Shoes by ISCREAM

BIA wears: Black Long Sleeve Lace Ballgown by Fouad Sarkis

started cutting right away. It was so fast, and it came out so easily. That’s always how I know a song is a vibe, when it comes together naturally. Sandy: What are your thoughts about “identity” and how do you think it changes with the fast-paced music industry? BIA: I don’t think much of it to be honest. However, I do believe that change comes with growth, and this industry calls for reinventing yourself. Sandy: How would you describe the music industry in just a few words? BIA: Not for the weak. Sandy: Tell us about your creative process. Do you have a go-to place when you feel like you need some inspiration? BIA: My creative process is usually me and a small group—sometimes a few friends or usually just one or two producers. I have the same people record me all the time—it’s a comfort thing for me. When you record, you have to share your energy and be vulnerable, and I can’t do that with everyone. Sandy: Are there any particular messages you hope people find and take from listening to the EP FOR CERTAIN? BIA: I definitely want people who listen to me to feel motivated and empowered. I want my music to encourage people to push through. Sandy: Tell us more about the song “Free BIA.” BIA: This song was such an important part of my story. It’s something so many artists go through, and I felt it was necessary to tell that before moving onto the next phase in my career. Sandy: In general, your songs drive powerful narratives. What is your favorite lyric and why? BIA: I actually don’t have just one favorite lyric… it is more like a lyric for every mood! Sandy: Are there any genres of music you hope to experiment with more? BIA: Yes, I definitely want to experiment more with R&B, Reggae, and Latin music, maybe even some fusion & mixing genres. Sandy: You have also been involved in some amazing fashion collaborations. How would you describe your style?

BIA: I would describe my style as fly, classic, clean, edgy, aesthetically pleasing, and original. Sandy: What is your favorite brand/go-to brand? BIA: I just love working with upcoming designers directly, and I love finding new brands and being the first to put people on. I also love classic high-fashion brands like Valentino, Bottega Veneta, and Prada. Sandy: Where do you see yourself in a few years? BIA: In a few years, I see myself still making music, hopefully back touring, definitely more in the entrepreneur space. Sandy: Tell us about a goal you have. BIA: A big goal of mine is to have a #1 song of my own and eventually a family one day. Sandy: What is something your fans may not know about you? BIA: My fans may not know that I know how to do nails— like really well! It’s a hobby I learned in the quarantine, but I love it so much! I’m so good at it and it’s so therapeutic. Sometimes I do my friends’ nails and it’s like our QT thing to do. Sandy: Do you have any funny behind-the-scenes moments from your time on Sisterhood of Hip Hop? BIA: I can’t remember something specific, but for the people that know me personally, they know I crack a lot of jokes all the time. You have to have tough skin and a lot of energy to hang with me. Sandy: You have already worked with so many amazing people in the music industry. More generally, is there someone in the industry that you really want to work with? If so, who and why? BIA: Definitely my girl Rihanna! She’s so iconic to me so she’s probably the person I hope to work with the most because she really set the bar. Sandy: What are you working on next? BIA: R&BIA is next for me! I think I’m just enjoying life, creating with my friends, and living in the moment. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment because before you know it, it’s gone. Follow BIA on Instagram for updates: @BIA.

BIA wears: Sheer Long Gown with Starburst Detail by Steven Khalil

BIA wears: Black Studded Leather Jacket by MICHAEL LOMBARD Silver Studded Boots by Dulce Bestia

BIA wears: Black Studded Leather Jacket by MICHAEL LOMBARD Silver Studded Boots by Dulce Bestia

All Eyes On

Elisha “Imagine Harry Potter and Sex Education having a love child,” says London native, Elisha Applebaum, of Netflix’s enchanting new series, Fate: The Winx Saga. The show follows a group of “badass fairies” on their journey to save their magical school, Alfea. Applebaum stars as a “mind fairy” named Musa, who posseses the ability to feel others’ emotions—and with this being her breakout television role, we’d say she’s off to an epic start! MOD recently caught up with the rising actress to discuss all the magical details about her experience in the Winx world.

Styling: Tilly Wheating, Hair & Makeup: Erica Schlegel

Interview by Sandy Aziz | Photographed by Joseph sinclair

andy: Tell us about yourself and where you grew up. Elisha: I am a 5-foot-3, East London woman who loves a good series/ movie, a comfy pair of jeans and a bowl of hummus and falafel. I grew up in Chadwell Heath in Essex and had lived there right up until my mid-20s. Sandy: How did you get into acting? Elisha: I have had the urge to perform ever since I found myself on the stage when I was 5, but when I was 17, I gave it up to get a job and a stable income. Clearly the dream wasn’t dead—Two years ago, I did some acting workshops and soon found myself using spare hours in the day to watch something, do a monologue, read a script. As time went on, it became clear that acting is what I wanted to do.

Sandy: Have you always wanted to be an actress? Elisha: You know, when I was younger, I didn’t want to be something like an astronaut or a pilot at all. All I wanted when I grew up was a Henry Hoover (vacuum) and my own kitchen. Sandy: If you weren’t acting, what do you think you would want to be doing instead? Elisha: I would’ve wanted to produce and direct. I really enjoy watching movies/series which have their own aesthetic and flair. As a director, you get to have your own vision for your production, and it can be as wacky as you like! This is why I love Tim Burton and Wes Anderson movies. You can be so creative and when you get a vision in your mind, you can pitch the hell out of it. My favorite story I’ve been told is that the series Euphoria was pitched through music. How cool is that?

Sandy: How would you describe yourself in three words? Elisha: Playful, extroverted, introverted. Sandy: Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a challenging year. Tell us how you have been feeling and coping with last year’s challenges. Elisha: I have probably felt all the emotions one could feel throughout 2020 and coped by taking myself on walks, meditating, and learning new skills like tapestry, knitting, sign language, etc. Sandy: So exciting that you are in the new Netflix series, Fate: The Winx Saga! How did this role come about? Elisha: I know, it’s crazy! It all happened very quickly, and was only the second audition I got through from my agent. I was still working at the estate agents while going through different rounds of auditions, then had to quit my job and fly to Dublin within a matter of weeks. Sandy: Let’s talk more about Fate: The Winx Saga. How do you describe your show in your own words? Elisha: It’s badass fairies kicking ass and saving their magic school, Alfea. Imagine Harry Potter and Sex Education having a love child. Sandy: The series is based on Nickelodeon’s magical girl cartoon, Winx Club. However, people have already commented that it isn’t all glitter and gossip, but that the real-life adaptation is edgier and darker. Would you agree? Elisha: This adaptation is definitely more mature—less glitter, but still magical, with darker and edgier tones to it. Sandy: You are Musa in the show. What should we know about Musa? Elisha: Musa is a “mind fairy,” with the ability to feel others’ emotions. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to filter out the “noise”—and there’s a lot of it in high school—so she takes refuge in her headphones when it all becomes too much. Sandy: What was your first impression of Musa and other fairies and did that change as the show progressed? Elisha: My first impression of Musa was that she is a tough cookie to crack. She’s super cool, quirky, and I felt that she was the edgier character of the fairies. As the show progressed and these characters came to life, however, I began to see that actually Musa’s the softy of them all. Sandy: Do you feel like Musa at all in real like? If not, would you say you are more like any other of your fellow

fairies? Elisha: I am similar to Musa in that my own space is my safety net and when faced with social situations, I can sometimes get overwhelmed. Sandy: Do you believe in magic? Elisha: Yes, I do. And if you don’t, when you see Fate: The Winx Saga, you too will believe in magic! Sandy: You are a fairy! Has this show changed your perception at all of what you thought a fairy was, growing up? Elisha: Growing up, I read a book series called Rainbow Magic, which was about as glittery and sparkly as you could ever want. I think this show will prove to older audiences that fairies are, and always will be, cool. Sandy: Tell us more about Alfea Academy! What is it like and what can we expect? Elisha: It’s the coolest place ever. It’s grand, beautiful and if you rocked up there, you’d find the curriculum to be a bit different to your everyday subjects. In the realm that Alfea lives, you need to learn what is required to survive. Sandy: If you had any one magical power in real life, what would you choose and why? Elisha: Teleportation—that way I can see the whole world without giving off any emissions. Sandy: Is this character different to the other roles you have played? How so? Elisha: This is one of my first roles, but I would say yes. I have never played someone who is bound by their magical powers and trying to work their way through adolescence in a world different to our own. Sandy: This show is created by Brian Young who also created The Vampire Diaries. What was it like working with him? Elisha: It was so great to work with Brian. I’d been a big fan of his work on The Vampire Diaries, and he’s as sweet and as hilarious as I’d hoped. He made us feel comfortable, right from the start. His passion for the project kept us all excited and asking questions. Sandy: Do you have any funny stories filming with Abigail, Danny, Hannah and others? Elisha: I had a closed set for an intimate scene. However, Hannah had to be in the room for the next scene so she was part of the closed set! Throughout the whole scene, she kept giving us the thumbs-up like an approving mom. It was

so funny! Our first-ever scene was at midday in this beautiful woodland, which had the most amazing waterfall right in shot for filming. The day started so well, but we were fighting off swarms of midges by the evening. Eliot Salt and I were covering our faces until they called action, trying not to swallow any. I had so much hairspray in my hair, the midges had created a home. When I got back, I was showering with midges. It was wild! Sandy: What do you hope that people take away from this show? Elisha: I hope viewers take comfort in seeing that even these powerful women face the struggles of school, romance, and teenage drama. It may be a fantasy world, but the show is rooted in issues that many teenagers face. I hope they feel empowered by watching these great characters overcome their very real problems. Sandy: Of all your recent roles, which was your favorite to play and why? Elisha: I loved playing Musa. She’s a really complex character and I enjoyed getting to understand why she carries such a heavy burden. As it’s my first TV series, I was excited to spend so much time with her and really see her develop as the story unraveled. Sandy: What type of acting roles would you like to pursue next? Elisha: I have always loved indie movies because they often have more freedom to tell stories in a unique way. I really enjoy watching films by Yargos Lanthimos because the characters are very complex and often quite funny. I would love to play one of his characters. Sandy: Who is someone you would like to work alongside next? Elisha: Natalie Portman. I have seen the majority of her films and studied her masterclass. She’s full of insight and knowledge. I think she’d be a great person to learn alongside. Sandy: Tell us something fans may not know about you Elisha: My speciality in a pub quiz 80s/90s music. Quiz Me! Sandy: Can you tell us what else you are working on? Elisha: Currently, I am working on a podcast with a friend, so you’ll have to keep an ear out for that. With regards to what my next role is, we’ll have to wait and see. Outside of that, I am currently working on knitting a scarf. Watch Elisha Applebaum in ‘Fate: The Winx Saga’, now streaming on Netflix!

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lai o l a d om MOD chats with Laila Odom, star of Lifetime’s new biopic, Salt-N-Papa.

Photography by Emily Malan

OD: How did you initially get into acting? At what point did you realize it’s what you wanted to do? Laila: I started acting at the age of 10 and I knew then, I wanted to be in the performing arts for the rest of my life. I never had any desire to be anything but an actress.

MOD: Who/what are some of your greatest inspirations? Laila: My mom is a huge inspiration, she worked so hard for me to be able to achieve my goals. MOD: Tell us a little about Lifetime’s Salt-N-Pepa biopic. Laila: It’s the story of two friends and how they navigate through show business and life—the ups and downs. MOD: How did you prepare for the role of Pepa? Laila: I watched all of the footage performances and interviews. Then I read Sandra “PEPA” Denton’s book called Let’s Talk About Pep. Lastly and most importantly, I was able to spend time and talk with Pepa, the best source ever! MOD: What did you enjoy most about playing such an iconic hiphop figure? Laila: Being able to recreate the story of an iconic hip-hop group. MOD: What was the most challenging part of playing this role? Laila: The most challenging part would be making sure I capture the essence of Sandra and give a real, grounded portrayal of her that she (Sandra) would be proud of.

MOD: What’s your favorite Salt-N-Pepa song? Laila: “Push it!” Hands down. MOD: Of all the characters you’ve played so far, which do you relate to most and why? Laila: I definitely relate to Pepa the most! I found out we are very similar and share some real-life experiences. For starters, our birthdays are less than a month apart, we both have spicy, fun personalities, and both of our families stressed the importance of education. MOD: Tell us about your experience working with Kevin Hart’s LOL Network. Laila: It was great! I was on a series called Stories with Kev, which was a re-enactment of his standup. I was able to work on my sketch comedy skills there.

MOD: Who are some other artists you’d like to work with in the future? Laila: Will Ferrell! MOD: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about the entertainment industry, thus far? Laila: Be kind and humble. Be a pleasure to work with. MOD: What’s the best TV show you binged lately? Laila: Definitely Schitt’s Creek! I was late, but I was hooked! MOD: What’s your favorite movie of all time? Laila: Coming to America! So funny, I can watch it anytime and I’ll laugh like it’s the first time I’ve seen it. MOD: What’s your favorite dish to cook? Laila: Shrimp Scampi! I mastered Gordon Ramsey’s recipe! MOD: What are your 3 most essential beauty products? Laila: Sunday Riley Vitamin C Serum, Jaboneria Marianella body oil, and clear lip gloss. MOD: How would you describe your personal style? Laila: Chill and sexy! I love sneakers, so I like to wear comfortable, bodyconscious bodysuits or jumpsuits with the sneakers—dress them up with a high-end handbag. MOD: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to and why? Laila: BALI! I went to Bali in 2018 for a yoga retreat and that trip definitely changed my life. I was there for 10 days, I didn’t watch tv or listen to music, I unplugged from social media and just reset. MOD: What do you like to do in your spare time? Laila: I love to workout! Any

physical activity. MOD: We just survived what many are calling the craziest year of our time, 2020. What’s something you learned from your experience last year? Laila: I learned how to be patient. It was very tough in the beginning being alone, then I learned there were things that I could learn in the meantime, like improving my Spanish, learning how to trade in the stock market, and creating a home gym in a small space. MOD: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you? Laila: I used to do gymnastics as a child, and I can still do a back handspring! Wherever I travel to, I like to get to the beach and make sure I can still do a back handspring. Follow Laila Odom on Instagram for updates: @lailaodom.

kat eka tzm an Pennsylvania native, Kate Katzman, stars in The Comeback Trail, alongside Robert De Niro, and Adverse, with Mickey Rourke.

OD: Tell us a little about your background and how you got into acting. Kate: I am a Pennsylvania native who moved to Florida when I was young. I never dreamed of being an actress. I got into it on a whim, just for fun, and then a mutual friend introduced me to acting legend, Burt Reynolds, who encouraged me to continue acting and mentored me in it.

because she is very motivated to succeed.

MOD: Who/what are some of your greatest inspirations? Kate: I love all of the classic actresses of the 1950s, like Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn. They have such class and bring so much magic to the screen.

MOD: What’s your favorite book? Kate: The Bible.

MOD: You play a character named Megan Albert in the upcoming film, The Comeback Trail. Tell us a little about Megan and her role in this movie. Kate: Megan is a woman ahead of her time—she is a movie director in the 1970s and is trying to make the best film possible, despite the efforts of Robert De Niro‘s character, Max Barber, who is trying to kill off the lead actor. MOD: What was it like working alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman? Kate: I had to pinch myself every morning to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming! Every actor aspires to work with such legends, and I feel very honored and blessed to have been able to do that. They all impressed me with their professionalism and work ethic. MOD: You also star in a new movie called Adverse. What can you tell us about it? Kate: It’s a gritty, neo-noir drama that deals with addiction and the toll it can take. MOD: What was it like working with Mickey Rourke for this film? Kate: It was great! Mickey Rourke is such a great actor, and he brings so much to the role of Kayden. MOD: Any fun or interesting on-set memories you’d like to share? Kate: Mickey Rourke brought his small Pomeranian dog “# 1” to set, which was super cute! I love animals and it was nice to see that he does too. MOD: Of all the characters you’ve played so far, which is your favorite and why? Kate: I’d have to say Megan Albert from The Comeback Trail

MOD: Who are some other actors/directors you’d like to work with in the future? Kate: I’ve worked with Mel Gibson as an actor, but would also love to work with him as a director. Christopher Nolan is another amazing director that I highly admire. MOD: What’s your dream role? Kate: Honestly, I would love to be in a full-on action movie. It just looks like so much fun! Something like John Wick. MOD: What’s the last song you listened to? Kate: Dua Lipa’s “Levitating.“

MOD: What are some causes you’re passionate about? Kate: I am a big animal advocate. Any type of animal rescue and rehabilitation. I have been a Vegetarian since I was three years old. MOD: What’s your favorite dish to cook? Kate: Pasta! I love carbs! MOD: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to and why? Kate: Monte Carlo, Monaco. I have had so many special events take place there. That is where I got married and where I saw one of my very first movie premieres. It is a magical place. MOD: What’s the main thing you miss about pre-pandemic life? Kate: Greeting friends with a hug and getting to see people’s smiling faces. MOD: What are 3 beauty products you cannot live without? Kate: Self-tanner, sunscreen and concealer. MOD: How would you describe your personal style? Kate: Classic and girly, but I still love to incorporate the latest trends into my wardrobe. MOD: Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Kate: Cats love me! My friends joke that I’m like the cat whisperer. MOD: What advice would you give to other aspiring actors/ actresses about the industry? Kate: It’s a hard industry so be prepared for a lot of rejection and disappointments, but if you truly love it, stick with it. Network, network, network—take every available opportunity to meet people in the industry. Follow Kate Katzman on Instagram @katekatzmanofficial.



Cue the Christmas season, add a little charm, a dash of cynicism, and a quest for love via a scavenger hunt across Manhattan. This is the plot that thickens in Netflix’s latest bingeworthy, romantic holiday series, Dash & Lily. Enter multi-talented actress, Keana Marie who plays Sofia, the ex-girlfriend of the cynical Dash. And usually, the ex-girlfriend is the character we have all been conditioned to hate, but Marie breaks down those notions. “Sofia is sweet, loving, charismatic… she’s a breath of fresh air.” Marie gave MOD all the details about her experience as Sofia, her other recent roles, and what is next. Interview by Sandy Aziz | Photographed by Maxwell Swift

andy: Tell us about yourself and where you grew up. Keana: I was born in Nice, France to a Brazilian mother and a French father. I moved to Miami when I was 8 years old— an Island called Key Biscayne. I was very extroverted as a child. My friends have called me “The Connector” because I am always introducing and forging groups. Human connection is irreplaceable and should be shared, as we learn from others and we can teach through our own experience. I have been blessed to know what I wanted to do from a very early age. I followed my dream, attended an art school for high school, where I focused in theater, photography, and film. Seven years ago, I moved to LA after graduating high school. I went to a University for a year to focus on cinematography, until dedicating my time solely to acting. Sandy: How did you get into acting?

Keana: I was always “acting” as a kid, putting on shows for friends and family. I wanted to get serious about it quickly and signed with an agent in Miami at the age of 13. That being said, I didn’t start film and television (other than commercials) until my senior year of high school, when I played my first lead in the film Posthumous. Sandy: Have you always wanted to be an actress? And if you weren’t acting, what do you think you would be doing instead? Keana: Yes, that amongst many other artistic endeavors. If I wasn’t acting, I would be doing the other side of the camera—directing, writing, cinematography. Music, spiritually-inclined careers, or also a career in interior design. Sandy: We also understand you have done some directing. Tell us more about that experience and if you would like to continue to direct. Keana: Oh, this is just the beginning! I was making films at the age of 10 because I came from a pretty artsy family. My dad was a videographer, so I would borrow his cameras and have a feast.

Taking directing seriously is a new reality of mine, as I just completed my directorial debut, As the Tide Comes In, currently doing the festival circuit. Sandy: How would you describe yourself in three words? Keana: Empathetic, Spontaneous, Exuberant. Sandy: Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a challenging year. Tell us how you have been feeling and coping with the year’s challenges. Keana: It most definitely has been a challenge for all of us. Once the pandemic hit, I took a one-way flight to my parents’ lake house in the middle of Florida. I live alone, and given the unprecedented circumstances, I thought why not hide out at my parents’ house? So, that, I did. I did not see anyone other than my mother and father for over 3 months. A lot of healing and growth happened, but it definitely had its difficulties. The moment I landed back in Los Angeles, a huge subconscious weight was lifted off and I was home. Things have been falling into place a bit more as I’ve realized I do better under pressure. I’ve lived alone the last 7 years, and my time alone spent at home is where I’ve done most of my growth. I need that. People can help and I am forever grateful for the over-pour of support I get from my family and friends, but I truly believe our challenges and struggles are to be met and dealt with on an independent level. After that, that’s when we can come together and collectively help each other. Sandy: So exciting that you are in the Netflix romantic holiday series, Dash & Lily, which is based on the book series by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. Did you read those books or have any idea what you were getting into when you auditioned? Keana: No idea whatsoever. I have now read the books, but when I originally auditioned I had not. Sandy: Let’s talk more about Dash & Lily. How would you describe this show in your own words? Keana: This show is sweet, silky-smooth, sexy, inspiring—the light at the end of a tunnel. I think it is relatable across all ages and people. Such a feel-good genuinely well produced series and I hope everyone has enjoyed it! Sandy: Dash has been described as a cynic, while Lily has been described as an optimist. Which of these two character traits would you say you relate to more? Keana: Definitely Lily, I am the queen of optimism. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments, but for the most part I am living in positivity. Sandy: You are Dash’s ex-girlfriend, Sofia in the show. What should we know about Sofia and what were your first impressions of her? Keana: Sofia is not your typical ex-girlfriend! She’s sweet, loving, charismatic, and will go to lengths to help those she cares about. My first impression of her is that she was ahead of her time, mature for her age. With the constant moving around, her being cultured and her fascination for literature and languages is truly inspiring. She’s a breath of fresh air. Sandy: Would you go on a scavenger hunt across Manhattan for love? Keana: Oh 1000%. I wish somebodywould leave me a notebook with clues to fall in love with them. That’s for sure a dream love story for me. Sandy: Is this character different to the other roles you have played? How so? Keana: Yes, she has a lot of layers. She isn’t two-dimensional. Not that the other characters I have played before were, but I really resonated

with Sofia, she felt like an extension of me, but with an accent! Right before shooting Dash & Lily, I was filming my first lead in a feature, Root Letter. Now that was a challenge—I knew Sarah, my character, like the back of my hand, but her story of coming from an abusive mother was a lot of emotional labor. I am blessed and so grateful to be able to portray so many different kinds of people and tell their stories. Sandy: The show explores just what we needed at the end of 2020, and even right now! What themes do you think people will be able to relate to when they watch this show? Keana: I think this show is for everybody, it relates to everyone in some way and its feel-good nature couldn’t come at a more perfect time. I think people will leave with more hope and an acceptance to be themselves. Dash and Lily really own their authenticity and it will resonate and inspire the audience! Sandy: Of all your recent roles, which was your favorite to play and why? Keana: Ah, it’s a close call between Sofia in Dash & Lily and Sarah Blake in Root Letter. Those characters both have my heart. They are so layered and real; I felt a true connection portraying both and left a piece of my soul with both characters. I am glad I was able to tell their stories. Sandy: You have also been in the Netflix series, Huge In France and the film, Hummingbird. What were those experiences like for you? Keana: They were wonderful! I grew up being a huge fan of Gad Elmaleh (he really is huge in France, no pun attended). Hummingbird was so fun to shoot—I was only on one day, but we created some terrifying magic. Can’t wait for it to come out. Sandy: Tell us about one of your dreams or desires! Keana: I just recently had a passion project come to mind and I am going to be making my own Tarot Deck! I’ve been practicing Tarot for years now, and I felt compelled to share my ideas and visions with the world. So, look out for that in the near future! Sandy: What type of acting roles would you like to pursue next? Keana: Ooo, I really don’t want to limit myself! I want to keep portraying characters from stories that I think are important and whose voice needs to be heard right now. Sandy: Who is someone you would like to work alongside next? Keana: Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Ari Aster, Florence Pugh, Greta Gerwig, Hunter Schafer, Paul Dano, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Alma Har’el... I mean, the list goes on. Sandy: Tell us something fans may not know about you. Keana: I used to have a pet hedgehog named Jonas, named after the Jonas Brothers, and now I work with them. Wild! It’s crazy how the world comes around like that. I’m a true believer of manifesting your own destiny—you roll the dice. What you preach comes into fruition, so let’s all go have good thoughts and conversations and change the world! Sandy: Can you tell us what else you are working on? Keana: Aside from acting, I’m also writing, directing, and producing. As I mentioned before, my directorial debut, As the Tide Comes In is currently doing the festival circuit, and I am writing a series, as well as my first feature. During quarantine, I also started a production company called, CINEMATICA. Watch Keana Marie in ‘Dash & Lily’, now streaming on Netflix.