NOVEMBER double threats: 04 SADIE ROBERTSON on the importance of telling your story
08 ALLI SIMPSON taking the radio world by storm
16 TAYLOR SPREITLER
new sitcom; familiar city
28 AMBER CONEY
on dead of summer and new projects
30 OLIVIA HOLT
22 JIMMY EAT WORLD
exploring her musical side
proving once again, they are timeless
36 CHORD OVERSTREET
transitioning into his own artist
making moves on her own terms
50 TEALA DUNN
54 WILLIAM MICHAEL MORGAN
equal parts actress and youtuber
actors: 14 VIOLETT BEANE taking on the iconic role of jesse quick
celebrating vinyl and a no. 1 song
publisher: CATHERINE POWELL
editors: CATHERINE POWELL
writers: SAMANTHA BAMBINO SHELBY CHARGIN TAYLOR DOUGHERTY ELIZABETH FORREST IAN HAYS STACY MAGALLON CATHERINE POWELL VANESSA SALLES RILEY STENEHJEM
photography: CATHERINE POWELL
design: CATHERINE POWELL
sadie robertson Words by SAMANTAH BAMBINO Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
Sadie Robertson may have achieved worldwide fame after Duck Dynasty and Dancing With The Stars, but deep down, she’s just your average girl with humble beginnings rooted in faith and family. Sadie grew up in the small, wooded town of West Monroe, Louisiana, and still lives there to this day. She had a pretty normal childhood until the start of Duck Dynasty, which is when her family’s lives took a whole different turn. The A&E reality show gained popularity at an unprecedented rate, and for most people, it would have been easy to let fame go to their heads. However, Sadie’s dad, Willie, made sure she stayed grounded in the lessons he taught her. “When I was little, my dad would always call me ‘The Original,’ and he would make sure that I understand what that means,” she reflects. “How I’m originally created to be who I am, and not to waiver or change if anything in the world changes.” Willie bestowed this lesson on Sadie at a very young age, and when the show really kicked off, Sadie always kept in the back of her head “to not conform to the world, even when all these things are thrown at me, even when life changes, not to change with it, and to be myself and be grounded in that.” Sadie managed to stay true to herself in what she refers to as a “Hannah Montana lifestyle”. She stayed in school and played basketball, yet she was able to be a part of
the famous world too. Though Duck Dynasty is now a household name, that didn’t happen overnight, especially in West Monroe. In her small hometown, Sadie was not able to see the show’s impact. While fans discussed the show in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, Sadie, who didn’t have social media at the time, had no idea how popular it was becoming until she got a little older. Sadie’s life took the most drastic turn when she was asked to compete on Dancing With The Stars and relocate miles away from her close-knit family. “That was the first time that I was to be separated from my family, and was just by myself, which was really weird but it kind of established who I was,” she says, “For a while you could bounce off your family, you can be who your mom and dad are. But there comes a time in your life where you have to be you and you have to find out who that is.” The three and a half months spent away from home taught Sadie some valuable lessons, especially how to depend on herself and keep herself anchored. “I don’t have my mom there to cheer me up every night, so I have to be the person to renew my soul,” she says. The experience on Dancing With The Stars was also a huge confidence booster, but not in her looks or because the whole country was talking about her, which Sadie actually found difficult. Rather, it allowed her to “find [her] confidence in who [she is] as a person and how [she is] influencing other
people.” When Sadie returned to Louisiana after her time on the show, she didn’t receive the warmest welcome at first due to her newfound fame. “A lot of people didn’t like that, which is totally understandable. When you’re in L.A., all these people are doing it, so it’s normal,” she says. “When you’re in Louisiana, you literally have a target just on your face. That was really hard at first, but I feel like now everybody’s been able to just know that I didn’t change. Even though my life changed, I didn’t change.” Though she now deems Los Angeles as her second home, it took Sadie a while to adapt to her new surroundings and she never truly got used to it during her three months there. “You see something new everyday, which is not something I’m used to,” she says. Now that she had a taste of what life in a big city is like, Sadie has plans to make a permanent move to Nashville very soon. “A lot of people my age right now are going to college, and that’s kind of like my college, it’s like my next step in life,” she says. The company that she has been collaborating with for her Live Original Tour is located in Tennessee, so the move will make her work much easier. So what is the Live Original Tour? Fun, family, inspiring stories and music from Family Force 5 and Love & The Outcome. Sadie is extremely excited about the project, and says, “I think it’s going to be life changing. People, I think, are going to come in there with some heavy stuff and then leave feeling a lot more free.”
When Sadie’s fame kicked off with Duck Dynasty and Dancing With The Stars, she always knew she wanted to do something with it for the greater good, and this mindset is at the heart of her tour. In collaboration with her siblings, Sadie wrote the show with the sole purpose of relating to the audience and their personal stories. Therefore, she is very passionate about the show’s content, and says that it’s not really her words, but rather what God has put in her heart to share with people. “These people aren’t coming in by chance. These people are coming in because they felt led to come,” she says. The Live Original Tour has been in the works for the past year, which included “a lot of praying” and hours spent brain storming and dealing with writer’s block on her iPad. Through it all, Sadie had one mission in mind – to take her own and her family’s stories and create a show that will touch an audience.
“Some people don’t want their stories to be heard because they’re ashamed of their stories, but they don’t know that that story is powerful,” she says. The tour will be mainly geared towards Sadie’s generation, and she will attempt to incorporate the fact that “we’re on our phones, we’re on our screen, we’re looking at a screen” to help relate to the audience even more with five large screens that all tie the experience together. One of Sadie’s biggest passions in life is mission work, which spurred her recent visit to Uganda. She was able to take in how beautiful the country is, but how devastating some of the lives are. “I do think that there’s so much hope there,” she says. “I have to help be a part of it, and it’s going to take people going and seeing and being like, ‘I want that’ and being passionate about it to change the situation.’” Sadie is certainly doing her part to help the country, and all profits
from the Live Original Tour will go to help build dorms for the children and help fund their schooling to give them a better shot at life. Although these kids are in pretty bad situations, Sadie couldn’t help noticing their happiness. “It shows you that you can really be filled with joy and filled with love and filled with peace and filled with confidence and not have anything. Here, we’re opposite. We’re filled on materialism,” she says. “I’d rather have my house empty than my soul empty.” What’s in store for the rest of 2016 for this inspiring country girl? In addition to expanding her clothing line, Sadie has also teamed up with Roma boots in a buy a pair, give a pair campaign. “We actually went on a boot drop last year and gave all these kids my boots, and their faces were just priceless,” she says. Sadie released a devotional book on October 4th, and will also be a speaker at the Christian music tour, Winter Jam. NKD
alli simpson Words & Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
Alli Simpson is a lot of things, but most importantly, she’s her own person. Alli moved to the United States from Australia when her older brother, singer Cody Simpson, signed a record deal. The entire Simpson family uprooted from the Gold Coast to Los Angeles to support Cody – the eldest of the Simpson siblings. For her first few years in the new country, she tagged along with Cody wherever he went – whether it’d be on tour or to events in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to her at the time, a visit to Radio Disney’s studio in California is what evidentially helped her find her voice. I meet Alli at the W Hotel in Downtown Manhattan, very early on a rainy, Friday morning. From the fifth floor lobby, One World Trade Center peaks out from behind the fog. Our interview is the first stop on her press day. “I have to change three times today,” she remarks. She’s in town for the annual BeautyCon Festival, where she’ll meet fans, interview the other influencers and host the main stage. With so many beauty, YouTube and creator conventions happening yearly, Alli was surrounded by familiar faces all weekend – but that certainly was not the
case when she first moved to the U.S. “It all happened really quickly,” she reflects on her family’s move to California. Prior to jumping continents, Alli was a competitive swimmer in Australia. Swimming was her passion and she had serious goals for her future with the sport. But when The Simpson family failed to find a pool they really liked in Los Angeles, and Cody’s career started taking off, swimming could no longer be a focus for Alli. On top of that, she was being homeschooled, and really struggled to make friends in her new city because of that. “It was really, really hard,” she admits, “I missed my friends back home.” On the plus side, her relationship with her older brother was only strengthened by the move. “Cody and I were always really close, but now we’re closer than ever,” she says. Because the two were spending so much time together – and are so close in age – they leaned on each other as they both transitioned into their new home and new careers. “He really inspires me,” she says. In 2012, after going with Cody to his in-studio interview at Radio Disney, the station manager – impressed
by Alli’s relaxed demeanor – gave her a career-changing opportunity. “They asked me if I wanted to interview Justin Bieber… So Casual,” she jokes. She immediately agreed, and the interview went incredibly well – especially for her first gig. “So then they asked me to interview One Direction,” she says. After nailing it again, she began to interview more artist for the station, and eventually landed her own show – The Alli Simpson Show. Over the years, Alli has been able to transform the show into a way to directly connect with her fans. Every week, listeners can call in and ask Alli advice – whether it’d be about school, boys, music and more. It’s her favorite part of her show. “I love being able to connect with people, and it’s really personal because they call me,” she says. While she often utilizes social media to talk to her fans, being able to speak with them on the phone adds another layer to their connection. She takes being a role model to young girls seriously, but also wants to make sure she’s staying true to herself. While Alli spends most of her time interviewing other music artists, she has also pursued a singing career herself. NKDMAG.COM
Her first song, “Why I’m Single”, was released three years ago and has almost 10 million views on YouTube. Her last single, “Roll ‘Em Up” featuring Jack & Jack was released in summer 2015. “I can’t believe that was over a year ago…” she says, “I definitely want to focus on music again.” While it’s hard for her to prioritize music right now, she is definitely planning on releasing more songs in the future – she’s just not sure when. She has also been actively pursuing careers in acting and modeling, but The Alli Simpson Show takes up most of her time. Her music career came accidentally. Cody suggested she record a song for fun, and if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to do anything with it. Alli was often caught singing to herself, so Cody knew she had a good voice already. “He really encouraged me, so I did it,” she says. While fans may have expected her to follow the beach-vibe, surf rock path Cody set out on, Alli’s songs are more traditionally pop, with a fun, flirty feel that is totally unique to Alli. One of Alli’s more recent endeavors is an app that puts all her interests and social accounts in one place. Users can easily jump between Alli’s radio show and Tumblr account, to her YouTube account and “Pradux” page – which highlights her favorite clothing items. Super fans can unlock bonus blog posts and beauty tricks with in-app purchases, but otherwise the app is free to download. It’s very clear that the most important thing to Alli is connection. It is the foundation of everything she does – whether it’d be her app, her music or her Ask Alli segments of The Alli Simpson Show. When she first moved to America, she wasn’t sure what to do with her time or how to meet new people, and now, years later, she has a diverse career and is becoming a staple in the Young Hollywood scene. While she’s still figuring out exactly who she wants to be, she’s comfortable with trying new things and approaches each of her endeavors with the same amount of effort as the last. For the rest of 2016, she’ll be focusing on her radio show (she recently brought back her first guest, Justin Bieber) and is hoping to get some new videos up on her YouTube and app. At only 18, Alli has dipped her toes in a lot of pools – both literally and figuratively. NKD NKDMAG.COM
violett beane Words by VANESSA SALLES Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
If Violett Beane isn’t on your radar, it’s time you get familiar. The 20-year-old actress, who currently stars as Jesse Quick on The CW’s The Flash, truly shines in the breakout role and manages to hold her own whilst starring alongside the series’ veteran actors. Violett’s passion for acting, which she discovered at a young age, led her to make the career-making move from Texas to Los Angeles just a few years ago. “I always knew that I wanted to act,” she says. “Throughout middle and high school, I did theater because I knew I wanted to be apart of that field. After that, I definitely still had the acting bug in me and so I found an agent in Austin and started to work with them for a while. Through them, I met my current manager and now I’ve built a team in L.A.” Landing her first role in The Leftovers, Violett was quick to prove just how raw and genuine her talent really is. “Being apart of The Leftovers was such a fun experience,” she recalls, “I think, for the most part, that being so new to the industry and not really knowing the do’s and don’ts of the business is what made it so cool. I was just having fun. That role is definitely what made me start thinking of acting as a career.” Like most aspiring actresses, Violett had a day job she depended on. “At the time of The Leftovers, I still had a restaurant job. It wasn’t until I booked The Flash that I decided to really focus all my time and energy into acting,” she says. Making her debut in the hit series’ second season, Violett remembers just how “surreal and weird” it was for her to step into The Flash’s world. “It was pretty bizarre,” she says, “I met Tom [Cavanaugh] on my first day in Vancouver, two seconds before we had our first scene together. Luckily, I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow type of person and so stepping onto set didn’t feel too abrupt or scary for me.” As for her audition process, Violett wasn’t even aware of who’d she playing until after she booked it. “Once I got the part, they told me the role was for Jesse Quick, who hadn’t gotten her powers yet,” she shares. “After that, I got all the comics and read up on everything.” Being a new face and portraying a beloved character, Violett’s no stranger to receiving
online feedback from The Flash’s devoted fans. “For the most part, all the reactions have been really positive,” she says. “I’ve gotten some harsh comments here and there but I know that you can’t ever trust anything that anyone says online or take anything too personal. People seem to be really happy with things so that’s awesome; we truly do it for the fans – especially the comic book ones. The way that the show pays homage to the comics while still creating a new and unique storyline is really amazing.” A fan-favorite on the show, there’s a lot to admire about the new female superhero. “She’s extremely smart,” Violett says, “Being able to show such a strong, powerful woman is so important in every sense of the word. I think it’s cool that, in the show, she’s a lot younger than the rest of the team but is just as smart – if not smarter – than everyone there. I love that and would love to see a lot more of that in this season.” Of course, Jesse isn’t the only powerful and intelligent woman on the show, or the network. “The CW does a really good job at showing these awesome women,” she shares, “It’s really great of them and I think it’s important for other networks to do that, too! It’s a cool thing to be apart of this ‘smart girl movement’.” With season three of The Flash a few weeks in, Violett’s excited about what’s to come. “I finally have my powers and cool suit,” she laughs. “It’s definitely been a long time coming and I’m really excited for it to play out. Usually, in The Flash, females with powers turn out to be villains; I think it’s cool that Jesse is the opposite of that. She’s a superhero.” When it comes to upcoming Jesse storylines, Violett admits that she has some idea of what’s to come. “As far as this season goes, I know a bit more of what’s going to happen,” she says, “I don’t know everything because a lot of it is kept under wraps but I do know that you’ll be seeing a lot more of Jesse Quick.” Shooting in Vancouver, Violett’s crossed paths with many of the cast and crew of fellow The CW shows. “I would love to be apart of a crossover episode,” she says. “I love all those shows and all the people that are involved in them. I see them at conventions all
the time and Echo [Kellum, who plays Curtis Holt on Arrow] is a huge friend of mine – I love that guy!” Just last month, Violett added another acting credit to her already-impressive resume. “Last month, my first film project TOWER came out,” she shares. “It’s a documentary about the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas and is such an important film. It’s actually sadly relevant with all the stuff that’s been going on across America lately; it’s scary to think about these things but the mass shooting happened on August 1st, 1966 and earlier this year, the ‘Campus Carry’ law went into effect on the same date. It basically says that if you have a legal gun license, you can carry a gun in your backpack. I don’t see how people think that’s the solution to anything. I really think it’s so important for people to see this film and just spread love whenever they’re able to.” In TOWER, Violett took on the role of Claire Wilson, a survivor of that tragic day. “Portraying someone like Claire Wilson was both incredible and difficult,” she says, “She lost her boyfriend and unborn child in the shooting but carries no hatred for the man who did it. Claire went on to adopt a baby from Africa and now she just fights for peace and equality. She’s so amazing.” Although Violett didn’t have the chance to meet Claire in-person before or during the filming process, she made sure to do her research in order to do Claire justice. “I got to meet her at the movie’s premiere and when I did, it was the most amazing moment,” Violett says, “She told me that she loved my performance and that was such an insane feeling.” As for future ambitions, Violett’s after one (pretty big) thing: happiness. “Ultimately, I just want to be happy in life,” she says, “I want to have a good home, get a dog and just be content with whatever I’m doing, whether it means working full-time on a TV show or making movies.” For the actress, happiness comes in many forms and acting is something she hopes to make a lifelong career. “I know that I definitely want to continue acting,” she shares. “I’m just not looking for a ‘grand’ life – I don’t need a lot of things. Just to be happy and live a good life.” NKD NKDMAG.COM
taylor spreitler Words by IAN HAYS Photos by CATHERINE POWELL Styled by AUDREY BRIANNE Shirt by KAREN ZAMBOS BLACK LABEL Jeans by JANEY LOPATY VINTAGE Dress by MARIA STANLEY Shoes by SOLESOCIETY
For Taylor Spreitler, there was never any other option on the table besides acting. Making it in any artistic endeavor is a feat, even for those born into the business. But Taylor didn’t have that luxury. She was just a little girl from a small town in Mississippi who got bit by the acting bug and never looked back. Taylor grew up in a town with space to breathe and land to explore. As a young child she spent her days playing with her siblings, running and exploring outdoors, maybe riding a 4-wheeler or two if they felt so inclined. Yet still, there was something that drew her to the stage and looking for something more. So, around 1st grade, she started competing and performing in local talent competitions. Next thing she knew, she had been scouted and was offered to come out to New York. She jumped on the opportunity and encouraged her parents to see what it was all about. “It’s not every day that a kid from small town Mississippi gets scouted
and goes to New York. Everyone was very, ‘Wait, what are you doing?’” She started out modeling and acting in commercials. Her first commercial was for Chuck E Cheese’s when she was around 7-years-old. For Taylor, this was pure magic. She got to spend all day playing games in a shut-down Chuck E Cheese’s with other kids. It was at that moment she fell in love with acting and knew she could never stop acting, even if she tried. Luckily, her family was supportive. Her parents made sure to be very hands on as they had all heard the horror stories of what can happen to youngsters in the industry. Taylor still jokes that her mom is still very protective even though she is now in her 20’s. In those early years, she went on numerous auditions in New York, but kept running into the same problem. “I had a pretty strong southern accent. So, that was still working against me,” she says. During this time, she had met Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order. But any time a role became
available, either the timing clashed with another project or the role just didn’t fit right. Taylor decided that if she was going to make it as an actress, she needed to go to L.A. Well, it just so happens that as soon as she gets settled in L.A., who should call but Dick Wolf. He had a role he felt was perfect for her if she wanted it. Not one to miss out on any opportunity, she quickly flew back out to New York to shoot the part and add something else to the resume. Even with that under her belt, she was “fresh meat” in L.A. and had some trouble landing long term roles. She just wasn’t gaining much traction. It came to the point where she gave herself a cutoff date – if she didn’t land a role by then, she would head back to Mississippi and figure things out from there. But of course, when you put in hard work, you can expect positive results. Taylor got the call to let her know she had been cast on a show that every American with a TV knows: Days of Our Lives. She was on the soap opera for two years. Soon after, she was cast on the ABC NKDMAG.COM
Family sitcom Melissa and Joey. And now, she plays the daughter of Kevin James on Kevin Can Wait. “I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had very little time off since I’ve been 14 years old,” she says. But, going from a soap opera to TV sitcom was “a bit of a culture shock”. On Days, she filmed eight episodes a week with essentially one take for each scene. This fast paced environment is where she honed her chops. Taylor learned that you just had to hunker down and power through each episode like the young professional she was. But, when it came to Melissa and Joey and now, Kevin Can Wait, she gets a little time to breathe and rehearse. “I showed up and I was like, ‘Rehearsals? What do you mean? What is this?’” she jokes. Kevin Can Wait is the new primetime sitcom written by, and starring, Kevin James. When Taylor first learned of the project, she had this feeling in her gut that this show would be a perfect fit for her. So, she went and auditioned hoping to get the green light. Soon after the audition, Taylor found herself cruising on the 405 freeway in L.A. with a friend. Taylor’s phone rang so she put it on speaker phone. “A man’s voice was like, ‘Hey!’ And I was like, ‘Hi?’ And then he said, ‘This is Kevin James.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god’,” she recalls. She got the part. Because the show is filmed in Long Island, Taylor found herself back in New York. This cast bonded quicker than any other she has been a part of. After filming the first five episodes, everyone felt like they had known each other for five years. And for Taylor, the person leading this is Kevin James. “When you work with someone of his caliber, you have this thought of it going two ways. He is the nicest guy, though. The hardest working man I have ever met,” she says. For Taylor, being a part of Kevin
Can Wait has only increased her love of acting in sitcoms. “Someone once told me people who do sitcoms keep doing sitcoms because it’s kind of like being a rock star,” she says, “There’s something about doing a live show and seeing an audience there to see you perform and be this person; it’s a pretty incredible feeling.” It’s this shot of adrenaline and putting on a show for the audience that keeps Taylor going. For her, it is very much like a play. And because it is all filmed live with people there to witness that transformation and embodiment into a completely different person, it makes it easier for her to get into character. This isn’t to say she has not pursued a flair for the dramatic. She did a movie entitled Girl on the Edge that was a biopic about Kevin director, Andy Fickman’s daughter. This was something new for Taylor. She wasn’t just playing a character, she was portraying a real person and the experiences she’s had. While this was a new direction for her, her years of serious acting chops let her fully embody her character. But for Taylor, no matter the roll they all have one thing in common. “I drink a lot of coffee beforehand. With Diet Coke and coffee, I can do anything,” she laughs. For Taylor, she thinks it’s nice to come full circle with her career. She started out in New York and after time in L.A., is back to where she started. But, Mississippi will always be home. She appreciates getting to live in so many places. As a child, it was an eye-opening experience for her going out to New York and L.A. from her little town. She was exposed to so much diversity at such a young age and the rush of big city living. But even now, there is still something special about going home to that small town and taking a moment to reflect; to go home where there is enough space to breathe and find yourself again. When it comes to the arts, Taylor is straight to the point. “Don’t do it for fame,” she says, “Whether it’s for acting, or music, or painting, whatever… don’t do it for fame.” NKD NKDMAG.COM
jimmy eat world Words & Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
At 9:30 p.m. on the dot, the house music inside The Troubadour fades and the lights dim, and Jimmy Eat World steps onto the stage. Something in the air changes as the crowd – comprised of fans of all ages – erupts into excitement. It’s not the largest show Jimmy Eat World has played by far – in fact, they intentionally visited smaller rooms on this tour – but the level of anticipation in the room is unmatchable. Maybe it’s because Jimmy Eat World is just one of those bands that will always draw a passionate crowd, or maybe it’s because their latest release, Integrity Blues, is so carefully nostalgic, yet still a step forward, that even those who have seen them play dozens of times over the last 20+ years feel like they’re seeing them for the first time, again. About a month prior to their show in West Hollywood, I meet with the band at the RCA Records offices in New York. Integrity Blues hasn’t been released yet, but the two lead singles – “Get Right” and “Sure
and Certain” – have received favorable critiques from fans. “You never really clock out of this job,” front man Jim Adkins says. The band has consistently released a new record every three years since 2001, and even more consistently before that. The writing process never stops for them, though not every idea turns into a song. “Over time we’ve generated a large pile of… stuff. Clips, humming into your phone at 4:00 a.m.,” Jim says, “In November of last year, we sat down with the pile of ideas we had and just kind of went through everything.” They went with their guts when it came to choosing what ideas excited them, and their producer, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, helped a great deal when it came to narrowing things down. When approaching Integrity Blues, they truly went through everything they had accumulated over the years. “Pass The Baby” started as a rough idea in 2007, and the band credits Justin with helping make that into something unique nine
years later. “When you are working on stuff, you tend to kind of gravitate towards the easiest path,” Jim says, “You sort of rule out possibilities because they seem difficult, and you go with the thing that you’re excited about, but can already see a couple steps ahead what you should do.” The wild concept behind “Pass The Baby” made the connecting of the dots extremely difficult, so the song was often passed over each time it was revisited. The band enlisted Justin very early on, and for the first time in their career, had their producer heavily involved before entering the studio. They wanted to challenge themselves early on and going in, knew they were not going to take the easy route and were ready for things to be hard. After deciding it was time to make a new record in November of last year, they set a deadline of completion for May. “We created a sort of window for us to finish the record, and that forced us down roads probably earlier than it would have previous times,” Zach NKDMAG.COM
Lind, the band’s drummer, says. Typically, because Jim is wellversed in the ways of production, Jimmy Eat World has been able to get the demo versions of their songs very close to the final product, and go into the studio with most of their decisions made. By bringing Justin in so early on in their process, they were able to have additional feedback before anything was set in stone. “It ended up creating a kind of nervous, but good energy,” Zach says, “That made the record feel more in the moment.” “We left a lot more room for his input,” Jim adds. Before officially starting work on Integrity Blues, the band knew they wanted to approach their ninth record differently. The band went into Integrity Blues feeling that they needed to prove to themselves that they should still be making records, and are tremendously proud of the result. “We’ve been around for a long time, and we have this big catalog that our fans connect to. Songs that are 10 years old, 20 years old…” Zach says, “For us, we had this sense like, we have to make something to prove to ourselves that we should still be doing this.” One thing that has kept Jimmy Eat World albums consistently sounding like Jimmy Eat World albums after 23 years is honesty. “I think just being honest with ourselves about what we want to hear, and the consistent thread is that it’s us,” Jim says, “As much as you try to explore, you’re still you.” Jimmy Eat World is a band that because of their consistency, has garnered a large following for each of their individual albums. “The record that you discover a group with, is always going to be this special thing,” Jim says. While the last few years have seen an immense rise in 10 Year Anniversary tours, Jimmy Eat World was celebrating their record Clarity (1999) in that way in 2009. “Being a band for a long time, you have those different albums that people gravitate towards,” Zach says. While they enjoy keeping up the tradition of 10 Year Anniversary NKDMAG.COM
tours (they’ve done three, so far), they never want to be a band that has to do that to sell tickets. They prefer to spend their energy creating songs that people will want to hear in 10 years, and not investing too much of themselves in the past. When it comes to putting together their live show now, the band tries to play at least one song from every album, and they consistently keep in touch with their fans to find out what they want to hear. “I think you’re always most excited about the thing you just did, so of course we’re going to play a lot of new songs, and just rotate in and out as many old songs as we can,” Jim says. Their most recent West Coast tour saw the addition of six Integrity Blues songs to the setlist, and while the record had only been out for a week when they made their stop in West Hollywood, they were sung just as loudly as their older songs. While “Pol Roger” didn’t make it into this set, they are eager to bring that one to the stage soon. “We haven’t exactly figured out how we’re going to do that just yet,” Zach admits. At the end of their performance at The Troubadour, Jim stood center stage and offered an extremely grateful and humbling thank you to the crowd. Scattered throughout the crowd were 20-year-olds, potentially discovering the band for the first time through Integrity Blues, as well as 40-year-olds who have been dedicated to Jimmy Eat World for half their lives. Mid-set, when the band played “Pass The Baby”, the crowd was as invested and excited as they were when they played “The Middle”. With all of the changes in the music industry over the past 20 years, between streaming and social media, Jimmy Eat World has consistently been able to create a fresh sound while still tugging at the nostalgia attached to some of their early material. “There’s no rules, that’s the only consistent thing,” Jim says of their songwriting process over the years, “There’s no formula, there’s no route that you have to take for it to be a Jimmy Eat World song.” NKD 26
amber coney Words by ELIZABETH FORREST Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
“I was out for about a year and a half just trudging along trying to get my feet grounded in LA. Then things just turned,” Amber Coney reflects. 2016 has been a huge year for Amber. She’s most well known for playing Cricket on Freeform’s hit show Dead of Summer, but she’s no newcomer to the world of acting. “It wasn’t really a choice for me. It was just something that was inherent, like, in my blood almost,” she insists. Originally from San Jose, Cali., she began her descent into theater in elementary school and then at an artsbased private school. From there, she attended the University of Southern California to study film and participate in the BFA acting program. She’s always taken her work seriously; so seriously, in fact, that it affected her when she was younger. “I was always a perfectionist to a fault when I was a kid,” she says, “I would sob if I wasn’t doing my best work and it was almost debilitating.” And though she’s since learned to overcome those intrusive thoughts, she’s no less focused now than she was before stardom. Scouted by her current manager while at USC, Amber was happy to have someone assist and guide her through beginning the audition process, which she remembers as “horrible and terrifying” for a while. “Until I learned to take a chill pill,” she laughs. While auditioning for roles and trying to break into the business, she also delved into the world of screenwriting. “After graduation, I started writing because I got involved with James Franco and his production company. I worked as an actor first, but then he had me start writing scripts. That was the first time I had ever written a feature,” she remembers. It was a challenge that she welcomed, though. Writing has always been a part of Amber’s life, whether it be journaling, poetry or just intellectual pieces. Because she was working for such an established company straight after college, she put a lot of pressure on herself. She knew that all of the projects she worked on were going to be made, so she knew she had to put
her best foot forward. “I’d write in really short periods of time and just commit. I wouldn’t leave my apartment,” she says, “I sacrificed a lot of my social life to write.” Of the nine scripts she wrote for the company, one was made just as she accepted the role of a series regular on Dead of Summer, a supernatural horror series that takes place at a 1980’s summer camp. “It just changed my life instantaneously,” she says. Reminiscent of an actual summer camp, Dead of Summer was shot at a remote location in Canada. Amber didn’t even have cell phone service. “I was like, I don’t need it! I don’t even like being on the phone that much. I’ll just use WiFi! So I was really isolated,” she says. The seclusion actually turned out to be for the better, though; because of her disconnect from the rest of the world, she instantly bonded with her costars. A fact that might come as a shock to Amber’s fans is that she doesn’t like horror. What truly appealed to her about Dead of Summer’s script were the characters and approach to the genre. She read for the script and felt an immediate connection to Cricket. “It was weird because I thought that it was like they wrote the part for me,” she explains, “It was really bizarre because it fit like a puzzle. It was cool. There was something in my gut that was telling me this project could be it. It could be the one that starts things.” Thankfully, she was right. and she’s hopeful that the show will be picked up for a second season. As an anthology series, Season 2 would be set in a different era with totally new characters, a feat that Amber cites as an actor’s dream. A special aspect of doing television is that there’s an opportunity to work with the same people season after season, so she’s excited about the possibility. “At this point I’m very comfortable with my cast members and trust them, so it would be a really cool experience if we got to do it again,” she says. During the show’s first season, Amber wanted to focus primarily on defining how she approached a role. Now that she knows what to do to
prepare for a series, she would come into the second season with a different goal. “Now it would be about me experimenting in the doing,” she says, “Feeling free to try new things that I haven’t necessarily done before.” Amber has had an insanely busy year, but there’s still more for her to look forward to. Since coming back from the isolation of filming Dead of Summer, she’s been in nonstop meetings, auditions and tapings. She’s keeping the momentum going, on watch for guest starring roles, recurring roles on television shows and any films she might be right for. In addition to auditioning, she’s also writing a book adaptation for her costar Elizabeth Mitchell. “She passed a book along to me and was like, ‘I’d like to make this, I don’t know how’,” she recounts “I’m going to try to write the thing, so once I have a moment I’m going to get back and write that.” Some of her past writing projects are also coming into production soon. She’s written a few movies for Rabbit Bandini, including a film called Blood Heist, which she remembers as dark, strange and fun to work on. Another upcoming project is a movie called High School Lover, a film that her co-star Paulina Singer actually stars in. “It’s cool to see it all come together and things actually being manifested,” Amber says. “I think for a lot of people they put out the creative energy but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they see their work come to fruition. I’ve been very fortunate in the fact that there have been very palpable things that I’ve seen come together, so it’s been awesome.” Amber remains optimistic about the future. She’d like to have a constant inflow of work, especially when it comes to acting. “It’s very rare for an actor to be constantly working, but that’s what I want. I want to just be constantly on set doing different projects, whether that be film or TV,” Amber says. “And then I want to see where writing goes. I’m really open in terms of writing because it’s really fun for me.” Whether it’s through acting or writing, it’s clear that 2017 will be a bright year for her. NKD NKDMAG.COM
olivia holt Words by SHELBY CHARGIN Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
19- year-old starlet Olivia Holt has been on the scene for quite some time. Starting her career doing commercials for some big name products, and doing local theater, Olivia moved out to Los Angeles when she was just 14-years-old. As she began to pursue television and film acting, Olivia booked the show Kickin’ It on Disney XD - in part due to her seven years of gymnastic training. As she got older, her career on Disney expanded into movies, and even another hit show I Didn’t Do It. While Olivia’s career continues to thrive she has expanded herself back into her first love – music. Her EP Olivia was released on July 16, 2016 and now she’s gearing up for her first ever headlining tour, which kicks off November 4th. NKD: Your first EP, Olivia, was released earlier this year. How was the reception?
OLIVIA HOLT: I worked on this EP for a while. It was really a learning process and a new experience for me. And to share something that I worked so hard on and have people telling me how much they love it is a dream in itself. NKD: Did you have a specific direction you wanted to go in musically? Do you feel you achieved that with this EP? OH: I wanted to make a pop record, but incorporate different elements of music in there as well. Intertwining alternative with soul, and putting real instruments in there gave it this organic feel that I’m so drawn to. NKD: What is the biggest difference between music and acting for you? Do you feel they go hand in hand?
OH: In a way, acting has parts of me in it. I’m usually creating a character and I may pull from real life experiences, but when it comes to music I’m actually reliving these experiences. So, sometimes I feel like they are so different, but then I also feel they go hand in hand because I’m creating something that I’m so passionate about. NKD: How was it transferring from an acting career to a music career? You seemed to have a very organic double career. Is music where you always wanted to be? OH: Music was my first love. I wanted to be a singer since I was a kid. Then acting kind of took over and alienated music for a while. And when I got back into music I forgot how much it fed my soul. And when I really started to un-
derstand how the music business worked, it intrigued my soul. And I wanted to do it more than anything. So the transition and balancing both acting and music hasn’t been the easiest, but I love them both with my whole heart. So I’ll fight for it. NKD: Do you want to continue pursuing both music and acting? OH: I ideally would love to keep doing both. And to work on projects that help me not only evolve as an actress and singer, but as individual. Making movies and music are my creative outlets. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. NKD: Disney has produced mega stars in the past. Have you learned anything from their paths? Do you feel the
need to break away from Disney? OH: Disney was the best place for me to grow up and to learn. I made some lifelong friends and soaked up all this knowledge at such a young age. And grew up very quickly because I was in a working environment every day. But the girls before me have taught me to never let go of the silly in me. To take my work seriously, but not myself. And as far as the next steps I take, I’m not breaking away from anything, but embracing and loving the experience I had and positively moving forward. NKD: What do you like to do in your spare time? OH: I try and travel as much as I can. I’m actually obsessed with learning about different cultures and countries. The only thing I
gotta work on his expanding my food palette when it comes to traveling. NKD: Any big plans for 2017? OH: To continue working on a great projects with great people and learning more about myself and to travel more. As with any young starlet, Olivia is continuously busy. She never seems to stop - whether it be in the studio, or making movies and music videos. Her debut tour - The Phoenix Tour - kicks off in Texas and will make its way through the U.S. throughout November. While her EP is still fresh in fans ears, she’s hoping to have a full-length record out sometime in 2017, and those who attend the tour may get an early listen to some new songs. NKD
chord overstreet Words by TAYLOR DOUGHERTY Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
This is a transitional time for Chord Overstreet. After being a part of one of TV’s most successful musical comedy-dramas, Glee, and singing everyone else’s songs for five years, he’s hitting reset and diving into a new phase of his career as a solo artist. But this doesn’t come as much of a surprise because after all, music is pretty much in his blood. Chord grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of renowned singer/songwriter Paul Overstreet and music was always going to be a part of his life, whether he wanted it to be or not. “Music was kind of second nature to me. It was just something I never really thought about, I just kind of did it. It was like if you didn’t figure out how to play guitar in our house, then you had to find a new place to live!” Chord laughs, “It was just one of those things where I wanted to just be like my dad. I always saw him playing these shows in front of loads of people. I didn’t really realize I wanted to do it until I started doing it and I realized how much I loved it.” In high school, him and his friends would often have campfire jam sessions and goof around with their guitars. He grew up a
kind of jack of all trades, playing sports while also learning instruments like the mandolin, flute, piano and of course, guitar – but he didn’t begin his foray into songwriting until he was in his late teens. “I ruptured my ACL my senior year of high school playing football and I was on the couch on pain meds, playing video games and my dad came in and said ‘turn that damn game off and write a song!’” Chord laughs, “So that’s how I kind of started writing music. I was 17 and I fell in love with it.” Following high school, he moved to L.A. to pursue another passion – acting. “Acting is something I just absolutely love. It’s another way to scratch your creative itch,” he says. And he didn’t have to wait long for his first major role. In 2009 Chord joined the cast of the hit FOX series Glee in its second season as Sam Evans, a part he played until the end of the show in 2015. The character was a fan favorite, and it was this role that sent his career from 0 to 100. “It was really surreal,” he says about his time on Glee. “I didn’t realize how big of a deal the show was until I was thrown into it. My sisters were obsessed with it, but I hadn’t really
seen much of it before I auditioned for it. To prepare, he watched the whole first season to get a gist of the show, and quickly understood how powerful it was. “But I didn’t have any clue kind of what I was doing,” he laughs, “It was kind of one of those things getting thrown into the mix and figuring it out as you go.” The day after he got the part, he went to my first dance rehearsal and admits he was “probably one of the worst dancers”, but slowly began to get better. He also credits his time on Glee with being training of sorts for when he started his own solo career. “It was kind of like college for me,” he says, “I didn’t go to college, I kind of went straight into working on the show and I wouldn’t have gotten that kind of experience [in college]. I was in front of a camera everyday, dancing and singing. So it was kind of one of those things to where it was like, you figure it out or fall on your face,” he says. He was able to get more experience in the music industry than he would have without the show. The cast went on massive tours every year and he was able to perform at the Staples Center one year. “I probably would have never
gotten to play in front of that many people so early on,” he says. Following Glee, Chord decided to take the time to begin building and establishing himself as a solo artist, signing a record deal with Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas’s new label Safehouse Records in December 2015. “I feel like this is a look at who I really am, verses when you’re playing a character. I think coming off of the show, working for five years, the last thing I wanted to do was go into another show,” Chord says, “Writing a record takes so much time and it’s so consuming, creatively and emotionally.” He opted to completely focus on writing a record, because he knew an open window like he had following Glee would be hard to come by again. “It’s definitely different going in from a schedule where you’re working 65 hours a week where every day is nonstop, but to kind of be able to put your heart and soul into something and do it where there’s no guidelines and you can just create and work that muscle, I feel like it’s one of the more freeing things about doing anything in music,” he says. This past August he released his debut solo single “Homeland,” an ode to his Southern roots with a strong John Mayer vibe, and it became an instant success. “The reaction’s been great so far. I’m glad that I haven’t gotten any feedback that’s like ‘Oh this sucks! It’s terrible! We hate it!’ My goal with ‘Homeland’ being the first single was to kind of introduce people to my history and where I come from,” he says, “I feel like it’s a good first look and kind of opens the door to people knowing me as an artist and not just for what I’ve done in the past.” An EP and album are imminent, but right now he’s just taking it day by day and making sure the music is the best it can be. Establishing yourself and setting yourself apart as a solo artist, or just as an individual in general, from a show as massive as Glee can be difficult. It’s been seen time and time again that some fans don’t want to see anything other than a character they know, but this is not the case for Chord. The voice is familiar, but the music and direction is new and intriguing. He has loyal fans that want to see what he’s doing and want to be involved with it no matter what, and that’s a testament to Chord’s immense talent. NKD NKDMAG.COM
Words & Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
“I don’t know what you’ve been told, but this gal right here’s gonna rule the world.” It’s a strong declaration Grace Tandon – more commonly known as Daya – makes on the title track of her first full-length album, Sit Still, Look Pretty, but it’s a very simple one – she’s not here to play. Daya is one of pop music’s newest sensations with an already massive career including three Top 40 singles, Billboard Hot 100 singles and a Billboard 200 charting album – all at just 18-years-old. It isn’t a surprise that she’s already made it this far at such a young age, though; music has been a part of her life since she can remember. “I was 3-years-old is when my relationship with music started. I was very young, but my sister was 5 at the time and my parents wanted her to start taking piano lessons, but she didn’t do anything unless I did it first. She kind of pushed me into it.” Daya says, “She ended up quitting after a couple of months, but I stuck with it for 10 years after that. I also learned the guitar and ukulele along the way. I began preforming when I was 10. My first gig was at a local bar, which is ironic. Music was always my thing.” Soon after she began performing, Daya enrolled at the Accelerando Music Conservatory, owned by Christina Chirumbolo, who became one of her mentors. “She helped kind of shape my sound. We did a lot of musical theatre for awhile, but then we switched to more of a pop sound, and that’s where all of this kind of began,” she says. Christina and a colleague, Gino Barletta, formed a music camp called Inside Access and invited Daya to work with them in Los Angeles for songwriting workshops, and it was there, during one of these sessions, that the single “Hide Away” was born. “I was just in high school and I just wanted to go out to LA for the weekend for the sessions to work on my songwriting. I didn’t really know what would come of it. But then we wrote ‘Hide Away’ and we all mutually agreed that I should sing it,” she says. The song exploded when it hit radio – peaking at number 23 on the charts and NKDMAG.COM
has since been certified platinum in the United States and has charted in multiple countries outside of the U.S. including Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and Italy. It even got played at her junior prom. “It’s funny because I had maybe 200 followers on Twitter and social media. No one knew who I was, I was just this random girl from Pittsburgh,” she laughs. Gino introduced Daya to Steve Zap, a radio promotions vet who was impressed with her. He and Gino then subsequently formed an independent label called Artbeatz and Daya signed a joint deal with them and Steve’s company, Z Entertainment. Following “Hide Away” she secured her second and third Billboard Top 40 singles as a featured artist on The Chainsmokers single “Don’t Let Me Down” (for which she is also nominated for her first American Music Award for Best Collaboration) and with her own “Sit Still, Look Pretty,” which has amassed over 100+ million streams on Spotify. She also performed at The White House Easter Egg Roll, as the opening act on rap duo Jack and Jack’s tour, and at both Coachella weekends with The Chainsmokers, finally capping off a whirlwind year and a half with the October 7th release of Sit Still, Look Pretty, an album she is exceptionally proud of, and one where every song could be a single in its own right. “It was pretty organic,” she says of the creation of the album. “I worked with the same team of writers that I worked with in that first initial writing workshop. They’re all like family
to me. They’re incredibly talented and such real people, so it was intimidating at first to be in studio with them because they’re all so accomplished, but it became easier to open up as we spent more time together.” The tightly crafted, heavily EDM influenced pop album showcases a young women discovering herself someone whose voice could bring the much needed soul and spunk back into pop music. With lyrics like “I dare you to dare me to go play with fire/ I’m gonna do everything you never did,” from the album opener “Dare” and “I know the other girlies wanna wear expensive things/ Like diamond rings/ But I don’t wanna be the puppet that you’re paying on a strong/ This queen don’t need a king,” from the epic title track, she is clearly not going to be anybody’s toy and has no problem letting anyone know. “We wrote the album over the past year and a half, and I was on the road at the same time,” she says, “I was doing a bunch of shows on and off and then I would fly to L.A. when I had a free break and we didn’t have too much time to spend in the studio together, so we really buckled down when we did. And I’m really proud of the way that everything turned out.” One of the most astonishing things about her career is what she’s been able to accomplish without a major label backing her. It’s an unusual feat getting this far, this fast as an independent artist. It’s something that takes others years to do. But it’s a testament to the incredibly motivated team she has surrounded herself with. This team is also why she hasn’t
felt the pressures of the industry yet. “It’s been amazing, actually, because I’m independent and I’m working with such a small team; which was extremely hard and challenging at first because a lot of the radio slots go to major labels first, so it’s kind of hard as an independent artist to get your foothold in the industry. But it’s nice because I don’t have people telling me who to be or how to act and look. I have that creative control because I’m independent. So I don’t necessarily feel the pressures from the industry,” she says. She’s in an industry that tends to over sexualize every song and every person, so to see someone at her age, with her first album, standing firm in her values and sending the message out of what “girl power” should really mean is incredible and something that should be celebrated. “I like having that control and freedom, because now I’ve kind of established myself as an artist and more people are starting to hear about me. I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job with the start up, and I feel like that’s the hardest part of being independent is just getting your name out there and establishing a name for yourself. So I feel that now that we’ve accomplished that I want to try and stay independent. I’m not against major labels, but I think right now my situation is great,” she says. Daya clearly doesn’t have the usual life of an 18-year-old. Most people her age are starting their first year of college, and while it has certainly been a topic of conversation, she is more than content to be where she
is at the moment. “My parents told me to apply this past year to college, and I got into NYU. I think it would be cool to go there at some point but my head is just in a totally different space than a lot of people going to college right now. And this is my main priority. I’ve wanted this since I was little, so I can’t see myself doing anything else right now,” she says. It’s only something she thinks about when she remembers her friends back home and all that they’re doing. “I do miss it sometimes. All my friends, I miss seeing them and I miss the social life, but I’m not complaining at all. What I’m doing right now is incredible,” she says. The coming year is only going to be bigger and better for Daya, as she’ll be embarking on her first headlining tour in February, hitting 25+ cities across America. “I am so excited!” she says of the tour, “Honestly, that’s what I’ve been waiting
for since the release of ‘Hide Away’, just because I love performing and seeing my fans out there singing along, and I can’t wait to play a lot of songs from the album live for the first time.” She’ll also be a part of the popular Jingle Ball tour this December as well, traveling with such artists as Shawn Mendes, Fifth Harmony, Ariana Grande and many more. The past two and half years have been such a whirlwind for Daya, but it really is just the beginning of what is almost certain to be a long and successful career for her. “It all just seems so surreal at this point, nothing surprises me anymore because it feels like a dream,” she says. If this much can happen for her in just two years one can only imagine where she will be in the next two. She has a remarkable voice, both literally and creatively, that is very much needed in music at the moment. If anything, she’s going to succeed because
she isn’t following any rules and is making the music she wants, how she wants. She exudes a confidence that most of us could only dream of having at 18, and isn’t at all eager to conform. She doesn’t have the machine of the industry telling her what to write and how to write it. She has surrounded herself with people who allow and encourage her to be exactly who she is, and by doing this she’s proving that independent artists can be just as successful as any artist attached to a major label. Daya could be called a trailblazer in that sense. She is a prime example of someone currently beating the industry at their own game, by just being herself. She has already shown us through her music that has a lot to say, and someone who isn’t afraid to say it. She not only has the talent, but the drive and passion that it takes for a long lustrous career – and lays it all out on the line. NKD NKDMAG.COM
teala dunn Words by RILEY STENEHJEM Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
YouTuber and actress Teala Dunn has loved the spotlight since childhood. Growing up in New Jersey, she started acting at age 5 as a way to follow in her older sister’s footsteps. Soon after, she discovered a love that was a lot deeper than she realized. “I have home videos of me putting on plays and stuff. I just wanted to do what my sister did, but then I realized, whoa, I’m really into this,” Teala explains, “I knew that even from a young age, and now I’m still passionate about it.” Since she lived so close to New York, she was able to book some recurring spots on different shows, like Law and Order and The Naked Brothers Band. Alongside her acting work, Teala started her first YouTube channel, TTYL Teala, at age 15, while still living in New Jersey. “I would do skits and music videos and then, I was like, this isn’t really my kind of thing. I don’t want to do it anymore,” she says. Before giving up, though, Teala discovered a new community on YouTube: the beauty bloggers. “I went to the mall, and I bought Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, stuff at all those stores. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I want to show everyone
what I got.’ I didn’t realize that people did [beauty] hauls, but then I uploaded my first haul to a new channel,” she explains, “I just kept doing beauty videos and routine videos.” Teala ended up making her secondary channel (Tealaxx2, the one for the beauty side of things) in addition to her main account, and that’s where her YouTube career really took off. Teala finished up her high school career in Connecticut, while filming the TBS series Are We There Yet?, based on the 2005 film of the same name. The show had a demanding schedule: 100 episodes a year, meaning six table reads a week on top of three episodes to film. She was homeschooled on set during her time on the series, but that doesn’t mean finishing high school was any easier. “There would be days where I would even have any scenes, and I would just come in for like, 8 hours. I would get tweets like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so lucky that you’re homeschooled!’ and I’m like, ‘No, I do the same amount of school as you guys, I’m just in a room and there’s no classes, it’s just one room’,” she says. “It kept me so busy. There really was no room for a social life, because I would
just be doing school, or studying or on set.” After finishing Are We There Yet? and graduating high school at 17, Teala and her family were able to move to Los Angeles, so she could further pursue her career as an actress. “We’d have to do a lot of promotional stuff in Los Angeles for the show, so I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we just have to move here!’” she says. Almost immediately after making the big move, Teala booked a guest star spot on the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up! “That was one of my favorite Disney shows, ever. To work with Bella [Thorne] and Zendaya was really, really fun. I felt like that was a great warm up to Los Angeles,” Teala remarks. Not only that, but working on a set in L.A. was a nice break from her crazy schedule for Are We There Yet? “Coming to LA, where they do one episode in a week or two weeks, it was like a vacation. It was so easy, because I was used to script after script,” she says. She booked a few more guest roles and various spots before landing a job as a regular on the DC Comics animated series Super Hero Girls. Teala voices Bumblebee on the show, which airs on
YouTube. Even though the characters on Super Hero Girls already existed before this series, Teala was able to personalize and play with her character a little bit. She’s done voice acting work before, as Turtle Tuck on Wonder Pets, but this voice allows her to be a little more realistic. “Turtle Tuck’s voice isn’t exactly how I sound, but with this character, it’s kind of exactly how I sound, except it’s cute-ified, if that’s a word,” she laughs. “I just make her more cute and animated sounding. I kind of make her really sassy, which is a lot of fun to do, because she has a lot of cool lines.” Teala attended San Diego Comic Con for the first time this past year, alongside her fellow Super Hero Girls voice actors. “That was actually the first time I got to meet all the other voices actors, and my mind was blown,” she remarks. “Half the cast is so well established in the voice community. One of the girls did the voice of Bubbles [from The Powerpuff Girls] and Timmy Turner. When she did the voice for me, I was amazed, because those are the shows that I’ve liked all my life.” Teala, too, was recognized for her talent as an actress at the convention. “To
be recognized for something other than social media was really cool. People were more blown away by the fact that I was an animated character than, like, ‘Oh my gosh, you do YouTube!’” she says. “Usually, when I get recognized, it’s all about my YouTube videos. A lot of people don’t even know that I act.” Surely, that will soon change, as Teala had a role in a film called School Spirits and alluded to several more projects in the works in 2017. The film, which features both social media stars and established, traditional actors, tells the story of a teen girl who moves into a new, small town to find it haunted by spirits. Teala plays Morgan Walker, who she describes as a “nicer Regina George”. Her character is more than just the resident mean girl, though. “She’s very bossy, but she has a crazy background story. You won’t believe what happened to her family,” Teala hints. “You’ll get annoyed with my character, and then feel her pain, and you’re like, ‘Oh crap, I had no idea she was going through all that.’ She has a lot of layers to her.” The movie came out in late October, and is available through streaming services like iTunes.
On her YouTube channel, Teala has some exciting new collaborations that will be coming out soon. She recently collaborated with another YouTuber, KSI, which might have come as a bit of a surprise to her usual audience. “I feel like collaborations are fun if you do it with people who have different audiences, because otherwise it’s just the same people and everyone’s like, ‘I’ve seen this before’,” she says. Having YouTube fame is quite different than being known as an actress. Fans of Teala’s channels feel much more comfortable with her, even though they only know her through the screen. She thinks that being recognized as a YouTuber is almost more rewarding than being known for an actress, because people are knowing and loving her for just being herself. “They come up to me so differently. It’s not traditional. You’d think we went to high school together or we were best friends,” Teala says. Even with her busy schedule filming and booking new acting projects, Teala’s main goal is to stay on top of her channel, and to have the chance to travel around and meet her fans. NKD
Words by STACY MAGALLON Photos by CATHERINE POWELL
william michael morgan
William Michael Morgan is currently celebrating his first No. 1 single, “I Met a Girl”, but the rising country star didn’t earn his plaque overnight. William paid his dues for years, and isn’t taking his recent success for granted. NKD: How did you first get into country music? WILLIAM MICHAEL MORGAN: I was born and raised in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I heard my first country song when I was either five or six years old. It was “El Paso” by Marty Robbins. When I was old enough to search the internet for my favorite singers and songwriters, I typed in ‘Marty Robbins’ on YouTube. Their sidebar recommended artists like Keith Whitley and Mark Chestnutt. That’s what got me interested in that traditional style of music. NKD: How did you begin singing and writing? WMM: When I was 13-years-old, I got my first guitar. I would lock myself in my room, listen to these artists, then teach myself those songs on the guitar. It wasn’t a long time afterwards that I began to start writing and traveled to and from Nashville. NKD: How did traveling to Nashville further your career in music? WMM: When I was 15, I was in a band. We were playing whatever kind of ballrooms we could, including a bunch of old red neck bars. That’s where I cut my teeth. That’s something we needed to do. Everyone needs to pay their dues, and that was my way of paying them. NKD: When you first got to Nashville, how long did it take you to get your groove? WMM: It took me a while to learn my way around the city. I fell into the groove very easily though. It’s a lot bigger and busier than Vicksburg. NKD: Once you finally paid your dues, what were your next steps? WMM: I met my managers a few years ago. I signed to Warner Brothers Records when I was 19. After that, I moved to Nashville and started writing more and more. Now our eleven-song album, Vinyl, is out, including our number one single, “I Met A Girl,” and we’ll be heading on tour with Justin Moore and Maddie and Tae.
NKD: What was the album preparation like for Vinyl? WMM: We’ve had some of those songs for four or five years since we signed. I’ve had those songs written at such an early time in my career. We loved those songs so much and we couldn’t let go of them. Great songs are timeless.
of live performance. Every artist needs to watch a Garth Brooks show.
NKD: How has the fan response been? WMM: We got really good feedback, and that’s what I wanted more than anything. As an artist, you look for that gratification from the people who love your music. We wanted to have the best first impression we could have because we spent so much time working on this record. And you only get one first impression.
NKD: What are some goals you’ve accomplished since you’ve been in Nashville? WMM: One of my biggest dreams ever was to play the Grand Ole Opry. I played my debut last year on September 5, 2015. Since then, we’ve played 19 times. I’m counting this tonight as another time. This is our 20th time. And then we’re playing again on Thursday in Nashville -- that makes 21! It’s such an honor to play there. From the butterflies and the nervousness, it’s unbeatable. Every time feels like the first time.
NKD: Is there any particular song you’re most excited for people to hear? WMM: I was anxious for people to hear every song in their own way. I definitely have my favorites. The album track, “Vinyl,” would be one of them. That’s one of my favorite songs that we’ve cut. But all of them for different reasons, for sure. NKD: When you’re pushing a single to a number one spot, how do you keep people interested? WMM: I’m thankful for the guidance of the good Lord, a great team, and the people who believe in us and support us like we do. NKD: Are there any other country artists you hope to collaborate with? WMM: I’ve actually developed good friendships with some country greats on the road currently. Drake White is one of them. My best buds is Granger Smith is one of the best guys I’ve ever met. I would love to collaborate with him. Our fans are usually the same people and our brands kind of match as well as our live shows. NKD: How have you prepared for your live shows? WMM: That process is fun -- we learn something every time we open up for someone big or someone small. Watching other artists who have been in the game for a while teaches you something new. We just opened up for Garth Brooks. He’s the king
NKD: What was it like opening up for him? WMM: It was a huge crowd; a dream come true really. I’m an easy going guy so I kinda just went with it.
NKD: Have you ever been starstruck while at the Grand Ole Opry? WMM: Vince Gill said some really nice stuff about us one night. Charlie Daniels walked into my dressing room one time -- that was crazy. I’ve formed a good friendship with Jeannie Seely and her husband too. NKD: What does the next year look like for you? WMM: My team is already booking shows well in 2017 and it looks like a very promising year. We’re taking it day by day, getting back into the swing of writing again. It took me my entire life to get that first album out, so I want as much of a head start as I can get. NKD: Now that Vinyl is out, what are your goals for this record cycle? WMM: I just want to tip my hat to the people who came before us and let them know they’re not forgotten. I want to tip my hat to the working men and women out there as well. They’re not forgotten either. As an artist, we all want that gratification because we work so hard for it. My entire career has been a dream come true. I released my first single and my first number one out in the same weekend. It’s God taking the chess pieces and putting them in the right place, and I’m just really excited to take this ride. NKD NKDMAG.COM
Featuring: Daya, Jimmy Eat World, Olivia Holt, Alli Simpson, Taylor Spreitler, Chord Overstreet, Sadie Robertson, Teala Dunn, Violett Beane,...
Published on Nov 1, 2016
Featuring: Daya, Jimmy Eat World, Olivia Holt, Alli Simpson, Taylor Spreitler, Chord Overstreet, Sadie Robertson, Teala Dunn, Violett Beane,...