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on turning her struggles with mental health into a book


20 CODY SIMPSON & THE TIDE on writing and performing music they’re passionate about

on the current state of hollywood + her role on once upon a time




on what to expect from her new series, alone together


on taking time to find himself + his new music

on his path to country music + his debut album, dark horse

on the stories he hopes to tell on black-ish




on becoming best friends + their goals of longevity

on her pre-dancing with the stars journey

on letting their live show influence their album


on being a part of a television phenomenom CATHERINE POWELL

publisher, editor, photographer, designer, writer










writer writer writer

writer writer writer





Securing a spot on Forbes’ 2018 “30 Under 30” list, 29-year-old Esther Povitsky is undoubtedly one to watch. The Illinois-raised actress co-stars on Freeform’s upcoming series, Alone Together, which she also co-created. “It’s been a really long time in the making,” she reveals. “Originally, Benji [Aflalo] and I wrote a short film; we knew that we wanted to make something together for a long time and we knew that doing nothing wasn’t doing anything for us. We did the short without knowing what would come from it but that’s how Alone Together came about. We wrote the short in 2014, pitched it to networks in 2015, got it picked up as a series at the end of 2016, and we were renewed for a second season at the end of 2017 – right before our 2018 premiere.” Recalling her childhood, the actress explains that she’s always felt empowered in her family. “My parents kept me safe but I wasn’t really ‘parented’ in any way,” she says. “I was always brought up as an equal; there wasn’t much of a divide between adults and children. Since we never had any family game nights, I spent a lot of time watching TV – that’s how I found my love for comedy; Saturday Night Live and Clueless were big sources of inspiration for me.” Though Esther was always a fan of comedy, she was originally set on becoming a dancer. In fact, she even majored in dance through college. “I thought I was going to become a professional,” she says. “Then, one day, I realized it wasn’t really for me. I remember being at the ballet barre and thinking that this wasn’t all there was to me and I decided that I should be doing something else. I realized that the only reason why I loved the class so much, aside from the endorphins, was showing up and being funny for my friends.”

Eventually, Esther made the decision to drop out of school and pursue what she really wanted to do. “I was at a big-time school and it just wasn’t really a fit for me. I didn’t fit in and I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t what I want. I want to go be myself and learn what I want, when I want.’ My parents had lost their job and family had no money and here I was spending all this money in college; I didn’t know why I was doing it – there’s no guarantee that something would come from it. So, I quit school and moved to L.A. to start doing stand up full-time.” The move, of course, paid off. Esther landed a role on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in 2016 and now that she’s shifted gears to becoming a show creator, she’ll be sharing more of herself and her life experiences with fans and viewers. “I’m both excited and nervous,” Esther says about the Alone Together premiere. “I feel like there are a lot of subjects that we cover that I don’t think I’ve really seen before. Personally, there’s a lot of me in it; there’s an episode about wanting to freeze my eggs but not being able to afford it so, instead, I donate my eggs to be able to raise money for the procedure. That’s something that’s actually true for me; I did want to freeze my eggs but I couldn’t afford it so I considered donating my eggs to make money. I’m excited to share that stuff with people and have people relate to it. “ The series, already renewed for a second season, will find Esther and the rest of the writers back in the writer’s room sooner than later. “As soon as we wrapped Season 1, I had started a list of things I would want to do and see in the show if we got renewed,” Esther says. “I’m so excited to get to do more episodes because I have all these ideas that we didn’t get to go through in the first season; I’m so eager to get together

with the writers and share my ideas and see what we can do with it.” With a project that’s so close to her heart, Esther hopes her audience connects with the show in a way that lets them know that they are not alone. “I hope that people watch the show and feel like they saw someone like themselves on TV,” she shares. “That’s all I ever wanted when I was watching a show so I hope this does that for someone. I hope that there are people out there like me who can see this and see that we are alike.” When she’s not working on Alone Together, Esther hosts the female-centric podcast, Glowing Up, with Caroline Goldfarb. “Caroline was a writer on the show and we just hit off right away,” Esther says. “We would just hijack the writers room with our crazy antics and be so excited about random things. We realized that we were both obsessed with 1. Make up, 2. Celebrities, and 3. Food. At the time, I was looking to start a new podcast and I really wanted a show where the format was just two friends talking; it was a no brainer for Caroline and I to do it together.” With every episode being different than the last, the variety of the show is what keeps the listeners coming back. “In some of our episodes, we interview people or bring in an expert or someone that we think is really cool so that our audience can get to know them,” Esther describes. “Other episodes are just us talking about our lives or reviewing products.” Esther and Caroline, who have recorded the podcast live on both the east and west coast, hope to take the show on the road a few more times in this new year. “It’s so much fun to do it live,” Esther says. “It’s different but it’s so cool to be able to meet the audience and the fans. It’s actually a very nice marriage of podcasting and standup; we definitely want to continue this.” NKD NKDMAG.COM






Logan Henderson is a fairly private person, but the one thing he’s willing to share with the public is his main passion – his music. He’s been an active singer for years, but now Logan has reached a new phase of his career where he’s able to control all aspects of it and accomplish goals 08

on his own terms. After taking some time to figure out the kind of person he is and the sound he wants to create, he’s back with new music and a fresh outlook. Logan grew up in North Richland Hills, Texas, and wanted to be part of the entertainment industry early

on. “I wanted to do acting since I was very young,” he explains. “Music had always been a part of my life – I just wasn’t sure the impact that it would have on me as I grew up. I was always writing since I was young and had been in bands back in Texas.” At 17-years-old, he left his home-

town for Los Angeles and that’s when his career took off – and moved at a rapid pace. While auditioning for various roles, an opportunity arose to be part of a boy band. Having a background in rock bands and an interest in that particular genre, the idea of joining a boy band wasn’t initially

appealing to Logan. “The river is wild and sometimes you just have to go where life takes you, and I had just fallen in love with music in between this audition process and I had just trained my ass off trying to sing anything that I wanted to be able to sing,” Logan recalls.

As he started immersing himself more in music and discovering the full capabilities of his voice, he booked a role on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush alongside James Maslow, Carlos PenaVega and Kendall Schmidt. Though it was a “whirlwind” experience from its start in 2009, it enabled Logan to simultaneously pursue singing and acting. It was a job that lasted five years, taking Logan and his co-stars/bandmates around the world, performing sold out shows, releasing three studio albums and starring on four seasons of the show. “Once you get on that pace, everything is moving so fast that you don’t even have time to think about the last thing you just did that was amazing,” Logan says. “We did a lot of cool stuff, worked with a lot of amazing people – once in a lifetime type things – and I think you know, but the real weight of it doesn’t quite hit you until later or until you take a minute to slow down.” In the years following BTR’s disbandment, Logan slowed down mentally and physically, disappearing from the spotlight and rarely posting anything on social media. After being part of such a rigorous schedule for several years, the cleanse was more than necessary. “I spent time kind of figuring out myself, kind of figuring out my sound, figuring out what kind of music I wanted to make, who I wanted to be and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing between the time that I’ve been out from the last show,” Logan recalls. “I keep my personal life pretty private,” he adds. “I continue to do more so after being in the band, because there were so many eyes on us, so even between us kind of ending that NKDMAG.COM


project and moving into my next, it was a big deal for me to have my own space and take a moment outside of all that spotlight.” When Logan released his debut solo single, “Sleepwalker”, in January 2017, it was the first time that fans were able to hear a track that was a true representation of who he is as an artist. ‘“Sleepwalker’ I think sets a good tone for the project,” Logan says. “It’s sensitive. It’s not some club song, it’s emotional, it has a lot of feeling to it and it’s not necessarily the ‘right choice’, and I’m not into making right choices. I’m just into feeling and if it feels good, that’s what I want to do.” Lyrically, sonically and visually, “Sleepwalker” is the result of full creative input from Logan, without the opinions of other people dictating the direction of his work. “You hear the stories of having a major [label] and them kind of taking over, and it was really important for me to do all of this first stuff by myself and really more for me, to figure out how everything works and how much I can push myself to do all the creative – by the way things look, by the way things sound, by the way that we release it, by the visuals, everything involved,” Logan explains. “I very much wanted to get into it, because things became very auto-pilot for me, and it left me feeling kind of numb and I didn’t want to go back to that feeling.” While still in the early stages of his solo career, Logan isn’t concerned with his tracks reaching #1 or performing sold out shows (yet). He just wants to make music he believes is authentic. “I’m not trying to make it big, I’m just trying to make the music break – to focus on the music,” he 10

says. “That’s all I wanted to do. I don’t care about what I came from before. I don’t owe anybody anything, I really don’t. I don’t owe anybody anything, except for just myself – and that’s what I was working so hard to get to. It took a while, of course. That’s why I wasn’t doing stuff for a very long time. It gets you down as well. It took me a while, too. I traveled down a few dark streets before I decided that this was how things were going to be and music is constantly evolving. It still is and it’s ever-changing and that’s how I am as well.” While Logan appreciates fans, he more focused on making music that feels genuine and prevents him from losing his sense of identity. “I think it’s hard to find your way,” Logan says. “I have nothing but love for the people that support me, but I couldn’t let that type of idea about who I was get in the way of who I really was and who I wanted to be and who I envision later on. I said that the only way I can be real with the people is if I stick with that and not try to cater to any audience that I did before. I know I’m going to lose some people, but that’s not my intention. That’s not what I want to do, but I have to show people the real me or else I’m going to fucking self-destruct. I thought, if I’m going to show them something real, then it has to be now or else it’s not going to be ever.” Just as Logan listens to an array of artists – everything from SZA to Nirvana – his own tracks reflect his various musical interests. Each of the three tracks he’s released so far (“Sleepwalker”, “Bite My Tongue” and “Speak of the Devil”) embodies a different tone and style. “My thoughts and my music are both very scatter-brained, and that’s

the way I like it,” he says. “It’s all sorts of different personalities flying through each, so we are taking it as we go along. The music is out, but I have not been out there to show people me and actually sing, doing these shows by myself. Little things, like being in the city and being able to play live shows for people, this is the first time they’re actually seeing who I am, so I really want to get people on board with that, and the music will follow the way it’s supposed to. I’m going to let it fall the way it feels right.” Though music is currently Logan’s main focus, he’s open to returning to acting when the right opportunity presents itself. “I want to make art in whatever capacity I can. Music has obviously taken my attention at this moment, but acting is something that I love deeply and if there’s something that is right for me that I feel like I can give my 100% to, then that’s absolutely something I’d look into. “ “It could be something super left or something that wouldn’t even be on my radar, but if there’s something in the script that I connect to, that’s what I care about,” he adds. “It’s just about the story. That’s what I love most and that’s what I look for in scripts – a great story and a great character that I can somehow fall into. “ Looking ahead to 2018, Logan plans on releasing even more music, traveling, touring and following whatever path he chooses to steer toward. “Live performances are really special to me and I want to show what I have so far,” Logan says. “In this new year, we’ll start breaking down more music, sharing more stories and letting more people understand what this project’s about.” NKD





With boy band In Real Life, the word “humble” is almost an understatement. Take five boys who entered a competition show (Boy Band) solo for the entire purpose of being paired with other boys to make the ultimate boy band. You’d suspect drama, and a decent amount of ego, but for In Real Life, it’s anything but. Comprised of Brady Tutton, Chance Perez, Drew Ramos, Sergio Calderon, and Michael Conor, this boy band is a reminder of what makes young people so passionate about good hearted young men, who are happy to share their gift with the world. “The show itself was about 10 weeks, we worked for about 10-11 hours a day and on our off days we had a new song to learn. So there wasn’t really an off day,” Brady commented. They boys slowly got to know each other as each week went on and new groups were formed, and in the end wound up getting to know one another extremely well. According to Chance, “You know, in most singing competitions there was only going to be one winner, but in this one we knew there was going to be five. So we all tried to get along… The competition was about being the best at your vocals live.” And while the competition itself was a challenge, there is a definite pay off for the quintet of kindness that is In Real Life. “It’s actually really crazy,” Drew explains, “Because you never actually

experienced the fans. I mean, we did during the show; there would be fans that came out to the show, but it wasn’t until really we started traveling from state to state we saw the crowds that we’re showing up.” The craziness though, doesn’t leave a bad taste in the band’s mouth. “It’s a really good feeling,” Drew continues. “People really care about the music that we’re putting out.” Beyond their vocals, the music they put out is truly from the heart. “We’ve been recording nonstop since we got together,” Sergio confesses. “That’s been very special to us because each song is very unique and we’re looking forward to putting an album out next year.” It’s hard to imagine anything but uniqueness as each one of the boys personalities shines so brightly through their spoken word, as much as their singing. Each one brings a different element to the group that you may not be able to place, but understand. “We’re very involved in the process, it’s all us,” Sergio continued. And although the first couple songs were a bit more put together by the label, as the boys truly got to know each other, they were able to insert themselves much more into the music. “The songs are very us,” Sergio insists. And a part of being an “us” is recognizing that individuality in the band. When they won, they felt like they won both individually and

as a band. “Honestly, you go through the process just wanting to have that chance. We were all solo artists before this, and we just wanted a shot,” Michael says. For each member, it was a cool experience getting to know a different group of guys every week, but they ended up with the right group, according to Michael. “Like, my life has changed, but I get to experience it with four of my best friends, he says.” And the rest of the boys completely share the sentiment. “After the show it’s kind of just like… there’s no way you felt like it was a solo thing. You’ve been through everything together,” Drew says. For example, their performance at Universal CityWalk which drew about 1,300 fans when their debut single “Eyes Closed” had just been released the day before. “We didn’t have any idea what we were doing. Everything we’ve been doing we’ve actually been doing together and figuring out together,” Drew adds. “Whenever people talk to us, they always ask us if we’re looking to be as successful as One Direction, and that’s not really a thought of ours,” confides Brady. “We’re just trying to do all we can. We’re trying to make the music we want to make and have fun making it. So it’s not really like we’re trying to be any other boy band that has come before us.” And what does In Real Life do… in real life? According to NKDMAG.COM


Chance, not much. “We don’t have like, a huge amount of time. When we do, we try to get dinners together. We have AirBNB houses so we try to do whatever at the house. Like, we had a pool table at the houses.” “We also nap,” Brady interjects. “Yeah we nap a lot.” And for five boys who had the entire world watch them for 10 weeks, it’s a pretty chilled out and quiet lifestyle. However, they do have their fun. Drew made known the wooden swords he and Chance like to play around with which has video proof but might take a bit of detective work to find. For the boys, having fun with this is a top priority. Advice given to Michael from rapper Logic has stuck with him pretty hard. “He told me that it’s important to always make music that makes you happy, to write from your heart, and have fun doing it,” he says. Not unlike the heartwarming advice Sergio received from the Latin Boy Band champion, CNCO, “I’ve looked up to them for a very long time,” Sergio says, “The night we won I got a message from one of the guys in the band: ‘Always stay grounded, stay humble.’” And while most boy bands their age might see this advice as standard, In Real Life has truly taken it to heart. They’re looking to do this as long as they can, and as long as it’s fun for both them and their fans all the while appreciating every step of the way. NKD 14



jessie paege Words by BRITANY LANDAU Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

There’s no doubt that YouTube has taken the Internet by storm in recent years. With just a click, you can find anything from makeup tutorials to DIY projects to comedy sketches. On Jessie Paege’s channel, you can find a mixture of it all. “Growing up, I was always very shy. I was also in special education classes from preschool up until the second grade and I had an aide with me all the time. It was very hard for me and very isolating, especially as I got older because people started to realize why she was there,” Jessie says of her childhood in New Jersey. Soon, Jessie found herself developing friendships with more outgoing people. “I was able to rely on them and only talk to them. I would cling onto them and it was very unhealthy all throughout elementary, middle, and even into early high school,” she says. This behavior also affected her after school choices. “I did the play because all of my friends were in the play. I did hand bells because all of my friends did hand bells. I struggled a lot with my own personal identity. I never had any extra curricular [activities] that I did just for myself,” she admits. Then, Jessie had to suddenly make the switch to a private school after her brother was

bullied. Being in a private school introduced Jessie to a class size of only six girls and she found it hard to get along with any of them. “It was a very new experience for me because through elementary school, middle school, and high school, I basically went to school with all of the same people and I already knew the people I clicked with. Since I was very introverted and shy, I wasn’t used to having to make new friends,” she says. Because of her school situation, Jessie turned to YouTube. “It was kind of like coping for me. It was a conversation that I felt like I could be a part of without having to actually be part of a conversation,” she explains. “I really loved that and really loved YouTubers growing up, but none of my friends did. That was probably one of the things that I did have for myself.” After switching schools, Jessie became very lonely and decided to pursue YouTube. “I actually started my channel the day after I met the YouTuber, Bethany Mota. In her videos, she was very confident and always talked about how she was shy when she was younger and when I heard that, I was like, ‘Wow, it is possible to be shy and to find confidence.’ It seemed so difficult and abstract to me at the time that I didn’t even think

it was a possibility. That helped me a lot. I was a huge fan of hers,” she says. Jessie tried to emulate Bethany’s channel but didn’t feel like the content she was producing was authentic to her, and she thinks her audience could feel that too. So she switched gears. “The summer before sophomore year, I dyed my hair pink, went out to my family’s beach house, and started making videos that were a lot different and portrayed my personality more. That summer, I went from like 20,000 to 300,000 subscribers,” she recalls. Having blown up on social media, going back to school was definitely different for Jessie. “My school slowly started to get less supportive of my YouTube career, so I switched to online school, which was great for a period of time. I’m an introvert, so it was a really good way for me to learn, but it was kind of lonely. I still needed to find creative people that I could really get along with,” she says. In 2016, Jessie got the offer to embark on a YouTube tour called “Girls Night In” with YouTubers Alisha Marie, Niki and Gabi, and Alyson Stoner. “I had rehearsals all the time, so I moved to Los Angeles to pursue that. It was supposed to be an apartment that I had for just one week a month, so I could have my own NKDMAG.COM



creative space when I went out to Los Angeles,” she says. “That was super hard for me at first since I was very attached to my mom because I was very shy and it was in my nature to latch onto people still.” “It definitely brought on a new type of anxiety I had never experienced before. Growing up, I had selective mutism and, from that, social anxiety, and then I just got generalized anxiety from having to very quickly overcome that being on stage and living by myself,” she explains. “From the tour, I grew a lot as a person, as did my channel. I got to 1 million subscribers which was really cool. By that point, I was doing content that was 100% myself. I could relate to a lot of different people because I had been through social anxiety and then I went through generalized anxiety and I wanted to give my audience the voice that I wish I had growing up,” she says. With a great response from her videos, Jessie found herself on a Twitter rampage about mental health awareness which had her manager asking if she would create a book about the topic. Being only 18-years-old, Jessie knew that she didn’t have enough of a story to write a memoir and instead, decided to go outside of the box. “I decided to do an activity book that not only focuses on mental health, but self love, self acceptance, body image, and it’s also lighthearted too. Basically, everything my videos channel and the whole lesson they portray - I wanted to bring that into the book, but I wanted it to be less about myself and my own

story and bring it directly into my audience’s lives,” she says. Jessie wrote this book with her fans in mind and they will not be disappointed. “I think my fans are going to learn a lot about themselves throughout the book. It’s going to be a different experience for everyone based off of their lives,” she says. “Usually, you read a story and that’s all it is: a story. Obviously, everyone gets different lessons from the same story, but it’s so different because this is beyond just getting something from a story. This is delving into your own story.” Along with her YouTube channel and new book, Jessie is also dipping her feet into acting. “I did acting lessons growing up, not because I wanted to do auditions or be on movie screens or anything. That was far from what I wanted; I hated attention. I did them because I wanted to get more comfortable in my YouTube videos and also just overcome my shyness further. That was something I did for about a year and then I stopped for a while,” she says. “My manager brought it up later on and I was like ‘You know what? I really had fun doing lessons. I wonder what it would be like to bring this part of myself to life.’” Looking forward at the year, Jessie just wants to create content she loves and teach her followers that there is nothing wrong with being different. With her book, Hey, It’s Okay to Be You out now and Think Beyond Pink coming out in 2018, it’s safe to say that Jessie Paege is on the rise and the world should be looking out for what’s coming next. NKD NKDMAG.COM


cody simpson & the tide


It’s a chilly Thursday night in Brooklyn and fans are lining up outside Freehold, anxiously waiting to see Cody Simpson & The Tide perform. The band announced the public show on Twitter and Instagram just hours beforehand, but the short notice doesn’t prevent fans from showing up to the coffee shop, bar and live music venue at the last minute. In October, Cody Simpson & The Tide performed a string of shows across different cities in California, but this is the first time that East Coast listeners have been given the chance to see the trio perform live. When Cody Simpson (guitar, vocals), Adrian Cota (drums) and Shareef Addo (bass) take the stage shortly after 9:30 pm, they’re met with the cheers, screams and applause of fans. Since arriving in New York City earlier in the week, their days have been jam-packed with interviews and performances, but they haven’t lost their energy. Against a backdrop of red, yellow and green lights, the band performs the songs from their debut EP, Wave One. They also give fans a glimpse into their musical inspirations as they cover Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” Sublime’s “Santeria” and The Police’s “Message In A Bottle.” Their performance and setlist perfectly reflect who Cody Simpson & The Tide is – a California-based band that wants to play gigs, make music they’re proud of and spread good vibes. Prior to forming Cody Simpson & The Tide, Cody, Adrian and Shareef were part of separate projects within the music industry. Inspired by Elvis Presley, Cody became interested in playing the guitar at 6-years-old and learned 22

from his father. He simultaneously began singing, then started writing his own music when he was 8-yearsold. He was discovered on YouTube through his covers, joined a record label when he was 13 and parted ways with them a few years later. Cody then released an independent album in 2015, titled Free. When he last appeared on the cover of NKD Mag, he hinted at the possibility of creating a band with some of his friends. As a child growing up in Mexico, Adrian was surrounded by a musical family and started playing the drums as early as age 2. He was in a band with his family members before moving to America to study music at the College of Music Program in Boston. In 2014, Adrian met Cody and started touring with him through 2015. As for Shareef – the Brooklyn native – he started playing bass around age 13 and was later part of the band Aer. When he met Cody and Adrian in 2015, they started playing music together informally. “I had an idea to conceive a band called ‘The Tide’ that I wanted to arrange and try to put together the project,” Cody explains. “When I met Adrian, I knew that we’d be playing music together. We met Reef when we were out doing some gigs and he was playing with another band and we ended up asking him if he wanted to join us and we started doing a lot of jamming and rehearsing down in Venice. We would play for a lot of friends and ended up becoming a trio.” As they continued playing, the thought of creating a serious band seemed more appealing. “We liked playing together so much that we thought that the songs



and the ideas that we were jamming on would only work if they were done by the three of us together, with each of our instruments,” Cody adds. After officially becoming a band, Cody Simpson & The Tide spent one year writing songs, making music and putting together their debut EP. Last September, the band released the four-track EP, appropriately titled Wave One. As a band that originated in California, it’s only fitting that their music mirrors the environment that shaped and inspired them. Throughout the EP, the band fuses rock and roll, blues, reggae and pop to create music that is unique to them. “We thought long and hard about it and we felt that we chose the four that touched on all the sounds that we feel like our music is,” Shareef says. “I see it as uplifting, mystical, rock and roll with elements of pop, surf, blues and psychedelia,” Cody adds. These musical styles, combined with lyrics that are stirred by environmental awareness, politics, poetry and relationships (among many other things) create what Cody describes as “erotic environmentalism” – tracks that are “environmental, but also somewhat sensual.” Sonically and lyrically, these tracks are the epitome of who Cody Simpson & The Tide is. “We didn’t intend for any of them to specifically be a single,” Cody explains. “That’s why we did four, so it was a good introduction to us and a good starting point for us. I feel like it touches on each facet of our sound.” While developing Wave One, the guys combined their separate ideas in order to create cohesive tracks. 24

Shareef would suggest guitar riffs, Cody would bring lyrics and riffs, and Adrian would propose beats and work as the band’s producer. “It’s a blast,” Adrian says. “It’s really cool because it’s not just like producing for a band. I have so much passion for this, so for me, it’s more than just what I’m doing. It’s more than the production. I don’t even know how to describe it, because I have so much passion for this. It’s like a family.” During the creative process, the guys all agree that their songs are also occasionally the result of simply trying to one up each other. “We all try to impress each other, sometimes too much,” Cody admits with a laugh. “That’s usually what makes it so much fun and what has often ended up as a final project, us just each trying to do our best in our own lanes.” When the band went on an eightcity tour last October, they got to perform their new material for fans and receive instant feedback. “It was great because obviously we had only put out our first songs a week or two before that tour, and there were still some hundreds or so people in each city that knew the music already and were singing along and it was very gratifying,” Cody recalls. “It was an unbelievable feeling, especially because it was the first time for us playing these songs,” Adrian adds. “It was unreal. We’ll never forget it.” Moreover, that time on tour was spent playing live music and getting into shenanigans typical of 20-something year olds. “It was two weeks of erotic environmentalism, sorority parties, surfing on my behalf, speeding tickets and great times,” Cody says. “It was a whole

lot of fun.” Looking ahead to 2018, Cody Simpson & The Tide is excited to play more live shows, release official radio singles and a full-length album. “We’re very excited to release new music in the new year and we’re excited to travel to as many gigs as we can,” Cody shares. “We hope to see everybody soon.” As individuals who have had their fair share of experience in the music industry, the guys are aware of what it takes to enjoy their career while also reaching personal goals. “I think you have to have a will to win and you have to dare to be different,” Cody says. “You have to mostly just listen to yourself and be instinctual, and usually everyone’s idea of success and fulfillment is different, so it’s just about listening to your own voice.” “If you want to make music, just play what you love,” Adrian adds. “Don’t play the music that others tell you to do. Just play what you love, because at the end, that’s what success is – you’re doing what you love and that’s what we’re trying to do and it takes a lot of work to get there.” “I’d say envision, be realistic and stay true,” Shareef concludes. The passion that Cody, Adrian and Shareef have for their music is evident in their body language and facial expressions while on stage. They’re carefree, laughing and passionate – and want to continue doing what they enjoy. “We want to become the best that we can be and the biggest that we can be, and touch and influence as many people as we can,” Cody says. “Doing and becoming the most we can be, whatever that is.” NKD


devin dawson



Country and soul, with a touch of death metal rock and roll. In a nutshell, this is Devin Dawson – a musical jack-of-all-trades who once upon a time performed to crowds of moshers and circle pits. Now, he’s bringing that unique edge (along with some killer tattoo sleeves) to the country music world with his debut album, Dark Horse, available Jan. 19.

the close proximity was “cool as hell”, he didn’t truly appreciate its impact until years later. “You don’t gain that perspective until you move away,” he says. “You look back and realize, ‘Wow, I was really lucky to grow up in the energy of that place.” Whether it was due to living in the shadow of Folsom or because it’s in his blood, Devin caught the musical bug

for the next three hours. His neighbor was so impressed he gave it to Devin free of charge. A few weeks later, he, his twin brother and two best friends decided to form a band. With Devin on bass, his brother on drums and his friends on guitar, the four jammed every day after school in the garage, teaching themselves how to write songs and

“You don’t gain that perspective until you move away. You look back and realize, ‘Wow, I was really lucky to grow up in the energy of that place.” While country vibes and creative storytelling are central to Dark Horse, the album strongly hints at the plethora of musical influences that shaped Devin’s artistry, one of which came from his childhood hometown. Devin grew up in Orangevale, California, directly next to the subject of a popular Johnny Cash hit – Folsom Prison. Though he now admits

at the age of 12. He was wandering through piles of disregarded household items at a neighbor’s garage sale when he saw it - a red Stratocaster. Devin had just finished watching Back the the Future, in which Marty McFly performs an epic guitar solo complete with a knee slide. Devin wanted that to be him. So, he picked up the guitar and didn’t stop jamming

play their respective instruments. “We kind of just learned together. Nobody took lessons. We just challenged each other and learned all at the same pace, four people at the same time, which is, looking back, kind of beautiful,” Devin says. The band’s initial sound leaned heavily toward classic rock as they played Creedence Clearwater Revival



and Joe Cocker covers. But as the boys entered their angsty teen years, the music became heavier and heavier. “It’s just funny to look back on the process and how we went from innocent 12-year-olds playing in a garage to death metal head-bangers playing to people beating each other up in the crowd,” Devin laughs. His drastically evolved metal band was signed to a record label after the four graduated from high school. Though Devin toured and recorded with them for several years, his artistry began to lean in a different direction after he experienced a massive heartbreak. He needed a way to cope with his feelings, an outlet to express the words he couldn’t say. Naturally, he turned to what he knew best. “The way I’ve learned to do that is to write a song, to hide behind the guitar,” he says. “Eventually, those songs and that music kind of took over and fulfilled more of my musical heart than the other music I was doing.” Upon realizing he had outgrown the metal scene, especially after suffering one too many “bangovers” (his clever name for when your neck hurts after a night of head-banging), Devin quit the band and moved back to Orangevale to determine if he was destined for the stage or an ordinary career. He tested everything from a job at Home Depot to classes at culinary school. Still, nothing made him as happy as music. “That’s what I was put on this earth to do,” he says. “That’s my career.” After this epiphany, Devin moved to Nashville, diving full force into the songwriting scene while attending Belmont University. For almost four years, he worked his way up the ladder, even signing a publishing deal during his last semester. Devin enjoyed his years spent writing behind

the scenes, a much needed break from the crazy tour life. But he desperately missed performing. After Devin and his friend, Louisa Wendorff, posted a Taylor Swift cover on YouTube that went viral, (even getting recognition from the popstar herself), Devin knew he was destined to not only write, but sing. “Something I’m doing is right here,” Devin remembers thinking. “I need to pursue this voice figurative and literally.” And that’s just what he did. Devin signed a record deal with Warner Nashville and Atlantic New York, and is gearing up to release his debut album on Jan. 19. Though he’s experiencing a number of emotions, the dominant one remains grateful. “I’m just excited to have them see the light of day,” he says of his songs. With Devin’s vast variety of musical tastes, it was only natural for each to be reflected on Dark Horse. Some songs highlight his country upbringing and show off his lyrical skills, others have more of an R&B soul vibe and a few manage to tap into his metal background. “I describe it as every piece of my musical heart,” he says. “It’s really just a little bit of everything of how I grew up and all of the things that I love about music.” Earlier this year, Devin gave listeners a first taste of the album with the single “All On Me”. As it continues to sit at No. 14 on the Country Airplay Chart, Devin is thrilled to see so much support for his first-ever release. “At its core, at the root of it, it’s really just a simple love song,” he says. Ironically enough, “All On Me”, wasn’t written about Devin’s personal love life. Though he normally prefers to write about his own experiences, sometimes he finds himself playing the narrator instead. “For the love songs on the record, for most of them,

I wasn’t in love. It was more about me writing about where I wanted to be rather than where I was,” he says. “If you put it out into the universe hopefully it’ll come back to you.” As for the title track “Dark Horse”, the deeply personal song was written after the record was finished. Though Devin had been in the studio for two months, he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the end result. “I didn’t have that bracketed feeling,” he says. In his spare time, Devin continued to write everyday simply for his own enjoyment, and one day, the song naturally came to him. “I think after the record was done, the pressure was off in a way and I could actually write that song about who I am, what I believe in and what makes me tick,” he says. As Devin anticipates the release of Dark Horse, he’s also preparing to hit the road with country star, Brett Eldredge, who invited Devin to join him on his first headlining tour. As a fan of Brett since his Orangevale days, he’s grateful for the chance to learn from one of his idols. “He’s got soul like no other,” Devin says of Brett. “He’s another guy that’s forged his own unique path in this genre.” During his opening set on The Long Way Tour fans can expect a dynamic track selection played by the same live band used in the studio. “What you see live is what you really get on the record,” Devin says. “We really try to take it to the next level. We’ll jam out, do different arrangements and just feel the energy of the room.” Only time will tell if the country music world is ready for the edgy, black-clad persona of Devin Dawson. But so far, things are certainly looking up for this ambitious dark horse. “We’re going to start 2018 off right,” he says. NKD

sharna burgess Words by CARLY BUSH Photos by CATHERINE POWELL Hair by J ZILKEN Make-Up by MALLORY JO HUNTER Styling by NICOLE VOLYNETS


You may know Sharna Burgess from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, where she was a two-time runner-up. But what may surprise you about the 32-yearold Australian is her humble upbringing, and how her early exposure to nature and athletics later influenced her decision to pursue a career as a professional dancer and choreographer. Growing up in the agricultural town of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, Sharna felt she had an “amazing sense of community and family.” Her parents instilled a sense of appreciation for the outdoors, taking her on ski trips and encouraging her to embrace her adventurous spirit. As an only child who was also a “social butterfly,” they were particularly concerned with finding outlets for Sharna to express herself. “They were always trying to surround me with other kids all the time, and it really was wonderful,” she remembers fondly, adding that team sports felt like a natural fit for her naturally friendly and social personality. Ballroom dancing was also an early love, deeply rooted in her desire to be around others: “It’s always done with another person.” At the age of 13, Sharna’s small rural world expanded when her family uprooted and moved to Sydney. Her father had been given the opportunity to work on the construction of the Homebush Stadium—now Stadium Australia—for the upcoming Olympics, which Sharna recalls as being exciting and overwhelming at once.

“I was this country kid who got smacked in the face with the city world,” she remembers. “It was such a culture shock for me. I went from being this very quiet, reserved, very well-behaved little girl into a world where, to be heard, you had to stand up and shout, and you had to really hold your own.” Even the difference in classroom dynamics were noticeable to the young girl, who had never witnessed students openly disrespect teachers, leave before the bell, and rough-house. It was a chaotic world unlike anything she had ever known, a world she had to quickly learn to navigate despite the many other challenges of early adolescence. It was also, notably, a world in which she had no family besides her parents. “And I had to find friends!” she laughs. But she did find them, despite the fact that her family could no longer afford to enroll her in sports teams, drive her to practice in various parts of the city, and pay for expensive high-caliber dance classes. Nonetheless, the dance community is where Sharna found kindred spirits. When her parents forced her to make a difficult choice and narrow down her options, she settled on a specific niche, one which ultimately led her to much fame and success. “What I was doing really well was ballroom dancing,” she says. “That was where I really excelled. I was good at dance all around, but something about ballroom dance really resonated with me.” The ballroom dance community became her family, and by the

time she reached her mid-teens she had amassed far more than the 10,000 hours often stated as necessary to achieve professional success in a field. “I was training seven days a week, and by 15 I represented Australia in the international championships in Austria.” For all the world it appeared that Sharna was bent on domination. Her immense professional success and promising future were the stuff of most teenager’s wildest daydreams. But Sharna admits that during this time she harbored a secret longing: “I remember being 15 and just wanting to be a normal kid, wanting to hang out at the shopping mall, go to the sleepover, go to the party—and I could never do it, because I was training seven days a week,” she recalls. She began to feel resentful and bitter, even as her parents encouraged her to continue. In retrospect, Sharna recognizes that this was a turning point in her life. During the championship finals, her wish—ironically and unexpectedly—came true, in the form of a massive knee injury that forced her to drop out of the finals and undergo ACL reconstruction. She never finished representing Australia in the championships, but she did get a chance to take time off, rest, and reflect on what she truly needed. “Sometimes the universe gives you things in the most brutal of ways,” Sharna reflects, “It really took its toll on me, but everything happens for a reason, and I spent two years being a normal NKDMAG.COM


kid, being a rebellious kid, doing everything I thought I wanted to do—and then I got to 17, 18, and looked around at the world, and thought, ‘No. I miss it.’” The fact that artistic people require an outlet to express themselves in order to avoid falling into despair is a truth that Sharna holds as self-evident today. But in her young adult years, it was an astonishing realization. It was a valuable enough insight for her to make a sudden move to Melbourne, where she met a fellow ballroom dancer who she instantly connected with. Together, they decided to make an even bigger move. London was a city brimming with glamour and opportunity, and “at the time, it was the hub of ballroom dancing.” It seemed the inevitable next step for both Sharna and her dance partner, and within nine months they had saved up enough money for a relocation. “Being an only child, my parents were devastated,” Sharna says. “From moving out at 17… I think they expected they were going to have so many more years with me.” The prevailing stereotype about only children is their tendency to maintain deep connections with their parents even into adulthood, but Sharna thinks she might be one of the the exceptions to the rule. “I learned to be very independent, and to do things for myself, and I don’t know where it came from,” she says. Perhaps it’s her stubborn streak, or her sincere passion for dance, or the resilience she 34

inherited from her fiery mother—or a combination of all three, Sharna muses. “I’m an all-ornothing person, so once I saw that, once the universe showed me, ‘You want this, and it isn’t anybody else’s decision,’ I knew I had to do this, and nothing was going to stop me,” she says. Once in London, the novelty quickly wore off. Sharna remembers her time in the UK as “two of the hardest years of my life.” She was taking on temp positions in offices in order to afford dance classes and falling asleep at the computer from exhaustion. She remembers times she went without food in order to afford lessons. It didn’t help that the ballroom world was in and of itself an expensive illusion. Its flashiness obscured the harsh reality: Sharna was only one of many dancers who sacrificed basic necessities and struggled to make end’s meet in order to perform. Others may have chosen a seemingly simpler path, but Sharna’s dream overpowered any doubts she had during those years of financial and emotional hardship. “So many times I wanted to give up, but there was always something in me that said, ‘Don’t do it. I instinctively knew that I had to stick out those two years, and I don’t know why.” It became clear once that season of her life came to a close. Not only was Sharna’s visa expired, but she had found a new dance partner. The pair were given the opportunity to tour with a dance company, which they agreed to with the assumption that they would “make some

money, and then get back to competing.” Their ultimate goal was to become worldwide champions, open their own dance studio, and stay rooted in the ballroom community. But something surprising happened while Sharna was on tour. In 2006, as the dance company’s elaborate tour swept through Asia, Sharna realized, “This is my home.” Around this time, Sharna also began to face some of the darkest truths about the ballroom world: the politics, the demands, the expense. The meticulously designed façade kept up the illusion that dancers lived the same life on and off the dance floor. Today, her talent as a choreographer is renowned. If you watch a Sharna Burgess dance routine, you can appreciate the subtlety of her movement, the grace with which she embodies a character. But her confidence in these particular skills, Sharna says, began to develop on that fateful tour one decade ago. She stayed with her dance team for another six years. When they appeared on Broadway in 2009, Dancing with the Stars recruiters were in the audience. They immediately offered Sharna a contract. The next time her schedule permitted it, Sharna joined the show, an experience she still finds “surreal.” Fame may have its challenges, but she believes wholeheartedly in the power of dance on an emotional level. As she takes dancers through what she likes to call a “soul-bearing journey,” she believes she takes on the role of “a guidance counsellor, in a way.” NKD

logan shroyer Words by NICOLE MOOREFIELD Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Life has been a whirlwind as of late for 18-year-old Logan Shroyer, whose role as teenage Kevin Pearson in NBC’s hit show This Is Us catalyzed his rise to television stardom. Born in Torrance, California, Logan moved to Oklahoma when he was 5-years-old. In elementary school, Logan was “the kid in the back who was quiet and weird”, he promises. Aside from a school play, acting wasn’t on Logan’s radar until he moved to Los Angeles six years 36

later. From a creative family, Logan had his first acting class at 12 and loved it despite initial hesitation. He found an agent and started booking roles the next year. “I kind of snuck in through the modeling entrance,” Logan jokes, “And crept toward the theatrical department.” His earliest jobs were commercials, where he learned about the casting process and became more comfortable in auditions. As a young teenager, Logan landed recurring roles in children’s

shows like Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans and Amazon’s Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. At age 17, Logan booked the part that would change his life: joining the cast of This Is Us in 2016. At first, he was billed as a guest star, and only a few episodes had aired, so he didn’t anticipate how influential the show would be to his life and career. “Milo [Ventimiglia] did, but we didn’t believe him,” Logan recalls. Upon meeting Logan and his television sib-

lings, Niles Fitch and Hannah Zeile, Milo implied that the trio would be part of the This Is Us family for years to come. When Logan was promoted to a series regular, he realized Milo’s welcome had been genuine. Because of the drama’s popularity, This Is Us scripts come with intense non-disclosure agreements. As the show has progressed, the pressure to keep secrets has amplified. A limited number of copies are printed, which are then hand-delivered to the

cast. It’s exciting to be part of such an important show, Logan remarks, but that comes with responsibility. “I could ruin my whole career if I wanted to,” he laughs. Embodying Kevin Pearson is a challenging task for such a young actor, but Logan has embraced it wholeheartedly. The show relies on a complicated series of flashbacks to tell a story spanning decades, meaning Logan must balance Justin Hartley’s performance as an adult Kevin with his own while still giving a unique perspective to the character. “It’s a line that you have to toe,” Logan comments. At first, he would prepare by watching Justin act. “I looked at his mannerisms a little bit, studied what he was doing, brought that into it, and then just let it go,” he says. While the portrayals need to be similar, it is equally important that Logan make Kevin his own. “People are actually so different in these times of their lives,” Logan mentions, which allows for more creative freedom. So far, Logan feels his portrayal of Kevin “seems to manifest pretty well” with viewers. “The writers are very confident with cutting back and forth between us, which I think is really cool,” he adds. The material is often very heavy, but Logan views it as an opportunity to excel. “You get a shot to step up to the plate,” Logan says. “What else could I really ask for as an actor?” When a script is especially daunting, the cast and writers support and encourage him. Although he loves the challenges his character provides, Logan’s favorite episode of Season 2 to shoot was the twelfth because it was “one of the first times that I’ve been able to be — not funny – but not be crying.”

Not only has the show developed Logan as an actor, he has also learned about camera angles and lenses from director Ken Olin. Understanding that the takes can have nothing to do with you “gives you a lot more freedom,” Logan states. “[Directors] like options, they like when you give your own input and ideas” during filming, he adds. Logan has also used his experience behind the camera in a supernatural short-form project called “The Relic” that he is co-directing and writing with friends. As a child, Logan loved to learn and always expected to attend college, but with the takeoff of This Is Us, he was tied down after graduation. “I was the kid out of all of my friend groups that would do the [schoolwork] and never ended up using it, which was really funny,” he remarks. But Logan has not given up his dream of higher education and hopes to enroll full-time once his tenure on the show is over. “I’d like to sit down and take some writing classes and English literature classes and then apply that to film,” Logan says. The show’s dual narrative means Logan only works with one subsection of the cast. It can be difficult to see the other actors, he mentions, adding that “I wish that we could all be in the same scenes.” The smaller cast size allows for closer bonds, so the on-screen Pearsons have become like family in real life. Logan is extremely close with Niles and Hannah as well as Milo and Mandy Moore, who play his parents on the show. He attributes the cast’s intimacy to “the emotional journey that you go on” during especially raw scenes. “There’s definitely a special connection I think that we’ll always have because of what we do on the show,” he remarks. NKD NKDMAG.COM



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Adelaide Kane’s career is rooted in fantasy and extravagance. From her reoccurring role on MTV’s Teen Wolf to The CW’s royal drama Reign, much of Adelaide’s screen time has been shared with supernatural creatures or regal family members – both of which remain true for her latest role on ABC’s Once Upon a Time. But off camera, Adelaide is grounded with a strong sense of reality as a result of years of hard work and an acute understanding of the world around her. Adelaide was born in Perth, Australia and grew up a frequent traveler, often accompanying her dad on business trips to places like Japan, Norway and the Middle East. Self-described as “an extremely hyper kid”, it was recommended to Adelaide’s parents that they enroll her in acting classes to 40

channel her energy, which resulted in her doing commercial and background work in her hometown. “Then I hit puberty with vengeance,” she jokes. Once she got through her awkward, acne-clad years, she opted to give it another go. She ended up on a famous Australian soap opera titled Neighbours, which re-launched her career. She worked on Neighbours for six months and then a role on Disney’s Power Rangers R.P.M. brought her to America for the first time. The job helped her secure a visa and she officially relocated to Los Angeles when she was 19. “Everyone always says, ‘Such and such is an overnight success!’ and I’m like, ‘That’s not how that works’,” she laughs, “I’ve been working since I was 16 and it took me a good three years of

doing the odd horror movie or occasional web series to really gain some traction.” Three years into her hustle in L.A., she was feeling frustrated and went back home to Australia. She was experiencing “crazy migraines” and had a nervous breakdown, and was struggling to make rent even while working three jobs on top of auditioning. She decided to give her self one more pilot season and if at the end of the three months she didn’t book anything, she was going to go home. Needless to say, Adelaide never moved back home. She ended up booking and filming three movies that year: The Purge, The Devil’s Hand and Louder Than Words, and at the end of the year booked Teen Wolf. “While I was on Teen Wolf I booked Reign and the rest is, as they say, history,” she says,

“Pun intended.” The script for Reign wasn’t yet circulating when Adelaide first caught wind of the project. She had been in talks with The CW for two other shows at the time – one being The 100, whose lead role went to “the incomparable Eliza Taylor”, as Adelaide describes her. Adelaide’s paternal Scottish roots are what initially attracted her to the role, as well as the idea of doing a historical piece. Once she got her hands on the script, she was immediately interested. “It was a strong female character [Queen Mary Stuart], a queen who was ultimately doomed to a very tragic life, and I thought that was really interesting, because I don’t feel like all stories about powerful women should necessarily end in success,” she says. Despite the near-immediate fan following the show accumulated after its premiere, it wasn’t until the very end of the first season that Adelaide really started to pick up on the show’s success. She was putting in 70 hour weeks on set and barely had any free time to check in and see what people were saying online. “We always had a really loyal fan following, and I have so much appreciation for them because we went through so much on that show, and the characters went through so much and the fans went through so much, and the fact that they stuck by us is really meaningful,” she says. When The CW announced the fourth season of Reign would serve as its last, fans were devastated – as was the cast, given they didn’t find out until they were shooting the final episode. But despite the sadness that surrounds

saying goodbye, Adelaide found a silver lining in the situation. “I know I speak for myself and the rest of the cast that we were all very happy that they let us know this would be our final week or two and that we weren’t coming back to we had an opportunity to really enjoy the comradery we built,” she says. Beyond the cast, Adelaide felt an extreme closeness to the show’s crew who were with them from Day 1. “I’ve never experienced anything quite like that,” she reflects on the family-like atmosphere on set, “I know a lot of people say that about their shows, but there was never any drama; never any problems. It was really glorious.” The group was able to finish and celebrate the show together, as opposed to finding out about their cancellation when it was too late to bid a proper farewell. The last thing Adelaide expected after Reign wrapped was to step into another character embedded in a royal family, but alas, the role of Drizella – the evil stepsister of Cinderella – on Once Upon a Time presented itself. “I was very tired when we finished Reign, but I was ready to jump back into things,” she says. The role immediately seemed like a good time to Adelaide, who describes Drizella (or Ivy Belfrey in the modern world) as a “nasty, mean girl”, but is also able to see how damaged and insecure she is. “You hate her but you kind of love her at the same time,” she says, “I like her a lot.” While most people are familiar with Cinderella’s infamous step sisters, the characters are rarely fully developed, and hardly ever seen as individuals. “I think

people know the step sisters as caricatures as opposed to actual people,” Adelaide says, “So going into this, I wanted to make sure she was her own person and had her own motives, and her own reason for what she did outside of Cinderella and her storyline.” She wanted to make sure Ivy stood on her own as a character without the help of Cinderella’s plot, and to make sure she had the things all humans have: wants, fears, needs and desires. Adelaide knew Ivy’s fate as this season’s villain early on, but to the audience, Ivy was just another pawn in her mother, Victoria Belfrey (Gabrielle Anwar)’s game. But at the end of the fifth episode it was revealed it was Ivy who staged the curse on the heroes and set off the chain of events that landed them in modern day Seattle. “It was fun to play her as this dumb, ditzy, petty, damaged young woman, and then to have that be the kicker” Adelaide says,” Surprise, surprise! Smarter than you think.” While Once is famous for their redemption stories, Adelaide is tight-lipped on whether or not Ivy will get her happy ending. “There was a line in it where I ask Regina [Lana Parrilla] if casting the dark curse made her happy, or if it gave her what she wanted. And she said ‘I thought it did, but I wanted the wrong things’,” Adelaide recalls, “So I think that Ivy’s path to redemption, or Drizella’s path to redemption, will be found through figuring out what she – not wants – but needs. What will really give her a sense of satisfaction, a sense of closure and a sense of purpose.” Adelaide’s last two roles have had more in common than ball NKDMAG.COM


gowns and deception – both Drizella and Queen Mary Stuart are strong, complicated women who stand up for themselves. But playing characters that inhibit those qualities wasn’t necessarily. an active decision on Adelaide’s part. “Yes, [it was conscious] n the sense that most actresses want to play strong female characters, and no in the sense that you only have so much control over the jobs that you do,” she says, “You’ve got to be offered the job in the first place before you can decide to take it.” She notes that unless you’re at the fame caliber of someone like Jennifer Lawrence of Emma Stone who have their pick at scripts, you’re likely only getting one job offer out of 100 attempts. “You take what comes up unless you have any strong objections to the character or the storyline,” Adelaide says, “I think I’ve been quite, I suppose, lucky, in that I’ve had the opportunity to play strong women in the last six years, and I think part of it also comes down to your style as an actress and where your strengths are, and I’m pretty blunt – as a brick to the forehead, as my mum would say.” When the topic of conversation switches to the recent wave of powerful men in Hollywood being accused of sexual assault and harassment, Adelaide doesn’t hold back. “I’m ecstatic that it’s all coming out, and I think I speak for the majority of women when I say there have been times when I haven’t felt safe both in a public sphere or private sphere or a professional sphere, and I’m just really happy,” she says. She admits she hasn’t personally seen a lot with her own two eyes (and that 46

is a testament to the work environments of her projects), but like everyone, has a lot of friends who have experienced sexually harassment both personally and professionally. She’s been intensely aware of the culture that Hollywood had been breeding for decades since she moved to Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. “It’s unacceptable, in any and all of its forms, that kind of abuse of power. And it’s been going on in every profession under the sun. I think it’s probably more prevalent and rampant in the entertainment industry because you have a lot of good looking, charismatic people, there’s a lot of money involved, there’s a lot of risk involved, and it’s a very difficult industry to get a toe-hole in and to work in,” Adelaide says. She credits the superficial nature of the entertainment industry as a big factor in the environment that exists within it. “Now that women can have it all, we’re not only expected to have it all, but to be it all,” Adelaide remarks, “It’s reductive for a woman’s personhood to expect them to be everything instead of just being human, and I think that fosters a lot of insecurity.” Like most women, Adelaide is fully aware that this kind of behavior has been going on for years, and feels frustrated that it took a massive media exposé for people to take it seriously. She’s extremely happy that the conversation is finally happening, but believes it shouldn’t have taken this long. “A lot of people know or knew about more than they’re saying they did,” Adelaide states, “I’m going to get in trouble for having this conversation but it

doesn’t matter. I was warned about having lunch with Harvey Weinstein when I moved to L.A. A lot of people have known about a lot of this business for a very, very long time and have said nothing. And now that there’s this big media shit storm, people are being held accountable for their actions and it’s a crying shame that no one was held accountable beforehand.” She finds it appalling that it took the world finding out about their secrets for the entertainment industry to make any sort of changes and choose to support women and believe women – and to support men who have come forward as victims of abuse as well. “It’s very frustrating. I’m glad that it’s happening, I just wish we could have had this conversation 50 years ago. But it was a different world then, and it makes me very excited for the future of the industry that it can become a safe space for everybody.” As for Adelaide’s future in the industry, she plans to stay in front of the camera for the foreseeable future, but isn’t opposed to stepping behind the scenes as well. She has goals of directing later in life, and recently produced a film called Acquainted with some friends that she hopes will do the festival circuit this year. Looking at the year ahead, Adelaide will finish filming Once Upon a Time this month and get back to Los Angeles just in time for another pilot season. “I’m excited to jump into auditioning next year and see what pops up,” she says, “We all have good years and bad years, and I feel like maybe the universe is holding a project for me and it just isn’t the right time yet.” NKD


marcus scribner Words by MARISSA JOHNSON Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

At only 17-years-old, black-ish star Marcus Scribner is making major moves as a lead on one of TV’s biggest shows. Growing up, Marcus was completely infatuated with academics. He loved reading and falling for the characters and stories in his favorite books. His parents were very invested in him and his sister achieving academically, which only added to his total devotion to his school work. However, after encouragement from his parents to find a hobby and a brief stint on his school’s football team, Marcus decided to try an acting class. He immediately fell in love, admitting that it was the Christmas theme and getting gifts in class that captivated him and kept

him coming back for more. Marcus’ newfound passion for acting lead him to audition consistently until, at age `4 he landed his first role as Junior on ABC’s black-ish. When he first signed on, Marcus had no idea what to expect, all he knew was that they had something that he really enjoyed and he hoped others would like it as much as he did. Although black-ish faced a lot of backlash from the media because of its title, audiences seemed to agree with Marcus and by the airing of the first episode began to understand the meaning behind the controversial title. Four seasons in, he’s fully gotten to know Junior as a character and the writers have allowed him more freedom to NKDMAG.COM


step in and say “I think Junior would say this instead” or “I’m not sure Junior would make that choice”. The cast can ad lib through scenes and create a more relatable situation for the viewers. Over the last three years, Marcus has built a strong relationship with his fellow black-ish cast members, saying “we feel like a real family…sometimes we’re not even faking it” and citing their instant chemistry and a constantly developing bond as a main reason for their success. With the addition of baby Devante in Season 4, the environment has become even better on set, but the dynamic hasn’t changed between the cast in the slightest. “People say never to work with babies or animals but I’m telling you right now they are the greatest [on] set babies I’ve ever met in my life,” Marcus says. He’s getting to work with the babies a lot this season as Junior steps into his role as a big brother to baby Devante. As the episodes progressed, the show started discussing the family’s perspective on current social issues - something that Marcus believes helped people even further understand the reasoning behind the show’s title. Marcus notes that a unique aspect of black-ish is the writers ability to almost predict what is going to happen in the world, or at the least they are hyper-aware of what is going on in the world around them. “They seem to have a third eye situation going on where they’re 50

able to write these episodes before they happen,” Marcus says. Out of every episode of black-ish, Marcus says that the “Lemons” episode that explores how each member of the family coped with the results of the 2016 election and sees Pops and Junior working together on Junior’s monologue performance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “ I Have A Dream” speech, has been one of the most meaningful parts of his experience on the show. “Understanding the true story and getting to deliver that to America [was important] because I still don’t think a lot of people knew the truth about Martin Luther King Jr. and where his views laid before he was assassinated,” Marcus says. He also says that the police brutality episode was another important episode for everyone and one of the most intense and influential that black-ish ever aired. He admits that during filming the atmosphere changed, and it was very intense and emotional. “Anthony even cried,” Marcus says. But they still tried to maintain the fun environment to the best of their ability because the show is a comedy and they didn’t want to stray away from that. In the future, Marcus wants to see the show go more in depth on the current kneeling protests in the NFL and do a full episode on bullying – topics that have been briefly touched upon previously, but that he feels could be further

explored – especially for these characters and their story. For his character, Marcus hopes to see Junior learn to stand up for himself when he’s being bullied, and would like to see him make the trip to visit to his TV sister Yara Shahidi on the new black-ish spinoff, grown-ish. “It’s really all up to the writers, but I think Junior would thrive in the college environment,” Marcus says. Marcus began his time on television right in the middle of his freshman year of high school, but even with four seasons of black-ish under his belt, he’s still a typical high school senior and is still applying to schools, writing college essays and completely unsure about what to major in. He says in his free time he enjoys writing and thinks he would enjoy creative writing in the future as a possible major. His top choices for university are USC, Stanford and UCLA, but plans on deferring college at least a year to continue to work on black-ish. “It’s all time management. On set we only get around three hours to do school per day. It’s really about staying on top of the school,” Marcus says of balancing his work life with his school life. As for what he hopes to do after his time on black-ish, Marcus says he just wants to book some “super cool roles” and as a “comic book nerd” his number one career goal is to be in a superhero movie with his dream roles being Miles Morales or Black Lightning. NKD



mainland Words by AUTUMN HALLE Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

For Mainland, discovering their sound has been the journey of a lifetime. The band, comprised of Jordan Topf (Vocals/Guitar), Corey Mullee (Vocals/Keys) and Alex Pitta (Bass), found each other through chance and discovered a chemistry that laid the groundwork for their unique brand of energetic pop rock. Jordan, the founding member of the band, grew up with a smattering of influences from Michael Jackson to Jimi Hendrix. The latter of which became the jumping off 52

point that inspired him to pick-up the guitar and chase a dream of becoming a rockstar. “I was 15 when I started my first band, The Vox Jaguars, a garage punk band that eventually got signed and toured California,” he says. His first experience touring the West Coast led him to leave his small town California roots, and his first band, for New York City. He met Corey by chance at a party and they found their musical inspirations really jived. Corey’s musical education started at an early age, playing

piano at 7, and picking up a guitar a number of years later. “Rock music became a part of my musical identity at a young age, it really inspired me to pick-up a guitar and start learning,” Corey reflects on his early days. Despite consistently playing music throughout high school it was meeting Jordan that finally convinced him to start playing in a band. From there, fate stepped in again, when Alex and Jordan met while working at the same restaurant in New York. The two quickly bonded over their love of music

and interest in the same bands. “I was always kind of around music,” says Alex of his upbringing. “My grandmother first taught me to play the piano and I began taking classical lessons when I was 8.” His musical experimentation continued with a plethora of different instruments, including the alto saxophone, clarinet and guitar. Like Jordan, Alex put his musical abilities to work touring the West Coast with his first band, before setting aside his musical aspirations to move to New York, where he focused on academia at NYU. When it came time to replace Mainland’s bass player Jordan immediately thought of Alex. Though he had never played bass before he was dedicated to becoming part of the band, and set to work learning the instrument. Mainland, as fans know it, was born. “We started as a garage band and got more polished over the years,” Jordan says of their early beginnings. “It really started working when we signed to 300 Entertainment and toured extensively.” Between touring, and a constant cycle of writing and recording new music, the band worked hard to evolve their sound into what it is today; a hyper-intense infusion of pop hooks, rock energy and punk instrumentation. Their newest single, “I Found God”, is a perfect introduction to who they are. “It’s a love song about connecting to another person and how that can be transcendent,” Corey says of the song. The track is a testament to the effect love has on all of us, dictating our decisions and emotions in a positive and uplifting way, ideally making the

world a better place. It’s a timely message that resonates deeply with their fans. “We get a lot people who want to share their love with us and their excitement about the changes they’re seeing in the world— like the fact that Australia just passed their gay marriage law,” Jordan continues. “There’s energy from people after shows, they want to hug us, they feel relieved that we wrote a song they connected with emotionally.” “We wrote ‘I Found God’ in the spring and then it kind of spawned the rest of the record,” Jordan says of the bursts of creativity that inspired the project. “We’d write two or three songs a month, take a break, and then write two or three more.” New songs comprise most of the new record, but the band couldn’t ignore the popularity of one of their older tracks. “Beggars” is one of the tracks that has stood the test of time for them and will have an appearance on the new record. “We recorded that one and we loved it,” Jordan expands. “It has some similarities to the new material.” The sporadic process of writing and recording has given them plenty of time to test songs out on the road. “Obviously, we want these songs to be really fun for us to play live,” Corey says. “We played a lot of them for the first time on this last run and found that they connected.” “You know, if it doesn’t go over well with the crowd, we know that maybe it’s not going to work,” Alex expands. Touring with pop star Melanie

Martinez on the 2017 Crybaby Tour gave the band an opportunity to test their music in front of new audiences; most of which were experiencing a live show for the first time. “Those kids were really open. For a lot of people seeing this tour was the first concert they’d ever been to so they were like sponges,” Jordan says. It was this audience that first connected to their single, “Beggars,” inspiring them to hit the studio mid-tour to push the song out to hungry fans. Touring has been the bread and butter for Mainland, who find that connecting with fans of different genres and demographics has helped to grow their own fan base. “The younger fans are so engaged,” says Alex. “They post on social media and share our music more than the typical rock fans would.” With over 100 shows behind them in 2017 alone, it’s safe to say that Mainland has worked hard to build a following and craft music that is true to who they are, and what the fans want to hear. The New Year brings with it even more growth both creatively and professionally. “We’re going to try and finish the album in between tours,” Jordan says of their 2018 plans. “We don’t know when it will come out, but we’ll definitely be touring and promoting ‘I Found God’.” For a band on the cusp of major airplay, they have even bigger hopes for the future, including playing festivals and headlining their own tour. But for now, Mainland has realized their creative dreams and watched them evolve into a sound they’re proud of. NKD NKDMAG.COM



NKD Mag - Issue #79 (January 2018)  
NKD Mag - Issue #79 (January 2018)  

Featuring: Adelaide Kane, Sharna Burgess, Logan Henderson, Cody Simpson & The Tide, Devin Dawson, In Real Life, Jessie Paege, Marcus Scribne...