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@nkdmag @nkdmag @nkdmag


STOMP Out Bullying™ is the leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens in the U.S. An award-winning pioneer on the issue, it is the most influential anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization in the country and beyond. STOMP Out Bullying™ focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country. It teaches effective solutions on how to

respond to all forms of bullying; as well as educating kids and teens in school and online, providing help for those in need and at risk of suicide, raising awareness, peer mentoring programs in schools, public service announcements by noted celebrities, and social media campaigns. An additional focus educates parents on how to keep their children safe and responsible online. Both the STOMP Out Bullying Program™ and its Annual BLUE SHIRT DAY™ WORLD DAY OF BULLYING PREVENTION initiative brings awareness and educates kids and teens, parents and schools about

the issue. It offers hope for every student who experiences the harmful effects of bullying and teaches parents to keep open communication with their kids and teens and to look for signs. It also educates school administrators across the country, who have swept this issue under the rug for far too long. Funds raised for the campaign go towards helping kids and teens in need of help and at risk for suicide, in-school education, public awareness and education, a dedicated web site, brochures and materials to assist bullying and cyberbullying prevention education and peer mentoring in schools.




on finding her voice and saying “yes” to opportunities

on his upcoming album and the end of the vampire diaries

on accidentally becoming a band and what’s to come


28 MARGARET ANNE FLORENCE on the first season of sun records and her hopes for a second


on captain swan, carrie pilby and the importance of having hope




on getting through tough times and penning her own new chapter

on famous in love and not taking “no” for an answer

on touring, family and his new album, spark


on abandoning dance for acting and chicago justice


on riverdale and portraying a powerful female character

on being in control and writing “getting over you”


publisher, editor, photographer, designer, writer










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Throughout the history of country music, there has been a number of powerful female artists who truly related to the life struggles of their fans. Martina McBride sang about escaping domestic abuse, while Shania Twain touched on being a teenage mom. Country artist, April Kry, is following in her idols’ footsteps, making a name for herself by creating honest music that she hopes will touch the hearts of fans. April’s passion for music is in her blood. Growing up in Connecticut, she spent much of her childhood in the church, where her dad was a worship leader. At first, she listened to mainly gospel and Christian music, but eventually branched out into singer-songwriter. After her dad showed her the basic chords on the guitar, which gave her the skills to write her own music, she discovered her true passion. “When I started writing myself, I kind of fell into country. I just loved the storytelling aspect of it, and so I ended up in country and that’s where I am now,” April says. After graduating from high school, April decided to follow her passion for music instead of attending college like other teens her age. She moved to Nashville, a town far different from the familiarity of Connecticut, and jumped headfirst into the music industry. When she got to Nashville, April worked tirelessly to find her own sound. She immediately hooked up with an artist development company, and attended writing sessions with various artists and songwriters. “Artists are always evolving and developing, so I was just trying to find my sound at that time,” April reflects. She tried some pop tracks, but knew they weren’t for her. After spending more time writing and discovering herself, she solidified that country was the direction in which she was meant to go. While creating her first EP, Music Speaks, and eventual full length album, Up From Under, April pulled heavily from the messages of her childhood idols. When she was 12, April’s mom bought her Martina McBride’s CD, and she immediately fell in love with her voice and the deep meanings

behind her songs. Martina covers everything from cancer to domestic violence, tough experiences that real people go through. “It just really touched me growing up, and I was like, I want to be an artist like that. I want to have the passion that she has,” April says. While shooting the music video for her single “Get Ready To Miss Me”, April decided to incorporate a fun spin on her influences from 90’s country. The video focuses on a little girl who represents April, having a blast in her bedroom listening to the CD’s of Shania Twain and Martina. April wanted the video to be out of the box, and even dresses up like her idols, rocking Shania’s denim outfit from her classic “Any Man Of Mine” video. Though it’s clear country is April’s passion, she likes to keep things interesting on YouTube by putting her own spin on covers from various genres. “I don’t like to limit myself to just country,” April says. “I love country, but I like to put my own flair on different covers.” Fans can find everything from “Love Yourself ” by Justin Bieber to Maren Morris’s “80s Mercedes” on April’s channel. Her favorite cover to date is “Chains” by Nick Jonas, who she had the pleasure of closely working with on a special project. April received a call one day from none other than Kevin Jonas Sr., the father of pop band, The Jonas Brothers. He informed her he was looking for a female artist to record a song that he and Nick wrote 10 years ago called “Daddy’s Little Girl,” a touching track based on a true story about someone from their church. Kevin heard her cover of “A Broken Wing” and knew she was the perfect vocalist. “Nick wanted to write this song for them which I thought was so sweet, and at such a young age he’s just so musically talented,” April says. “So I listened to the song, and I was like, absolutely.” Earlier this year, April released her latest single “While We’re Young,” a catchy track that she had been itching to be released for a while. A few years ago, April organized a writing camp at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, pulling together writers and

producers solely for the song. It was April’s first write of the day when the idea for the song came to her. After hearing a chord progression from producer Micah Wilshire that everyone loved, the song quickly blossomed. “We literally did the demo that day in the room, and we were just like, oh my gosh this song is amazing,” April says. “So it was one of those magical moments where we all came together and we’re like, wow this is something special.” April and her team’s passion for the song translated to the fans, who gave nothing but positive feedback. For April, this is what makes it all worthwhile and reaffirms why she is in the business. “Music was my escape growing up. I listened to a bunch of my inspirations who got me through a rough patch in my life. This is what I want to do. This is what I want to be for other people,” April says. “While We’re Young” kicks off April’s new beginning as an artist as the first track of her upcoming EP. Right now, she is in the process of choosing songs that are the best representation of her current self as an artist. “It’s definitely going to have a lot of different subject matters, which I love. Martina does that with her music. She doesn’t just talk about love, she talks about different things that we go through in life,” April says. “So many people can relate to it, or if they’re going through a situation, the song meets them where they’re at.” Though 2017 isn’t even halfway over, April has a jam-packed agenda for the remainder of the year. Aside from finalizing her EP and filming a music video for “While We’re Young”, which will be released towards the end of May, she is gearing up for CMA Fest and looking to get herself on a tour. After years in the industry, April has learned a thing or two about the road to success, which she hopes young girls with big dreams like herself can take away from her music. “At the end of the day, you have to live with the music that you put out,” April says. “So I would just say to trust your gut and be yourself.” NKD NKDMAG.COM


bea miller



When musician Bea Miller first met with NKD in 2014, she had just released her debut EP, Young Blood, and was in the process of creating her first full-length. Now, after putting out Not an Apology in 2015, she’s in the midst of releasing her second album – a trilogy in three chapters that documents the honest hardships of her life. Bea started singing as a child, and first considered making a career of it as a way to help her family out of a hard time. Her parents were in the middle of a divorce when they both lost their jobs, leaving teenaged Bea stuck in the middle of

ing music videos, just in my room, and I was starting to learn guitar,” Bea explains. One day, she was singing “I’ll Make You Feel My Love” by Adele in her bedroom, when she heard someone crying on the other side of the door. “I opened my bedroom door, and one of my moms was sitting on the stairs, crying, and she was like, ‘I didn’t know that you could do that,’ and I didn’t really know that I could do that either,” she says. “I thought that singing was an unrealistic dream, and that was when I decided that maybe I could use this to help my family.” Bea and her family were on the

wood Records at age 15. Being so young and new to the music industry, Bea didn’t write much of the music for her first album. “I co-wrote a couple of the songs, but I didn’t really write it, it wasn’t really from my own perspective,” she says. “I didn’t necessarily know how to write songs, I hadn’t really tried before. I was kind of scared of my feelings. I was an introvert at the time.” She felt that the album wasn’t authentic to her and who she was as a person. “I had fans coming up to me, like, ‘Oh my god, this song means so much to me, and I really appreciate you for writing

“I want to be honest, I want to be real, and I want to be the one who Is personally helpIng people and movIng them, so that eventually led me to wrIte thIs album.” fighting mothers. “They really hated each other, and it was really hard to be around them both together, but because they were both jobless, they couldn’t afford to actually get their own places,” she says. “So my siblings and I were forced to live in a house with two parents that hated each other, and were constantly fighting with each other.” She found a way out through music. “I woke up one morning, and I was like, ‘I feel like I could do something to help this situation and make it better.’ I didn’t really know what it was, at that point, but I started getting really into singing, and I was mak-

verge of losing their home when she decided to audition for the 2012 season of X Factor. “It sounds kind of shitty, like I was just doing it for the money, but I wanted to take care of my family, and let them keep their house,” she says. The winner of the show not only gets a $5 million prize, but a record deal. “I was like, ‘Cool, I can follow my dream and do what I love to do and I can also help my family at the same time’, so I thought that that was perfect,” Bea explains. Though she didn’t win, she made it through to ninth place and landed a record deal with Syco Music and Holly-

it,’ and I felt like a liar,” Bea admits. Through that, she came to realize that she had something to say, something representative of herself and her experiences that she’d been afraid to communicate in the past. Bea decided that for her next album would write every single song herself. “I want to be honest, I want to be real, and I want to be the one who is personally helping people and moving them, so that eventually led me to write this album,” she says. “I feel really good, I feel really inspired and really happy, and I feel like when people tell me that my music has helped them, it’s actually



really meaningful to me, because I wrote it and I put it out there, not only for myself but to help them.” So far, only Chapter One: Blue, the first segment of the new album, has come out. The remaining two will be released over the course of the year, both grouped according to colors: Chapter Two: Red and Chapter Three: Yellow. When Bea was thinking about creating the new album, she reflected a lot on the way people listen to music now. “I listen to full albums because I make music, and I care about music, and I want to know the full story, but a lot of people don’t listen to full albums. And as a fan, I only get 12 songs a year from people, and I get them all at once, and then there’s no further connection after that, and personally, I think that’s really frustrating,” she explains. She wanted to release an album’s worth of music, but in a way that would allow each song would get its own moment in the


listener’s experience. After someone at her label presented the idea of releasing it in segments, with each piece functioning as its own EP, she decided to take it a step further. ““I see music in color, and I was, like, ‘Okay, cool, how could I group all of my songs together by the color I see when I listen to them’? The songs that I started seeing colors for when I listened to lyrically had a lot of things in common,” she says. The album was inspired by Bea’s realization that a relationship with someone really important to her wasn’t working out. The color groupings, each related to a different emotion, follow the course of that experience. “Chapter One is some of the songs that I wrote during that initial sadness and that initial loneliness, and kind of regret of realizing somebody that you really care about does not work for you anymore,” she says. “Chapter Two is red, which is the songs that

I wrote when I was in the middle of that, when I was like, ‘Okay, this is the reality, and I’m kind of angry, and I wish it wasn’t happening, but I’m also empowered and inspired to move on and be a better person and develop as my own self ’.” The songs for Chapter Three haven’t been grouped together yet, because Bea wants them to be current with her life, but they’re going to represent the aftermath and the end of the story. “It’s where I’m like, ‘I’m moved on, I’m done with this situation and I’m better for it,’ It’s not like the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s where I’ve overcome this one problem and I’m better prepared for the next,” she explains. The final chapter will be the release of the completed album. “We can call it ‘Spectrum,’ or something along those lines,” Bea says. “You take all of these three colors and put them together and get any color in the entire spectrum of colors,

the same way that you experience sadness and loneliness and anger and happiness in order to be the best and most well-rounded version of yourself. It all coming together in the end is really, really special and I’m really exciting to be sharing something so detailed with everybody.” Her goal, through this album and her work as an artist and person in general, is just to be connected and communicative with as many people as she can. In the space between her first and second albums, and in her growth musically and personally, she came to find that openness and honesty is crucial. “I became more comfortable with myself and my feelings and my thoughts, and I became more obsessed with the idea that when you share something that isn’t necessarily awesome in your life, that’s kind of embarrassing to share, it actually helps other people,” she explains. “A lot of other people are experiencing the same things and they don’t want to talk about it. If one person talks about it, it helps everybody.” Bea plans on putting a tour together for later in the year, following the release of the second portion of her album. “I want to travel, I want to interact with people, I want to hear what they think about the music and how it makes them feel, and how it has affected them, whether that be negative or positive,” she says, “I want to connect with people face to face.” Growing up, she never felt that there was a female artist who was fully honest, who could completely connect with her audience and their experiences. Through putting out music and listening to her fans, she wants to be the artist she always dreamed of finding as a child. “I just wanted somebody to say, ‘Life is great, but sometimes it really sucks, and that’s the truth,’,” she says, “But I never had that, and that’s why my relationship with my fans is really powerful, and anytime they say anything about my lyrics being meaningful to them is really special.” NKD 12



charlie depew Words by VANESSA SALLES Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Starring on Freeform’s new series, Famous in Love, Charlie DePew is set to become a name that you won’t soon forget. The actor, born and raised in Pasadena, California, discovered his love for the craft at a very young age. “As a child, I was always an avid story teller,” he says. “My dad’s a very logistical thinker and my mom’s a very artistic one; I’d say I’m 50/50 with that. I’ve always been very vocal and always wanted to perform and do theater.” Though Charlie caught the acting bug pretty early, it wasn’t until he visited the set of 2009’s Jack and the Beanstalk, a movie his uncle was producing, that he decided acting would be his future career. Recalling his time on set, Charlie credits the two leads, Colin Ford and Chloe Grace Moretz, as a major factor in his decision to pursue acting. “We were all around the same age,” he shares. “Being on set with them and being able to hang out in that environment definitely inspired me. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be an

actor.” Having made up his mind, Charlie started going to audition after audition. After landing a guest spot on Disney Channel’s Shake It Up!, he made an appearance in the series’ pilot episode alongside his current co-star, Bella Thorne. “That was in the seventh grade,” he says. “Who knew I would be working with Bella again?” Following his guest-spot, Charlie went on to add impressive roles to his resume that included The Amazing Spider-Man, Mad Men, Awkward and, in his senior year, The Goldbergs. Being the team captain of his school’s water polo team, balancing his time between school and work proved to be difficult. “Senior year was super hard to manage,” Charlie says. “I was recurring on The Goldbergs and had to make sure I was available to do both. Luckily, the schedule for both worked out perfectly.” As if his plate wasn’t full enough that year, Charlie, in a true entrepreneurial fashion, started his

own business and soon became the founder of Respark, a company that specializes in social media promotion and app development. “My buddies and I started managing themed Instagram accounts our senior year and we wanted to change the game of advertising,” he says. “That’s what Respark does. We also came up with a new product that’s still in development but will hopefully be out in June. It’s called Toy Box and we’ve been working on it since 2014. It’s going to be a platform where you’ll be able to play integrated games for prizes and freebies. We’re very excited about it.” Fast forward about a year into what would’ve been Charlie’s freshman year of college, the young actor got a call to audition for Famous in Love. “I sent a taped audition and three months later, I got a call saying they wanted me to test for Jake Salt. I didn’t end up getting the part and in December of 2015, after the pilot was shot, they found out that the show was NKDMAG.COM


picked up but that the cast was put on hold. There ended up being a re-cast for the character of Jake and I knew this was my second shot.” However unlikely as it is for an actor to win a role that he was already passed for, Charlie beat the odds. “Three weeks into their new casting call, they had already seen 1,500+ different guys. They ended up calling me said they wanted me back for a studio test which actually turned out to be a chemistry read with Bella,” he says, “The next night, I was set to chemistry read with Carter [Jenkins] and things did not go well. At all. I walked out of the room feeling super defeated but the casting director ran out and asked me to come back because she thought I could do better. It went great the second time around but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I tried to get my mind off the whole thing and then got a call from my manager telling me that I got the role and to be on set the next day.” In a quick turn of events, Charlie went from wanting to give up to landing a role in what’s sure to become Freeform’s next big hit. “I was very close to just taking a break from acting,” he says. “After losing the role the first time, I actually went out and auditioned for The CW’s Riverdale. It was between me and KJ Apa and I think we all know how that ended up. After that, I was really ready to just step away from acting for awhile; thank God I didn’t quit when I thought I would because everything worked out the way that it was meant to.” Famous in Love, which is already available to stream in its entirety online, has quickly become a fan-favorite with a massive social following. “I love that the entire season is being streamed online,” Charlie adds. “This is the type of show where you don’t want to wait a week in between episodes. With a cliffhanger at the end of every episode, you want to keep going and allowing fans to be able to binge-watch the whole thing is great. In today’s 16

time, it makes a lot of sense to have that sort of format.” Describing his on-screen character, Charlie spoke of an ambition that’s much like his own. “Jake’s got big dreams,” he says. “He’s a screenwriter and an aspiring director.” To make things even more interesting, Jake’s also caught up in a love triangle – a major factor in what makes the show so addictive. “It’s a tangled relationship between the three of us,” he says. “There’s tension between Jake and Paige [Bella Thorne], for sure. I think it’s going to be big with the fans because it’s always fun being able to pick teams. All the other characters have their own things going on too which is fun to watch.” The show, which airs new episodes immediately following Pretty Little Liars, is very reminiscent of the mysterious seven-season drama. “It has the same tone,” Charlie shares. “It’s made from the same people so you definitely get a lot of the same vibes. Sex, relationships, and love triangles are a big part of it.” Though the show is still airing its first season, it’s likely that Freeform will be quick to pick up the hit show for a second season. “I think that’d be awesome,” Charlie says. “If there’s a Season 2, I think it would definitely have a lot more mystery to it. Fans would see the crash and burns of certain characters and, of course, Paige would be a superstar. It would be very interesting to see where the characters are at and what’s happened since the finale. Marlene [King, the show’s creator] is confident that we’ll do well and that’s definitely comforting.” As for what Charlie has coming up, the actor will be staring in The Whole New Everything, a drama that also stars J.K. Simmons, Odeya Rush and Spencer List. “The movie will be out later this year,” he says. With the anticipation of new Famous in Love episodes, the launch of Toy Box, and the release of his latest feature film, 2017 is shaping up to be an eventful one for Charlie DePew. NKD



jackie lee Words by AUTUMN HALLE Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Jackie Lee is finally in control. And that is no small feat. With six years in Nashville and two record deals under his belt, he’s spent most of his career searching for a sound uniquely him. With the release of his newest single, “Getting Over You”, he’s finally found that. But getting there was an adventure in life lessons. Raised in East Tennessee, country music was just as much apart of his life as church was, thanks to his music-loving parents. The two of them brought a plethora of influences into the house, encouraging musical experimentation and exploration of genres. For Jackie, his parents were the foundation for the music that would eventually define him. “My dad loved country music. He had never heard of Michael Jackson until he met my mom in 1987, and he didn’t want to like anything other than country,” Jackie says of his early influences. “But my mom was ‘80’s pop, hair bands and Michael Bolton, all the way. That fusion of music is where I landed.” In fact, the family loved music so much that they spent some time in Nashville, where his father pursued a short-lived country music career. Though that career didn’t pan out, the family, consisting of Jackie and his younger brother and sister, continued to make music a huge part of their lives. After his dad started a church in 1998, the family joined a gospel band, piling into a van on the weekends and playing gigs at churches across the south east. “I was 6 at the time, I played the drums and was the lead singer,” Jackie laughs at the memory of wanting to be like Phil Collins, a musical influence from his mother’s end of the musical spectrum. “That was my first touring experience. It was tough, I remember laying in the middle seat of the van 18

trying to sleep before we had to be back at school on Monday.” Music wasn’t Jackie’s only influence. When he got to high school he joined the world of athletics, playing for the incredibly competitive school football team. “You know Randall Cobb? He plays for the Green Bay Packers now, but he was our quarterback. We won the state championship four years in a row,” he reflects. “We were really good. It was hard not to live off of that high as a 16-year-old kid trying to figure things out.” But eventually, he came to a crossroads, knowing he had to make a decision about the future. Would it be college? Athletics? Music? The moment of clarity came in his sophomore year, when asked to sing at a church event for which he composed and performed a song all by himself. Being on that stage, singing a song of his own creation, lit a fire in him that he couldn’t ignore. At the start of his junior year he told his parents he wanted to move to Nashville and pursue music. Not long after, he was working with a producer out in Nashville, who tasked him with writing a song a week to prepare him for the Nashville songwriters grind. Though his parents were supportive, his father’s failed music career still sat in the back of their minds. When graduation came around and Jackie began planning his move, his father came to him with some hard advice. “My dad pulled me aside and said, ‘I want you to understand something. We will support you no matter what, through thick and thin, good times and bad times, but don’t come home crying when the music business spits in your face. You have to wipe it off and carry on’,” he says. Jackie didn’t know then how much those words would matter.

Not even six months after moving to Nashville, Jackie found himself signed to a record deal with Big Machine, working with a producer and a manager that had success in the early 1990’s. It felt as if the world was at his fingertips. It felt as if he’d bypassed the usual industry grind and jumped right into a career. And then reality came crashing in. “We did a whole record for Big Machine, and it was not good, and I knew it. My team was always fighting with the label.” Jackie continues, “I’m new to the industry so I didn’t want to overstep. Looking back, I wish I had gone into the label and been like ‘I don’t like this either!’ But I didn’t and they ended up dropping me before we released anything.” The frustration about being dropped was short lived when Jackie was quickly picked up by Broken Bow Records. Only, with the same team on his side, it felt like history was doomed to repeat itself. He went into making music based on the direction of his team, rather than what he wanted to do, feeling stuck in a cycle that he didn’t know how to get out of. In his early 20’s, he didn’t yet have the confidence to speak up for himself. Broken Bow released a single, but it did poorly on the charts, and Jackie felt disenchanted by the industry and frightened by the very real possibility that he was going to get dropped again. It was at that moment that he made one of the hardest decisions in his life. “I went to the owner of the label and said, ‘I’m sorry, I should have done this five years ago, but I didn’t know any better. So I’m leaving my manager and producer.’ I was very broken and vulnerable,” he admits. Looking back, he’s thankful for the experience, if only because it taught



him how to find the inner confidence he frequently struggled with. “That was my big ‘spit in the face’ moment. I thought I was doing the right thing, I thought I was doing everything right by always saying yes. It didn’t work out, and it was because I didn’t know how to stick up for myself.” The split from his team left him at a crossroads in his career. He felt lost and misguided, unsure of the message he wanted to send through his music. But rather than sulk, he took the time to explore songwriting and dive deeper into the emotions and experiences that moved him. Enter “Getting Over You.” “That was the catalyst,” he says. “I wrote it with Paul DiGiovanni and Brent Anderson. I love both of them and I trust them, they knew what I was going through and where I was at, and they just kind of saved me. As soon as we wrote it I knew it was special.” “Getting Over You” is a moving break-up song that centers on the realities of dealing with painful memories. With a pounding pop beat and a whispering guitar, it’s the perfect intersection of pop and country influences. Jackie’s warm baritone voice and powerful emotive qualities come together in such a distinct way. It’s instantly clear, he found his voice. After facing a traumatic year, both personally and professionally, his electric excitement around the single shows a noted change in the artist. He’s more positive, eager to get his music out in front of people for the first time in his career, and bright eyed about where the future will lead him. “It definitely builds confidence,” he says to the response of the song. “It puts a cherry on top of the last two years.” He’s currently on Dan & Shay’s Obsessed Tour, during which he released his first EP. It marks the beginning of a new phase in his career, one where he’s allowing the music to guide him in the right direction. “You need to have a song that tells people who you are. ‘Getting Over You’ is finally that for me,” he says. The music industry has taken him on a journey full of winding roads and dead ends. But now, Jackie is in the driver’s seat. NKD 20



michael malarkey Words & Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

In March, the much-adored, supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries came to an end after eight seasons. For Michael Malarkey, who joined the show in Season 5, the series wrap gave him an opportunity to focus on his first love: music. Michael was born in Beirut, Lebanon in the middle of one of the worst civil wars the country had ever seen. His family was evacuated by the U.S. Marine Corps, because his father was American, and eventually settled in England, where he lived with his mom while his dad job-hunted in the U.S. His dad found employment in Yellow Springs, Ohio and the Malarkey clan relocated again – this time permanently. Michael kept his dual citizenship and after high school, travelled to London to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, which is where he first fell into acting. Growing up, though, Michael was much more interested in music – spending his youth in various bands and working at a local record shop. He fronted heavy bands and functioned as the singer/ screamer, but eventually grew tired of producing that type of music and started absorbing the works of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, which led to him teaching 24

himself to play guitar. Michael ended up creating three full-length records worth of songs in his friend’s basement – none of which made their way too far out of the basement. But while music is what brought him to LAMDA, he ended up immersing himself in the world of theatre and falling in love with Shakespeare. “I loved the idea of submerging myself into another world or headspace,” Michael says. Still to this day uses acting as a way to learn about people different than himself. Following graduation, he picked up an agent and started working the theatre circuit in London. In 2011, he portrayed Elvis Presley in Million Dollar Quartet and started to feel like he could really carry his own on stage, as a musician. So Michael started working with a music manager and writing more and more. He’s released a few EPs over the years, but his debut full-length record will be out later this year (likely fall) with the first single, “Mongrels”, coming out May 5th. One song from his basement days made its way into a recording session for the album, but didn’t make the final cut of the album. The 12 songs that will be released are all relatively new. “Everything about

this record is kind of my time in Atlanta, and how I almost, nearly lost my mind, I suppose, and went through the darkness again pretty intensely,” Michael says, “And came to grips with the ability to find the peace within impermanence.” He feels that the overall theme of the record and the songs will come through once people hear it. “If it’s not apparent to you, then listen a little harder,” he says, “There’s a reason why we put these feelings and emotions into song form. It’s because we can’t write about it; we can’t talk about it.” Fans got a bit of a teaser when Michael’s song “Scars” was featured on the last season of The Vampire Diaries, during a scene where Stefan (Paul Wesley) fully succumbs to the demons inside of him and chooses to embrace evil. A bit of foreshadowing, if you ask me, given that a few episodes later Michael’s character Enzo died by the hands of Stefan. Showrunner Julie Plec was a huge fan of the song and asked to put it in the episode, so Michael opted to put it out on iTunes the same day. “It’s such a dense, big song, you can’t follow it up immediately,” he says. The song fit so well with the scene that it would be believable that Michael had written it specifically for that purpose, but it was actually the opposite.

Julie wrote the scene around the song so she could use it, and used almost the entire song instead of the usual cutting and pasting that goes into a sync on television. For this release, Michael is opting to keep things independent. “The scene right now in the music world is so plastic, it’s like going into a candy store and you have all these options and you pick out a candy bar, and you eat, and maybe you’ll go back and get that one the next time but usually you want a different one and you just eat your way through the candy store until you’re even more unsatisfied than you were before,” Michael ponders, “This record, for me, is just so much of my life put into just under an hour of time and it literally is blood, sweat and tears, and for people to treat it like it’s candy is a hard thing to think about.” He wants people to listen to it with open ears and digest it properly. With most people consuming music via Spotify playlists these days, the idea of putting together a cohesive record that needs to be heard all the way through is a rare, and somewhat risky outlook. But Michael knew from the beginning that he wanted to make a record – not a collection of songs. But there is an eclectic collection of influences within the songs that does al-

low for individual consumption, but more importantly, they all fit together. The official record-making process began in the fall, and studio time was scheduled around Michael’s Vampire Diaries commitments. Last summer, in between seasons, Michael toured around Europe and will definitely be brining his new songs on the road once the record is out, but that all depends on if he books any acting projects in the next few months. He’s still consistently auditioning and going after roles now that the record is complete, and will be doing listening parties and a few shows throughout the summer. “Hopefully there will be some stuff dotted throughout the year and hopefully it won’t be right at that time of when I want to do the tour,” he says, “The difficulty of having both professions is you have to feed both evenly, in a way, and keep the buzz going.” So far, 2017 is going according to plan, and much of that is due to the fact that before filming started, Michael knew this would be the last season of The Vampire Diaries, so he was able to work his musical goals around it. “Everyone always says it was bittersweet, but it was just fun,” Michael says of the last season, “It was nice to have those last moments with people

and really appreciate it and be present with everybody.” Michael also appreciated the ability to bring Enzo’s story to a close, and was proud to portray a character who had gone on such a dark journey, but still was able to find love and happiness with another person. “After he died he was still trying to convince Bonnie [Kat Graham] that it would be alright, and there’s something beautiful in that,” he says. Moving forward, acting wise, Michael isn’t opposed to taking on another role that lasts half a decade, but he’s also excited to explore new characters now that his schedule allows it. In addition to putting out the record and having as many people as possible hear it, Michael’s main goal for the year is to be a good husband and father to his 2-year-old son. “I feel like I’ve been so overwhelmed with everything that’s been going on. Vampire Diaries has really launched me into a very different atmosphere, and it’s intense,” he admits, “These past few years have been completely insane and like I said, I feel like I nearly lost my mind because of all of the stimulation that was going on.” So he wants to spend the next few months focusing taking a breather before the record comes out and he lets the world into his mind a bit more. NKD NKDMAG.COM


margaret anne florence Words by HANNAH SCHWARTZ Photos by CATHERINE POWELL Growing up on the sunny beaches of Charleston, South Carolina, is a dream for most people, but it was a reality for Margaret Anne Florence. Margaret attended an all-girls school from Kindergarten until her high school graduation. “I loved it. It was nice to be all about the girls. It was just a really good environment for women and for self-confidence,” she remembers. After graduating from high school, she followed in her family’s tradition and attended the College of Charleston, where she majored in Music/Classical Voice and minored in Theater. After graduating from college, she attended New York University, where she received a Masters in Music Theater Performance. Margaret’s family often vacationed in New York City, which made the transition easy for her, although she admits that it was an adjustment because it is so different from Charleston. “I missed the beauty and the relaxation of South Carolina and the beach, but I was excited to come to the city and to start [my career]. It’s a scary place for anybody. It’s just a different life, it just is. So you have to get used to it,” she says. Performing was always on her agenda. “I was always into that. I did dance as a child. In fifth grade, I got involved in a performing group that did singing and dancing,” she says. Her mother’s side of the family is musical, and her grandmother was very interested in arts and singing. She had support from her family, which further helped her pursue her dream. “My parents always encouraged me to just do whatever I wanted to do. But I always knew that I wanted to be a performer. There was never a doubt in my mind or anything else I ever wanted to be,” she says. At the beginning of her career, she starred in commercials. Her big break was when she was cast in an Axe Body Spray commercial. “I was so proud. I got my SAG card. It was amazing,” she remembers, laughing. After her Axe commercial, she starred in the movie, My Super Ex-Girlfriend. “That was a big experience there. To show up on set with Rainn Wilson, Luke 28

Wilson and Anna Faris; that was a big job,” she says. In 2008, Margaret starred in the Off-Broadway play, The Fantasticks, playing Luisa. “That was a big accomplishment as far as my theater and singing because that was something I wanted for a while,” she says. Margaret focused more on theater when she started her career. However, after she finished school, she became more interested in acting in film and movies, but she enjoys both now. Most recently, Margaret has been acting in the CMT show, Sun Records, portraying Marion Keisker. Her interest in Elvis Presley attracted her to this show. “I love Elvis. My mother was born in Memphis, so I grew up with my grandparents, who loved Elvis. I had an Elvis poster on my wall as a teenager. I always had that interest [in Elvis] and in the 50’s. I always loved that time period and the songs,” she remembers. Her favorite thing about being on Sun Records is portraying a woman as accomplished as Marion. “She was such an interesting woman and so ahead of her time. She started working in radio when she was 12-years-old. She was eventually producing her own programming and helped start the first all women’s radio station,” she says. Not only did Marion Keisker break barriers in that time period in music, but she also loved helping other women. “She did a lot for women’s rights. She was just a really, really smart woman and was well educated. She was the brains behind Sam Phillips,” she says admiringly. Margaret loves playing Marion. “It’s rare that you find these actual women in history that have so much going for them in that time period, so I think that is what made her so exciting,” she gushes. She thinks that it is a privilege to play such an accomplished woman. In addition to the research Margaret did about Marion to play this role, she also talked to some of Marion’s friends. Somebody working in the wardrobe department, named Chuck, owns a vintage shop,

and knew Marion later in her life. Margaret spoke to him to get a better feel of Marion’s life and to hear stories from that time period. “It’s hard to get a real sense of exactly who she was from these little conversations, but it’s fun to have somebody that really had a first-hand experience with her,” she says. Every person Margaret spoke to about Marion agreed on one thing: her smarts. “Everybody I talked to said that she was very intelligent,” she explains. While reading the script for Season 1, Margaret was surprised to find out how many people and famous musicians recorded at Sun Records. “I think I just didn’t realize the volume of artists that had come through Sun Records. I knew Elvis. I knew Johnny Cash. But I didn’t realize Roy Orbison. All of these different people that you didn’t realize all filtered through there,” she says. Sun Records has an amazing and rich history that many people do not know about, and Margaret is excited to bring more attention to it. “Most of the country doesn’t know what Sun Records is. I think people that are interested in this music know and people maybe more from the South know, but I hope that’s what people might take away from the show is that idea that all of these people filtered through,” she explains. She wants more people to appreciate the history and the music that was produced because of Sun Records. Sun Records has been well received by viewers, and Margaret is hoping for a second season so they can tell more of Marion’s story as a powerful and successful woman living in the 1950s. “Marion was far from arm candy. It’s been written really well and we did a lot in the process of shooting to protect Marion so she didn’t veer off into the ‘other woman land’ and keep her smart and somebody that women could still look up to even though maybe she wasn’t doing the right thing all the time. That was important that we did that. So I hope [in the] second season you’ll see more of that,” she explains. NKD

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For country music star Drake White, it all began in church. “My mom and dad sang in the choir and my grandfather was a preacher, so those gospel roots really penetrated early in my life as far as music is concerned,” he explains. Originally from Northeast Alabama, Drake grew up around different types of music: soul music with his mom, classic rock with his dad, and country with his uncle. But above all, gospel and hymns are where his conviction and soul comes from. On the road since 2007, Drake is no stranger to the difficulty of breaking into the music scene. “It’s hard to keep it going and figure out how to make it work financially because you’re not getting paid much doing these shows early on,” he admits. When he began, he traveled in a van and trailer. It was difficult, but the struggle is something he prides himself on. “We came through that; every time we get on that pretty bus now, I always thank God every day that we’re able to do it,” he says. Drake now travels with his band The Big Fire, but it took him six years to gather the perfect mix of personalities. He writes vision boards and had always loved the comradery of bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He didn’t just want to work with a band; he wanted a brotherhood. “I wanted them to like the music. That was my prerequisite,” Drake says. “You had to be into it. You had to be into the brand and the mission statement.” After six years of asking around, talking to people in the industry, firing and hiring, he’s finally found a really solid band. He’s found his brotherhood. It happened at just the right time; Drake released his debut album in August of 2016. The album’s title, Spark, is purposeful and symbolic. “The spark is the initial ignition,” he explains. “It’s the spark to what we see is going to be a long 20, 30, even 40-year career, hopefully.” A common thread of the album is the concept of disconnecting. Drake lives on a farm north of Nashville and he makes a point to turn off his phone and computer when there. He makes

time to look at the sunset and the stars and to have real conversations. “That’s what I try to do every day pay attention to people,” he says. His songs on the album reflect that value. One of Drake’s and his wife, Alex’s, favorite things to do at home is host friends and family. They’re a great team - Alex is a cook and they have a grill and a pool, so they have people over often. “I love to do that,” Drake says. “Build a fire, sit around it and make amazing memories.” Fireside is also where Drake first fell in love with performing, so the album’s title is especially fitting. Drake finds picking a favorite song off of Spark as impossible as picking between children, but a song that is special to him is the band’s current single “Making Me Look Good Again.” The song is about his wife in regards to the sacrifices she’s made and how supportive she is of Drake’s career. “She’s not the loud chick in the front row that’s screaming and saying look at me. She’s in the back row with a Nikon and a pair of glasses on,” Drake insists. Because of this, people often don’t realize who she is. Being married to a performer can be tough, so Drake is thankful to have a partner that gets it. Music will always take up a large percentage of his time and it was truly his first love, but Alex understands. “That’s hard for anyone to hear,” Drake says. Because of that, his single “Making Me Look Good Again” is an ode to her love. The song recently broke into the Top 40 on country radio and is quickly becoming a popular choice as a wedding song, proving that the sentiment is authentic and relatable. Performing the single live is a joy, as well. They’re in the middle of The Spark Tour, so the single is one of the performance pieces he most looks forward to. Slow and heartfelt, the song gives Drake an opportunity to change the atmosphere of the room, a transition that’s necessary because of his energetic personality. “I love being on stage and the electricity I feel,” he says. But when he performs the single, he’s able to calm NKDMAG.COM


down and take the time to listen to and enjoy hearing the crowd singing back to him. The tour has been a highlight of Drake’s career. The band sold out two of their recent headlining shows: one at The Gramercy Theater in New York and another at the legendary Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The energy was indescribable at both. At the Paradise Rock Club, it was actually so loud that it was impossible to hear the count off for the songs. ”I got emotional probably ten times during the show because of all the flat tires, all of the family meals that we missed, all the birthdays and parties we missed, all the stuff that we sacrificed for this,” Drake recounts. “It happened and I know for a damn fact that it doesn’t happen for everyone. It just doesn’t.” He and his band consider themselves part of the lucky one percent and will never take that for granted. Every performance of tour is memorable. One performer that Drake admires and has been heavily influenced by is Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. “You know how Eddie is part of that crowd – he’s theirs and you’re his for for 90 minutes?” he asks. “That’s what I want people to feel.”. To do this, he keeps the show loose. Though parts of it are choreographed, he loves to involve the audience and even allows some from the crowd to come up on stage with him to dance. Fans in the audience have even gotten married during a show; nothing’s off limits. Touring isn’t just a time to have fun, though; it’s also been conducive to Drake’s creative process. Drake began writing for the second album right after they released the first, so now on the road, they split their time between performing, writing and recording. Recording while on the road is tough, but Drake finds writing while on the road to be easier than at home. “Being on the road, you’re just on the road and you’re free,” he explains. “There’s a freedom associated with that that I think comes across in the music.” At his home in Nashville, he’s distracted by the beauty of the land and the ev34

eryday menial tasks that come with being an adult and owning a house, but he can leave all of that behind while on the road. Although he enjoys writing while on the road, there’s no real set process to it for him. “The spark happens in lyrical [form] sometimes, and sometimes that spark happens in melodic form,” he says. When writing, sometimes it can be as easy as Drake sitting down in front of a notepad or being drawn to a certain lyric. Sometimes he finds that it comes to him by playing a melody on his guitar and then freestyling over that. Sometimes it’s easiest for him to write to an idea. But no matter what the idea for a song, Drake’s advice to any artist is just to get it out there and not wait for it to be perfect. As an industry veteran, Drake has collected and created his own set of rules for staying true to his roots as a performer. “Folks say all the time, ‘Don’t let Nashville change you’, but fuck - Nashville’s supposed to change you,” he insists. “California changed me. Everything changes you, so let it change you.” He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He understands that sometimes others that might not have worked as hard as him will pass him and that everyone gets negative demons in their head. Through it all, he chooses to focus on the positive thoughts. Playing the type of music he likes and listens to helps him stay grounded as an artist. He’s also living his lifelong dream of traveling on the road with a live band, so there’s nothing to complain about. Drake is looking forward to releasing his next album by the end of the year. He still has the rest of the tour to get through before that, but he’s enjoying it while it lasts. He still gets butterflies before his shows, but he channels that nervous energy into putting on a great performance for the crowd. The band recently played the Tortuga Music Festival where there was an audience of 25,000 people, but the huge number didn’t faze him. “They’re ready for a good time,” Drake says. “God put me on the earth to do to be the conduit of a good time, so let’s rock and roll.” NKD




ocean park standoff Words by HANNAH SCHWARTZ Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Samantha Ronson knows what will get people dancing. As a world-renowned DJ, selftaught guitarist and self-proclaimed angsty poet-turned-songwriter, she has made a name for herself by penning catchy tunes and lyrics that have projected her to national stages like the Super Bowl, and the Cannes and Sundance Film festivals. These days, Samantha is putting those skills to use with her new group Ocean Park Standoff - an alt-pop, electro-rock, feel-good group comprised of herself, classically-trained vocalist Ethan Thompson, and self-taught producer and drummer, Pete Nappi. Samantha and Pete met in November of 2014 at a songwriting session, and Ethan was brought into the mix just a few months later, but the three of them never intended to start a band. “Initially it just started out as ‘let’s just have this as a project we put out between the three of us because we enjoy making music together’ it was never really like ‘let’s be a band,’”

Ethan says. “And then as things went along it turned into a band.” “We were just having so much fun,” Samantha chimes in. Before long, they were writing, playing and recording with each other constantly - but it still didn’t feel like a “band” for any of them. According to Samantha, the turning point was signing with Hollywood Records earlier this year. For Ethan, though, the realization came from a feeling. “I always bring in the story of ‘We Do’,” he says. “I think that was when it cemented for me that we were a band and we were capable of being a great band. Because we were practicing our song ‘We Do’ and it was like the third day of rehearsals, and we locked in and we were all just leaping around and smiling. And it felt really good.” “We Do” is the third track on their debut, self-titled EP which came out in March of this year. It’s a heavier pop song, playing on a thick drum beat, catchy chorus and layers of vocal subtleties. It sits at the NKDMAG.COM


center of the EP, a pointed choice by the group, as it effectively creates a turning point in the track list, as well as showcases the breadth of this group’s musicality. “We chose these songs because they felt good to play and they felt good to listen to. Everyone is gravitating towards different things,” Ethan explains. “The three of us as a group together, we make different things because we’re each different people. And we all push what we want for a certain song. So it’s cool because each song gravitates to different people and what they listen to on a day-to-day basis. Which I think is what makes this project strong. We cover a lot of bases as far as genres and feels.” A quick dig into Ocean Park Standoff ’s Spotify account will show you a clear delineation of the influences the three of them have. Their profile features three playlists, simply named after the three of them individually. On Samantha’s, there are power ballads from badass lady singers like Beyonce, Solange and Lady Gaga alongside tunes from Anderson .Paak and Chance the Rapper. Ethan offers up classics from Paul Simon, Steve Miller Band and Tom Petty, with a couple of surprises, like his addition of G.Love’s Baby’s Got Sauce. Pete rounds them out by bringing a little bit of everything to the table with tunes from Nirvana, Jidenna and Coldplay. If you listen closely, you can hear all that on their EP - a little funk, a little rock and grit, a little soul and a lot of heart. With the band hailing from L.A, the group effectively captures the sound of an L.A. summer with hints of hip-hop, ‘80s pop and dad-rock lyrics. Ultimately, these aren’t just pop songs that this trio is creating.


They’re pop songs with a message. Take their hit single, “Good News”, for example. An upbeat, poppy vibe with lyrics that yearn for something positive, this song has been played over 6 million times across streaming services, featured on the TODAY show, and aims to spread their message of positivity. The band even used it in a video they created for their social media channels commenting on the current political and social climate, saying “I know a lot of people, like us, feel overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending onslaught of ‘breaking news’ updates that are almost never positive. So we...decided to put together this video to highlight the good things for a change and a chance to spread some joy/light,” Ethan says. On the other end of the spectrum, their song “Photos & Liquor” is a song based around a seemingly romantic picture of Ethan kissing his ex-girlfriend. In reality, the kiss was to stop a fight that the pair were having - even if just for a moment. The band wrote the song as a way of talking about glorified memories, and how there are so often pictures to recall the good times, but so rarely photographic evidence of any of the bad times. That’s what makes the writing process exciting for the trio - the idea that they can touch on any topic, and make it their own. It’s also what makes them unique as a band in today’s pop music landscape they aren’t writing for anyone else. Samantha says that’s what they want to do, ““Keep writing songs that we like, and not get caught up in writing songs that you like.” So far, it’s working for them. The EP dropped in March of this year, following a brief tour of the East

Coast and Midwest with singer-songwriter LOLO. Next up they’re going on the Summer Gods Tour starting in June, opening for Third Eye Blind. “I think we’re going to add two more songs [to the existing setlist],” Ethan says. “The main thing is - at a club you can kind of talk between songs, and you’re having this rapport with the audience. I feel like when you’re playing bigger venue - and this is what we want to figure out in all of May - is making it so it’s just a show. We want it to be a fluid thing.” That fluidity comes with a lot of practice, which they understand. For right now, they’re just playing wherever and whenever they can to get the rehearsal in before this summer hits hard and fast. At this point, it’s hard for them to think beyond August, but they say there might be a fall tour in the works, and another EP to come in the not-so-distant future, but no full-length record just yet. “I think people don’t have the attention span for full albums anymore. Why waste songs? I’d rather have like, some little tapas,” Samantha says. “You can make a playlist with the songs you like from the different EPs.” This idea of musical tapas is not something they’ve fully discussed with their label yet, they explain laughing, but they’re hopeful about this idea of churning out EPs every 6-8 months. It would help them stay excited about the music they’re making, and keep a steady stream of new material in market, the three of them say. At this moment, though, they’re just trying to do one thing at a time. First up, Samantha says, “Just play for as many people as we can.” NKD






He had no intentions of acting, but his friends were doing it so he tagged along. He ended up booking a play that went to the famed Olivia Theatre in London for a night. “We were sold out, and we got a standing ovation and I was kind of like ‘Oh, I like this’,” Colin recalls. He refers to his teenage-self as “shy and awkward”, and fell into acting because it allowed him to be someone else. Colin went on to study acting, and after his training, began booking theatre and television roles throughout Ireland. He booked a guest role on Showtime’s The Tudors, which led to a visit to Los Angeles and securing an agent. Six months later, he was shooting The Rite with Anthony Hopkins. “But the weird thing was when I did that I had to do some interviews and stuff, and people were like ‘What’s it like to be an overnight success?’, but I’d been working for 10, 11 years,” he recalls. For Colin, the goal with acting was never necessarily to crossover to the United States. “The goal for me was just to try and work and be as good as I could be,” he says, “Ireland is obviously a small country, but we’re very

lucky that storytelling and theatre and stuff like that is such a huge part of our cultural identity.” He was often doing plays where there were more people in the cast than the audience, just because he truly believed in the content. “I felt if I made one person feel what I wanted them to feel, then I was doing my job,” he says.” He was much more interested in the craft of acting than the fame that can come with it, and he just wanted to play as many characters as possible. “I think if you become an actor wanting to be famous and rich and stuff, I think you’re really getting into it for the wrong reasons,” Colin says, “I’ve had periods where I had a year without any work, and when you really believe in yourself, that’s kind of like a real test.” During those periods of not working, Colin credits his now-wife and longtime partner, Helen, for being incredibly supportive. The two have been together for 18 years. His family was also extremely supportive, and made a point to remind Colin that they believed in him as much as he believed in himself. Financially, he was making his living playing music in a band – which is quite the anomaly.


Fans of Once Upon a Time, delightfully dubbed Oncers, have been begging producers for a musical episode since the show began six years ago. This season, they’ll finally be getting it - and should find comfort knowing that actor Colin O’Donoghue, who portrays the devilishly romantic Captain Hook, fully committed to the special episode. So much so that he arrives to our cover shoot at The Bryant Park Hotel with an air cast on his foot as a result of breaking it during a dance number - but we’ll get to that. Colin is in New York for the premiere of his latest film, Carrie Pilby, where he plays the drastically unlikable Professor Harrison, alongside an all-star cast of Vanessa Bayer, Nathan Lane and Gabriel Byrne. He spent all of 48 hours in the Big Apple before heading back up to Vancouver to wrap up the sixth season of Once Upon a Time. And while he spends 10 months out of the year in Canada and has for the past five years, Colin’s story begins in Ireland. Colin’s first steps into acting came via his local youth theatre in Drogheda, Ireland when he was 16-years-old.

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Following The Rite, Colin filmed a pilot for ABC that didn’t go to series, and then booked what was supposed to be a five-episode guest role on Once Upon a Time – which had already finished airing its first season. There was a clause in his contract that stated he could be upped to a series regular, but it wasn’t guaranteed. His role as Captain Hook – whose real name is Killian Jones – immediately enchanted viewers, but the series regular option was picked up before his first episode even aired because everyone behind the show liked what they saw. When he first booked the role, there was no way for Colin to know he was signing away five (or more) years of his life, so it’s a good thing he truly loves the show. “There are so many gritty shows on TV, which I love watching, but I think it’s rare that you have a show, that runs this long, and the idea is it’s about hope,” Colin says. Colin’s portrayal of Captain Hook is easily the most layered version of the character ever seen on screen, and is a far cry from the Disney cartoon or Dustin Hoffman’s celebrated portrayal. So once the transition from villain

to hero began to take form, it was not only believable, but expected. Colin knew immediately how he wanted to play Captain Hook – “a bad boy who people hated that they liked”. “I wanted him to be the guy that guys wanted to drink with, and you know, the old thing where girls wanted to be with him or whatever,” he says. He wanted Hook to be the extremely engaging man that he has become, which Colin emphasizes is quite the opposite of who he is as a person. “He sort of holds peoples’ gaze when he talks to them and doesn’t look away, whereas I’m all over the place,” he says, laughing. “He’s a great character, and it’s just fun,” Colin says of Hook, “On this show I’ve been able to play so many different facets of this character, from a villain, to a hero, to a dark, evil character, to sort of a love, romantic kind of thing.” And while that is quite the rollercoaster of an arc, Colin pinpoints Hook’s first kiss with Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) as a clear indication of Hook’s tread into heroism. “When they wrote the first kiss in, that’s when I was like, ‘Okay, he’s going to have to change. Something is

going to have to shift here’,” Colin says. Since long before that first kiss, fans were pining for Emma and Hook to get together – naming their “ship” Captain Swan and sailing it with force. Once wasn’t airing in Ireland yet when Colin first booked the role, so he had no idea how big of a deal the show was going into it. “And then all of a sudden I had a Twitter account and an Instagram and it was all crazy,” he says. He thinks the intense adoration for the relationship between Hook and Emma stems from the fact that it’s a realistic relationship – you know, aside from the magical powers and realm-hopping. “They have real problems that they have to try and deal with, and I think that’s probably what people really connect with,” Colin says, “They’re both flawed, they’re not perfect in any kind of way, the relationship is not perfect.” But despite their imperfections, Colin believes they truly do love each other and want to make the relationship work. “They’ve got lots of issues,” Colin jokes, “They might just need an evening where there’s not a snow monster trying to kill them.” With Season 6 almost complete and NKDMAG.COM


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“On this show I’ve been able to play so many different facets of this character, from a villain, to a hero, to a dark, evil character, to sort of a love, romantic kind of thing.”

a much-buzzed about (but not officially confirmed) Season 7 on the horizon, Colin is tight-lipped about what exactly will be unfolding in the coming weeks. But the season’s penultimate episode will feature a collection of original music as the highly-anticipate musical episode finally arrives. “The way that they’ve written the episode, it’s very much part of the mythology of the show. It’s not just a standalone musical episode,” Colin hintss. (Shortly after our interview, it was revealed that the musical episode will serve as Emma’s and Hook’s wedding.) In addition to singing, the cast will also be dancing their way through Storybrooke – though Colin was the only one to walk away with an injury. In a scene where he has to jump onto a chair, Colin broke his foot during a fall in an effort to save both his face and a camera. “That’s how committed I was to it,” Colin jokes. While Colin’s musical theatre experience is limited, he is accustomed to singing on camera. In 2014 he filmed The Dust Storm, an indie drama, in Nashville, Tenn., where he played the musician turned business man turned musician, Brennan, which was released late last year. Back when he was in bands, Colin always just played guitar, but the fan response to him singing in the film was so positive, he’s not closing the door on the possibility of putting his own music out one day. “I have talked about doing an EP with friends, but at the minute it’s just so busy with Once Upon a Time,” Colin says, “It’s something that I think I’d like to do. Music has always been such a huge part of my life.” Colin’s latest project is the quirky romantic comedy, Carrie Pilby, which he shot in New York on his Christmas break in 2015. The movie follows19year-old Carrie, who is a year out of Harvard but not exactly thriving socially in New York. Her therapist, Dr. Petrov (Nathan Lane), puts together a list of things he feels Carrie needs to accomplish – like go on a date and make a friend. Colin plays Professor Harrison, an English professor at Harvard who seduces Carrie, a student in his class, when she was just 16. “So he’s kind of a nasty piece of work,” Colin says, “It was great to play this… just not a nice guy. 48

There’s no real redeeming [qualities] about him.” Needless to say, things don’t exactly work out between Carrie and Professor Harrison, and it’s implied that he pulls this stunt with a new girl every year. “He thinks he’s kind of the hip, cool, young professor but he’s not. He’s an old fart like me,” Colin jokes. Once just wrapped filming for the season, but instead of filming a movie this summer on his hiatus, Colin will be staying in Vancouver with his family as his wife is pregnant with their second child and due any day now. But looking past this year, Colin’s goal for future projects is the same as it’s always been: to play as many different characters as possible. “It’s just important for me to find different characters and things that I connect with, and try and be the best that I can and make them the most believable that I can make them,” he says. But for now, Colin is still very much enjoying playing Captain Hook, and more so is proud to be on a show that at it’s core, is about hope. “I think now more than ever it is important to have something that people can cling to – that there is hope; that there are good things out there in the world,” he says. He makes a point to use his platform to promote positivity, and is a big supporter of multiple anti-bullying campaigns. “I think that it’s important for people to realize that [bullying] is not okay – even if you’re the president, it’s not okay,” he says. He’s noticed that as the tone of the country has shifted in the last few months, he sees more fans standing up for themselves and each other on Twitter and the internet community surrounding Once shutting down bullying they see on the social platform. “That’s not what this is about, and that’s not in any way what the show is about, either. The show is about hope,” Colin reiterates. The fate of Once is still technically up in the air, but a seventh season is a fairly safe bet. But regardless of what happens next year, the show’s current narrative will be tied up with the two-hour Season 6 finale, which airs May 14th, and suggests a path for the next chapter of Once Upon a Time. “There is an opening there for… stuff…” Colin starts to say, “But I can’t really say what that is.” Here’s hoping Captain Swan takes themselves on a much-deserved honeymoon, first. NKD




Monica Barbaro currently stars as Assistant State’s Attorney, Anna Valdez, on NBC’s Chicago Justice, a legal drama joining Dick Wolf ’s Chicago series. However, prior to starring on the show, Monica’s resume wasn’t so much dedicated to her acting or television work at all but another performance art entirely. “I started ballet when I was 5 or 6, I was very young. I did The Nutcracker every year,” Monica recalls. Yet, it wasn’t until Monica was 12 that she realized she wanted to do something a bit different, away from ballet, but still in the realm of the arts. “I played two parts [in The Nutcracker] that year. The main character, Clara’s brother, breaks her nutcracker. We didn’t have any boys in our school, so they gave me that partm” she recalls. At first, it was hard for Monica to adjust to having to act on stage, never having done so before, adding on the fact that she had to play a male character. Nevertheless, her first experience proved to be influential to growing her love for acting and eventually, the desire to keep moving forward with it as a career. “I did [the role] and I wasn’t really in love with the whole process, but on stage, when I had to play a mischievous boy, I had such a blast. I got to be this tomboy that I had been repressing for a few years [because of ballet], and it was so fun,” Monica says. The acting opportunities continued on throughout her earlier school days. “I was lucky enough to go to a school with an arts program. It was required for all the seventh graders to do a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and I played Hermia,” she remembers. “And again, I had an amazing time playing someone who wasn’t myself and letting out emotions I couldn’t express unless in the body of a character.” It was after that performance that marked the turning point for Monica. “I knew then that I really loved acting,” she says. However, even with her new found love for acting, Monica didn’t pursue it until well after university. After graduating high school, she enrolled at NYU and decided to pursue a three-year degree in dance. “I loved performing and I didn’t feel comfortable quitting something I knew I was fairly good at. It was unique; it wasn’t something everyone else was doing. I had really good friends [in dance]. I think I had a fear of failure with acting,” she says. 50

Which is not to say that she didn’t try and integrate acting within her school experience and daily life regardless. Monica took as many acting elective courses as she was allowed, also content with the fact that NYU’s dance program required acting classes as well. “I just relished in every moment of it,” she says. Upon college graduation, Monica started dancing with smaller companies and neglected auditioning for anything “big” because the desire to start acting professionally always seemed to loom over her. At that point, she decided, “it was now or never.” “It’s scary to go for the thing you really care about. I think in our minds we believe that if we fail at the thing we care most about, that’s going to break our hearts versus failing at the thing we never gave as much effort to,” she explains. “Not to say that dance didn’t affect me personally, but acting for me, was more close to home. It was just the right form of expression for me.” Eventually, Monica moved back home to San Francisco and began self-submitting. “I didn’t want to go throughout my entire life not having tried it,” she says passionately. At first feeling like, what she describes, “as a small fish” was intimidating, especially in New York. Instead, while at home, she submitted work to student films and to up-and-coming filmmakers who just got out of school. Once she started booking smaller roles, she also began training, never having gone through the formal acting process due to ballet. “I knew if you wanted to be good at something it’s to train for it, learn the ropes and really learn some technicalities,” she says. Eventually, she secured an agent and started doing commercial work, followed by a slight YouTube video stint that helped her move out to Los Angeles. From there on out, things moved rather quickly. Monica mentions how fast everything began rolling out and how she never lost sight of how lucky she was throughout the entire process. She started working on short films immediately and felt the energy on set, with everyone coming together. Being accepted by people who, she says, “knew what they were doing” was the moment that she felt that acting was truly something that she could do and pursue for the long run. “I guess I just had the instincts for it,”

she says. “I still doubt myself sometimes and I’m not the type of person that always feels so sure of myself. I was always really nervous and on edge about seeming like an amateur, but I was lucky that there were always people around from all walks of life on set who helped me.” She remembers one of her first times on set, when a producer came up to her with advice that has shaped her outlook on acting and future life in the limelight. “He said to me, ‘You’ve got to let go of being afraid to be wrong’,” she recalls, “In ballet, there’s more of a right answer. But with acting... having the permission to not have to ask for permission made a huge difference for me and I’ve tried to remind myself of that ever since.” She now currently stars on Chicago Justice, her second major role on a major television network (following her stint on UnREAL), playing the smart, feisty, blunt, “not afraid to speak her mind,” Anna Valdez. The show in itself is brutally honest and raw, with stories sometimes seeming like they are ripped right from the news headlines of today. “You get a fully fleshed out character that you get to add to, since there’s lots of room for interpretation. That coupled with the writing being so good. It’s like the show’s taking care of you. It’s relevant, it’s media and technology, there’s a lot of variety in the writing. It’s such a dream,” she says about being on the show. Though initially intimidated, Monica says she instantly felt welcomed into the community, by fans on social media and her colleagues. Being a part of the show, felt like “big shoes to fill” for her, but she wasn’t worried after getting to know the cast from the entire Chicago franchise. She reminisces about being at a party with everyone at Jon Seda’s [Chicago P.D.’s] house and feeling the same way she did in her early dance days. “I didn’t expect it to be as big of a family as it was. It was amazing,” she smiles. Though the future of Chicago Justice has not yet been revealed, with Season 1 almost wrapping up, Monica continues to show her gratitude and appreciation for her choices, for ballet and for finally deciding to be bold enough to pursue her true love and the emotional attachment that is acting for her. “I’m going to keep looking, auditioning and living the typical actor life,” she claims, especially so, now that she is one. NKD


a barb Word s Photo by D I A N A F I G s by C A U THERINE EROA POWELL




Watching Madelaine Petsch pose for photos is an empowering moment. Anywhere she walks, it’s as if the world around her stops to take a moment around her. Whether she’s joking around with her team, or simply posing, Madelaine holds the poise and confidence that young women often dream of having. Throughout this shoot, a few fans of the CW’s newest and hottest show Riverdale approach Madelaine, and she’s quick to pose for a photo, instantly channeling her inner Cheryl Blossom for a moment before she’s back to being playful and silly with the crew. Sitting in the sun and not even seeming to notice that she still has clothes pins and heels on, Madelaine delves into her start into performing. “I was born in a small town in Washington State. My parents are both South African so I was raised agnostic and vegan with South African parents so I was like the weirdest kid ever,” she laughs. Her parents were dedicated to her learning about her culture so her summers growing up were spent in South Africa. “I became a dancer at 3-years-old,” she proudly admits. “It was my passion from day one. I knew exactly what I wanted to do.” Being such a natural led Madelaine to get into theater at 5-yearsold. “The first play I was ever in was called Gypsy and I don’t know why they’d put kids in this…” she jokes. “So we did Gypsy Jr. which is like a play for kids. I remember I had this long blonde wig, it was really bad. It was like in a braid or something. The minute I walked out on stage, I felt like this overwhelming rush – I don’t even think it was adrenaline, it was passion. I felt instantly connected.” Continuing to focus on community theater for five years, and competitive dancing for 16 years, Madelaine grew a seriously unmatched skillset for a



young woman her age to enter the throws of Los Angeles and Hollywood with. Attending Tacoma School of the Arts in Washington for high school, she double-majored in theater and dance. “The minute I got on stage I knew I wanted to move to L.A. and become an actress.” Once high school was over, Madelaine set out to L.A. to pursue this dream. With supportive parents and a mom who is a non-stop wearer of all hats in her life, Madelaine’s role as Cheryl Blossom was seemingly fate for the young actress, but the process was a bit tough to get there. “I remember I got the audition in October 2015 for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow went into David Rapaport who is our casting director. He was like ‘You know what, I’m doing a pilot that you be perfect for.’ And that’s the only information I got.” The next day, Madelaine went into read for Betty and was told she was now pinned for the role of Cheryl. “I was calling my manager everyday being like ‘Do we know anything yet?’ And then finally, four months later – four months later! – I got the call.” Getting her information 12 hours before her audition, Madelaine was a bit of a stress case, but the crew seemed to know that she was always their Cheryl Blossom, and groomed her through the process of auditioning. The cast of Riverdale is pretty unique for a new show on television these days. With only two big names – Cole Sprouse and Luke Perry – coming in as main cast in the show, they’ve gotten the opportunity to really grow and experience this together. “We’ve become very much a unit. Like, we’re a family unit,” Madealine explains. “We talk everyday when somebody’s going through something and there’s a new experience.” She reflects a lot on this new lifestyle they’re all leading and how much Cole Sprouse – Jughead Jones – has helped them through this process. “The thing about Cole is he’s a great mecca for information. Like I called him the first time I got paparazzied. He’s just very aware of what’s going on and he’s very helpful,” she says. Madelaine is quick to reit56

erate just how much of a family they are. They’re lives are all growing and changing together, and as that happens the cast just seems to become closer. “I couldn’t be more thankful for the people that I work with. They’re all phenomenal,” she says. Madelaine and her on-screen nemesis Lili Reinhart are roommates up in Vancouver B.C. where Riverdale shoots. She teases a bit that it’s the off-screen closeness that adds to both the tension and eventual real friendship and connection that Betty and Cheryl find. That kind of character development and surprise is what makes Madelaine so proud to play a character with such a depth as Cheryl. “From Day 1 when she became the villain, I knew instantly she was broken,” Madelaine confesses, “It makes so much more sense when you find out where [Cheryl] is coming from.” As Cheryl, grows into the villainous influence of her Blossom parents, Madelaine finds some difficulty connecting with her. “I grew up in a very harmonious household,” she says. So becoming a villain wasn’t an easy approach for the young actress to take. However, being a young woman going through life and discovering yourself was something Madelaine knew all to well. “She is very broken and very lonely, and she’s on a journey to find herself, but she’s going about I think it in all the wrong ways,” Madelaine says of Cheryl. This made it a bit easier for Madelaine to develop that broken and very deep side of Cheryl viewers will be seeing more and more of each week. “I’ve had friends who have done that and of course I have questioned life,” she reflects. “I’ve been through everything she’s going through, and yes, I handled it differently, but I feel everything she’s feeling.” There’s a sense of protectiveness Madelaine has over her character that breaches more than her own artistic integrity. It’s as if Madelaine looks at Cheryl as a younger sister who she just can’t figure out how to help, but wants to so badly. “The most insecure character on the show is Cheryl, 100%. She gives off this façade that she runs

the school but in reality she’s beyond broken and beyond insecure,” she says. But as much as she wants to stop Cheryl, she loves her at the same time. “I love her attitude and I love her one-liners and her fire, and I think those things kind of go hand in hand right now.” Madelaine says. The Blossom-heavy Episode 9 where we see Cheryl confuse Archie’s (KJ Apa) feelings of friendship for more was one of Madelaine’s favorite to shoot because that depth in Cheryl shines through. “Genuinely, Cheryl just wants to be loved. She’s never been loved other than Jason and he left her,” she says. One of the highlights of the show for Madelaine is the strong female characters that truly are the center of the plotlines. “We play very strongly on strong independent female characters, like high school characters. I think that’s so rare for high school TV!” she exclaims. “Like oh my goodness I can’t stress this enough. When I was a kid I thought it was mandatory for me to have a boyfriend because Blair Waldorf had a boyfriend. Every high school show the main girls always had like boyfriends and drama and on my show we don’t like – we don’t focus on that. It’s not about being in relationships, it’s about letting these characters develop and letting these women find out about themselves.” It’s what drew Madelaine so much to Cheryl, but it’s also what draws so many people to her. In her time off Riverdale, Madelaine shot a movie in Nova Scotia called Polaroid, which will be out on August 25th. And now that she has some freed time, she’ll spending it dancing, being a “gym rat” and reading. “I’m a huge nerd, I read a lot,” she admits. Madelaine Petsch is exactly who we all want Cheryl Blossom to be. She’s bubbly, fun, talented and fiercely independent – which one needs to be to take on such a taxing, complex and extremely relatable role. There’s no doubt that Madelaine – along with the other young women on the Riverdale cast – are shaping up to be amazing role models for young adolescent girls all over. NKD


NKD Mag - Issue #71 (May 2017)  

Featuring: Colin O'Donoghue, Michael Malarkey, Madelaine Petsch, Bea Miller, Drake White, Ocean Park Standoff, Jackie Lee, Charlie DePew, Mo...

NKD Mag - Issue #71 (May 2017)  

Featuring: Colin O'Donoghue, Michael Malarkey, Madelaine Petsch, Bea Miller, Drake White, Ocean Park Standoff, Jackie Lee, Charlie DePew, Mo...