Page 1

featuring

Priah Ferguson Issue 16


CONTENTS

09 13 19

23


Music Art is Life Playlist 07 Stephanie Rice 09 Jade Hassouné 13 Casey Baer 15 Breana Raquel 17 Words of Wisdom: Jen Lilley 19

Culture Priah Ferguson 29 Isabella Crovetti 33 Arista Arhin 37 Cina Nguyen 41 Cina Photography Feature 43 Kai Wener 49 Jackie Jacobson 51 Emerson Min 53 Xolo Maridueña 55 Words of Wisdom: Kristina Ho

Fashion Summer Fashion 23

29

37

41

53

57


THE

TEAM

3


Editor in Chief Carol Wright is a Senior studying Journalism and Business Entertainment at American University. She realized at the age of eleven that photography was her passion and it was photography that ultimately led her to create Nyota Magazine. Carol is also passionate about public speaking and was given the chance to give a TEDx Talk at the age of seventeen where she talked about the lessons she learned from creating Nyota. Carol loves to create and hopes that wherever life takes her in the future, photography will be at the center.

Art Director

Nicole Cox is currently a Senior, majoring in Graphic Design at American University. Starting at a young age, Nicole has always enjoyed creating art, whether it was writing stories or painting with watercolors, she always found a way to create, but she never expected the computer to be used as another medium for her creativity. Thanks to the help from her college professor, Kate Resnick, she was able to explore her interest in Graphic design and hopes to one day pursue a career in the field and become a User Interface Designer.

4


FEATURES Stephanie Rice Jade Hassouné Casey Baer Breana Raquel Jen Lilley Priah Ferguson Isabella Crovetti Arista Arhin Cina Nguyen Kai Wener Jackie Jacobson Emerson Min Xolo Maridueña Kristina Ho

CONTRIBUTORS Bella Wattles

5


EDITOR’S LETTER “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso

I’m excited to say that our second ‘Art is Life’ issue is here! It’s always a joy to work on this issue and dig into how art has changed the lives of the musicians, models, and actors we feature. Art has changed the lives of so many, including my own and it’s incredible to see. I hope you enjoy the issue and that it inspires you to create art and follow your passions! Carol Wright Editor in Chief @_carol_wright


Art is Life Playlist

7


Bags // Clairo Truth Hurts // Lizzo Wallows // Only Friend Say It // Maggie Rogers Dark Red // Steve Lacey Pushing 20 // Sabrina Carpenter Party Up the Street // Miley Cyrus Gone, Gone/ Thank You // Tyler The Creator

8


9


#NYOTAmusic

Stephanie Rice Interview by Carol Wright Photos courtesy of Stephanie Rice

When did you know you wanted to be a singer? I never wanted to be a singer – growing up I actually thought I had a pretty awful voice. But, I wanted to do music. I wrote songs as early as 8 years old. I loved the way it made me feel when I played and sang, but I imagined that someone else would have to sing my songs since my voice was too weird. How did it feel when Gwen Stefani immediately pushed her button during your audition piece? Like every hope and dream and desire to do what I wanted to and share what I wanted to share got instantly validated. Also, she’s so gorgeous she kind of took my breath away. What did competing on “The Voice” teach you? That it’s not the most talented that ‘make it’ – it’s the most dedicated, hardworking and enduring spirits that last. A lot of people have talent, but a lot of people don’t have the discipline to succeed. Tell us about your single ‘Pages’. What inspired the lyrics? My entire upbringing since I was a kid until I was 18 was in a strict, fundamentalist setting. Everything was black and white. When I came out, I wasn’t too surprised by the reaction as the church made it very clear where it stood on the issue. It definitely still hurt, but I spent a lot of time after that fighting to survive. So, I never really paused to stop and think about the depth of what happened. I’ve written a lot of songs, just never about this topic – and the lyrics wrote themselves. I was overwhelmed one day, mourning the loss of family due to simply who I am, and the lyr10


11


#NYOTAmusic

ics ‘guilty of love’ poured out of me. Instead of focusing just on the pain, I felt empowered. Looking back at all I had gone through and how I had made it to the other side, it felt like without realizing it I had truly begun ‘writing my own pages.’ Can fans expect a full EP from you in the near future? I have a couple more singles I will be putting out before I release the full EP. My next single is different. I love it and can’t wait to show you guys. Who are some of your music influences? Imogen Heap, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Damien Rice Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art SAVED my life. I always used music as an outlet. When I was kicked out, I really didn’t have any way to put my pain into words. I felt like if I didn’t sing about it I would die. Music kept me alive spiritually, emotionally, and I believe physically. It gave my pain a voice, and being heard was a remedy all in itself. What advice do you have for aspiring musicians? Like I said before, ‘The Voice’ really taught me about the power of hard work. Getting onto the show in and of itself was extremely hard. I didn’t make it the first time I tried out, and the only difference between the first and second time around was that I was better.

12


13


#NYOTAmusic

Jade Hassouné Interview by Carol Wright Photos by Barrington Orr

Did you fall in love with singing or acting first? I fell in love with singing first, my mother is a piano player since before I was born and so I experienced the magic of music way early. Acting came while I would play outside and invent games in my house and when I was 10 years old I understood that I was going to be able to do it as a career in a more practical way, so I picked that as my path, but always knowing in the back of my heart that music would eventually emerge. How did the opportunity to be in “Shadowhunters” come about? I auditioned and I booked the job! I had been acting professionally for about 5 years by that point. I sent a tape for what I thought was a cop show. Then got called back in for five auditions and three different characters. When I saw Meliorn was an option, I had to be part of this. I had a feeling I would. It was too right. What was favorite part about playing Meliorn? The epicness of being an elf-faerie being. Being an eternal wise magical nature creature. Tell us about your debut EP Love Letter to a Fandom. How would you describe the sound of your music? The purest pop music possible! There are a few influences like tropical house, hip-hop, melodic dubstep, bass house, trap, but all wrapped up in pop music! Because that’s my favourite. We’ll see the response and what direction we are going to go after this one. Do you have a favorite song off of the EP? Omg yes. I feel like my favourite changes every month though! Sometimes working on a song for so long

you jump to another that flows a lot easier and you start falling in love with the simplicity or effortlessness of the process and so it becomes my fave. “Living Right Now” was my favourite for a long time (it’s the more hip-hop track), but now it is a song called “To the Next” that’s all about being who you are today, who you have become, and doing you, even if people want to criticize your previous work. “What? That song was bad? Well, I’m on to the next!” We are always becoming better people and looking back is pointless when we have so much to look forward to. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art is all that I breathe. It is my life and will always change my life when it flows through me or when I have trouble allowing it to flow. It will always challenge me and will always make me want to become better because there are so many talented incredible artists in this world and they push me to be better. Art has taught me not to judge myself or anyone. That life is a process. That art is a process. And being here on this planet is about the process of creating life/art. That’s why I’m here anyway. What advice do you have for aspiring musicians? It’s so funny because I feel like an aspiring musician since I am jumping into a new life. So I am challenged with feeling like a baby in a new world. I would tell any artist to continue with their passion, to follow that feeling you get when you are in the zone and to run with it, to follow your joy and your intuition and that it will shape into something because it has to. Continue to focus on what you love and it will grow, keep it alive for yourself, because others won’t believe it until they see it, but to be able to see it you HAVE TO believe it WAAAAAAY before it can be seen. You got this!! I got this too. And we can make this world a fun place. 14


Casey Baer Interview by Carol Wright Photo by Alexandra Phillips @alexandrajoanphillips

Did you grow up singing or was it a passion that grew over time? I’ve been singing for longer than I can remember. My family always tells me how I was singing and humming as soon as I could speak. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. What motivated you to start posting covers on Youtube? I loved watching other covers on Instagram and I had been thinking about sharing my own for a while. Do you have a favorite song you’ve covered? Yes! Cold Water by Justin Bieber, which was my very first cover on Instagram. Tell us about your single ‘Greatest Mistake’. What inspired the lyrics? I was inspired to write “Greatest Mistake” because I was dealing with teenage boy drama and I knew it was a mistake to fall for him, but I did it anyway. Then I started writing about it and realized I can turn this into something great that will help others and me. It 15

became my “Greatest Mistake.” Can we expect more new music from you in the near future? Yes!! I have a lot more music on the way. I’m in the studio as we speak working on new music. Who are some of your singing inspirations? Some of my biggest inspirations are Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Olivia O’Brien, and Khalid. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art has given me such a big outlet to express my feelings and emotions. Singing and songwriting have changed how I communicate. What advice do you have for aspiring singers? My best advice is to write your own music and be authentically yourself. Work on your talent, push yourself every day to get better and don’t ever stop chasing your dreams.


17


#NYOTAmusic

Breana Raquel Interview by Carol Wright Photography by Jake Clark

When did singing become one of your passions? I fell in love with singing at 5 and I haven’t stopped singing since. My passion for songwriting, however, is only a couple years old! How did it feel to release your EP: Beginner’s Love? Were you nervous to share it? It felt amazing to release my EP. I worked so hard on it. I was extremely nervous to release it. It was my first real project and I was excited and anxious to see what everyone thought about it. Do you have a favorite song off of the EP? I bounce between “Honestly” and “Numb”. I can’t decide which is my favorite! What has it been like touring with High School Nation 2019? Touring with HSN was so awesome. I’ve never performed that much in my life. I had a blast with everyone who was a part of it. I’m so thankful I had that opportunity. I grew so much as a performer. I can’t wait to get back to it! Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? I’m definitely an artistic person. Whether I’m making music, acting, or painting, I’m constantly using some form of art to speak my truth. Art has made it possible for me to express who I am and share my life with others. What advice do you have for aspiring singers? I’d say don’t limit yourself to just the singer. Push yourself to be that songwriter, that producer, that engineer. A singer who sings their own words makes a sound everyone can relate to. 18


Words of Wisdom

Jen Lilley Interview by Carol Wright Photography by Brandon Moningka

Was singing always something you wanted to turn into a career? Yes and no. When I was little, I aspired to be a singer, but as I got older, I turned to acting and didn’t plan to ever pursue singing professionally. Singing found its way back to me. You’re also an actress. Did your passion for acting start before or after your passion for singing? Jinx! See above. How would you describe the music you make in three words? Timeless, Raw, Cathartic. Can you walk us through the song making process for your song “King of Hearts?” When I first began working with Adrian Gurvitz, we would sit around the piano, drinking delicious British tea, getting to know one another, and then playing riffs til we felt a riff or lyric fit. Then it built from there. Adrian really taught me so much about songwriting and more importantly, the art of storytelling through singing. What did you learn from working with producer Adrian Gurvitz? Jinx again! Great minds! Adrian taught me so much. First, he taught me to take risks and trust that my vocal range is much broader than I ever imagined. He brought me out of my shell. But if I had to pick one 19


21


#NYOTAmusic

key nugget of wisdom, it’s that the best singers aren’t always the ones who hit the notes flawlessly. The best singers make you feel something. Who are some of your musical inspirations? Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, The Temptations, Gloria Gaynor, Dusty Springfield, I could go on and on and on. I love music! The theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life.’ How has art changed your life? Through art, specifically the art of storytelling, I’ve become much more empathetic and understanding of why people behave the way they do. For example, if I’m having a horrible day, and someone is rude to me, it’s a lot easier to shrug off and remain calm and kind. Honestly, I think most rude people are just having a weak moment. They’re probably overworked, tired, hungry, or stressed (or all of the above). Everyone is coming from important circumstances, everyone has their own stresses, and everyone is an expert at something. What advice do you have for aspiring singers? Find your own voice. Be unique. Don’t get lost in the autotune world, tell YOUR story.

22


Summer Fashion Trends Illustrations by Bella Wattles

23


#NYOTAfashion

Blazers

24


Boilersuit

Mesh Dress

25


#NYOTAfashion

Coral

26


Leopard Print

27


#NYOTAfashion

Neon

Tie Dye

Strong Shoulders

Burnt Orange

28


#NYOTAculture

Priah Ferguson Interview by Carol Wright Photos by Elton Anderson

What initially got you interested in acting? I had a very outgoing personality when I was really young. I’d talk to anyone, anywhere and I’d always make these funny or interesting facial expressions, like an adult. Around the age of 4, I begged my mom to play the movie Daddy’s Little Girls and Crooklyn over and over. I knew all the lines and thought I was watching their real lives — the actresses looked like me and their emotions seemed authentic. When I asked my parents if their stories were real or fake, they explained how the people on tv are actors and how it takes years of work. Afterward, I kept pointing to the television non-stop and said: “I really want to do that.” They put me in local theatre plays, dance, workshops, just for fun...but to also learn the craft. I always stood out and had a good time, so my parents looked into getting an agent for me. How did the opportunity to be in “Stranger Things” come about? The show films in Atlanta, so my local agent and CDs emailed an audition request for the role of Lucas Sinclair’s little sister, called “Tina.” I heard about Stranger Things from my little sister, she’s into horror movies, but I hadn’t watched it yet. The role was supposed to be very small, just one episode, maybe two. The Duffer Brothers enjoyed my work and how well I took direction, so they started writing me in. I didn’t expect that. I just wanted the opportunity to show good work and what I can do. Were you nervous when you auditioned? No, I wasn’t nervous. I taped the audition and forgot about it. 30


31


#NYOTAculture

Were you expecting fans to love Erica as much as they have?

Don’t get depressed about not booking a role you may really want. Just focus on doing good work.

Well, I knew fans would love Erica because the writing was really good. Even if I didn’t book it, I thought it’ll be a fun character to watch. I didn’t expect so many fans to like it like this though (laugh). Some fans don’t, but that’s fine. I guess that means I did a good job, but I’m not like her in real life. I’m acting. How did it feel to be added to the main cast? It feels really good. Many girls from Atlanta or of color never really book big roles like this, especially for shows that film in our state. So, I’m very, very grateful to The Duffer Brothers and Netflix for adding me. It was very unexpected. What is your favorite part about playing Erica? I love her style, her hair, I like how she’s direct and has an “it is what it is” attitude, she’s a leader. It’s fun to play her. I feel like she’s relatable and you want to learn more. Can we expect Erica to be more involved in the action in season 3? Yep, you sure can. She has a squad and they have a mission. That’s about all I can say for now (laughs). Any upcoming projects you can tell us about? I want to tell stories about tween subjects people don’t really talk about. I’m planning out a documentary I want to create on colorism, how girls my age feel about it. I have some cool ideas I’m creating spec scripts for and of course, continuing to act. I really want to create and work on projects with strong writing and use my platform to inspire others and create opportunities. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Every piece of art tells a story...fashion, photography, dancing, painting, acting, designing, music...all of it. And these stories start a conversation. The conversations help me learn more about myself and what I like, it inspires me and helps me to appreciate and celebrate my history more. What advice do you have for aspiring actors? 32


#NYOTAculture

Isabella Crovetti Interview by Carol Wright Photographer: Sara Pine Hair: Sophia Porter Stylist: Tiffani Rae (Tebrich) Makeup: Donald Simrock

When did you know you wanted to be an actress? Well, I have a lot of family members who are in the arts, so I guess it’s in my blood. But how the story goes, I was watching a children’s show called Yo Gabba Gabba when I was 5 years old and I saw other kids my age on the show. They looked like they were having a lot of fun, not to mention they got to meet D.J. Lance Rock, who I thought was totally funny. I turned to my mom and asked how come those kids got to be on TV? My mom explained how it worked and asked if I wanted to try. I screamed, “Yes!”. The rest is history. How did the opportunity to be on “Vampirina” come about? I was already steadily acting, and I had been on a show called The Neighbors for two years and voicing the role of Shine in the Nickelodeon show “Shimmer and Shine.” I got a call to audition for Vampirina. I loved the show’s premise, which is to be yourself no matter how different you might seem. I instantly felt connected to the character. The show’s creator (Chris Nee) loved what I brought to the character and I was hired for the role. I am also a singer and I was especially excited because I get to sing all of Vampirina’s songs. Are there particular skills you need when you voice a character versus when you are acting face to face with other people? Yes, there are. In some ways voice acting is more difficult and some ways it is not. When you are in front of a camera you have the liberty to move around and use your physicality differently. You run through the scene and then do it again from different angles. Voice over acting is physical but a more concentrated physicality. You can’t move around the room because you have to stay in front of the microphone. So, all your energy has to be concentrated in one spot and explode out of you. There is no sitting between takes and you can be standing in the booth for some time. I do all my work standing and I am very physical to get into the essence of Vampirina. However, since it is voiceover work, I don’t have 34


to worry about hair and makeup - and if I wanted to I could come to work in my pajamas, lol. You also voice Shine on “Shimmer and Shine”. What drew you to that role? The audition for Shimmer and Shine required me to sing. They asked me to sing Happy Birthday. I looked at my mom and said Shine wouldn’t sing, she would have fun with the song and rap. I totally got who Shine was as a character. She’s basically a sassier version of me. So, I went into the audition loving and knowing Shine. I told the creators that Shine wouldn’t sing but rap and I broke into an improvisational rap version of Happy Birthday. The creator (Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz) loved it and fought for me to get the part. She said no one could play Shine but me. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art has changed my life in that I have gotten to work on so many cool projects. I have met so many wonderful people and have travelled to places I would never have been able to visit otherwise. I have also made some long-lasting friendships. Having art in my life allows me to have an outlet for my passion, energy, and expression. It makes everything brighter and happier in the world! What advice do you have for aspiring actors? Hollywood is a very small community. You get to know most of the kids in your age group because you see them all the time at auditions or work with them. I have seen some girls hit very fast in their careers and then have lulls. I have seen the opposite where girls are going on audition after audition and not booking anything. Then 5 years later they are on a huge T.V. show. You never know when your next job is going to come, but that is part of the excitement of the industry. You have to believe in yourself and love acting. This sounds cliché, but I have to say never give up your passions. The people that persevere are the ones that make their dreams a reality.

35


#NYOTAculture

@NYOTAMAGAZINE

/ NYOTA MAGAZINE

@NYOTAMAGAZINE

/NYOTAMAGAZINE 36


#NYOTAculture

Arista Arhin Interview by Carol Wright Photos by Mark Binks

You were a model before you were an actress. What motivated you to make the switch from modeling to acting? I started modelling when I was 10 and discovered my passion for acting quite spontaneously. Initially, I was doing print campaigns, then commercials, and eventually I started working on TV shows such as Odd Squad, Star Trek: Discovery, and Bajillionaires. Watching kids shows and especially seeing Zendaya and Skai Jackson as young actresses also inspired me to venture into acting. You play young Michael Burnham in “Star Trek Discovery”. How does it feel to be a part of the Star Trek franchise? It still feels unreal and I feel tremendously honoured to be part of the Star Trek franchise. At the time when I was cast as young Michael Burnham, I felt a great sense of responsibility to portray this character as authentically as possible, especially knowing that this show has a large following and I surely didn’t want to disappoint its longstanding fans and Trekkies. After the first few episodes, it was a relief to know that people enjoyed watching the show as well as my character. What drew you to Michael Burnham? It was very exciting to play Young Michael Burnham, the first human to be raised Vulcan and, more interestingly, Spock’s adopted sister! My character appears in childhood flashbacks during which adult Burnham hopes to find some explanations as to how her past affects her present. Young Burnham is a very smart and brave girl, and her character becomes quite 38


complex with each episode. I admired how determined and dedicated she is to each task. In addition to playing such a strong female character, I got to do some stunts as well, which was simply incredible. Did Sonequa Martin-Green ever give you advice on set? Sonequa and I had a very strong connection from the moment we met. She was an amazing mentor and someone I could talk to about my scenes especially how to convey the emotionally deep flashback scenes of Young Burnham’s difficult childhood. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her. Your new project is Bajillionaires, how did the opportunity to be in that series come about? Bajillionaires is a brand new comedy about a group of kids who run a start-up company out of one of the parent’s garage, and who invent things that will hopefully change the world for the better. Sometimes they fail, but with every failure, they learn something new and become better friends. The show promotes positive messages believing in yourself, youth empowerment and the importance of friendships. I play Alicia Windsor, the Chief Product Designer of the team; a geek who constantly creates prototypes for the group’s new projects. I really enjoyed portraying this character as I myself love math and coding. Would you ever consider starting a company in real life? I love fashion and would like to have my own clothing line someday. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art, and more specifically acting, has changed my life in the sense that I’ve experienced so many things that I never thought I would. I’ve been part of many amazing projects, and in the process have made some great friends and have met and worked with many fantastic people. Acting is a new lifestyle for me, and as such has become part of me. What advice do you have for aspiring actors? If acting is your true passion, pursue it. Take acting classes, find an agent, and start auditioning. Never

lose hope and always be patient, persistent and professional. Good things take time.


#NYOTAculture

40


Cina Nguyen Interview by Carol Wright

When did you first become interested in photography? I’ve always been interested in photography for as long as I can remember. My mother used to be a photographer so my sister and I were often in front of the camera or in the studio or dark room with her. Shockingly, I didn’t start taking photos or even really use a camera until my junior year of high school when I signed up for a photography class. I had to borrow a camera from school to get started in shooting and developing my own images. Years later, I purchased my first DSLR from Craigslist. It was a Nikon d40x. How did you get into concert photography? Were you nervous to start shooting at shows? I discovered music photography when I took a trip to Austin in 2015 to attend SXSW for the first time. When I came back to D.C., I started going to more shows with my brother and sister. I remember seeing photographers at venues and in the pit and had no idea what was going on, what they were doing, who they were working for but I knew I wanted to be part of it. After doing a lot of research, I created a website which showcased random photos I’ve taken over the years and a few iPhone concert photos. After the website was made, I started sending out some emails to a few publications. After a few rejections or unanswered emails, I finally got a response and was assigned my first gig in October 2015. I was extremely nervous when I started. I still am. I would get sick before any shoot and forced my brother to buy a ticket to attend some of the shows with me. I’m a lot more comfortable now but I still struggle with


#NYOTAculture

a little anxiety before a show. It helps knowing other photogs and familiarizing yourself with the venue but I don’t think the feeling of being anxious will ever go away. Which isn’t ecessarily a bad thing. What were some obstacles you had to overcome as your career started? I still have obstacles I have to overcome. I get questioned a lot about the authenticity of my credentials when I go to shows but this is something many have to deal with and probably will always have to deal with. I’m still working on building genuine relationships with clients I work with whether it’s with the artists/bands, PR, management or publications and even other creatives in the field. At times it’s difficult to know how to interact with people. I try my best to be myself but it’s easy to get in your head and overthink on how you should act or respond. Do you have a favorite concert venue in DC? I love the 9:30 Club. It’s a historic venue and nationally known. I take such pride when I see artists wear the iconic 9:30 Club black t-shirt. DC9 is probably my second favorite venue because it’s small and makes every show so intimate. Your concert photography has a very distinct look. How do you go about making your photos unique? I experiment a lot with my editing. I try not to hold back when I have an idea on how I want my final image to look. I just go for it and if it doesn’t end up how I envisioned it, I start over and try different color schemes or textures until it feels right. I was recently told that my brand or style is “.. kaleidoscopic concert photography that directly represents the feeling of immense wonder and pleasure we experience when we enjoy live music” and I resonated with that description so much. For the longest time I had trouble articulating how to describe my style or what I was trying to potray with my photos but that description was so spot on. My edits can be extreme but it’s a representation of how I feel when I’m listening to live music; burst of colors and lights that creates a sense of nostalgia when watching a live show.

favorite feeling when I’m shooting. The best feeling is when I’m in the pit and the music starts and I can feel the energy from the crowd and I start to get lost in what I’m doing that it becomes second nature when I start shooting. It’s like I don’t have to second guess the shot I’m going to get, I just enjoy the music and performance and take a break from what I’m doing to embrace what’s happening in front of me. Eventually, I just know when and where to aim my camera and capture the emotions that’s being displayed in front of me. This doesn’t happen often because I’m usually a nervous wreck in the pit and I’m always calculating my moves to make sure I get the photos I need but then there are times when it’s just so easy being there. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Photography and music has definitely changed my life. I used to be somewhat of a bitter person because I didn’t have a creative outlet to express myself. I felt suffocated not being able to create anything with my photography. When I got involved in the world of music photography, it was like a weight was lifted and I could breathe again. I’ve also met so many amazing people from all different backgrounds along the way and that has helped me be more understanding and patient and see things in different ways. What advice do you have for aspiring photographers? One advice I’d give for aspiring photographers is, be authentic. Try not to create art that you think people want to see because it’s what’s trending at the moment, create what’s true to yourself. Be genuine and honest.

What is one of your favorite shows you’ve shot? I’m not sure if I can pin point a specific show that I can consider a favorite but I can definitely talk about my 42


Photography Feature

Cina Nguyen


#NYOTAculture

44


45


#NYOTAculture

46


47


#NYOTAculture

48


Kai Wener Interview by Carol Wright Photo by Birdie Thompson

When did you realize you wanted to act? I don’t think there was really any moment that I realized that I wanted to act, but ever since I can remember, I loved mimicking commercials and scenes from TV shows and movies. That love led to actually auditioning for National Commercials and everything kind of just fell into place for me from there. Now that I am acting on TV Shows I wouldn’t want to do anything else! I’m having so much fun! What was the audition process like for “The Orville”? I remember my Agent sending over sides and my parents confirming that I had an audition for a new show on FOX. I was given the breakdown of the character TY Finn and different scenes from the script, in which i practiced over the next couple of days. I was pretty excited on the day that I went in to read for the casting directors. I gave it my all. I honestly remember telling my Mom, wouldn’t that be a coincidence if I book a character whos name is Ty and mine is Kai!!! After about two weeks, we received a call from my Agent that I was being considered for the part and they were just waiting for the final approval from the network. Those were the longest days of my life! I totally kept my fingers crossed! A few days later, I finally heard the good news that I booked the role! I was thrilled!!! Can you relate to your character Ty at all?


#NYOTAculture

Yes, I can relate to Ty in so many ways! We both like to explore and go on adventures. As well as, share a huge amount of love for our Mom. Following, our love for music, which you’ll get to see develop this season! What was been your favorite episode to shoot so far? My favorite episode to shoot so far has been Episode 8 from Season 1, “Into the Fold.” It was the first time my character was introduced on the show and we were able to film it at some really cool locations like The Disney Ranch and Frazier Park. On top of that, I was able to do some of my own stunts in the show, which was a lot of fun! What is it like working with Seth MacFarlane and the rest of the cast? Do they give you advice on set?

some really great opportunities to read for some other awesome projects, fingers are crossed! I have also just wrapped shooting a National Commercial and Print Work. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art allows me to creatively express myself. It is a way of sharing my unique gifts and talents with the world. For me, that is through acting and music. What advice do you have for aspiring actors? I’ll give the same advice that my dad tells me. When it comes to acting as a kid, it’s no different than playing a sport like baseball, basketball, or football. There’s going to be wins when you book a job, and losses that you’ll have to move on from. It’s going to take time and commitment. If you want to be successful, you must practice, work hard every day and be patient!

Working with Mr. Seth MacFarlane is so awesome. I don’t think there are many kids that have gotten the opportunity to work with Mr. Seth, so I feel lucky that I’ve been able to learn from him. What so many people don’t see is how hard he works on this show and how he’s always there to make sure everything comes out perfect, no matter how many takes! Working with the rest of the cast is super fun also ! Everyone is supportive and encouraging when I am on set filming. I definitely get advice from the cast and crew depending on if i’m doing a scene where I’m playing the piano or an emotional one. I know there is so much experience on this set, so I just try to be like a sponge and soak it all in! How did you feel when you got a Young Artist Award nomination? It’s always nice when people see your work and want to recognize it in any way. When I found out I was nominated for the Young Artist Award, I was proud to be able to represent the show for everyone on “The Orville.” I also just recently found out that there are so many sci-fi fans that are kids and teens that watch “The Orville,” so I think its great to be nominated for an award that focuses on us kids! Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about? Since wrapping season 2 of “The Orville,” I’ve had 50


Jackie Jacobson Interview by Carol Wright Photo by Brian Love

When did acting become a passion of yours?

Do you have a favorite scene from the show?

Ever since I was little, I would put on shows for my family and friends. I memorized episodes of my favorite shows and re-enacted them for my family! I knew when I was older this was going to be what I wanted to do forever.

The last scene of episode 8 is for sure my favorite. You see all the characters come together one last time before summer ends and celebrate everything they’ve done. In reality, we felt the exact same way. It was super hard to say bye to everyone, but there’s so much love in that scene and I think it will really come across to the viewers.

How did the opportunity to be in “Malibu Rescue” come about? My agents got me the audition but I originally auditioned for the role of “Lizzie.” I went in a couple of times and then the producers had me read for “Dylan” and everything just clicked. What about “Malibu Rescue” interested you? I was first drawn to Malibu Rescue after reading the full script. It was a super cute family movie that I knew my family could all watch. I also go to Malibu all the time and to be able to feel like a real lifeguard seemed so cool. Being able to hang out at the beach all day with my cast mates was the cherry on top. Can you relate to your character Dylan in any way? Absolutely. Honestly, when I did the movie, I thought me and Dylan were polar opposites, but as filming went on during the show, I realized Dylan and I are similar in many ways. She always tries her best at everything and never gives up, and she’s kind of a dork. There are different parts to Dylan that I think every girl could relate to!

How does it feel to be apart of the Netflix family? Being a part of the Netflix family is a dream come true! Netflix is such an amazing platform with so many opportunities. There is something for everyone and I feel so blessed!!! Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? I think art is very therapeutic. It’s a good way to express yourself and release your emotions. Whether you’re painting, dancing or even acting, you have the ability to tell stories and move people. Art is many different things to many different people. What advice do you have for aspiring actors? Be resilient. This industry is brutal, and rejection never gets easier, but if you have a set goal and a passion for acting, you can’t let anything stand in your way. Put in the time and the effort and results will naturally flow in!


#NYOTAculture

Emerson Min Interview by Carol Wright Photo by @flygirlphoto

Did a certain TV show or movie get you interested in acting? No TV show or movie inspired me to act. However, my mom did. She’s a director and put me in her short film. Ever since then I’ve fallen in love with it. I started doing commercials when I was six, then about a year or two ago I started doing film and TV. What drew you to “Always Be My Maybe”? At first, I thought “Always Be My Maybe” was just a cute romantic comedy, then I realized it was cast with all Asian-Americans. That meant a great deal to me because it shows how Asians are capable of playing lead roles in a film. Even a romantic film! Did you work with Randall Park when you were figuring out how to best portray your character, Marcus? I felt I knew Marcus. We have similar experiences growing up Korean, and that helped me understand how to play him as a young version of Randall’s character. How does it feel to be apart of a Netflix movie? Do you hope to work with Netflix again in the future? I’ve always wanted to be in a Netflix film, especially since I saw them allow Asians to play lead roles.

I noticed Netflix has given writers freedom to break ground and take risks. For example, giving Lana Condor the lead in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, was really groundbreaking. I can’t wait to be in another Netflix film! Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Even when I was little, I always loved art. If it was painting, drawing, tap dancing, singing, acting in theatre, or on camera, I loved it all! Art has impacted my life in a tremendous way. It is my favorite activity in and out of school. We are about to perform our play “The Rules of Comedy”, and I am over the top excited. Earlier in the year I did visual arts (pottery, enameling, and drawing) which I’ve grown to really enjoy. What advice do you have for aspiring actors? Never give up. One of the hardest parts of acting is getting so close to booking a role. Usually, it’s due to something you have no control over. There have been so many close opportunities in my career that I lost. It’s devastating especially when it comes down to just two. But you can’t let it get to you and just have to shake it off. Sometimes it’s going to be hard – really hard where you feel you are done with it. The hardest part to acting isn’t about how talented you are, because there are a lot of talent, but it’s about how fast you can get right back up after disappointment. 54


Xolo Maridueña Interview by Carol Wright Photographer Tim Schaeffer at Cellar Door Studios @cellardoorstudios.la Grooming: Joseph Adivari @adivaribeauty

When did you become interested in acting? I think the movie ‘Up’ is the reason I tried to get into acting, I love that movie so much and I’m always trying to be a part of movies like these that make people feel good but also so sad. After watching ‘Up’ there were a few other movies like ‘Usual Suspects’ and ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ that got me even more interested in everything that comes with acting! Before auditioning for ‘Cobra Kai’ were you a fan of the Karate Kid movies? Before I auditioned for Cobra Kai, I had not seen the original karate kid, or at least I didn’t remember it. I knew the big pop culture references like “sweep the leg” or “put him in a body bag“ but I didn’t know the full story of the Karate Kid. Looking back at it, it is very surreal to get to work with actors on the show that played such a big role in people’s lives. In the series, you’re the first student under Sensei Johnny. Were you excited to be working with William Zabka? Has he given you any advice on set? I was a little nervous to work with Billy at first, being around people with experience in the work field can be intimidating at times (especially when they’re huge stars). I quickly found out how comforting, welcoming, and genuine Billy is. I’m glad to call him my friend and sensei. I can’t wait to see what stories we tell in the future. ‘Cobra Kai’ has been a huge hit. Was it rewarding to see fans positive reaction to the first season? Hearing the reactions to Cobra Kai Season 1 has

been like a double edge sword, on one hand, I really enjoy hearing all of the positive reactions people have towards something that we’ve worked long and hard to perfect. On the other hand, because the show has done so well, it added a new layer of pressure when we started to film Season 2. The pressure came from all of our newfound fans that have expectations for it to be just as good if not better than the first season. Things were pretty intense after the season 1 finale. What can fans expect from Miguel in season 2? Fans can expect to see Miguel grow and flourish as a young teen trying to find his place in high school, very much like myself, it’s hard to decide what is right and wrong when you’re experiencing many new things for the first time. You can expect to see Miguel learn by successes and sometimes failure but most of all, with the help of his sensei Johnny Lawrence. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art influences my life every day, particularly, music. I listen to music more often than not. From Hip Hop to Jazz to Rock, I try to diversify as often as possible when it comes to different type of art. Watching movies and tv shows also inspires me to create stories that people are able to feel for. What advice do you have for aspiring actors? You can’t be afraid to fail, but most of all in this industry, you’re going to hear a lot of “no’s” but all it takes is one yes so don’t let all of the no’s discourage you. That’s all.


#NYOTAculture

Words of Wisdom

Kristina Ho Interview by Carol Wright Photo by James Nguyen

When did you become interested in acting? This is going to sound extremely random, but the film Happy Gilmore inspired me. I was in 3rd grade when I first saw that movie probably too young to be watching it to be honest, but I remember laughing SO MUCH. It was the funniest thing. And I remember thinking, “Wow. That movie made me really happy. I want to do that. I want to help make other people happy and laugh – just like that movie did.” That was one of the reasons I wanted to get in the industry. It wasn’t until high school where I actually started to act. What about working on “Power Rangers Beast Morphers” interested you? The fact that it’s been on for 26 years was already enough to draw me to this project. It’s the first season where it is owned by Hasbro - which is honestly mind blowing to be part of the start of the Hasbro era for Power Rangers. One thing about the show that I love the most is that it actually teaches kids about values and friendship and working as a team for the greater good. It’s seriously an awesome, heart touching, and actionpacked show. Can you relate to your character Betty Burke? Oh yeah. I relate to Betty a lot in the sense where we are both courageous, ambitious, loud and will always try to do what is right and help out whenever we can. I’m definitely “the helper” in my friend group. I want everyone to be okay and happy – usually putting others before myself, just like Betty, which I am constantly learning that even though it is nice to help people, I just can’t forget about helping myself and taking care of myself! 58


Did you have to train for your role in “Power Rangers Beast Morphers”? Yes! We have tons of stunt rehearsals. Betty and Ben surprisingly have a LOT of stunts in Beast Morphers, which has been one of my favorite parts. I’m usually in a harness about once a week or so – flying across the room, falling down from a high spot, getting flipped, getting spun, etc etc. It’s definitely intense, but oh so fun. Not everyone gets to do that for their job! There have been many times on set where we’re doing such crazy and fun things, and the cast and crew are like, “We’re getting paid to do this!!!” The Japanese and New Zealand stunt team are extremely helpful (and insanely talented), and are always making sure that Cosme who plays Ben and I are safe. We definitely couldn’t do any of these things without them. Do you have a favorite scene you’ve shot? Yes… but I can’t say which scene it is because it’ll be airing during the second season! Outside of acting, what are your creative outlets? Ooooooh… I love cooking and dancing. Some people might not think of cooking as a “creative” thing, but you’re literally creating something! A lot of thought and love goes into it. Whenever you taste a meal that has been prepared with love and care and thought, you can totally taste the difference – just like with any type of art. And when it comes to dancing, I am always down to dance! You’ll most likely see me busting a move wherever I go. Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life? Art has saved my life – just as I’m sure it has saved others. I believe that art is what connects us all as humans. We all live for that connection. It has always been a place where humans can inspire other humans. A place where anyone can tell a story – no matter where you come from or what you look like. A place where we can all love each other for who we are – and hopefully inspire the rest of the world to do the same. I love that it takes SO many different people coming together to make a movie, a tv show… so many people come together just to tell a story – a story that can hopefully change someone’s life for the better. You just never know who you could be saving when you tell a story, especially when you tell your story.

What advice do you have for aspiring actors? Work hard, but be gentle on yourself. There definitely has to be that balance. This industry is going to try to beat you up. There are going to be so many rejections. So you need to have your own back. You need to love yourself, and surround yourself with good people who only want the best for you! Take care of your mental, emotional, physical, and if you’re into it spiritual health. In this industry, people are going to try to define you or tell you what they think you need to do to be “a successful actor.” ALWAYS stay true to yourself. Listen to your gut. What works for one person, might not work for someone else. Everyone has their own path! So be patient with yourself and figure out what works for you.


#NYOTAculture

@NYOTAMAGAZINE

/ NYOTA MAGAZINE

@NYOTAMAGAZINE

/NYOTAMAGAZINE 60


Stay Tuned for more Nyota Magazine Subscribe to us on www.issuu/nyotamagazine Buy a print copy on Blurb Follow us on instagram @nyotamagazine Want to contribute? Contact us at nyotamag@gmail.com


Photo by Cina Nguyen

Profile for Nyota Magazine

Nyota Issue 16