Efren Ramirez has been working as a professional actor for many years. Initially, his career consisted of guest star appearances on television, as he appeared in diverse roles on "E.R.", "AMERICAN DAD", "JUDGING AMY", "THE DISTRICT", "MAD TV", and "SCRUBS."
However, it was his memorable portrayal of "PEDRO" in the feature film "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE" that dramatically launched what has become a hugely prolific acting career with an unusually diverse series of performances in Film, Television, Drama, Comedy...every imaginable medium and genre.
In the years since that film was released, Efren Ramirez has appeared in scores of films and television shows, including leading roles in the HBO film "WALKOUT"; with Edward James Olmos, "EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH"; opposite Dane Cook and Dax Shepard, "CRANK" and CRANK HIGH VOLTAGE; opposite Jason Statham, (playing his own twin brother in the sequel.) He also appeared in "GAMER" with Gerard Butler, "WHEN IN ROME" with Kristen Bell, "CROSSING THE HEART" opposite Kris Kristofferson, "HOUSE OF MY FATHER" opposite Will Ferrell, and HBO's EASTBOUND AND DOWN" with Danny McBride.
Most recently, you can expect to see him in FOX's Television hit "THE GRINDER" with Rob Lowe and the animated series "BORDERTOWN" with Hank Azaria and Alex Bernstein, HULU's "DEADBEAT" with Tyler Labine, and the film "MIDDLESCHOOL: THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE" based on the James Patterson best seller.
Efren Ramirez currently resides in Los Angeles and New York. When he isn't filming, he is spinning records as a guest D.J. in clubs all across the country. He has published his first book DIRECT YOUR OWN LIFE. Efren recently returned from a USO TOUR visiting our troops in Bahrain, UAE, Dubai, and Africa. He frequently speaks to students at high schools and universities and is very involved with charitable organizations.
Joanne Rowling was born in Yate, near Bristol, a few miles south of a town called Dursley ("Harry Potter"'s Muggle-family). Her father Peter Rowling was an engineer for Rolls Royce in Bristol at this time. Her mother, Anne, was half-French and half-Scottish. They met on a train as it left King's Cross Station in London. Her sister Diana is about 2 years younger than Joanne. In 1971, Peter Rowling moved his family to the nearby village of Winterbourne (still in the Bristol vicinity). During the family's residence in Winterbourne, Jo and Di Rowling were friends with neighborhood children, Ian and Vikki Potter. In 1974, the Rowling family moved yet again, this time to Tutshill, near the Welsh border-town of Chepstow in the Forest of Dean and across the Severn River from the greater Bristol area. Rowling admits to having been a bit of a daydreamer as a child and began writing stories at the age of six. After leaving Exeter University, where she read French and Classics, she started work as a teacher but daydreamed about becoming a writer. One day, stuck on a delayed train for four hours between Manchester and London, she dreamed up a boy called "Harry Potter". That was in 1990. It took her six years to write the book. In the meantime, she went to teach in Portugal, married a Portuguese television journalist, had her daughter, Jessica, divorced her husband and returned to Britain when Jessica was just three months old. She went to live in Edinburgh to be near her sister, Di. Her sudden penury made her realize that it was "back-against-the-wall time" and she decided to finish her "Harry Potter" book. She sent the manuscript to two agents and one publisher, looking up likely prospects in the library. One of these agents that she picked at random based on the fact that she liked his name, Christopher Little, was immediately captivated by the manuscript and signed her on as his client within three days. During the 1995-1996 time-frame, while hoping to get the manuscript for "Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone" published, Rowling worked as a French teacher in Edinburgh. Several publishers turned down the manuscript before Bloomsbury agreed to purchase it in 1996.
Vincent Gale received his stage training at the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland, and his credits include Beggars in the House of Plenty, in which he appeared with Babz Chula, Criminals in Love, The Miracle Worker, and The Relapse.
He won a Best Dramatic Actor Award from The Alberta Motion Picture Industry for his role of "Jimmy" in Bordertown Café.
A multi-award-winning director, writer, producer and actor, Stuart Gillard is a three time nominee for the prestigious DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award, winning for Going to the Mat, a movie he directed for the Walt Disney Company. Mr. Gillard is a man of many talents whose career spans three decades. After graduating from the University of Alberta, Gillard was one of twelve candidates selected to study acting at the National Theatre School in Montreal, Canada. He then was invited to Seattle, Washington where he was a founding member of the University of Washington Professional Acting Troupe. He returned to Canada where he won the country's top acting awards.
This led to many job offers in Los Angeles where, in addition to acting, he began his directing and writing career. Mr. Gillard has written and directed several feature films including If You Could See What I Hear, Indigo Autumn, Paradise, A Man Called Sarge and Kart Racer. He also wrote and directed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III for New Line Cinema , one of the top-selling movies of all time. In addition Mr. Gillard has directed twelve movies for the Walt Disney Company, including RocketMan and Twitches, the latter being the Number One Cable Movie of the Year.
Gillard has directed for all the major television networks including multiple episodes of the popular series, Beauty and the Beast, 90210, Ringer, Emily Owens, Charmed, Lonesome Dove, One Tree Hill and All Souls, a series he also co-created and co-wrote for Paramount and Spelling Television. He has directed many successful Television Dramatic Pilots, including Poltergeist, Bordertown, Legacy and the two-hour movie, Sandkings, the pilot of Outer Limits, which earned him an ACE award for Best Director and which ran for 150 episodes.
Mr. Gillard is currently (2016) the Executive Producer/Director for CBS Studios Beauty and the Beast. He resides in Montecito, California with his wife, producer/columnist Marilyn Majerczyk and their children.
Teresa Ruiz is a Mexican American actress who is considered one of Mexicos most prominent and respected young actresses.
A lifetime member of The Actors Studio both in New York and Los Angeles. Ruiz is also a graduate of the Meisner and Adler Technique with subsequent studies at the Odin Teatret in Denmark led by Eugenio Barba.
Some of her awards include: The Mexican Mayahuel, The Palms of Amiens, France and The India Catalina in Colombia; Teresa is also a winner and nominee to Mexican Academy Award of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Ariel and of the CANACINE Award all of them as Best Actress.
In theater, she has toured with plays staged in different countries including: UK, Spain, Cuba, Denmark, The United States and Mexico.
Her filmography includes titles such as: Bordertown by Gregory Nava, Welcome Paisano by Rafael Villaseñor Kuri, Mariachi Gringo by Tom Gustafson, Viaje Redondo by Gerardo Tort, Tlatelolco by Carlos Bolado, Cherry Palace by Fez Noriega, Ciudadano Buelna by Felipe Cazals, Colosio: The Assassination directed by Carlos Bolado and Mexicos most highly anticipated Cantinflas by Sebastian Del Amo. Mrs. Ruiz has also appeared in more than a dozen other film and TV titles.
As a producer she presented Leap Year (Año Bisiesto) at the Directors Fortnight for the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, which was awarded with the Camera DOr, a most prestigious award given to a Mexican film for the first time. Her second production Nos Vemos, Papa was premiered at the 2012 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
Brian Goff is an alumnus of the prestigious acting training facility, The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA. Brian started his acting career at the age of 7. He has been featured in over 20 television commercials. Brian just finished his starring role in Bordertown, which will be released late 2015. Brian has also been cast in 6 other upcoming feature films, which include, Hellstorm, Acts of Thaddeus, Iron Coffin, Madhouse, Revenge, and Thou Shalt Not.
Marabina Jaimes is a powerful presence in all areas of entertainment. This Emmy-Award-Winning Host of the hit PBS show "Storytime!" is also the 2010 Imagen Award nominee on the Internet Talk Show from Latin Heat, "Let's Talk." Blessed with a unique talent, Marabina's (pronounced as Mara-Vina) powerful and sexy voice is in high demand for English and Spanish language voice over. Marabina Jaimes' voice is recognized in Spanish every week as Mary Alice Young on ABC's "Desperate Housewives." Additionally, Marabina Jaimes is heard weekly as voice talent for CBS's Emmy Award winning show "The Good Wife," and the newly premiered ABC show for 2011 "Off The Map." Marabina Jaimes is one of the lovely co-hosts on "Let's Talk" an English speaking talk show with "chatter that matters" featuring strong, dynamic Latinas: Bel Hernandez (Publisher of Latin Heat), Dyana Ortelli (Comedian/Actress), and Red Carpet Diva, Kikey Castillo. Marabina is a singer and songwriter who composed the theme music for "Let's Talk". Self described as a Mexi-Rican, she is always being recognized by adoring fans as "MARA", the Emmy-Award-Winning Host of PBS' "Storytime!" As the first Spanish speaking talking Barbie voice, Marabina is firmly established in pop culture. As a cartoon voice talent, Marabina starred as Carmen de la Antchez with Tony Plana in the first Latin centered cartoon by Klasky-Csupo called "Santo Bugito" on CBS. Other TV Voice Artistry and On Camera includes: Middleman, Raising The Bar, Weeds, Cane, Life, The Nine, CSI Miami, Revelations, Rugrats, Resurrection Boulevard, Law and Order, Beverly Hills 90210, and General Hospital. Films: Singing Siren in "Pirates of the Caribbean", Oscar Winning "Crazy Heart", "Beverly Hills Chihuahua", "Crossing Over", "The Perfect Game" "Choke" "Bordertown", "Shark Tale", "High School High" and "White Oleander." Marabina is on camera as the main subject, along with her other "Desperate Housewives" for a documentary on the trials and tribulations of Latina Actresses in Hollywood titled "And Now En Espanol." Marabina's theater work includes Paquito's Christmas - also an Imagen Award winner - (by Luis Avalos, music by Emilio Kauderer) at Washington's Kennedy Center and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Bandido! at the Mark Taper (by Luis Valdez, Music by Lalo Shifrin), Two Sisters and a Piano at South Coast Repertory. Marabina Jaimes has won several theater drama awards including the LA Women's Theater Festival Rainbow Award. She has done hundreds of commercials in both Spanish and English, including: IKEA (Spanish announcer), Cingular, Bally's Total Fitness, Office Depot, Payless Shoes, and Sears. In addition to her promo work for Fox Network TV, Marabina Jaimes is the Bilingual Staff Announcer at KCET Los Angeles and VeeMeTV. In 2011, Marabina Jaimes plays the cut throat lady detective on Ruth Livier's YLSE, a hit Internet program that recently won the Imagen Award for Best Internet Show. Marabina is the Host and Segment Producer for YLSE: Behind The Scenes.
Began performing in high school and subsequently appeared in over 120 hours of television and fourteen feature films including Fred Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, John Duigan's Mouth to Mouth, Tom Jeffrey's The Odd Angry Shot, Dusan Makavejev's The Coca-Cola Kid, Fred Schepisi's Evil Angels ("A Cry in the Dark") and Bill Bennett's Malpractice. Turning to direction, he was selected from over a thousand applicants to attend the Australian Film Television and Radio School to specialise in Screen Direction. Completing his Diploma, he immediately went into pre-production on the AFC/PBL telefeature Double Sculls for Producer Richard Brennan. Since then, has directed the mini series Snowy and Bordertown as well as the multi award winning Phoenix and Water Rats. In 1992 he was the set up director on the PRO Films / Fremantle Corporation's Black Beauty which was awarded The International TV Programmers' Award at the 1994 New York Festival. He subsequently directed the pilot for Newlyweds which ran four seasons and was on the first season of Ben Gannon and Michael Jenkin's European Hit Heartbreak High. His subsequent work included Tales of the South Seas a UFA, Gaumont Television, Village Roadshow production produced by Darryl Sheen, and Flipper for Tribune Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Television and Village Roadshow. He directed the Paramount telemovie Code Red and the series, BeastMaster for Alliance Atlantis with Coote Hayes and The Lost World for Telescene Film Group and Coote Hayes. In 2002 he directed the 3 hr mini series "Bootleg" for the BBC and Burberry Productions. "Bootleg" was awarded the BAFTA for Best Children's Drama and went on to win the Logie and ATOM awards. He subsequently directed three episodes of the multi award winning Australian Children's Television Foundation's series "Mortified" and two Movies of the Week for the Sci Fi Network.
Herbert Siguenza is a founding member of the performance group Culture Clash. Along with Richard Montoya and Ric Salinas ,Culture Clash is the most produced Latino theatre troupe in the United States. Founded in San Francisco in 1984, Culture Clash has performed on the stages of America's top regional theaters including the Mark Taper Forum, The Kennedy Center, The Arena Stage, The Alley Theatre, The Berkeley Repertory, Yale Repertory, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep, Syracuse Stage, The Huntington Stage and countless universities and colleges. Mr. Siguenza has co-written, and or performed in the following Culture Clash plays: American Night (Commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival) ,Palestine New Mexico, Water and Power, Chavez Ravine (all three commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum) , Peace (Commissioned by The Getty Villa), Zorro in Hell! (Commissioned by the Berkeley Rep), The Birds (Commissioned by the Berkeley Rep and South Coast Rep), Bordertown (commissioned by the San Diego Rep), Radio Mambo, Nuyorican Stories, Anthems, S.O.S., A Bowl of Beings, The Mission and others. As a solo writer and performer Mr. Siguenza has produced Cantinflas! and A Weekend with Pablo Picasso on national tour. His latest plays Steal Heaven and El Henry (Best new play San Diego Critics Circle Award 2014) have been produced at the San Diego Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse. Mr. Siguenza is also an accomplished visual artist and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. He has a BFA in printmaking from the California College of Arts, Oakland, California. TV and Film credits: "Ben Ten Alien Swarm" for the Cartoon Network, "Larry Crowne" feature film directed by Tom Hanks. Various short films.
An award-winning producing veteran, distinguished across a range of content platforms, Simon Fields served from 2003 to March 2013 as President, in partnership with Jennifer Lopez, at Nuyorican Productions. The partnership in the Los Angeles-based film and television production company began as a result of their successful collaboration on the film "Shall We Dance," which grossed over $200 million worldwide.
Fields, a native of London, received his education at Stowe School. After graduation he worked his way through the television commercial production ranks in London to become Production Manager for the Moving Picture Company. In 1980, Fields became a producer for Jon Roseman Productions and moved to L.A. within a year to run its U.S. division.
In 1981 he co-founded Limelight, a company focused on music video, commercial, and feature film production, with operations in Los Angeles and London. As President and CEO, Fields - along with Co-President Steve Barron - led the growth of the company to annual revenues of over $150 million, overseeing an award-winning television commercial division whose accounts included Calvin Klein, Nike, and Budweiser, as well as producing the hit feature film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Under Fields' leadership, Limelight became distinguished as a leader in music video production, garnering numerous awards for innovative projects with Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Peter Gabriel, A-ha, David Bowie and myriad others.
Toward the end of his tenure with Limelight, Fields teamed with director Peter Chelsom in developing and producing feature films. Together, they shepherded the romantic comedy "Hear my Song," the Buena Vista distributed "Funny Bones" starring Oliver Platt and Jerry Lewis (which earned Fields and Chelsom a London Critics Circle film award for British producer of the year), "Serendipity" starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, and Miramax's hugely successful romantic comedy "Shall We Dance," starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Jennifer Lopez.
Through Nuyorican, Fields has produced several feature films and served as executive producer on many television productions. He has produced, with Nuyorican, the crime drama "Bordertown" starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas, the Picture House release of "El Cantante," the story of salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe, starring Lopez and Marc Anthony, and the Sony Pictures release of "Feel the Noise," a drama set in New York & Puerto Rico. The company has also produced "Dancelife," a dance competition reality series for MTV, and "South Beach," an edgy series set in South Beach about a young man's rites of passage. Fields also developed and served as Executive Producer on the ABC Family scripted show "The Fosters," which premiered in June 2013. In addition to a prolific development slate with scripted projects at Fox, ABC, and CBS, Nuyorican, under Fields' tenure, also boasts a fast growing non-scripted/reality division, and is in production on "South Beach Tow's" third season. Fields, under his new production banner, Fields Entertainment, is currently in production on the second season of "The Carbonaro Effect" for TruTV. Fields is also in pre-production on the motion picture "Blowback," in partnership with Shine Pictures.
|Brian Knox McGugan
Brian Knox McGugan ~ (BFA acting U of A ~ actor, director, vocal performer & theatre maker) is a powerful & complex performer born in Calgary Alberta of geologist parents. Dr. Alan McGugan and Dr. June E. Rapson-McGugan. They encouraged him as an artist from the beginning, enrolling him in kindergarten at the then very experimental Allied Arts Centre in Calgary. At the early age of 8 he was thrust upon stage as Dennis the Menace with 1 line that brought the house down. The year following he represented Earl Grey Elementary school, chosen as narrator for a school video documentary under the watchful encouragement of the well spoken Earl Jensen, the school librarian. In younger years, Brian and his mother frequently attended the theatre in Calgary, and in his teens they took many theatre holidays at the Shaw and Stratford festivals in Ontario.
Perhaps most inspired by drama teacher Gary Stromsmoe at Western Canada High School in Calgary, whose underground exciting adult approach to high school theatre made it the coolest place to be in school, Brian followed in the creative footsteps of other Stromsmoe disciples such as Michael Green, One Yellow Rabbit, Ikarus, Jason Thompson & David Gordon
Brian Knox McGugan apprenticed in "The Lark" (Nicol Williamson) & "King Lear"(Len Cariou) at the Citadel theatre Edmonton in the early 1980's, and created acted & produced exciting original performances with his experimental theatre group, "The Acting Gypsies", including the infamous version of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis", starring Jason Thompson, Michael Charrois & Doug Ferris.
Following his graduation from the University of Alberta BFA (acting) program, Brian wrote & performed in his one-man psycho thriller "The Man With The Jelly Mask" from 1989 - 1991, across Canada from Victoria to Toronto, garnering fantastic reviews.
As a motion picture actor, Brian's favorite appearances include: Anne Wheeler's "Cowboys Don't Cry", "Prom Night 2", "Danger Bay", "MacGyver", "Highlander", "The X Files", "Bordertown" & "Murphy's Law" to name just a few. From the 1990's until early 2000's, Brian also worked extensively behind the camera on series, features and commercials in several departments, including locations, AD, editorial camera, and as video playback coordinator, learning the movie biz as he earned, and as a volunteer at Rogers community television for over 5 years, Brian created dozens of short videos, crewed, shot and edited many others, and executive produced Linda Darlow's 12 episode Biz-series, "Reel Pro-Files"
Cast as Jeff in the short play, "Motifs & Repetitions" at UBC's Brave New Playwrights festival, Brian was so intrigued by this haunting & poetic work of theatre that he then produced, directed & starred in the film adaptation of the work, selling it first to the Bravo Channel & subsequently to the Knowledge Network.
Now dedicated solely to his passion & craft, Brian performs in films from large to small, including lead roles in Kevin Tyson's feature "PLUS", Jack McQuistin's "The Interview" & in George Allen's "Franks Case". Nominated best supporting actor, he co-starred with Curtis Caravaggio as SS Brigadefürer Reiner in the WW2 short, "Ghosts of Europe" (winner ~ best international film, 168 festival L.A. 2012). Featured as a supporting lead in Kristian Messere's feature, "Stockholders", then Brian played Mr. Valentino in Christoph Kozitsa's feature "Old Traditions". As a proud member of the Queer community and drawn to work with a deeper sense of purpose, Brian won the outstanding performer award for his portrayal of a Gay Catholic priest in Sophie Romvari's "Sunday Morning", followed by a role in Sophie's second film "Cold Feet". Nurturing emerging filmmakers and the exploding local indy scene is of the greatest importance to Brian, whose work continues with Christoph Kositza's "Rehab" & "Dreg", and as Salavan the wizard in Nikki Wallin's apocalyptic fantasy pilot, "The Children of Pellah"
Brian Knox McGugan selectively returns to act in live theatre, (weight lifting for the actor), most particularly as an ongoing company member with 7 Tyrants theatre: "A Good Woman of Setzuan", "Beggars Opera" and in the sold out hit "Judge Dee & the Haunted Garden" 3 times, twice as the title character.
He recently completed the Arts Club Theatre's Actors' intensive program in the spring of 2012, led by mentors Dean Paul Gibson, Anthony Ingram, Scott Bellis & Wendy Gorling, and every day continues to raise the bar for both himself and his colleagues with his commitment to excellence, through work & professional study in music, theatre & film.
Nelson Algren, the author of two of the seminal works of post-World War II American letters ("The Man With the Golden Arm" and "A Walk on the Wild Side") was born Nelson Ahlgren Abraham on March 28, 1909 in Detroit, Michigan, into a Jewish family. His paternal grandfather, who was on Scandinavian extraction, had converted to Judaism on his own volition, and then married a Jewish woman, as had his half-Jewish father. Nelson had an older sister, Bernice.
His family's roots were in Chicago, Carl Sandburg's "City of Broad Shoulders", and in Black Oak, Indiana, where his grandparents owned a trading post, and in 1913, his parents moved back to Chicago, settling into what was then an Irish neighborhood on the South Side. The future writer attended the neighborhood public schools. Chicago would become his muse and be the real subject of his all his major works,a major character in his oeuvre just as it was for the writer James T. Farrell in his Studs Lonigan trilogy.
The family subsequently relocated to the Chicago's Northwest Side, where his father went into business with a tire and battery shop. The young Nelson attended Hibbard High School and roamed his neighborhood, playing pool and beginning his obsession with gambling that would continue throughout his life. After graduating from high school in 1927, he attended the University of Illinois, majoring in studying sociology. The subject was congruent with his fascination with the lower class people and culture of Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods. He often spent times in the Polish neighborhoods east and south of his own neighborhood.
After graduation from college in 1931, he hitchhiked through the Midwest in order to find a job as a journalist. During those opening years of the Great Depression, while Herbert Hoover was still president, jobs were scare. Algren worked briefly at a Y.M.C.A. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before returning to Chicago, but he hit the road again that autumn. Traveling south with only the Mississippi River as his pilot, Algren wound up in New Orleans, where he was struck by the great amount of poverty in the Crescent City. Algren remained in New Orleans, working as a door-to-door salesman for a coffee company and a pharmacy, before using his savings to hit the road again in 1932.
In South Texas, Algren earned his living as a fruit picker. Striking out as an entrepreneur, he tried to renovate a gas station (the location will be fictionalized over 20 years later in "A Walk on the Wildside"), but the venture was both boring and unprofitable, so like his future character Dove Linkhorn, he began again to wander. He journeyed throughout Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico.
At the end of 1932, Algren moved back to Chicago where he joined the left-wing John Reed Club (named after the American Communist buried in the Kremlin who wrote the book about the 1917 Russian Revolution "Ten Days That Shook the World", and the subject of the movie Reds. His active membership in the group allowed him to befriend Richard Wright, who would later borrow the original title of Algren's first novel "Somebody in Boots" for his own classic "Native Son".
Algren hit the road again in 1933, traveling to Texas where he drifted through San Antonio, El Paso, and El Paso's border-town of Juarez, Mexico before settling in Alpine, Texas. Upon leaving Alpine, Nelson attempted to steal one of the typewriters from the local business college and was arrested. In a surprisingly long trial, Algren's lawyer defends on the common law principle that he, as a writer, is allowed the tools of his trade. Found guilty, he was sentenced to two years of punishment with the proviso he could serve the sentence wherever he wanted to. It was clearly time to leave Texas, though he would write of Texas in his first novel, "Somebody in Boots" and in his fourth, "A Walk on the Wildside" (1956) and in multiple short stories.
Back in Chicago by June 1934, Algren established himself as a member of a literary circle that met on Rush Street in the North Side. It was during this period that he wrote his first published novel, "Somebody in Boots", which received poor reviews when it was published in March 1935. The bad reviews and a poor relationship with his girlfriend led to a suicide attempt, and he received mental health care at the University of Chicago Psychiatric Center.
After recovering his mental equilibrium, he and his girlfriend Amanda moved to a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Algren was taken on by the Federal Writers' Project, part of the Works Progress Administration that sought to put people back to work in their areas of expertise. During frequently visits to East St. Louis, Illinois, he befriended prostitutes and junkies, the kinds of people who would become the characters in his novels and short-stories.
In a fateful decision, Algren and Amanda moved in May 1940 to the neighborhood at Milwaukee and Division Street, Chicago's so-called Polish Triangle. As the clouds of war moved closer to the United States, Algren's father and sister Bernice died, and their passing and the Polish-Americans of his new neighborhood inspired his second novel, "Never Come Morning". Though the book received good reviews, the city of Chicago banned it from its public libraries due to it potentially offending the city's denizens of Czech and Polish extraction, who have seen their native countries devoured by the Nazis. In fact, due to his pen name "Algren", the writer is attacked for being pro-Nazi, as -- in a case of reverse racism -- anyone of Scandinavian stock would be so inclined. In truth, Algren is not a fascist, or a racist; he has tried to tell the truth, and as his later friend Kurt Vonnegut would say after his death, he knew that the poor were not the saints that sentimental writers tried to portray them, as in neo-late-Tolstoy writing. The poor and disenfranchised who were his subject were, in reality, frequently mean-spirited and ignorant. It was his lack of a balancing "normative" character to redeem the others in his tales, by promising hope and a brighter future, that opened him up to charges of being mean-spirited himself.
The 34-year old Algren was drafted into the Army in November 1943 (the draft effected all males age 18-44, as enlistments had dropped off precariously after the initial six months of the war and a military that would encompass 16 million souls before the VJ-Day was in the process of being built). Ironically, he was shipped back to Texas for infantry training, and in the spring of 1944, he was shipped on to Europe as part of the vast reserve of troops needed to bolster the upcoming invasion of Normandy. Algren, who was designated a litter bearer, never made rank, and despite being a college graduate, was never considered as a candidate for a commission, likely due to his left-wing political beliefs. While in liberated France, Algren quite naturally became involved in the demimonde, attempting to set himself up as a black marketeer. He was not a noted success.
Algren returned to Chicago in November 1945 after being demobilized, moving into another Polish neighborhood, this one located at Wabansia and Bosworth. (Towards the end of his life, Algren -- still living in poor neighborhoods -- said he felt comfortable among people who were on welfare.) Algren's life primarily was involved in reading and writing short-stories, and the translation of his work into French brought him into contact with the woman who would be the great love of his life -- and his greatest frustration -- the great French feminist intellectual Simone de Beauvoir. It was an unusual coupling as Beauvoir, descended from the Parisian haute-bourgeoisie and the "mother" of modern, post-War feminism, would visit Algren in his Chicago semi-slum and visited the dives filled with hookers, pimps, drunks, drug-addicts and thieves with him, then writing him letters from France pledging her fealty as a submissive woman. Unfortauntely for Algren, though Beauvoir loved him and was fulfilled by him sexually, her soul rather than her heart belonged to her paramour and partner, 'Jean Paul Satre. After many years of association, he would say around 1970 that the two Existentialist philosophers were less honest.
Before this epiphany, Algren moved into the Brevoort Hotel in New York's Greenwich Village with her at her urging, in April 1947. However, their new living arrangement could not last, as Algren needed Chicago and Beavoir needed Paris -- and Sartre. She and Sartre had an open relationship, and Algren visited her in Paris. Fired with energy from his new Muse, Algren immersed intensely in his writing and produced his masterpiece in 1948, "The Man With the Golden Arm", a novel about an illicit card-dealer, Frankie the Machine, who is a morphine junkie with an (allegedly) crippled wife in love with another woman and trying to stay clean in a bad, bad world that had no sympathy for junkies, pushers or anyone else, for that matter.
Algren had wanted to entitle his dark novel "Night Without Mercy," but his publisher, Doubleday, convinced him to use the title that graces the now classic novel. Published by Doubleday in November 1949, the novel won the first National Book Award in 1950. One of the seminal novels of post-World War II American letters, "The Man with the Golden Arm" is Algren's greatest and most enduring work. With its publication, and book award handed to him by Eleanor Roosevelt, Algren had reached the zenith of his craft.
Unfortunately, he would never again reach those heights, publishing only one more major novel, "A Walk on the Wild Side", seven years after "Golden Arm". It seems that Algren never really got over the failure of his relationship with Beauvoir (who featured him as a main character in her own 1957 novel, "The Mandarins", in which he is "Lewis Brogan"). "Wild Side", which in many ways was a rehash of "Somebody in Boots" and several short stories, did not receive a great critical reception, though it sold well. The recycling of earlier material may indicate Algren was suffering from a writer's block. As it were, he never again produced a major novel, though he continued writing until the end of his life.
Nelson Algren died of a heart-attack on May 9, 1981, secure in his reputation of having written one, if not two, of the great post-War novels. He was 72 years old.
Rocio Garza is a commensurate professional who does not necessarily consider the project as a stepping stone but cherishes the experiences the project will have on her life and career. Rocio was born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa but raised in the bordertown of Laredo, TX. She considers herself a native Texan and relishes the opportunity to work in Texas' creative environment of beautiful landscapes and trailblazing film making minds. She attended the University of Incarnate Word and received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, however she knew that this was not her life's calling but made Corpus Christi her home and worked in broadcasting.
Besides having a striking look that is fresh and exotic, rooms burn with excitement when she enters them; but when first meeting Rocio, one will notice the calm, gentle strength she exudes. This leaves the person with a high pulse rate soaking in a warm pool of smiles, most importantly, she knows her range well and it is extracted on film. The Rocio effect comes out in her roles and when placed correctly, the film can transcend and transform into something special, something memorable. She is a composite of many females whether it be "the girl next door" meets "the condemned Joan of Arc" meets "the reigning Queen Marie-Antoinette," yet with all these personas she projects, all those that have worked with her can attest to her work ethic and determination. This comes out in many of the roles she has played including: Between Kings and Queens, Taco! Taco! Taco!, Villa of Pride, The Big Bends, El Gran Machin and her stunning performance in El Coyote. Rocio has worked on several independent films and considers herself an avid fan! She has worked with HBO, projects in Spanish, few pilot series and will continue to seek projects that open the window to the soul. Rocio speaks from the heart and her work is a testament to that.
Sally Drake is a writer and actress. She and her husband Tom Drake co-wrote episodes of MacGyver, Black Stallion, Bordertown and Neon Rider and the five hour Canadian mini-series, Hamilton's Quest. Sally also worked as an actress and co-starred with Christopher Lee in the horror movie spoof, "The Keeper" and starred in the NFB docudrama, "Post Partum Blues" as well as appearing in an episode of NBC series, The Psychiatrist, directed by Steven Spielberg. She and Tom were happily married from 1958 until his death in 2008 and had three sons and six grandchildren. The couple worked as writing partners from 1982 to 2008.
Barbara Cigarroa resides in New York City and is a 2017 MFA in Screenwriting concentrate at Columbia University's School of the Arts. Her 2015 short film, Marta Rosa, starring Mexican Ariel Winner Adriana Paz, has been an official selection at numerous film festivals around the world. These include The Austin Film Festival, The New Orleans Film Festival, The Athens International Film Festival, The NYC Short Film Festival, and The Palm Springs International Shortfest, where it won both the "Panavision Best North American Short Award" and the "Best Student Film Under Fifteen Minutes" for which Indiewire named it one of the "5 Essential Short Films" programmed at the festival.
In addition to this Barbara was a co-writer on the 2016 short film Pria, which was a finalist for the HBO Production Grant in 2015.
Prior to coming to New York, Barbara volunteered as a filmmaker for non-profit companies focused on fighting for underprivileged community's rights. She created a promotional video for MexNet, a company that strives to find sound jobs for recent immigrants in the United States. She then traveled with the Emmaus Medical Mission to Guatemala where she created a video essay following the doctors working at a rural neurological center a and their fight to keep it open.
Before this, Barbara mentored under renowned documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles (Sales- man, Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter). Inspired by her time under Mr. Maysles, Barbara shot a short documentary, The Two Laredos, detailing the division caused by violence between her family's border-town of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.
Barbara Cigarroa grew up in Texas with a large multi-cultural family who has roots both in the United States and in Mexico. This bi-national upbringing inspired Barbara to tell stories that deal with themes such as identity. A graduate from Yale University, Barbara received her BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She focused on studying fiction, publishing short stories in literary magazines, before moving on to exploring filmmaking.
Tracey Snelling is an internationally exhibiting contemporary visual artist, known best for her encompassing installations using small-scale and large-scale sculptures, along with projections. Through the use of many mediums, Snelling gives her impression of a place, its people and their experience, and allows the viewer to extrapolate his or her own meaning. Often, the cinematic image stands in for real life as it plays out behind windows in the buildings, sometimes creating a sense of mystery, other times stressing the mundane. Tracey was invited by the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 to exhibit her Bordertown installation. Snelling has shown work in museums such as The Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Gemeentemuseum Helmond, the Netherlands; Shanghai Zendai MOMA, Zhujiajiao, China; and Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Germany. She has had solo exhibitions throughout the US as well as in China, Belgium, the Netherlands, and London, and has been awarded residencies in Beijing and Shanghai. Her large-scale, film-inspired installation Woman on the Run has been exhibited at Selfridges, London; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; 21c Museum, Louisville; Frist, Nashville; at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina March through May, 2012, and at Virginia MOCA in September, 2012.
Evangelina was born in the small border-town of Nogales, Arizona during the 70's to Spanish and Mexican-American parents, Elisa Alvarez and Manuel Flores. She is the youngest of nine siblings. Hereditary traits on her father's side speculate Native American/Sonoran Native roots, thus giving her an ethnically ambiguous look which is a strength in today's day and age but she reveals was a hindrance growing up.
"People look at me and wonder if I'm from India or from the Middle East. I spent all my adult life in Memphis, TN so the accent sneaks up on people sometimes and then they really don't know what to do with me!" she jokes.
Evangelina began her artistic debut as a Christian Indie Artist, releasing her first album in 2002 called "Fly Butterfly". She also released a second EP locally in Memphis, TN called "Faithful" in 2006. Both releases were a labor of love as she chose to stay true to her roots and not commercialize her projects. In 2009 she was discovered by a showcase from Hollywood, CA. It was then she fell in love with acting and began to train seriously.
"As an actress I can sing, I can dance, I can be a million different characters," she explains. "Acting is a lot more accepting, appealing and has broader ranges of roles than the music industry alone has to offer. There's always a place in Hollywood for an actor."
Indeed there is a place for her in Hollywood. She and her family moved from Memphis, TN to pursue the study of film acting in 2013. She balances her life as an aircraft technician, mom and wife and artist. Evangelina brings depth to characters due to her life experiences. She owns a meritorious unit commendation, good conduct medal and national defense medal for her involvement in the Gulf war as an aviation electronics technician while serving in the United States Navy. She also holds several degrees and aviation certifications, one of them being a Bachelor's of Applied Sciences in Electronics Engineering Technology for which she graduated Valedictorian from ITT Technical Institute.
Her passion for studying film acting and singing is at the top of her list. She resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter.