Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949, a decision for which he was severely criticized when his star began to dim in the 1960s and he was excoriated for squandering his talents. No actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando. More than 50 years after he first scorched the screen as Stanley Kowalski in the movie version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and a quarter-century after his last great performance as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, all American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando. It was if the shadow of John Barrymore, the great American actor closest to Brando in terms of talent and stardom, dominated the acting field up until the 1970s. He did not, nor did any other actor so dominate the public's consciousness of what WAS an actor before or since Brando's 1951 on-screen portrayal of Stanley made him a cultural icon. Brando eclipsed the reputation of other great actors circa 1950, such as Paul Muni and Fredric March. Only the luster of Spencer Tracy's reputation hasn't dimmed when seen in the starlight thrown off by Brando. However, neither Tracy nor Olivier created an entire school of acting just by the force of his personality. Brando did.
Marlon Brando, Jr. was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a calcium carbonate salesman, and his artistically inclined wife, the former Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. "Bud" Brando was one of three children. His ancestry included English, and smaller amounts of Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish; his surname originated with a distant German immigrant ancestor named "Brandau". His oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress, taking after their mother, who engaged in amateur theatricals and mentored a then-unknown Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native, in her role as director of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Frannie, Brando's other sibling, was a visual artist. Both Brando sisters contrived to leave the Midwest for New York City, Jocelyn to study acting and Frannie to study art. Marlon managed to escape the vocational doldrums forecast for him by his cold, distant father and his disapproving schoolteachers by striking out for The Big Apple in 1943, following Jocelyn into the acting profession. Acting was the only thing he was good at, for which he received praise, so he was determined to make it his career - a high-school dropout, he had nothing else to fall back on, having been rejected by the military due to a knee injury he incurred playing football at Shattuck Military Academy, Brando Sr.'s alma mater. The school booted Marlon out as incorrigible before graduation.
Acting was a skill he honed as a child, the lonely son of alcoholic parents. With his father away on the road, and his mother frequently intoxicated to the point of stupefaction, the young Bud would play-act for her to draw her out of her stupor and to attract her attention and love. His mother was exceedingly neglectful, but he loved her, particularly for instilling in him a love of nature, a feeling which informed his character Paul in Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris") when he is recalling his childhood for his young lover Jeanne. "I don't have many good memories," Paul confesses, and neither did Brando of his childhood. Sometimes he had to go down to the town jail to pick up his mother after she had spent the night in the drunk tank and bring her home, events that traumatized the young boy but may have been the grain that irritated the oyster of his talent, producing the pearls of his performances. Anthony Quinn, his Oscar-winning co-star in Viva Zapata! told Brando's first wife Anna Kashfi, "I admire Marlon's talent, but I don't envy the pain that created it."
Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Konstantin Stanislavski, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theater would mark a watershed in American acting and culture.
Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in "I Remember Mama," a great success. As a young Broadway actor, Brando was invited by talent scouts from several different studios to screen-test for them, but he turned them down because he would not let himself be bound by the then-standard seven-year contract. Brando would make his film debut quite some time later in Fred Zinnemann's The Men for producer Stanley Kramer. Playing a paraplegic soldier, Brando brought new levels of realism to the screen, expanding on the verisimilitude brought to movies by Group Theatre alumni John Garfield, the predecessor closest to him in the raw power he projected on-screen. Ironically, it was Garfield whom producer Irene Mayer Selznick had chosen to play the lead in a new Tennessee Williams play she was about to produce, but negotiations broke down when Garfield demanded an ownership stake in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Burt Lancaster was next approached, but couldn't get out of a prior film commitment. Then director Elia Kazan suggested Brando, whom he had directed to great effect in Maxwell Anderson's play "Truckline Café," in which Brando co-starred with Karl Malden, who was to remain a close friend for the next 60 years.
During the production of "Truckline Café", Kazan had found that Brando's presence was so magnetic, he had to re-block the play to keep Marlon near other major characters' stage business, as the audience could not take its eyes off of him. For the scene where Brando's character re-enters the stage after killing his wife, Kazan placed him upstage-center, partially obscured by scenery, but where the audience could still see him as Karl Malden and others played out their scene within the café set. When he eventually entered the scene, crying, the effect was electric. A young Pauline Kael, arriving late to the play, had to avert her eyes when Brando made this entrance as she believed the young actor on stage was having a real-life conniption. She did not look back until her escort commented that the young man was a great actor.
The problem with casting Brando as Stanley was that he was much younger than the character as written by Williams. However, after a meeting between Brando and Williams, the playwright eagerly agreed that Brando would make an ideal Stanley. Williams believed that by casting a younger actor, the Neanderthalish Kowalski would evolve from being a vicious older man to someone whose unintentional cruelty can be attributed to his youthful ignorance. Brando ultimately was dissatisfied with his performance, though, saying he never was able to bring out the humor of the character, which was ironic as his characterization often drew laughs from the audience at the expense of Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois. During the out-of-town tryouts, Kazan realized that Brando's magnetism was attracting attention and audience sympathy away from Blanche to Stanley, which was not what the playwright intended. The audience's sympathy should be solely with Blanche, but many spectators were identifying with Stanley. Kazan queried Williams on the matter, broaching the idea of a slight rewrite to tip the scales back to more of a balance between Stanley and Blanche, but Williams demurred, smitten as he was by Brando, just like the preview audiences.
For his part, Brando believed that the audience sided with his Stanley because Jessica Tandy was too shrill. He thought Vivien Leigh, who played the part in the movie, was ideal, as she was not only a great beauty but she WAS Blanche Dubois, troubled as she was in her real life by mental illness and nymphomania. Brando's appearance as Stanley on stage and on screen revolutionized American acting by introducing "The Method" into American consciousness and culture. Method acting, rooted in Adler's study at the Moscow Art Theatre of Stanislavsky's theories that she subsequently introduced to the Group Theatre, was a more naturalistic style of performing, as it engendered a close identification of the actor with the character's emotions. Adler took first place among Brando's acting teachers, and socially she helped turn him from an unsophisticated Midwestern farm boy into a knowledgeable and cosmopolitan artist who one day would socialize with presidents.
Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Brando denounced Strasberg in his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me" (1994), saying that he was a talentless exploiter who claimed he had been Brando's mentor. The Actors Studio had been founded by Strasberg along with Kazan and Stella Adler's husband, Harold Clurman, all Group Theatre alumni, all political progressives deeply committed to the didactic function of the stage. Brando credits his knowledge of the craft to Adler and Kazan, while Kazan in his autobiography "A Life" claimed that Brando's genius thrived due to the thorough training Adler had given him. Adler's method emphasized that authenticity in acting is achieved by drawing on inner reality to expose deep emotional experience
Interestingly, Elia Kazan believed that Brando had ruined two generations of actors, his contemporaries and those who came after him, all wanting to emulate the great Brando by employing The Method. Kazan felt that Brando was never a Method actor, that he had been highly trained by Adler and did not rely on gut instincts for his performances, as was commonly believed. Many a young actor, mistaken about the true roots of Brando's genius, thought that all it took was to find a character's motivation, empathize with the character through sense and memory association, and regurgitate it all on stage to become the character. That's not how the superbly trained Brando did it; he could, for example, play accents, whereas your average American Method actor could not. There was a method to Brando's art, Kazan felt, but it was not The Method.
After A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received the first of his eight Academy Award nominations, Brando appeared in a string of Academy Award-nominated performances - in Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar and the summit of his early career, Kazan's On the Waterfront. For his "Waterfront" portrayal of meat-headed longshoreman Terry Malloy, the washed-up pug who "coulda been a contender," Brando won his first Oscar. Along with his iconic performance as the rebel-without-a-cause Johnny in The Wild One ("What are you rebelling against?" Johnny is asked. "What have ya got?" is his reply), the first wave of his career was, according to Jon Voight, unprecedented in its audacious presentation of such a wide range of great acting. Director John Huston said his performance of Marc Antony was like seeing the door of a furnace opened in a dark room, and co-star John Gielgud, the premier Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, invited Brando to join his repertory company.
It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionized American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean - who modeled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando - the young Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. After Brando, every up-and-coming star with true acting talent and a brooding, alienated quality would be hailed as the "New Brando," such as Warren Beatty in Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. "We are all Brando's children," Jack Nicholson pointed out in 1972. "He gave us our freedom." He was truly "The Godfather" of American acting - and he was just 30 years old. Though he had a couple of failures, like Désirée and The Teahouse of the August Moon, he was clearly miscast in them and hadn't sought out the parts so largely escaped blame.
In the second period of his career, 1955-62, Brando managed to uniquely establish himself as a great actor who also was a Top 10 movie star, although that star began to dim after the box-office high point of his early career, Sayonara (for which he received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination). Brando tried his hand at directing a film, the well-reviewed One-Eyed Jacks that he made for his own production company, Pennebaker Productions (after his mother's maiden name). Stanley Kubrick had been hired to direct the film, but after months of script rewrites in which Brando participated, Kubrick and Brando had a falling out and Kubrick was sacked. According to his widow Christiane Kubrick, Stanley believed that Brando had wanted to direct the film himself all along.
Tales proliferated about the profligacy of Brando the director, burning up a million and a half feet of expensive VistaVision film at 50 cents a foot, fully ten times the normal amount of raw stock expended during production of an equivalent motion picture. Brando took so long editing the film that he was never able to present the studio with a cut. Paramount took it away from him and tacked on a re-shot ending that Brando was dissatisfied with, as it made the Oedipal figure of Dad Longworth into a villain. In any normal film Dad would have been the heavy, but Brando believed that no one was innately evil, that it was a matter of an individual responding to, and being molded by, one's environment. It was not a black-and-white world, Brando felt, but a gray world in which once-decent people could do horrible things. This attitude explains his sympathetic portrayal of Nazi officer Christian Diestl in the film he made before shooting One-Eyed Jacks, Edward Dmytryk's filming of Irwin Shaw's novel The Young Lions. Shaw denounced Brando's performance, but audiences obviously disagreed, as the film was a major hit. It would be the last hit movie Brando would have for more than a decade.
One-Eyed Jacks generated respectable numbers at the box office, but the production costs were exorbitant - a then-staggering $6 million - which made it run a deficit. A film essentially is "made" in the editing room, and Brando found cutting to be a terribly boring process, which was why the studio eventually took the film away from him. Despite his proved talent in handling actors and a large production, Brando never again directed another film, though he would claim that all actors essentially direct themselves during the shooting of a picture.
Between the production and release of One-Eyed Jacks, Brando appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending", The Fugitive Kind which teamed him with fellow Oscar winners Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Following in Elizabeth Taylor's trailblazing footsteps, Brando became the second performer to receive a $1-million salary for a motion picture, so high were the expectations for this re-teaming of Kowalski and his creator (in 1961 critic Hollis Alpert had published a book "Brando and the Shadow of Stanley Kowalski). Critics and audiences waiting for another incendiary display from Brando in a Williams work were disappointed when the renamed The Fugitive Kind finally released. Though Tennessee was hot, with movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer burning up the box office and receiving kudos from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Fugitive Kind was a failure. This was followed by the so-so box-office reception of One-Eyed Jacks in 1961 and then by a failure of a more monumental kind: Mutiny on the Bounty, a remake of the famed 1935 film.
Brando signed on to Mutiny on the Bounty after turning down the lead in the David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia because he didn't want to spend a year in the desert riding around on a camel. He received another $1-million salary, plus $200,000 in overages as the shoot went overtime and over budget. During principal photography, highly respected director Carol Reed (an eventual Academy Award winner) was fired, and his replacement, two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone, was shunted aside by Brando as Marlon basically took over the direction of the film himself. The long shoot became so notorious that President John F. Kennedy asked director Billy Wilder at a cocktail party not "when" but "if" the "Bounty" shoot would ever be over. The MGM remake of one of its classic Golden Age films garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was one of the top grossing films of 1962, yet failed to go into the black due to its Brobdingnagian budget estimated at $20 million, which is equivalent to $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Brando and Taylor, whose Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century-Fox due to its huge cost overruns (its final budget was more than twice that of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty), were pilloried by the show business press for being the epitome of the pampered, self-indulgent stars who were ruining the industry. Seeking scapegoats, the Hollywood press conveniently ignored the financial pressures on the studios. The studios had been hurt by television and by the antitrust-mandated divestiture of their movie theater chains, causing a large outflow of production to Italy and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s in order to lower costs. The studio bosses, seeking to replicate such blockbuster hits as the remakes of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, were the real culprits behind the losses generated by large-budgeted films that found it impossible to recoup their costs despite long lines at the box office.
While Elizabeth Taylor, receiving the unwanted gift of reams of publicity from her adulterous romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, remained hot until the tanking of her own Tennessee Williams-renamed debacle Boom!, Brando from 1963 until the end of the decade appeared in one box-office failure after another as he worked out a contract he had signed with Universal Pictures. The industry had grown tired of Brando and his idiosyncrasies, though he continued to be offered prestige projects up through 1968.
Some of the films Brando made in the 1960s were noble failures, such as The Ugly American, The Chase and Reflections in a Golden Eye. For every "Reflections," though, there seemed to be two or three outright debacles, such as Bedtime Story, Morituri, A Countess from Hong Kong, Candy, The Night of the Following Day. By the time Brando began making the anti-colonialist picture Burn! in Colombia with Gillo Pontecorvo in the director's chair, he was box-office poison, despite having worked in the previous five years with such top directors as Arthur Penn, John Huston and the legendary Charles Chaplin, and with such top-drawer co-stars as David Niven, Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Taylor.
The rap on Brando in the 1960s was that a great talent had ruined his potential to be America's answer to Laurence Olivier, as his friend William Redfield limned the dilemma in his book "Letters from an Actor" (1967), a memoir about Redfield's appearance in Burton's 1964 theatrical production of "Hamlet." By failing to go back on stage and recharge his artistic batteries, something British actors such as Burton were not afraid to do, Brando had stifled his great talent, by refusing to tackle the classical repertoire and contemporary drama. Actors and critics had yearned for an American response to the high-acting style of the Brits, and while Method actors such as Rod Steiger tried to create an American style, they were hampered in their quest, as their king was lost in a wasteland of Hollywood movies that were beneath his talent. Many of his early supporters now turned on him, claiming he was a crass sellout.
Despite evidence in such films as The Chase, The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye that Brando was in fact doing some of the best acting of his life, critics, perhaps with an eye on the box office, slammed him for failing to live up to, and nurture, his great gift. Brando's political activism, starting in the early 1960s with his championing of Native Americans' rights, followed by his participation in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's March on Washington in 1963, and followed by his appearance at a Black Panther rally in 1968, did not win him many admirers in the establishment. In fact, there was a de facto embargo on Brando films in the recently segregated (officially, at least) southeastern US in the 1960s. Southern exhibitors simply would not book his films, and producers took notice. After 1968, Brando would not work for three years.
Pauline Kael wrote of Brando that he was Fortune's fool. She drew a parallel with the latter career of John Barrymore, a similarly gifted thespian with talents as prodigious, who seemingly threw them away. Brando, like the late-career Barrymore, had become a great ham, evidenced by his turn as the faux Indian guru in the egregious Candy, seemingly because the material was so beneath his talent. Most observers of Brando in the 1960s believed that he needed to be reunited with his old mentor Elia Kazan, a relationship that had soured due to Kazan's friendly testimony naming names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps Brando believed this, too, as he originally accepted an offer to appear as the star of Kazan's film adaptation of his own novel, The Arrangement. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando backed out of the film, telling Kazan that he could not appear in a Hollywood film after this tragedy. Also reportedly turning down a role opposite box-office king Paul Newman in a surefire script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brando decided to make Burn! with Pontecorvo. The film, a searing indictment of racism and colonialism, flopped at the box office but won the esteem of progressive critics and cultural arbiters such as Howard Zinn.
Kazan, after a life in film and the theater, said that, aside from Orson Welles, whose greatness lay in filmmaking, he only met one actor who was a genius: Brando. Richard Burton, an intellectual with a keen eye for observation if not for his own film projects, said that he found Brando to be very bright, unlike the public perception of him as a Terry Malloy-type character that he himself inadvertently promoted through his boorish behavior. Brando's problem, Burton felt, was that he was unique, and that he had gotten too much fame too soon at too early an age. Cut off from being nurtured by normal contact with society, fame had distorted Brando's personality and his ability to cope with the world, as he had not had time to grow up outside the limelight.
Truman Capote, who eviscerated Brando in print in the mid-'50s and had as much to do with the public perception of the dyslexic Brando as a dumbbell, always said that the best actors were ignorant, and that an intelligent person could not be a good actor. However, Brando was highly intelligent, and possessed of a rare genius in a then-deprecated art, acting. The problem that an intelligent performer has in movies is that it is the director, and not the actor, who has the power in his chosen field. Greatness in the other arts is defined by how much control the artist is able to exert over his chosen medium, but in movie acting, the medium is controlled by a person outside the individual artist. It is an axiom of the cinema that a performance, as is a film, is "created" in the cutting room, thus further removing the actor from control over his art. Brando had tried his hand at directing, in controlling the whole artistic enterprise, but he could not abide the cutting room, where a film and the film's performances are made. This lack of control over his art was the root of Brando's discontent with acting, with movies, and, eventually, with the whole wide world that invested so much cachet in movie actors, as long as "they" were at the top of the box-office charts. Hollywood was a matter of "they" and not the work, and Brando became disgusted.
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential. As Rod Steiger once said, Brando had it all, great stardom and a great talent. He could have taken his audience on a trip to the stars, but he simply would not. Steiger, one of Brando's children even though a contemporary, could not understand it. When James Mason' was asked in 1971 who was the best American actor, he had replied that since Brando had let his career go belly-up, it had to be George C. Scott, by default.
Paramount thought that only Laurence Olivier would suffice, but Lord Olivier was ill. The young director believed there was only one actor who could play godfather to the group of Young Turk actors he had assembled for his film, The Godfather of method acting himself - Marlon Brando. Francis Ford Coppola won the fight for Brando, Brando won - and refused - his second Oscar, and Paramount won a pot of gold by producing the then top-grossing film of all-time, The Godfather, a gangster movie most critics now judge one of the greatest American films of all time. Brando followed his iconic portrayal of Don Corleone with his Oscar-nominated turn in the high-grossing and highly scandalous Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris"), the first film dealing explicitly with sexuality in which an actor of Brando's stature had participated. He was now again a Top-Ten box office star and once again heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, an unprecedented comeback that put him on the cover of "Time" magazine and would make him the highest-paid actor in the history of motion pictures by the end of the decade. Little did the world know that Brando, who had struggled through many projects in good faith during the 1960s, delivering some of his best acting, only to be excoriated and ignored as the films did not do well at the box office, essentially was through with the movies.
After reaching the summit of his career, a rarefied atmosphere never reached before or since by any actor, Brando essentially walked away. He would give no more of himself after giving everything as he had done in "Last Tango in Paris," a performance that embarrassed him, according to his autobiography. Brando had come as close to any actor to being the "auteur," or author, of a film, as the English-language scenes of "Tango" were created by encouraging Brando to improvise. The improvisations were written down and turned into a shooting script, and the scripted improvisations were shot the next day. Pauline Kael, the Brando of movie critics in that she was the most influential arbiter of cinematic quality of her generation and spawned a whole legion of Kael wanna-bes, said Brando's performance in Last Tango in Paris had revolutionized the art of film. Brando, who had to act to gain his mother's attention; Brando, who believed acting at best was nothing special as everyone in the world engaged in it every day of their lives to get what they wanted from other people; Brando, who believed acting at its worst was a childish charade and that movie stardom was a whorish fraud, would have agreed with Sam Peckinpah's summation of Pauline Kael: "Pauline's a brilliant critic but sometimes she's just cracking walnuts with her ass." Probably in a simulacrum of those words, too.
After another three-year hiatus, Brando took on just one more major role for the next 20 years, as the bounty hunter after Jack Nicholson in Arthur Penn's The Missouri Breaks, a western that succeeded neither with the critics or at the box office. From then on, Brando concentrated on extracting the maximum amount of capital for the least amount of work from producers, as when he got the Salkind brothers to pony up a then-record $3.7 million against 10% of the gross for 13 days work on Superman. Factoring in inflation, the straight salary for "Superman" equals or exceeds the new record of $1 million a day Harrison Ford set with K-19: The Widowmaker. Before cashing his first paycheck for Superman, Brando had picked up $2 million for his extended cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in a role, that of Col. Kurtz, that he authored on-camera through improvisation while Coppola shot take after take. It was Brando's last bravura star performance. He co-starred with 'George C. Scott' and 'John Gielud' in _The Formula_, but the film was another critical and financial failure. Years later though, he did receive an eighth and final Oscar nomination for his supporting role in A Dry White Season after coming out of a near-decade-long retirement. Contrary to those who claimed he now only was in it for the money, Brando donated his entire seven-figure salary to an anti-apartheid charity. He then did an amusing performance in the comedy The Freshman, winning rave reviews. He portrayed Tomas de Torquemada in the historical drama 1492: Conquest of Paradise, but his performance was denounced and the film was a box office failure. He made another comeback in the Johnny Depp romantic drama Don Juan DeMarco, which co-starred Faye Dunaway as his wife.
Brando had first attracted media attention at the age of 24, when "Life" magazine ran a photo of himself and his sister Jocelyn, who were both then appearing on Broadway. The curiosity continued, and snowballed. Playing the paraplegic soldier of The Men, Brando had gone to live at a Veterans Administration hospital with actual disabled veterans, and confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks. It was an acting method, research, that no one in Hollywood had ever heard of before, and that willingness to experience life.
Jon Mack was born in Rochester, a suburb near Detroit, Michigan where she grew up on a farm owned by her grandparents. The only child of a drama teacher and theater director, she began acting on stage at the tender age of five. She is of Eastern-European (Polish) descent.
At age 17, she went on to attend the prestigious Tisch School of Arts at NYU in both Lee Strasberg and Experimental Theater schools in New York City at age 17 where she worked as a fashion model to help support her studies. A few years later, Mack relocated to the Los Angeles to finish her studies at UCLA and begin working in feature films. She first came to national attention by her performance as Ava Gardner in the 1999 Emmy Award-winning biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge starring Halle Berry. From there she went on to appear in several feature films as well as television. She became known to horror fans after playing a junkie named Jane in the 6th installment of the Saw franchise. In 2012 Mack played a soccer mom hoping to score with Gerard Butler in "Playing For Keeps", also starring Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta Jones. She also appeared in "Straight A's" with Anna Paquin, Ryan Phillippe and Luke Wilson as well as Millennium Entertainment's "Spiders". She is also a voice over artist who worked alongside Will Smith in 2013 sci-fi drama "After Earth" playing a psychiatrist. In 2015, Mack played a gun slinger named Reggie in "Blunt Force Trauma" with Mickey Rourke, Ryan Kwanten and Freida Pinto. She also starred as Bettina in short film "Strangers In A Book" and played an entertainment reporter in SyFy's creature comedy "Lavalantula".
Mack is an accomplished musician, singer and music producer. Her brainchild 'Auradrone' has released 3 albums since 2009 will be releasing a 4th album in 2016. She has performed as 'Auradrone' in festivals around the world including the well known ExitFest.
Preserving endangered wildlife is another passion for Mack who created an artistic movement called "Defending The Endangered" in 2015 to raise awareness about poaching and trophy hunting. Mack is currently in production on a video PSA to bring more attention to the plight of rare species all over the world. The video will be released in 2016.
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Iqbal Theba came to the US as a college Freshman at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. While in college in Oklahoma, Iqbal studied Civil Engineering and eventually obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Engineering Management. After realizing his true passion was acting, Iqbal returned to the University of Oklahoma study Acting. Thoroughly enjoying his time in Oklahoma (he is a true Sooner Football fan), after leaving college Iqbal decided to move to New York City to pursue his love of acting. After struggling in New York for over two years, Iqbal decided to make the move to Los Angeles in hopes of more acting work. Broke and not knowing anyone in Los Angeles, Iqbal stayed with friends in San Bernardino until he could save up enough money to finally move full-time to Los Angeles.
Once in Los Angeles, things started to turn around for Iqbal. He soon found a niche acting in television commercials. His first big commercial was for the Wherehouse Music Chain - where he sang the Chris Isaak song Wicked Game. This was followed by commercials for MacDonalds, Burger King, Subway, AT&T, Sprint, American Express, Capital One, Holiday Inn, Kelloggs Cereal, Tostitos, Got Milk and many others. Iqbal was the first South Asian to have appeared in dozens of mainstream national commercials in the 90's. It was through these television commercials that he was able to get his SAG Card, which opened the door to more mainstream Television and Film opportunities.
Iqbal's big Television break came after booking a role on the NBC pilot Death and Taxes (his second job in Los Angeles as an actor). Although the pilot wasn't picked up, this led to numerous co-starring and guest-starring roles in Television and Film (including working on TV in shows such as L.A. Law, Living Single, Mad About You and Seinfeld). Over the next 10 years, Iqbal continued to hone his craft and work on more television shows such guest starring on television shows such as Ellen, Caroline in the City, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, King of the Hill, The West Wing, Judging Amy, Alias, Arrested Development, and Weeds (to name a few) as well as recurring roles on The George Carlin Show, Sister, Sister, Rosanne, Married With Children, Family Matters, ER, JAG and Life With Bonnie. Some of Iqbal's film work includes Indecent Proposal, Driven, Basketball, Dancing At the Blue Iguana, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Playing For Keeps.
After successfully establishing himself as one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, Iqbal's big break came from his being cast as Principle Figgins in the hugely successful FOX television series Glee. Although originally written for a Caucasian, Iqbal won the role and has in the process brought his own unique perspective to the character. As the beleaguered Principle of William McKinley High School, Principle Figgins tries to walk the tightrope between being fair with teacher Will Schuster (Matthew Morrison) while being constantly blackmailed and harassed by Coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). In addition to Glee, Iqbal is also simultaneously starring on the NBC series Community playing Danny's Dad on the series.
2010 has proven to be a busy and successful year for Iqbal. He started the year off by winning a Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Awards for his work on Glee, continues filming new episodes of Glee and Community and is looking at several Feature Film offers. In addition to his acting career Iqbal enjoys spending time with his wife Humera and their two children aged 7 and 4 and traveling. His favorite writer is Anton Chekov, favorite movie is 2001 A Space Odyssey and works with his favorite charity Edhi Foundation.
Dimitri Tiomkin was a Russian Jewish composer who emigrated to America and became one of the most distinguished and best-loved music writers of Hollywood. He won a hallowed place in the pantheon of the most successful and productive composers in American film history, earning himself four Oscars and sixteen Academy Awards nominations. He was born Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin on May 10, 1894, in Kremenchug, Russia. His mother, Marie (nee Tartakovsky), was a Russian pianist and teacher. His father, Zinovi Tiomkin, was a renowned medical doctor. His uncle, rabbi Vladimir Tiomkin, was the first President of the World Zionist Union. Young Dimitri began his music studies under the tutelage of his mother. Then, at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, he studied piano under Felix Blumenfeld and Isabelle Vengerova. He also studied composition under the conservatory's director, Alexander Glazunov, who appreciated Tiomkin's talent and hired him as a piano tutor for his niece. Soon Dimitri appeared on Russian stages as a child pianist prodigy and continued to develop into a virtuoso pianist. Like other intellectuals in St. Petersburg, Tiomkin frequented the club near the Opera, called Stray Dog Café, where Russian celebrities, including directors Vsevolod Meyerhold and Nicolas Evreinoff, writers Boris Pasternak, Aleksei Tolstoy, Sergei Esenin, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolai Gumilev and Vladimir Mayakovsky, had their bohemian hangout. There Tiomlkin could be seen with his two friends, composer Sergei Prokofiev and choreographer Mikhail Fokin. At that time he also gained exposure and a keen interest in American music, including the works of Irving Berlin, ragtime, blues, and early jazz. Tiomkin started his music career as a piano accompanist for Russian and French silent films in movie houses of St. Petersburg. When the famous comedian Max Linder toured in Russia, he hired Tiomkin to play piano improvisations for the Max Linder Show, and their collaboration was successful. He also provided classical piano accompaniment for the famous ballerina Tamara Karsavina. However, the 1917 Communist Revolution in Russia caused dramatic political and economic changes. From 1917 to 1921 Tiomkin was a Red Army staff composer, writing scores for revolutionary mass spectacles at the Palace Square involving 500 musicians and 8000 extras, such as "The Storming of the Winter Palace" staged by Vsevolod Meyerhold and Nikolai Yevreinov for the third anniversary of the Communist Revolution. In 1921 Tiomkin emigrated from Russia and moved to Berlin to join his father, who was working with the famous German biochemist Paul Ehrlich. In Berlin Tiomkin had several study sessions with Ferruccio Busoni and his circle. By 1922 Dimitri was well known for his concert appearances in Germany, often with the Berlin Philharmonic. Among his repertoire were pieces written for him by other composers. He also concertized in France. There, in Paris, Feodor Chaliapin Sr. convinced Tiomkin to emigrate to the United States. In 1925 Tiomkin got his first gig in New York: he became the main pianist for a Broadway dance studio. There he met and soon married the principal dancer/choreographer, Albertina Rasch. He also met composers George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern. In 1928 Tiomkin made a concert tour of Europe, introducing the works of Gershwin to audiences there. He gave the French premiere of Gershwin's "Piano Concerto in F" at the famed "L'Opera de Paris." His Hollywood debut came in 1929, when MGM offered him a contract to score music for five films. His wife got a position as an assistant choreographer for some musical films. He also scored a Universal Pictures film, performed concerts in New York City and continued composing ballet music for his wife's dance work. He also continued writing American popular music and songs. He received further Broadway exposure with the Shuberts and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. He produced his own play "Keeping Expenses Down," but it was a flop amidst the gloom of the Big Depression, and he once again returned to Hollywood in 1933. When he came back he was on his own. By that time Tiomkin was disillusioned with the intrigue and politics inside the Hollywood studio system. He already knew the true value of his musical talent, and chose to freelance with the studios rather than accepting a multi-picture contract. He became something of a crusader, pushing for better pay and residuals. His independent personality was reflected in his music and business life: he was never under a long-term studio contract. Though MGM was the first to be acquainted with his services, Tiomkin next turned to Paramount for Alice in Wonderland, another fine example of making music that he liked. Hollywood's most prominent independent composer, Tiomkin, thanks to his free-agent status, negotiated contractual terms to his benefit, which in turn benefited other musicians. He aggressively sought music publishing rights and formed his own ASCAP music publishing company, Volta Music Corporation, while remaining faithful to France-based performing rights organization SACEM. In Tiomkin's own words: "My fight is for dignity. Not only for composer, but for all artists responsible for picture." He also fought for employing qualified musicians regardless of their race. As a composer classically trained at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Tiomkin was highly skilled in orchestral arrangements with complex brass and strings, but he was also thoroughly versed in the musical subtleties of America and integrated it into traditional European forms. His interest in the musical form resulted in his next score, for the operetta Naughty Marietta, a popular musical that teamed Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. He also did his fair share of stock music arranging. Among his most successful partnerships was that with director Frank Capra, starting with Lost Horizon, where Tiomkin used many innovative ideas, and received his first Academy Award nomination. The association with Capra lasted through three more famous films, culminating with It's a Wonderful Life. In 1937 Tiomkin became a naturalized American citizen. The next year he made his public conducting debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During the WWII years he wrote music for 12 military documentaries, earning himself a special decoration from the US Department of Defense. After the war he ventured into all styles of music for movies, ranging from mystery and horror to adventure and drama, such as his enchanting score, intricately worked around Claude Debussy's "Girl with the Flaxen Hair," for the haunting Portrait of Jennie and the energetic martial themes for Cyrano de Bergerac. He scored three films for Alfred Hitchcock, perhaps the most inventive being for the tension-building Strangers on a Train with its out-of-control carousel finale. He also worked with top directors in that exclusively American genre: the western. His loudest success was the original music for Duel in the Sun by King Vidor. For that film, Tiomkin wrote a lush orchestral score, trying to fulfill writer/producer David O. Selznick's request to "Make a theme for orgasm!" Tiomkin worked for several weeks, and composed a powerful theme culminating with 40 drummers. Selsnick was impressed, but commented: "This is not orgasm!" Tiomkin worked for one more month and delivered an even more powerful theme culminating with 100 voices. Selznick was impressed again, but commented: "This is not orgasm! This is not the way I f..k!" Tiomkin replied brilliantly, "Mister Selznick, you may f..k the way you want, but this is the way I f..k!" Selznick was convinced, and after that Tiomkin's music was fully accepted. In 1948 he wrote the score for one of the westerns with John Wayne, Red River by Howard Hawks. Wayne had Tiomkin's touch on five more movies into the 1960s. Tiomkin was adding a song to all of his scores, starting with the obscure Trail to Mexico. The result was successful, and the western score with songs became Tiomkin's signature. Horns and lush string orchestral sound are most associated with Tiomkin's style, which culminated in The Unforgiven by John Huston, although he used the same approach in High Noon with the famous song "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" and Howard Hawks' The Big Sky. Most of his big-screen songs were written for westerns and totaled some 25 themes. The most songs he composed for one movie was six for Friendly Persuasion. Tiomkin achieved dramatic effects by using his signature orchestral arrangements in such famous films as Giant, The Old Man and the Sea and The Guns of Navarone. He also wrote music and theme songs for several TV series, most notably for Clint Eastwood's Rawhide. In 1967 his beloved wife, Albertina Rasch, passed away, and Tiomkin was emotionally devastated. Going back from his wife's funeral to his Hancock Park home in Los Angeles, he was attacked and beaten by a street gang. The crime caused him more pain, so upon recommendation of his doctor, Tiomkin moved to Europe for the rest of his life. In the 1960s Tiomkin produced Mackenna's Gold starring Gregory Peck and Omar Sharif. He also executive-produced and orchestrated the US/Russian co-production Tchaikovsky, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for best music, and the movie was also nominated in the foreign language film category. Filming on locations in Russia allowed him to return to his homeland for the first time since 1921, which also was the last visit to his mother country. In 1972 Tiomkin married Olivia Cynthia Patch, a British aristocrat, and the couple settled in London. They also maintained a second home in Paris. For the rest of his life Tiomkin indulged himself in playing piano, a joy also shared by his wife. He died on November 11, 1979, in London, England, and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Glendale, California. In 1999 Dimitri Tiomkin was pictured on one of six 33¢ USA commemorative postage stamps in the Legends of American Music series, honoring Hollywood Composers. His music remains popular, and is continuously used in many new films, such as Inglourious Basterds by director Quentin Tarantino.
Hazel D'Jan fell in love with acting at a young tender age of six performing and singing in school plays. Keeping it close to her heart, she grew a passion for acting which she never shared with anyone. D'Jan continued attending drama schools and practised the art of acting under guidance from renowned teachers. These opportunities gave her depth in several styles and a wider understanding of realism. Her dreams faded a while, so she could complete her university studies before moving into the film industry.
After completing her studies, she appeared in several international commercials and short movies. With her unique looks and mass appeal, she has found herself in much demand. Now she's well on her way to write, produce and star in many up-scale projects. She has secured herself motion pictures on a global platform. Hazel D'Jan surely has something special to offer her high spirit and universal charms, are a welcomed treat.
Born in New York City, New York Lonnie Ramati grew up as an Israeli (by birth) whose family had relocated to New York when he was 3. He attended Princeton University, graduated in the top 1% of his class, as English major with a minor in Economics and History, was awarded Phi Beta Kappa status, and graduated in the top 10% of his class at Osgoode Law School, an ABA recognized Canadian law school ranked as one of the top 3 law schools in Canada and practiced music and film entertainment law in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia before starting his business affairs career in New York City and Los Angeles. With more than 20 years experience in business affairs in the film, television and music industries, Mr. Ramati has worked for more than 50 AFM/IFTA distribution companies and major distributors in foreign and domestic distribution of films and TV series. Known for his sincere, passionate, hard working, dedicated business affairs services as an employee who can be as comfortable doing a complicated deal as drafting a long form agreement or summarizing credits for the benefit of distributor, his experience in financing agreements, production agreements (film and TV series and movies-of-the week), distribution agreements (both domestic and foreign), soundtrack album, music publishing and record agreements provides him with substantial experience and knowledge in production and distribution business affairs for such deals.
He is a Co-Executive Producer in addition to being production business affairs on the following films: (a) Killing Season (2013) starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta directed by Mark Steven Johnson, (b) The Iceman (2013) starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans and Ray Liotta directed by Ariel Vromen, (b) Playing For Keeps (2012) starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta Jones directed by Gabriele Muccino, (c) The Big Wedding (2012)starring Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon and directed by Justin Zackham, (d) The Expendables 2 (2012) starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme and directed by Simon West,(e) Stolen (2012) starring Nic Cage, Josh Lucas and Danny Huston directed by Simon West, and (f) Lovelace (2013) starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Saarsgard, James Franco, Chloe Sevigny, Sharon Stone, Hank Azaria, Eric Roberts, Wes Bently, Bobby Cannavale and Debi Mazar directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.
Singer/songwriter/actress Celeste Kellogg started performing at the age of 6 in her church choir. At age 12, Celeste found herself performing with the Radio Disney Tween Pop Group "RD7" While with Radio Disney, Celeste opened for the Jonas Brothers, Raven and performed hour long shows at The Kelly Clarkson "Addicted to Love Tour" Cheetah Girls, and Miley Cyrus concerts.
In the summer of 2008 Celeste was invited out to Hollywood to attend "School of Pop". It was there that she met music producer - Andrew Lane. Andrew heard Celeste sing and knew that he wanted to work with her in Nashville. Andrew said to Celeste's parents, "I just heard your daughter sing and she blew me away." Andrew Lane's credentials are strong - He has produced songs for High School Musical, Miley Cyrus Backstreet Boys, The Olympics just to name a few. Since then, Celeste & Andrew have recorded 10 songs in Nashville.
The fall of 2008 Celeste recorded a Christmas song and video with Lamon Records, "We're Looking Forward to Christmas." The song was released across the country to radio stations for seasonal play. Keeping pace with her busy schedule, Celeste returned to Nashville March of 2009 to film and record the soundtrack of an Independent film with Elevating Entertainment - titled "Much Ado About Middle School." While the film is a first for Celeste, she was surrounded by plenty of veterans, Lee Meriwether, Bill Cobb's, Blake Michael and Jeff Rose. The film was directed by Grammy nominated, Dove Award winning musician/producer Dave Moody.
As if that was not enough Celeste returned back to Nashville in the Summer of 2009 to film her first original music video to her song "My Jeans" Since then "My Jeans" has received two awards on CountryMusicBroadcasting.com. In November 2009 Celeste was featured in Pop Star Magazine. Her song "That's What I'm Talkin About" was played on PopStarOnline for a year. Also in November of 2009 Celeste was asked to audition for the part of Lindsey in "Lindsey's Way" by Director Greg Robbins of Uplifting Entertainment. Upon receiving the part she traveled to Pittsburgh and film the pilot. Look for the show to air sometime in 2011. Celeste felt honored when the show decided to use her original songs. She along with Andrew Lane also wrote the theme song for "Lindsey's Way."
Last but certainly not least Celeste is looking forward to releasing her debut CD "This Is Where I Wanna Be" With her busy schedule,she maintains a 4.0 GPA in all honors courses. Celeste insists she is just the girl next door who loves soccer, ice skating, bowling, anything athletic, movies, popcorn, and hanging out with friends and family.
As she looks forward to the future Celeste hopes to continue to grow as a singer/songwriter and actress. As Joey Lawrence once said after watching Celeste perform, "She's infectious - she has it going on for days"
Known for his distinct and intense NYC style, Daniel is a veteran of stage and screen. Best known for his starring role in Harvey Weinstein's "Playing For Keeps", Daniel developed a smoldering urban and charismatic presence in such projects like his recent portrayal of Vincent Mangano in AMC's "Making of the Mob"
Daniel began his career in the underground "No-Wave" Film Movement with his role of Juani in Amos Poe's "Alphabet City". He then branched out to theater where he landed the National Tour of smash Broadway Play, "Torch Song Trilogy." He has collaborated with artists as diverse as theater luminary, Herbert Berghof, and Oscar winning screenwriter Bobby Moresco.
Daniel is also the founder of Veritas Arts International, a production company through which he wrote and produced his first feature film, "Frog Dreams". This critically acclaimed directorial debut, won the Spirit of Queens Award at the Queens World Film Festival.
Most recently Daniel will be playing a man who is convinced his house is haunted in "Until Somebody Gets Hurt", a sniveling Pool Hall Owner in "Holy Fire", and an immigrant chop shop owner in "Lucky"
Daniel blogs (danieljordano.com), and is also the author of the Amazon best selling book, "The Best Book on Acting". He leads an acting workshop based on the Life Acting System which he pioneered.
He was born Michael Harrison Bendall on March 5,1962 at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He has an older sister and younger brother and a younger step sister and four younger step brothers. His father, Fred H. Bendall was a medic in the Army and his mother, the late Linda Sue Mann lost her life to liver cancer. She had spent her career building and approving PC boards for Space Shuttles for NASA. Michael left high school for a tour in the United States Navy. He worked as a news anchor for the site-TV news on-board his command. He sailed Pacific and Indian oceans and became a Golden Dragon and given the Certificate from King Neptune, Sovereign of the Seas, Prince of Blowers to those becoming Shellback's and the few making Golden Dragon. He began acting in local theater with The Blackland Players. Actor and director Joe Asbury gave him his start by playing the Russian spy in the comedy, "See How They Run". He then moved to Tyler,Texas and joined the Tyler Theatre In-The-Round located at the beautiful rose gardens. He then embarked on his professional acting career signing on with SAG agent Michael Tomas. Michael began his professional acting career working on Walker, Texas Ranger starring Chuck Norris. In addition, he was taken in under the wing by stuntman Greg Elam opening up the door performing utility stunts. He has appeared in numerous TV commercials and made for TV feature films including Kenny Rogers Gambler V: Playing For Keeps, Promise To Carolyn, and Frequent Flyer. In 2001 he became a professional truck driver traveling to 48 states and Canada, during which time he took breaks from the road to appear in the independent film Bobby Speaking and the movie trailer A Good Man's Decision. He suffered a heart attack 2007, and then a stroke in January 2014 which ended his trucking career. Now days he is taking it easy and enjoys his other passion for writing.
Since she was 7 years old, a typical play date for Marlena Lerner involves directing her friends in webisodes. Her father and mother are industry vets so filmmaking came naturally to this protégé. As an actor, she worked with Gabriele Muccino in her first theatrically released film, Playing For Keeps. She is also slated to play a role in the upcoming feature, "Sam and the White Tiger", that she created in the short by the same name.
A future "Quintuple Threat", Marlena writes, directs, produces, acts, and edits. An internet sensation, Marlena is one of the co-creators of smash hit YouTube show "The 3 Tails"(over 10 million hits) which is now being made into a feature length movie in which she is starring. Trend-setters, Marlena and her co-mermaids have inspired a mermaid fashion line of clothing and hair-styles.
Understanding her gravitas as a filmmaker and her astounding ability to create from an early age bodes for a very bright future for Miss Marlena Lerner.
|Erin E. MacMillan
Erin MacMillan has always proven herself an innovator and entrepreneur. From her early start up business in high school to her current production company one thing remains the same, her passion.
Erin attended Southern Methodist University Film School. With an emphasis on production, theory and history she was well armed to serve her story ideas and create cutting edge films. Her first short film, "Ballsy" caused a sensation in Dallas, Texas and was well received by critics. She was the creator of the First Annual Southern Methodist University Film Festival, which celebrated its ninth year this past March. Erin's goal before graduating was to write and direct two feature films. She met that goal with her feature film, "Drifting" and her second, "Women In The Ordinary".
After graduation she moved to Austin and collaborated on music videos, commercials and feature films with partner Chris Ramirez. MacMillan/Ramirez founded and operated two successful companies while in Austin, Texas before moving on to Los Angeles to pursue larger film goals.
Upon moving to LA and founding Nocturnal Films Erin directed a short film, "Playing For Keeps" and wrote and directed a feature film, "You Are Here" which she showed at the Cannes Film Festival Market in Cannes, France May 2004.
Erin has written eight screenplays and directed three shorts and three feature films. Her current project "Zero Hour" will establish her as a major commercial force in Hollywood who can command large budgets and top name talent.
Ryan Littlefield, born 1987 in San Antonio, TX, is a detail-oriented visual effects artist/photographer with a technical background and swift learning curve. Highly self-motivated, great eye for detail and perspective, practices strong leadership skills and works well with others in a production environment. Is always willing to learn and utilize a wide variety of software packages as required by a studio or commercial environment.
Skill Set: *Autodesk Maya *Pixologic Z Brush *The Foundry Nuke *Adobe Photoshop *Windows *MAC
Professional Achievements as Visual Effects Artist for the following feature films: *Expendables 3 (2014) *The Legend of Hercules (2014) * Olympus Has Fallen (2013) *Texas Chainsaw 3D (2012) * Stolen (2012) * Homefront (2013) * Playing for Keeps (2012) * The Big Wedding (2013) * Iceman (2012)
Samora Suber was born in New Orleans and raised in Charlotte, NC (by way of Memphis, TN). While transitioning from city to city, Samora's creative outlet began to emerge into the form of acting. She trained and performed with children's theatre companies such as The Afro-American Children's Theatre and the Children's Theatre of Charlotte and also attend Northwest School of the Arts for theatre and dance.
Samora attended Florida A&M University on a theatre scholarship but transferred to the BFA Acting program at Florida State University in her sophomore year. She continued to develop her craft as an actor, but started feeling creatively depleted. In her spare time she began writing and developing an idea for a TV show for college audiences which was eventually distributed by PBS and won a development grant from MTVU.
With a new passion for writing and producing, Samora began focusing her energy into television production. After graduating with honors, she moved to New York City to freelance in production for Networks, Studios and Independent Filmmakers such as BET, FOX, Disney, Cartoon Network, MTV and Layon Gray. Samora was selected by the National Association of Television Program Executives for a Diversity Fellowship and was named "Producer to Watch". Samora earned more accolades for her work including "Best Drama Series" at the LA Web Series Festival and an Honorable Mention at the Urban World Film Festival.
Samora also began to create her own film and theatre experiences through her media company, Awake Spirit Media, which focuses on inspirational content. Samora also continued acting and wrote, directed and performed in local stage plays to keep her love for theatre fresh.
In an effort to bring her passions for acting and media creation to younger generations, Samora partnered with many non-profit organizations and community based organization to provide arts programs that incorporate healing and personal development through the arts. These organizations include: The Harlem Children's Zone, Counseling In Schools National Network and the University of Northern Iowa.
Now, Samora has moved to Los Angeles, CA to further develop her passions in performing and storytelling. She continues to expand her experience as an actor, writer and producer as well as filling her spirit with meditation and yoga practices. Samora is still very community oriented and loves connecting to youth through international and local outreach programs.
Eddie, born in Philadelphia, is the twin brother of Denise and younger brother of Carol. He lived a happy life from Philadelphia to the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks. He worked as a sound editor for many television shows and movie. Eddie won a Golden Reel Award for 'Gambler V: Playing for Keeps'. In 2010 he lost his battle against leukemia in his Sherman Oaks home.
Christopher Ramirez took an interest in film at the young age of four. His passion continued throughout college where he attended film school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
He received a well rounded liberal arts, business and film education. His specific emphasis on film included production, history and theory giving him a particularly acute ability to produce highly entertaining and marketable films. He produced three short films and two feature films before graduating, including "Drifting" and "Women In The Ordinary". Also while attending SMU he worked for several Public Relation companies, which handled Warner Brothers, Miramax and Disney, giving him a unique insight and understanding of the industry from an advertising and marketing perspective.
He learned early on films can only become successful by finding or creating a strong script driven by a high concept idea and sold to the public through diligent marketing and creative exposure; a public waiting to be entertained, enlightened yet never insulted.
Ramirez started a DVD home and office delivery company when the technology was just proving itself with business partner, Erin MacMillan. The lucrative and successful Digital Outpost was a favorite staple of Austinites. When the market shifted and Best Buy and Blockbuster started buying discs in bulk, the partners shifted as well, optioning their idea to a local company loved by the community.
Ramirez developed a local production company with MacMillan servicing the community with another cutting edge idea, the first DVD portfolio for musicians and artists. The concept was simple: place all paper materials onto CD or DVD disc and allow your work to speak for itself.
The pair of Ramirez and MacMillan produced music videos and concert videos for local bands and helped one of them sign with Sony music based on the promotional package they developed with the band. The film market shifted going into 2002 so Ramirez moved to Los Angeles to pursue bigger film opportunities. He produced a short in 2002 ("Playing For Keeps") and a feature film in 2003 ("You Are Here"), which was completed in early 2004 and showed at the Cannes Film Market in Cannes, France May 2004.
Chris Ramirez continues to push new innovative ideas and package profitable, marketable high concept projects. His current producing project, "Zero Hour" promises to be his most successful to date.