You A’da Know That I’ve Missed You!


Hello out there in blog-land! I know it’s been a minute, but I’ve been on a short hiatus due to unexpected family medical emergencies.

I’m working on some exciting new features and will be back real soon.

In the meantime, you A’da know I ❤️you!!

xoxo

You A’da Know It’s An Honor To Be A Part Of The Rizzoli and Isles Family!

Tonight, the television series Rizzoli & Isles will present its series finale on TNT after seven seasons. It was one of the highlights of my journey to guest star in Season 4, Episode 11, “Judge, Jury and Executioner” as Judge Kathleen Harper, the murder victim of the week.

The plot for the episode: “A mock trial advisor (guest star A’da Alison Woolfolk) dies tragically during a competition. Meanwhile, Angela’s increased interest in selling brownies has Jane concerned that she may be hiding financial issues. And Tommy (guest star Colin Egglesfield) hires a lawyer (guest star Chris Coppola) to settle his claim. Doug Savant also guest stars.”

As an actress, there have been many times in the past where shows of quality, popularity and interest have taken their final bow with me feeling saddened and regretful that I never had the opportunity to play with the cast and in the world of the show. Luckily, for me, this is not one of those times.

I had an incredible and blessed week on the show back in 2013 as Judge Harper. The main cast, guest cast and crew were extremely gracious, generous and welcoming to me throughout my week of shooting.

I will never forget how Lee Thompson Young (Detective Barry Frost) advised and guided me on how to find the most comfortable position in which to lay as a “corpse” so that I would survive take, after take, after take without trouble. (Sadly, not long after encountering his beautiful and gentle spirit on set, he would tragically take his own life.)

It was my absolute pleasure to spend a day rehearsing, laughing and shooting with fellow guest star Doug Savant of “Desperate Housewives” and the original “Melrose Place” fame. It is always inspiring as an actor on my own journey to get wisdom, advice and encouragement from a veteran actor who has been there and is willing to share lessons from their own path.


One of my favorite days on set was shooting my character’s autopsy scenes with the show’s stars Angie Harmon (Jane Rizzoli) and Sasha Alexander (Maura Isles). Having to remain completely still while listening to those two crack jokes and banter back and forth was a fun task. They were so wonderful to me and even both wailed, “Nooooooo!!!” genuinely sorry to see me leave when the director, Mark Haber, declared me wrapped for the episode.

Down to a person from Casting Director, Gary Zuckerberg and Casting Associate, Kamala A. Thomas; episode director, Mark Haber; the delightful make-up and hair team; wardrobe stylists; my own personal stunt coordinator, who taught me how to fall without hurting myself; the phenomenal ADs and PAs who took care of my every need as a guest actor for the week; and the craft services and catering teams; etc, etc, etc…it was a joy to collaborate with these wonderful artists in my time as Judge Kathleen Harper.

Although Rizzoli & Isles says it’s final goodbye tonight, it is my honor to have a place in the R&I family recorded on celluloid for the ages.

Congratulations to everyone who had the pleasure of bringing this show to life week after week for seven seasons. Job well done!

xoxo ~ A’da

You A’da Know About The CBS Diversity Showcase…

Diversity has been a hot button issue in Hollywood for many years. While progress is slowly being made, we’ve seen this important issue come to a head several times over the last few years with controversies such as #OscarsSoWhite, among other prominent protests.

Everybody desires to see themselves represented on television and in movies, in front of and behind the camera. Proper representation accurately reflects the world in which we live while giving a stage and creative outlet to new and exciting voices of talented artists who should be recognized and given equal opportunity.

For the last decade or more, there have been diversity programs put in place at many studios, networks, guilds and organizations to combat this diversity concern. One such program is the annual CBS Diversity Showcase, which spotlights a new crop of diverse actors and helps give them a way of breaking through to what has been perceived as a closed Hollywood system. The CBS Diversity Showcase also incorporates a talented group of writers in this industry “boot camp,” a rigorous process from audition to stage, over the course of several months.

Through my former job as a producer at Breakdown Services, I had the pleasure to be a fly on the wall and document this incredible process for the Virtual Channel Network (VCN) for the last five years. Over that period, I’ve seen many of the actors who participated in showcase have career and life changing outcomes. Actors who landed series regular and film roles include: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters reboot movie); Nico Santos (Superstore); Haneefah Wood (Grease Live on Fox, Zoe Ever After); Jeremy D. Howard, Lyric Lewis and Michelle Ortiz (MADtv reboot series), to name only a few.

If you are an actor of a diverse background and have Hollywood aspirations, you should seriously consider auditioning for the CBS Diversity Showcase to potentially jump start your career to the next level.

For an exclusive look inside the process, here are a short and long version of the documentary I produced for this year’s 2016 CBS Diversity Showcase.

Long-version Documentary (Running Time – 1:02:33)

 

Short-version Documentary (Running Time – 32:34)

 

You A’da Celebrate Friends!

I believe that in this life you are nothing without your community. So, when your friends do amazing things you need to cheer them on.

Today I celebrate my friend, Jeremy D. Howard, who debuts tonight as a cast member of the brand new MADtv revival television series on the CW!

Jeremy has a blessed and beautiful story that I will be bringing to you real soon here on You A’da Know. We had a blast chatting, if you can’t tell from the snaps I took of my computer while playing back footage of our interview.

Be sure to watch Jeremy, and the rest of the amazing cast, tonight and every Tuesday night, on the CW at 9:00pm EST/PST, 8:00pm Central, or check your local listings.

Congratulations, Jeremy D. Howard!

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You A’da Know Marika Casteel

Today I am very excited to introduce a brand new feature on my blog entitled “You A’da Know…” where I introduce you to someone in the entertainment industry that I feel is doing exciting things.

For our debut segment, the spotlight shines on actress, fashion blogger and my best friend, Marika Casteel. Marika is a working actress based in the San Francisco Bay Area. After paying her dues and cutting her acting chops in Los Angeles, she has enjoyed a career in the Bay Area market doing commercials, industrials, voiceover, television and film.

Last year she had the pleasure to work on two critically acclaimed features – Steve Jobs, a biographical portrait about Apple founder and tech giant Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Bridges, directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. The second, Swiss Army Man is a unique buddy film starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, directed by Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan (winner of the Directing Awards at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival), which opens widely in the United States today, July 1!

Join me as I talk to Marika about her start in acting and the incredible experience of working on Swiss Army Man and attending the Sundance Film Festival.

For more info on Marika Casteel check out http://bit.ly/marikacasteel and http://gigisgoneshopping.com!

Shaking Up The World 

 

 

Watching Muhammad Ali’s funeral procession last Friday was quite a remarkable and beautiful experience. All along the 23 mile route, there were thousands upon thousands of people lined up cheering, crying, mourning, chanting, throwing flowers, touching and kissing the hearse. Thousands, wanting their own moment to honor, thank, offer expressions of love and say goodbye. Poignant images, first a young man, and later on a little boy, ran alongside the hearse. Each in an Ali training stance next to the slow moving vehicle. Another was the shower of flowers being thrown. So many that the driver had to turn on the windshield wipers multiple times to regain visibility.

The greater beauty of this moment was the diversity of people who participated and shared in this ritual. People of all colors, races, religions and walks of life gathered in one accord to honor a man who touched their lives. A black man, a man of Muslim faith. A man who literally shook up the world and made it better. There was no fear, no hatred, no venom or vitriol, no divisiveness or ugliness lining those streets; just an energy of love and peace. This is the America that I grew up in and the America I want to see again.

The election season has kicked up a negative and hateful spirit, creating a scary time in this country. It seems we are at a tug of war for our values and what we as a people will stand for moving ahead. After seemingly taking steps forward in the election of our 44th President, there are some who would prefer to take us back to an uglier time in America. A time that many of our greatest voices stood against and fought with all they had to shake up America and the world to make the culture change. Some sacrificed their lives to do so, but America became greater because of it. Like Ali when he would take to the ring to fight his toughest and meanest opponents, we are in a serious battle for the very nature of who we are as a people. It’s time for this generation to come out fighting and, like Ali and other strong leaders in trying circumstances when up against the ropes, shake up the world. And make no mistake, the world is watching.

Ali extended his great legacy through what he accomplished outside of the ring once he hung up his gloves. A once controversial figure for standing up for his convictions, Ali became a symbol of inclusion, peace and love throughout the world. At home in America, he became a hero. A legend. An icon elevated even more by the grace and dignity with which he fought Parkinson’s disease for the last 30 years. He truly was The Greatest. And he is a product of America, who in spite of some ugly and shameful bruises in our history is great.

Seeing such a diverse group of Americans come together in such a seemingly disheartening time gave me hope. This is the America I grew up in and the America we need to fight tooth and nail to preserve. Not one person can be absent, or apathetic in this election cycle.

Muhammad Ali’s interfaith service was representative of his inclusive, peaceful and loving nature. There were many beautiful statements and remembrances to encapsulate the life of such a special man. Billy Crystal’s statement was markedly appropriate for such a time as this.

“Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves, this brash young man who thrilled us, angered us, confused and challenged us, ultimately became a silent messenger of peace, who taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, not walls.” Billy Crystal at Muhammad Ali’s funeral service on June 10, 2016

You A’da know I am for tearing down the walls that continue to try to divide us. We certainly don’t need to build any more. Instead it is time to continue building bridges. Only then can we finally achieve our greatest good.

Where are my world shakers?

 

 

When The Greatest Loses The Fight …

My heart is really with Laila Ali, her siblings and the entire Ali family this morning.

I know all too well what it feels like to see your daddy who had always been your hero and a symbol and figure of strength for your entire life fall victim to a horrible illness that ultimately makes his body betray him and the image of that physical strength.

To see your dad deteriorate over the years is a horrible thing, but to see the fight that he musters to come against the illness that is doing everything to overcome him and in that to see your father fight it with dignity, beauty and strength of character makes him even more heroic ultimately.

Even under those circumstances, maybe especially so, to lose your father totally takes the wind out of you, makes you lose your footing, catches you completely off guard and grounds you to the mat. I guess that is very much what a knockout feels like in the boxing ring, only you never recover from it.

Whenever I hear of someone that I know my dad admired or loved passing on, I wonder what my dad says when he sees them walking through the Pearly Gates. This morning I imagine my dad seeing Muhammad Ali walk in and I know he got that twinkle in his eye, made that special grin, chuckled and walked up to the Champ and welcomed him home.

Rest in power, Muhammad Ali. Strength and love to the Ali family.

I miss my dad, my Champ and Greatest of All Time, so much. Continue to rest in power, Dad.

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