Lauren Molina - A Broadway Star's Life Stripped Down by Jacqueline Patton

Oh, man, guys, the past week and has been a doozy. The LA teacher’s strike had us with kids home, picketing in the pouring rain (worth it), and my husband out of the country for work. Between figuring out how to plan childcare, taking in other kids, finding activities to keep them occupied, making sure they actually read books and learned something, running a business…I’m feeling behind. But PRAISE THE LORD they are back in school today and I can feel slightly more productive. And thankfully I started Marie-Kondo-ing my house the week before because while my brain might have felt like a scattered mess, at least my drawers weren’t. Woohoo! It’s seriously life changing. I also didn’t have the head-space to take on the photo project I wanted to start last week, but it’ll happen.

For today’s interview, we’ve got the gorgeous and incredibly talented and brave Lauren Molina. Back when I first started getting to know her (we were young 20-somethings living in New York), she was auditioning for Sweeny Todd on Broadway and needed to know how to play the Cello. So…she LEARNED to play the Cello and not only auditioned, but booked the role. After that, she killed it in Rock of Ages on Broadway. These days, she’s half of the amazing duo The Skivvies (Nick Cearly is the other - and he is the biggest sweetheart with the voice and smile of an angel). (https://www.theskivviesnyc.com/) They strip it all down - from their clothes to the music…and they have brought in some of Broadway’s most recognized stars to strip down and perform with them (yes, even Lin Manuel Miranda).

When I knew I was going to shoot Lauren and Nick for The Skivvies, I kept trying to figure out what to do for the shoot. We met up at a bar in Hell’s Kitchen (they were fully clothed at the bar), and I told them my plan. I said something like, “Guys…the plan is…we don’t have a plan. We’re going to just feel out how things go, and be spontaneous, and see what we can create.” They were like, “GAME!” So we did a tequila shot, they took off their clothes, and we hit the streets. We caused such a ruckus in Times Square that The Naked Cowboy’s handler tracked us down because he wanted to be a part of the shoot. And, as you can see (you can see more of the shoot HERE), the three of them gave the tourists something to write home about. Now onto Lauren…enjoy!

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

LAUREN: I was a babysitter. 

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up?  Do you have a ritual/routine?

LAUREN: I check my phone. I know it’s bad, but I scroll thru news, emails, Facebook, Instagram, and inevitably I wake up to texts from my best friend and bandmate Nick Cearley. I use my phone to open my eyes and read what is happening. 

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this past year has taught you?

LAUREN: Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Don’t censor yourself if you want to try something new. 

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it? 

LAUREN: Fortunately I have a best friend and collaborator who challenges me everyday to think of new ideas, and concepts for arrangements of songs. We have a band that is constantly putting out new material so when my theatrical career is frustrating I can work on my own thing and that gives me power and fulfillment with my art. 

JACKIE: What’s your favorite thing for dinner?

LAUREN: Fish Tacos 

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

LAUREN: It’s ok to be alone. Don’t allow yourself to be in relationship that is toxic. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. 

JACKIE: What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail?  

LAUREN: Drop everything and move to LA to make a tv show with The Skivvies. 

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?

LAUREN: I moved to New York City in 2003, started auditioning for theatre. I landed a tour, a couple off-Broadway shows, then made my Broadway debut in “Sweeney Todd” in 2005. 

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

LAUREN: When I’m wearing no makeup, comfy clothes, making music with my friends, laughing, and trying to outdo each other with puns. 

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?

LAUREN: I’d sleep in, then go to an amazing brunch, if it’s nice out take a walk in the park, see a Broadway show I’m dying to see and splurge on nice seats. 

JACKIE: Self-care – do you practice it?  If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

LAUREN: I don’t do enough self care, but when I do it involves yoga, massage, and a lot of moisturizing. 

JACKIE: Dream travel destination:  what is it, why, and have you been??!  

LAUREN: I’m dying to go to Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Australia. I want to immerse myself in the majestic natural beauty. 

JACKIE: Lastly – can you tell me what you are working on currently?

LAUREN: The Skivvies are my constant project. Insta: @theskivviesnyc. Our next shows are Valentine’s weekend 2019 in Portland and then March 11 in NYC at Joe’s Pub.  I’ll be in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park playing Lucy in April-May 2019. I’m a co-conceiver of this first ever actor-instrumental production. 

Insta:@lomo212

FB: @laurenmolina

Carsten Hayes - He just went to Japan and I'm super jealous by Jacqueline Patton

Good morning from cold and rainy Los Angeles! LAUSD is on strike, and in support of our teachers, I’ve got the kiddos home until it’s resolved, so I might not have time to get super profound here today. But thankfully, we have Carsten to do that for us! This fabulous actor (you might have recently seen him in The Infiltrator), lives in London now, but is currently off traveling the globe). He contacted me for a shoot when he was in LA a few months ago and I asked him if I could pry and ask him some questions to share here, and he happily agreed (Thanks, Carsten!!).

I’m so grateful to the actors and artists who’ve been open to sharing a bit of themselves here. I really think we have a lot to learn from each other. I have a bunch more interviews in the cue, and will be posting them weekly for the next couple of months...and hopefully beyond that indefinitely. And I’m also going to be sprinkling in other projects I’m working on to challenge my story-telling - I’m willing to be OK with not-perfect outcomes. I think that it’s in those moments, when you dust off the messiness of the process, that you find little gems. I have a documentary style personal project coming up that I’ll be sharing here later this week and have NO idea what it’s going to end up looking like, but we can all see together when I share it here. :)

In the meantime…enjoy Carsten’s interview! And you can check out more of our shoot HERE.

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

CARSTEN: Playing a flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz as a 7 yr old, in an itchy brown felt onesie with ears and tail (loved the tail) - in a very eager school production.

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up? Do you have a ritual/routine?

CARSTEN: I made a decision a few years ago to turn my phone off over night, but with family and friends all over the globe my first action is to turn it on to make sure there’s been no emergencies in a different time zone. Then coffee!

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this year has taught you?

CARSTEN: An old cliche: You just never know what’s around the corner. If it’s good, enjoy it; if not, try and make something positive out of it. If that doesn’t work, have a duvet day, then move on.

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?

CARSTEN: I like to think of it not as breaking through, but circumventing. I don’t get very far within myself if I’m too focused on on the frustration or blockage. It’s vitally important to have things (and people!) in life that aren’t work related; and there is so much out there in this huge world, all around us. A period of engaging in something else not only takes my mind off the negative, but also often puts things into perspective. My go-tos are photography, climbing, and DIY - generally doing things that are of a manual nature seem like a natural counterpoint to what can often be a very cerebral profession.

JACKIE: Whet’s your favorite thing for dinner?

CARSTEN: You’re joking, right? What you got?

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

CARSTEN: Where to start…? Be confident, but never complacent. Ask yourself: are you really doing everything you could be doing?

JACKIE: What would you try for now if you knew you couldn’t fail?

CARSTEN: Not sure it would be worth doing in that case. Is it really “trying” if you know you won’t fail? And the trying is often the more fun. Case in point, theatre. The rehearsal period is often more rewarding than the production run. Probably shouldn’t be saying that publicly.

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?

CARSTEN: See answer 1 (playing a flying monkey). It’s sort of true, something clicked at that age even though I didn’t realize it until later. There was also an intervention of what I can only describe as fate before drama school, but as a profession? I got lucky pure and simple. I was doing my final graduation piece at drama school in an American accent. One of the people was a West End producer looking for someone my age to play a small American part in a newly discovered Noel Coward play. It was a huge cast of 26, really rare for the stage these days, and most were seasoned theatre actors. I probably learned more about the craft watching them for 6 months than during all of drama school. From there I went on to work with the director a few times, and also ended up doing theatre for the next few years.

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

CARSTEN: When I’m working. Besides that, when I’m in the presence of animals or children.

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?

CARSTEN: When my dog was alive, those were the days for looooong walks. These days, alas, either going down a google hole or cleaning.

JACKIE: Self-care: do you practice it? If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

CARSTEN: See 4. Also, baths, though they work from the outside in.

JACKIE: Dream travel destination: what is it, why, and have you been?

CARSTEN: For 30 years, it’s been Japan, because I felt some magical personal affinity with the country and culture, and I JUST GOT TO GO!!!

JACKIE: Lastly, tell me what you’re working on and where we can find you!

CARSTEN: Not currently working on anything, just traveling on a round the world ticket. But I’ve been blessed with work this year. Roles I’ve played this year on productions due to come out were a doting father of two headstrong daughters, CIA agent, 1940s ‘degenerate’ German artist in captivity, and a cop married to his job. I’ve also been working on setting up a production company which should hopefully go live at the beginning of 2019.

www.carstenhayes.com

Instagram: @henceassatyr

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Camille Chen - Starting with a Super Star by Jacqueline Patton

It’s a week into January and I haven’t really started assessing my “resolutions” for the year. I do have goals for this year, but I think they’re more part of a process of trusting putting one foot in front of the other and not worrying so much about the outcome. That’s hard for a control freak like me. But growing is stretching. As someone who makes a living making and taking photographs, I sometimes wonder where some parts of my work fit into a business category. But I’ve decided that I’m not worried about creating a “brand” or figuring out a label on whatever this all is. Editorial? Commercial? Headshots? I wanted to make a space where we can explore the photos, and then look behind them a bit. And to create a place where not only I can share my work, but other artists can share who they are, too. A portrait is a collaboration; who they are is just as important as what I capture visually. At least to me it is.

On this blog I’ll also be trying really really hard to post some other personal work and thoughts…#goals…stay tuned on that. I’m using this space to just put out work that feels honest and I don’t feel like categorizing or marketing in any specific way. It can be messy. And that’s totally OK.

For the very first of this series of blog posts, I am starting with a real superstar. I like to hear people’s real stories. Everyone’s journey started somewhere, and until you stop breathing, the journey is still in process. I happen to take photos for a living (which still blows my mind). But I like to know more about what’s behind the image. I want to know what you order at a restaurant. And what you talk about to yourself when you’re driving alone (other people do that, right?).

And now onto Camille!

Camille Chen is a powerhouse, and also happens to be one of the most generous, sweet people I’ve met (and is also a karaoke badass). And I haven’t yet mentioned her immense talent as an actress because I don’t even know how to describe it in words. This girl was born to perform. You’ve seen her in almost every genre of TV Commercial you can imagine, and all over the small and big screens. Grey’s Anatomy, Game Night, Law & Order, Californication, American Horror Story…the list goes on forever. She’s everywhere, and she should be. When I met Camille, we were both living in NYC. Lucky for me, we both now live in LA and when she’s not on set and I’m not picking up a kid from somewhere or on a flight, we at least talk about trying to get together. ;) I asked her a few questions and you can read her interview below. Enjoy! XO

(To see more images from our shoot, click HERE)

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

CAMILLE: Well, technically my first job was in my mom's flower shop. Starting age 9 or 10, I would go every day after school and bill clients, answer the phone and take orders, run credit cards, sweep/clean up, etc. But I wasn't getting paid! LOL. My first "real" job was at 15 years old, I was a hostess at Chili's. Best job ever! I was 100% paralleling the life of the hostess in that movie WAITING. ;)

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up? Do you have a ritual/routine?

CAMILLE: Unfortunately, I grab my phone and get on social media and read the news. I need to break that habit. I'd LIKE to wake up and meditate, that's a goal for 2019. Then, my husband walks our dogs and I make breakfast. I have to eat breakfast. I always have a big meal, usually eggs scrambled with veggies topped with avocado. And coffee. MUST HAVE COFFEE.

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this past year has taught you?

CAMILLE: I can't control everything! Crazy, right?? And not to take it so personally or as a personal defeat if things don't go my way. There's only so much I can do, and there's way more that I have zero control over. 

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?

CAMILLE: I volunteer. I love volunteering. For some reason it opens me up, makes me realize that there's so much more to life than ME. I head mentored for Young Storytellers this past session (I've mentored before and performed in a bunch of shows), and I also volunteer with Project Angel Food.

JACKIE: What’s your favorite thing for dinner?

CAMILLE: I love all foods. It depends on what mood I'm in. But, if I HAD to pick, I would say Taiwanese food. Braised ground pork over white rice is one of my absolute faves. There's a restaurant in Los Feliz called Pine & Crane and the food tastes like my grandma made it.

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

CAMILLE: SLOW DOWN. 

JACKIE: What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail?

CAMILLE: Audition for a Broadway musical.

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?

CAMILLE: I started in choir in high school, which led me to the annual musical during my Senior year, which led me to theater in college!

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

CAMILLE: When I'm with my closest friends, cooking a lavish meal for them in my amazing kitchen (thanks HGTV!).

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?

CAMILLE: I would have an amazing breakfast, go on an epic hike with my dogs and husband and stepdaughters, cook an incredible dinner, play board games with the family (and win), watch a movie while eating homemade popcorn with garlic infused olive oil and s&p.

JACKIE: Self-care – do you practice it? If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

CAMILLE: I love exercising, and meditating when I get around to it!

JACKIE: Dream travel destination: what is it, why, and have you been??!

CAMILLE: I love Paris, I've been a few times. I love the food, the culture, the walking. the people. I also speak French and I think it's cool to be able to adapt to different world. I've never been to South Africa, and I've been dying to go on safari in Kruger National Park!

JACKIE: Can you tell me what you are working on currently? 

CAMILLE: I've been recurring on SINGLE PARENTS, and I did an episode of GOD FRIENDED ME on CBS…also an episode of DRUNK HISTORY that airs in February! 

IG: @thatasianactress

www.camillechen.com

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