Broadway Returns!!

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

When the pandemic first began to rear its ugly head in March 2020, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN ,“I don’t want to see Broadway go dark.” Sadly, the nature of the virus made it impossible to avoid shutting down Broadway. But that was 2020.

Now we’re in 2021. We have vaccines! With almost 60% of NYC vaccinated, the town is on its way to herd immunity. The city is slowly opening, but the development that Fashion Reverie is much excited about?  

Broadway is coming back!  Starting in August, shows will be premiering and reopening. Fashion Reverie has curated a list of shows to get ridiculously excited about.

New Shows 

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Diana the Musical 

Previews November 2 opening night November 17 at Longacre Theater 

Inspired by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, this biographical musical follows the tale of the shy kindergarten teacher who would marry Prince Charles and become the most famous woman on the planet while trapped in a loveless marriage.  If you don’t happen to live in NYC or are unable to get tickets, Netflix will be taping the show and releasing it in December.  

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Girl from the North Country 

Opens on October 13 at Belasco Theater  

Technically, this is a returning show. But since it only ran for a few weeks, Fashion Reverie is going to call it new. This musical is set at a guesthouse during the Great Depression.  The show uses the songs of Bob Dylan to illustrate a story of love and family in a struggling America.  

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Pass Over 

Previews start August 4; opening night on September 12 running through  October 10 at August Wilson Theater (Lincoln Center) 

Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” directed by Danya Taymor will be one of the first plays to open with previews starting in August. Inspired by “Waiting for Godot” and the story of Exodus, “Pass Over” centers on a city street corner where two men talk and dream of their “promised land,” when a stranger interrupts their meeting. Chinonye Nwandu says the play is about the reality of loss and tragedy woven into the African American experience.  

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Is This a Room 

September 24 – January 16, 2022 at Lyceum Theatre  

Tina Satter’s “Is This A Room” follows the true story of Reality Winner, a 25-year-old former Air Force linguist who is charged with leaking evidence of Russian interference in U.S. elections. The oddly named woman (recently released on parole IRL) would go to jail for exposing tampering in 2016, despite her actions ensuring a fair and safe presidential election in 2020.  

Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

MJ The Musical 

Previews begin December 6, 2021; opening February 1, 2022 at Neil Simon Theater 

“MJ The Musical” features an original book by Lynn Nottage, with direction and choreography from Christopher Wheeldon.  The musical follows Michael Jackson’s career from the Jackson 5 to his own musical superstardom and features all of his biggest hits like “Billy Jean” and “Thriller.” How will the show address the controversy surrounding allegations of sexual abuse? Producers and cast aren’t breathing a word.  

Returning 

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Come From Away 

“Come From Away” will reopen at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on September 21. 

This crowd-pleaser tells the story of a plane forced to land in Newfoundland on 9/11. The stranded passengers found themselves taken in by strangers and lifelong friendships would form. This tale of an international community who come together in a time of crisis will soon be coming to the big screen.  

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Hamilton 

Returns to Richards Rogers November 12  

The multi-Tony-winning blockbuster phenomenon has been delighting audiences across the globe since it opened in 2015. Do not throw away your shot to see this mega-hit.  

 

Off-Broadway 

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Morning Sun 

Manhattan Theatre Club previews beginning October 12; opening night on November 3  

Blair Brown, Edie Falco, and Marin Ireland are the powerhouse trio telling a story of a woman’s life over the course of 50 years in New York City. A tale of mothers, daughters’ beginnings, endings, and hope in this new play by Simon Stephens.  

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The Play That Goes Wrong  

New World Stages opens October 15 

This Broadway favorite begins again. The play introduces The Cornley University Drama Society who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can wrong … does.

—Cameron Grey Rose

Summer Loving: Movies for Romance

Who’s in the mood for love? Set the stage for the perfect date night with a bottle of wine, some candles, and films that inspire romance. From bouncy musicals to tragic tales, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for on Fashion Reverie‘s list of the most romantic movies.  

Upcoming Films

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The Last Letter from Your Lover” – July 23rd Netflix

Jennifer Sterling (played by Shailene Woodley) is an American woman living in 1960s England in a safe but loveless marriage.  She falls into a romance with the mysterious B to whom she shares a passionate romance via love letters. Decades later, Ellie, a London reporter played by Felicity Jones, finds the letters and is determined to find out what happened to the star-crossed lovers.

Image courtesy of David Bloomer/ NETFLIX © 2020

Resort to Love” – July 29th Netflix

With her career hitting a snag, a singer still smarting from her broken engagement a year earlier takes a job performing at a wedding at a swanky tropical resort. It’s only after she arrives that she discovers her ex fiancé is the groom! Starring Christina Milan and produced by Alicia Keys, this is a fun, screwball romantic comedy with a lot of great music.

The Classics

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The Princess Bride 

This classic from 1987 was directed by Rob Reiner and adapted by William Goldman from his novel of the same name. Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) longs for her lost love Westley, feared dead in a pirate attack. Westley (played by Cary Elwes), who survived, is determined to find his way back to her in this action-adventure romance.  The idea that streaming this film with your honey will lead to anything but a night of steamy romance is INCONCEIVABLE!  

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In the Mood for Love 

Directed by Wong Kar-Wei and set in 1962 Hong Kong, this lush tale of unrequited love will inspire you to snuggle even harder with your better half.  Neighbors find themselves forming a strong bond when they discover their spouses are having an affair. Filled with music and lush jewel tones, this moving film will inspire you to be brave and fight for happiness and fulfillment.  

Image courtesy of Film Ink

Once  

Written and directed by John Carney, this Oscar-winning film tells the story of a street musician who happens upon a young immigrant. They decide to write a song together and find themselves falling in love. Despite a measly $150,000 budget, the film takes full advantage of the beautiful Irish countryside it was filmed in and is stunning to look at. The song they write (actually written by the actors themselves!)  “Falling” would go win an Oscar for Best Original Song and the film would later inspire a Broadway adaption.  

Image courtesy of courtesy of Bitch Media

Portrait of a Lady on Fire  

This quiet and meditative, yet robust film of doomed love was criminally overlooked in 2019. Set in 17th century France, it tells the story of a painter, Marianne, hired to do a portrait of a young woman, Heloise, living on a remote island. To their surprise, the two women find themselves falling passionately in love. Alas, Heloise has been promised to another. Directed by Céline Sciamma, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was filmed in 8K stock so the movie is bursting with color and such amazing cinematography that every frame is a painting.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is not for everyone. Many will find it slow and tedious, but multiple critics called it the best film of the year. And the ending? Have tissues handy. This tragic tale will remind you to cherish the love you have.  

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It Happened One Night” 

Considered by many to be the original romantic comedy, it features Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert at their height being directed by legend Frank Capra. Runway heiress Ellie meets reporter Peter on a Greyhound bus to New York City only to be forced to find alternate travel when the bus breaks down, resulting in madcap adventures. Many critics call this one of the greatest films ever made.

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Loving

This is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (yes that was their last name). With their interracial marriage illegal in their home state of Virginia, the pair move to Washington D.C. but find themselves longing for home. Upon getting arrested for visiting family, they set into motion events that would end with a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Asked by a reporter what he wants the world to know about him, Richard Loving simply replied “I love my wife.”

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Say Anything

Do you remember being a reckless and endlessly optimistic teenager? Go there again with this classic from the ’80s. Directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Ione Skye and John Cusack, it tells the story of two teenagers awkwardly navigating their slide into adult life after graduating from high school while falling in love. Crowe recently indicated he is considering revisiting the character all these years later to see where they ended up.  

Image courtesy of the nytimes.com

The Big Sick” 

This film written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon was inspired by the true story of their courtship. Kumail plays himself, and after dating Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) for a few months, they have a huge fight. Emily runs off. The next day Kumail gets a call that Emily is suffering from a severe infection and is now in a coma. Will their relationship survive? Will Emily?  

Image courtesy of Mental Floss

Singin’ in the Rain” 

Saving the best for last! This fun romantic comedy has been hailed as the greatest musical of all time. Starring Gene Kelly—who also co-directed and choreographed the picture— Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, this film is a celebration of romance and the joy of falling in love set in the film industry during the advent of talking pictures. A pure delight from beginning to end, you’ll be humming the title song for days.  

—Cameron Grey Rose

 

Emerging Songbirds Celebrate Music and Fashion

After a year in lockdown, new singing talent is coming out of the woodwork. With singing competition shows and SoundCloud giving artists access to new platforms, it’s gotten just a little bit easier for young and independent talent to break through the crowd. Fashion Reverie has spotlighted some up-and-coming artists who we’ve deemed ones to watch.

Tamara Jade

You might know her from season 19 of NBC’s “The Voice,” but Tamara Jade was working long and hard to make a name for herself in music before ”The Voice.” Growing up in a musical family, she naturally honed her craft from singing in church to formal vocal training. Tamara has found her heart in the genres of gospel, r&b, soul, and jazz and is continuing to make a name for herself as an independent artist.

Fashion Reverie: How did you find your love of music?

Tamara Jade: I was born into a musical family, so music was just always around me. I grew up singing in church, too. I didn’t really have a choice when it came to music being a part of my life. No one ever forced me to do music, I just loved it. My mother is a singer and was our church music director, one brother is an organist and pianist, and my oldest brother is my manager, co-producer and co-writer, so [he] and I are actively working on music together all of the time.

THE VOICE — “Knockout Rounds” Episode 1909 — Pictured: Tamara Jade — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

FR: I want to hear more about your educational background and how you started formally studying music.

Tamara Jade: My family did not just do music for fun. It was very serious to us. The whole attitude my family had was, if you’re going to do music, do it at the highest level, and the way to do that is to study.

I went to Suitland High School to their visual and performing arts magnet program. After that, I attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Oberlin College. I did the vocal performance program in the conservatory of music and I studied sociology in the college as a double degree student so I could explore my interests outside of music.

As soon as I graduated college, I booked the role of Mimi in Puccini’s “La Boheme” in Italy, but I wasn’t truly happy singing classical music. After that, I did a gospel tour for three months in Europe.

FR: What would you consider the turning point in your career?

Tamara Jade: When I worked with Lizzo for her MTV VMAs performance. Everything changed for me after that. I got to the audition, they gave us the dance routine to learn, and I never felt like something belonged to me more in my life. I made it clear to the casting directors I expect to get a phone call the next day. They called to book me the next day and told me I manifested this and they wanted someone that had the kind of power I have on board.

FR: You were cast on season 19 of “The Voice.” Why did you decide to go the reality TV competition route?

Tamara Jade: I was supposed to be touring with Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, and we were supposed to open for Lenny Kravitz’s tour in Europe. While I was going through the process of auditioning for “The Voice,” I made it clear that if this show conflicting with the tour, I wasn’t doing it. Then COVID-19 cancelled the tour, so that potential conflict was out of the way.

This was actually my third time auditioning for the show. The producers reached out to me every time, they had wanted me on the show for a long time. Taping for season 19 kept getting pushed back because of COVID-19, but we made it happen, eventually.

FR: On “The Voice” you were coached by the legendary Mr. John Legend himself. Talk to me about that mentorship?

Tamara Jade: John Legend taught me so much exponentially in a short amount of time. From the moment I started working with John Legend, it was like we had known each other for years. There was immediate recognition of who we were outside of who everybody else was. One thing he said to me that they did not air was when he told me I have what church mothers called ‘the anointing.’ This man could look at me singing a Lizzo song and call me anointed. I was sold with him as a mentor from that moment.

THE VOICE — “Live Top 9 Performances” Episode 1913A — Pictured: Tamara Jade — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

FR: Now that you’ve come more into the public spotlight, have you worked to cultivate your fashion and style to build your image?

Tamara Jade: I hired a stylist. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted my fashion sense to be, but I didn’t have the time to go find clothes to create the image I wanted.

Working with a stylist has helped me learn the language of fashion, so that I could communicate my needs accurately to stylists.  

Fashion is an outward representation of who I am. Even if I’m wearing all black, I still want people to feel inspired when they see me, of course. I love mixing prints and patterns. I’ve learned what colors look good on my skin tone.

FR: Who do you want the world to see Tamara Jade as in ten years?

Tamara Jade: Love, light, and power.

Image courtesy of Ella Isaacson

Ella Isaacson

Ella Isaacson has become a major pop star to watch. The young starlet on the rise has over 40 million streams across multiple platforms and is being produced by Norwegian super producers Stargate, making her the first artist to be developed by the duo. She has a trained operatic voice. She might just be on the early leg of her journey, but make no mistake, she isn’t one to be underestimated.

FR: What inspired you to pursue music?

Ella Isaacson: I grew up in New York, and I was driven to start singing at a very young age. My father was an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor, so he treated a lot of singers. I started classically training my voice at age 7. At 16, I was already taking lessons with major opera coaches.

I also had a natural love for writing and poetry. When I was in my teens, I had a cousin that was a music producer and musician. I begged him to help me record and start doing demos.

FR: You came from a more operatic background in terms of your music training. How did you make the transition from that to doing more pop and commercial music?

Ella Isaacson: My writing came from a place of being a lyricist, and I just loved pop music. When I was in the studio, I found that pop music came very naturally to me. That is what I was drawn to versus performing classical music professionally.

FR: You have over 40 million streams of your music. How do you think streaming has been beneficial to developing independent artists?

Ella Isaacson: It’s has become easier for artists to take more power into their own hands. Record labels have questions about what can work. If you have a voice or sound that’s different from what’s being pushed currently, record labels are afraid to take a risk on you.

I met with a lot of people, but there was the question from music executives about my sound being too different. I put my first song out on SoundCloud, and overnight it had 400,000 plays. There’s no guarantees in this industry; you just have to put the music out there and see what people feel.

Image courtesy of Bong Mines Entertainment

FR: How did you come to get produced by the duo Stargate? They are living legends who have produced lots of artists from Sam Smith to Rihanna.

Ella Isaacson: I had been releasing music online, and I came to a point where I felt a bit lost. Travelling and meeting new creators always make me feel inspired. I was living with a friend in England, and then I went to Sweden and got to meet other creators.

I went back to England and my friend I was staying with convinced me to go out for a drink. We went to a hotel bar, and in walked Stargate. My friend had worked for their publisher several years prior. She told Stargate I was a singer and they invited us to have breakfast the next morning. I felt like Stargate were the first people that really saw me for me. I really trusted them, and it was so natural.

FR: How would you describe your fashion style?

Ella Isaacson: My style is very classic and feminine. I love vintage pieces. Most of my wardrobe pieces are vintage, hand-me downs, or consignment. I love things that have a history. I’ll even redesign and alter old things myself so I can keep them longer.

I’m a big thrifter. I love the hunt. Sometimes you have these really beautiful pieces you come across and you can mix them with something more ‘90s or retro..

Zimmermann is one of my favorite designers, so they are one of the few brands I wouldn’t necessarily get on a vintage hunt, but aside from them I love vintage Chloé, Ralph Lauren, and Mugler. Mugler’s vintage cut is gorgeous from the shoulder pads to the cinched waists. I also love vintage Jean Paul Gaultier.  

Alice + Olivia is one of my favorite modern brands. One time I tagged the brand on Instagram and I got a personal message from the designer Stacey Bendet!

Image courtesy of Ella Isaacson

FR: What’s next for you?

Ella Isaacson: I have an EP I’m working on; we’re working on figuring out the release date.

—Kristopher Fraser

Musical Stars Comment on Broadway’s Comeback

Image courtesy of lovingnewyork.com

It’s back, bold, and beautiful! Broadway is set to return after shutting down for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most shows are slated for return this September, just in time for some post-New York Fashion Week theatrical exploits. New York is making a comeback and will leave you nothing short of impressed.

The re-emergence of musical theatre is also being helped by hit musical TV shows like “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The roaring ‘20s 2.0 is shaping up to be a golden era for musical theatre madness.

As stars return to the stage, they are also returning to the red carpets and public appearances, and of course that means more fashion. Fashion Reverie has interviewed several musical stars on the resurgence of musical theatre, their return to public appearances, and how they cultivate their own style.

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Julia Lester — Ashlyn in TV’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”

Actress and songbird Julia Lester brings Disney’s hit “High School Musical” franchise to an entirely new generation. Growing up in an entertainment family, Lester had long been drawn to the world of performing arts, and her big break came when she was cast as Ashlyn on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” on Disney+, catapulting her to being a highly recognizable face among young television actors. While millennials had the original “High School Musical” movies and Ryan Murphy’s “Glee,” Lester is helping bring the world of musical theatre via television to Generation Z. With the return of the red carpet, she’s also exploring one of her other favorite things aside from performing: playing dress up.

Fashion Reverie: You come from a family where many people work in the entertainment industry. When and why did you pursue acting as a career?

Julia Lester: My entire family is in the industry, so. it was in my nature to be interested in performing since I was a young kid. Had I been naturally interested in pursuing something else, I would have done that, but, from the get-go, I was always into music, dancing, and performing. It was great growing up in a family of performers to nurture the love I had for the arts. I did theatre growing up as well, and that led me to my role on “High Musical: The Musical: The Series.”

FR: Were you a fan “High School Musical” before you were cast in the show?

Julia Lester:  A huge one! I was around seven years old when the first movie came out, and I have two older sisters who are really into musical theatre, so it was the perfect family movie for us to watch. I knew the creators of “High School Musical” were trying to find a way to continue the story in some way, so, when I got the audition for the series, I thought it was the best way to continue “High School Musical” in a way we all love and know so well.

FR: For the past two decades musicals seems to inspire a new generation of fans. Now, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” seems to be building the next generation of musical theatre nerds as one of Disney+’s highest rated shows. How do you think this show is helping propel and inspire a new generation of musical theatre lovers?

Julia Lester: “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is introducing a lot of people to musical theatre who may not have been familiar with that genre of music or got to be in a space where they were introduced to musical theatre. The show also helps introduce so many different genres of music, while still having a plotline that can appeal to a lot of people. The show writers do a incredible job of incorporating musical theatre into the everyday lives of the characters on the show, and it’s done in a way that’s so natural.

Julia Lester

FR: With outside starting to reopen as we emerge from COVID-19, press tours are a thing again, and there’s been tons of press around “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” How do you work on building your individual style as you’re doing more publicity, especially this season now that your role on the show has gotten bigger?

Julia Lester: That is something I really enjoy doing. I’ve been styling myself for most of our press events. It’s been fun for me because I have a huge love of styling and fashion. It’s been great getting to dress up and put on real outfits again, especially after I’ve been wearing sweatpants every single day for almost a year. The fact that we can go out and dress up again has been very exciting.

A few of the cast members from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” including myself, got to go to the world premiere of the “Cruella” movie. It was the first real movie premiere since the COVID-19 shutdown. That was a great opportunity to play dress up.

FR: What else do we have to look forward to from you in a post-pandemic entertainment industry?

Julia Lester: I produced a film with my sister, Jenny Lester, called “What She Said” with her production company Shallow Graves. It’s a kitchen sink drama that’s so incredible that I’m hoping it will have a firm release date soon.

We’re also hoping for a renewal to do season 3 of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” There’s been no news on that yet, but that’s what I’m most hoping for right now. Fingers crossed!

Image courtesy of thenewyorktimes.com

Jarvis B. Manning — Al Bryant in Broadway’s “Ain’t Too Proud”

Jarvis B. Manning is no stranger to the world of Motown music. The actor grew up in a family that was big on the genre, and he was previously in the ensemble of “Motown the Musical.” Now, he’s ready to dust off his dancing shoes again as he prepares to step back into the role of Al Bryant in “Ain’t Too Proud,” a hit Broadway musical that focuses on the story of famed Motown group The Temptations. As he’s making a name for himself in song and dance, Manning has also found himself thinking more about fashion and his public image now that he’s getting ready to say hello to audiences again.

Fashion Reverie: When did you first find your love of music and theatre?

Jarvis B. Manning: I grew up in the church, so music was so much a part of my life. Anytime “Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer came on, my sister and I would run to the dance floor and we had a whole dance routine going. If you asked my parents if I was a natural at anything, it was song and dance.

I went to the High School for Visual and Performing Arts in Houston. I studied classical voice and jazz. I noticed there was a theatre program in the school, and we also had an all-school Black history program.

My sophomore year, I auditioned to be a dancer in the Black History program because they were short male dancers. I fell in love with dancing and singing at the same time, even though I still didn’t know much about musical theatre. By my senior year, I was tired of singing classical music all the time, so I sang in the jazz group for our young performers showcase where I got to both sing and dance. That was when I realized I had to do musical theatre as a profession.

Jarvis B. Manning

FR: How familiar were you with the music of The Temptations before your current role in “Ain’t Too Proud” and your previous role in “Motown The Musical”?

Jarvis B. Manning: Very familiar. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to listen to anything in the house but gospel, old school blues, and Motown. I knew the music of The Temptations through and through..

I saw “Jersey Boys” on Broadway and wanted to do a Black version, so of course my next thought was The Temptations. I was working on it for a year, and I put it down and kept saying I would come back to it someday. Next thing I knew, Dominique Morriseau was writing the book for this musical. I always joke with her that she stole this musical from me.

FR: Of course, with musical theatre, costuming is a huge part of any production. How do you feel costuming helped you really embody and develop your character?

Jarvis B. Manning: Costuming helps so much.. Once you get on stage, the costume is on your body, and you see the actual set pieces, it puts you in a new land. I have an idea of what my character would be, and once the costume shows up, it’s a whole different situation.

Al’s main costume was a blue stripe shirt, grey pants, and his hair is also pressed. The costumes make you hold yourself in a different way, from the pants coming up to the belly button to the boots hitting a certain part of your ankle. The costumes are truly the last piece of the puzzle that can put you and your mind in a [time] period.

FR: How do you think the reopening of Broadway will spark a new musical theatre renaissance for this decade?

Jarvis B. Manning: I’m hoping it will spark more space for people who are not the ‘norm.’ We have all heard and seen those people’s stories on the Broadway stage, and the rest of us are tired of it. People who are coming to see Broadway shows look like everybody and come from all walks of life.

If the people who have been creating during this lull and silence can speak up when Broadway reopens, it will be a beautiful thing. If Broadway falls back into its old, nasty habits of feeding the same crowd they have always fed, it would be a major let down to old creatives, new creatives, people who have lost their lives, and the future Broadway community.

There’s the opportunity to allow change. It’s crazy that we must think about ‘allowing change,’ but it’s the perfect time. It might be a forced moment at first, where producers feel obligated to do things because that’s what’s expected, but that could open up people’s eyes to show them the rest of us are capable of creating work that will make money.

When Broadway takes a chance on new formulas, we get things like “Hamilton,” which was a hit. The powers that be just need to let people work and let all people work.

FR: Now that Broadway is reopening and there’s press events and public appearance opportunities, how do you cultivate your style and image as an actor now that the spotlight is back on you?

Jarvis B. Manning: Recently, toward the end of 2020, I started doing more film and television auditions, which have been going well. I had a well-known casting agent reach out to me, who happened to be a Black woman. She had ‘the mama’ conversation with me and said, ‘You are great. Your audition was great, but you need to start promoting yourself. I shouldn’t go on your Instagram and see you promoting everyone but yourself.’

I told her that makes me feel weird, but she told me get over it. I don’t like that aspect of the business, but after talking to her she told me learn to treat it as art. I’m also a photographer. She told me I don’t have to be vain about it. She said find some amazing clothes, come up with some ideas, and take photos.

I’m now cultivating what that’s going to be when I return to Instagram. I’ve been off social media since April 2020. I’m getting ready to come back artistically and showcase myself.

A costume designer had reached out to me and gave me a bunch of vintage clothes. She blessed me with all these beautiful free clothes, so be on the lookout for that.

Luba Mason in “Girl from the North Country”

Luba Mason – Mrs. Burke in Broadway’s “Girl from the North Country”

Luba Mason is a veteran of the stage with an extensive list of Broadway credits under her belt including “The Will Rogers Follies,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and “Chicago.” She’s also no stranger to the small screen with guest starring roles on acclaimed television series including “As the World Turns,” “Law & Order,” and “NYPD Blue.” This fall, she’ll be returning to a role that she loves. Mrs. Burke in the Broadway musical “Girl from the North Country.” She’s a true triple threat.

Fashion Reverie: What’s your musical theatre background and describe for me the moment you decided to be a performer?

Luba Mason: My love for music and theatre started very young. I was a classical pianist for thirteen years. There was really the question of whether I was going to pursue being a classical pianist or go into musical theatre. I know I made the right choice. I have much more fun doing musical theatre than sitting in a room practicing scales.

My piano teach was also a choral director in the local church, so I started taking singing lessons with him and progressing in that direction. My older sister was an opera singer who studied at Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard, so I started studying voice with her teachers from those schools when I was in high school. That’s when musical theatre started to pull at my heartstrings.

FR: You have trademarked your own style of music called Mixtura. How did you develop that?

Luba Mason: My musical background is very diverse. I’ve done classical music and I love pop music, folk songs, and showtunes are obviously a huge part of my life. My husband is Ruben Blades, who is a Latin music icon, so, when I married him, Latin music became a huge part of my life. As I’ve matured, jazz has also become a big influence in my musical background as well.

When I went to record my first studio album, I had to ask myself what kind of an album to record, so I recorded an album that was a mix of my various musical influences. I had songs of different genres from pop, to folk, and I even sang a song in Spanish. By the time my third album came around, I said I had to put a label on this and create my own genre, so I trademarked Mixtura, and there you have it.

FR: Tell me about your role in “Girl from the North Country”?

Luba Mason: The casting process was very quick. It wasn’t one of those three or four callback situations. I got great feedback in my first audition, and I had a good feeling about it. I got a response the day after my audition that I got the role of Mrs. Burke. I guess the director knew what he wanted and I happened to be it.

My character, Mrs. Burke, is a rich Southern woman whose husband loses his fortune during The Great Depression in 1932. We have an autistic son who’s about 30 years old. Since we lost our money, we are trying to find a new place to resettle ourselves and find a way to make a living.

All thirteen principal characters in the show have found themselves in a boarding house type situation in Minnesota. Each one of the characters is either running toward something new or away from something, like a problem or secret. My family in the show is running from a secret, but one you’ll have to come watch the show and find out what it is.

FR: After several decades in the business and now surviving a global pandemic, what are your predictions for the next decade of Broadway?

Luba Mason: When Lin Manuel Miranda created “Hamilton,” that changed the trajectory for musical theatre. He helped make Broadway more contemporary. He brought in a whole new audience and skew of musical theatre lovers.

Also, you’re seeing a lot of pop composers creating jukebox musicals to highlight their music. Disney always has their hand in Broadway. If a Disney musical franchise is successful, they’ll create a Broadway musical from it.

I’m hoping revivals will continue and I’m hoping for some more real creative shows from composers like Lin Manuel Miranda. I think our show, “A Girl from North Country,” is one of the contemporary shows because it’s music and lyrics are from Bob Dylan.

FR: Press events are about to start happening again, putting an emphasis on what talent is wearing. How would you say your approach to fashion and style has changed over the course of your career?

Luba Mason: There’s way more of an emphasis on fashion and style with social media, for sure. Whenever I tell people I have a show or concert coming up, the first question I always here is ‘What are you wearing?’ Everyone wants to see your picture and comments on it on social media now.

I recently was watching the Netflix series on the fashion designer Halston, and on my most recent photoshoot, a friend of mine loaned me a vintage Halston halter top. It was this stunning gold lamé top. The same friend of mine also told me go purchase some new jumpsuits for my upcoming public engagements, and that’s on my to-do list.

Luba Mason

FR: What are some other upcoming projects?

Luba Mason: I released my fourth studio album, “Triangle,” during October of 2020. There was a good three months of album promotion before that, and I got rave reviews. The album itself was filmed live. It was a live recording we had filmed in 2019 in front of a live studio audience at the legendary Power Station Studios in New York City.

In 2021, I started getting more auditions for television and film. I recently also did a livestream performance for soapboxgallery.org, and there was a venue in Brooklyn where they livestreamed the performance.

I get ready to go back to rehearsals for Broadway in September. I also have a benefit I’m doing that goes back to my dancing days when I was in “Will Rogers Follies.” We are recreating the choreography from one of director and choreographer Tommy Tune’s numbers he did for the show. This project is through the affiliation of the American Dance Machine who recreates the original choreography of past Broadway shows. They asked some of the original cast dancers to do the recreation along with their younger company of dancers. Now, we’ve got a beautiful collaborative project coming up in July.

I’m about to start campaigning for the Grammy’s with “Triangle.” I’m hoping to leave a few weeks between going back to Broadway and my Grammy’s campaign, to go on vacation.

—Kristopher Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion Reverie’s 2021 Spring/Summer Reading List

Image courtesy of thepioneerwoman.com

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” —Sam Keen

The light at the end tunnel is finally visible! With vaccination rates on the rise, many places are lifting mask restrictions and capacity limits. Time to head to the beach or the park, spread a blanket and tuck into a compelling book. Fashion Reverie has a list of titles we’re excited for our viewers to read. From hilarious essays on mental illness to engrossing thrillers, you won’t be able to put down, you’ll find your next obsession here.

Image courtesy of Amazon

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams 

You may be thinking “Oh, is this a book about the Jan 6th insurrection?” Nope! This is a work of fiction.

Using the pen name Selena Montgomery, Abrams—where else?—in Washington DC. Avery Keene, a brilliant legal mind serving as clerk for Justice Howard Wynn, is dealing with an arduous job with the court while juggling family drama. When the news breaks that Justice Wynn—the swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life is plunged into chaos.  Shocked to be told she has been left instructions as his legal guardian, Avery quickly discovers he was on the verge of exposing a conspiracy.  She must unravel it before she’s the next victim.

Image courtesy of Amazon

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lemarr

Disturbingly relatable and startlingly eye-opening, this book tackles modern-day racism with the perfect balance of levity and gravity. Chatting the way sisters do about tales of being mistaken for a prostitute or Harriet Tubman, Amber and Lacey lay out the painful yet sometimes hilarious realities of being in black in modern America and why the system must change.

Image courtesy of Amazon

One Last Stop by Casey Mcquiston
Cynical 23-year-old August is moving to New York City, but she isn’t happy. She has too many roommates and a dull job as a server at a 24-hour pancake diner. She can’t imagine her daily commute will be anything but a sad trudge on a filthy subway. Then one day she meets Jane. Impossibly beautiful, interesting and beguiling is Jane, but August learns she has a terrible secret and desperately needs help. 

Image courtesy of The Tab

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
Netflix’s popular “You” series will be dropping its third season sometime this year— although infuriatingly they haven’t given a date. But if you simply can’t wait to get more of Killer Joe, check the third in the literary installment the series is based on. 

Joe is determined to start a new life and leave killing behind. He heads to a sleepy Pacific Northwest island town and gets a job at a local library. It’s there he meets Mary Kay and starts to fall for her. But can a leopard ever truly change his spots?

Image courtesy of Amazon

Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

Eva is nervous about going away to boarding school and trying to fit in. Off to a rocky start, she is thrilled to be invited to join a secret society. Tasked with completing certain challenges before she will be allowed to join, Eva knows she’s in over her head when she uncovers a decades old secret and realizes certain people will do anything to keep it hidden. 

Image courtesy of Titan Books

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Lynette survived a massacre and is trying to keep her life on track. She leans on the women of the Final Girl support group, a secret club of women who were “Final Girls.” But when one of the women disappears, the remaining members fear that someone has discovered the group and may be looking to tear their lives apart.  This comedy horror gem will keep you guessing until the last second as it meticulously dissects misogynist horror tropes.

Image courtesy of Amazon

The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. Their weekends visiting his Palm Springs home are just long enough for him not to get tired of them.  But when tragedy strikes his family, Patrick is forced to step up and become their primary guardian. It’s not long before he realizes he’s way in over his head and will have to make some adjustments if everyone is going to come out of this unscathed. Full of humanity and heart, it’s a tale of what it truly means to be a family.

Image courtesy of Amazon


Broken by Jenny Lawson
 

From the Bloggess herself Broken is a new collection of essays about her constant battle with anxiety, depression, and other aspects of her broken brain. And it’s absolutely hilarious. These laugh-out-loud musings about her bizarre yet wonderful life will keep you in stitches. From her desire to leave letters with her neighbors telling them to pretend she’s invisible to her emails with a scammer promising her immortal life as a vampire, coping with mental health issues is never funnier than when Lawson does it. 

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House

What’s Done in Darkness by Laura McHugh

17-year-old Sarabeth feels stifled living in rural Arkansas. Forced to wear long dresses and follow strict rules, she longs to escape the farm. But she didn’t want to be grabbed by a masked stranger and held captive for a week. Even after she comes home, her family treats her like a fallen woman. Five years later she finds out another girl has been snatched in a case that’s oddly similar to hers. Will Sarabeth be able to face her greatest fear and save a life? 

—Cameron Grey Rose

Costume Designer Jeriana San Juan Talks about Her Work in Netflix’s Miniseries “Halston”

Image courtesy of Netflix

In his prime, Roy Halston Frowick was among the pantheon of America’s fashion design talent. The famed American designer, whose life was tragically cut short by AIDS, was arguably the “people’s designer” of his generation. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Halston would rise through the ranks of the fashion industry to become renowned with a name that is still revered to this day.

Halston’s story once again appears on screen in a new biopic miniseries on Netflix. Respectfully titled “Halston,”  this miniseries stars Ewan McGregor and is produced by critically acclaimed television producer Ryan Murphy.

Image courtesy of IMDB

No film about a legendary fashion icon can be complete without impeccable detail to the garments used in the production. Jeriana San Juan, the brilliant mind behind the wardrobe in this miniseries. Fashion Reverie simply had to find out how she recreated this era of fashion history.

Fashion Reverie: How did you become involved with the Halston miniseries?

Jeriana San Juan: I had an initial meeting with the director Daniel Minahan. I had worked with the line producer of Halston in the past, and she gave me a whisper about the project when it was early in production. She’s a friend and collaborator of mine, and she thought I’d be a perfect fit to costume the series. Daniel and I share such a mutual love for Halston’s work and his creativity as an artist. We had a common goal in creating this show, and it was a match made in heaven.

FR: Aside from the obvious Halston fashion shows and those direct references, were there other places you draw inspiration from for the costumes?

Jeriana San Juan:  To draw inspiration for the costumes, I really wanted to highlight as much contrast between Halston’s aesthetic and the rest of the fashion landscape. I wanted to highlight how modern he was in his aesthetic and how minimalism along with very close attention to construction, detail, and fabric was the key to his success. Halston’s idea of centering glamour around comfort was revolutionary at that time. It was something that really changed the face of fashion. I have such a deep respect for it. He really had a respect for women by making women feel free in their clothes.

I wanted to show the contrast between that and what someone like Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent were doing simultaneously. Halston’s clothes still look so contemporary and modern today, even more so, and arguably futuristic for the time period in which they were presented.

FR: What period does the miniseries reflect?

Jeriana San Juan: The show starts off in the early 1960s and takes the audiences through the arc of Halston’s career starting with his work as a milliner at Bergdorf Goodman. It takes us to his death in the ‘80s.

HALSTON (L to R) DAVID PITTU as JOE EULA, EWAN MCGREGOR as HALSTON, KRYSTA RODRIGUEZ as LIZA MINNELLI, and REBECCA DAYAN as ELSA PERETTI in episode 102 of HALSTON Cr. ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/NETFLIX © 2021

FR: That obviously required a large breadth of costumes trying to encapsulate three different decades of dress.

Jeriana San Juan: There was not only a difference in finding a specific note for Halston and his own creative journey, but the tone had to be set for every different decade, including the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. I really had to sink my teeth into what trends were driving the fashion scene during those times.

FR: As you were working on costuming the miniseries, did you interview any current designers who had worked with Halston, like Ralph Rucci or Naeem Khan? Did you reach out to any of the “Halstonettes”, his former models?

Jeriana San Juan: Yes, it was important that I do this story as accurately and authentically as possible. I went to anyone who had firsthand connections with Halston, as well as Toray International, the developers of Ultrasuede, and I met a guy who worked with Halston to develop the Ultrasuede collection. I went to Chris Royer, who was a former house model and creative collaborator of his. I went to her house and went through all of the clothes Halston made for her and samples that were given to her from the showroom.

I had extensive conversations with Sassy Johnson, who was the former head of his women’s wear division for made-to-order of Halston’s company. Sassy originally started off as his personal secretary and had tons of stories to tell me about Halston. She gave me great insight on not only her personal photos, but what went on at Olympic Tower, how Halston would walk into a room, and the details about his shoes and sunglasses, as well as how the other assistants were dressed in the work room. Naeem Khan had a great meeting with me at his studio. He told me wonderful stories about Halston, and I even worked with Naeem to recreate one of the beading patterns on a dress that is featured in the film that Naeem’s father had created for Halston.

FR: Toward the last few years of Halston’s life, although his name was still on his fashion line, there was someone else designing the collections. How did you create costumes around that and what were those challenges?

Jeriana San Juan: The most important thing to me was to celebrate Halston’s work and Roy Halston Frowick’s immense creativity and artistry. I wanted to be as accurate as possible in bringing those clothes to life. After we meet Halston at that point in the story, John David Ridge had was designing most of the garments at Halston Limited. That’s when I took more creative license. I found a few pieces that are featured in the show that were John David Ridge-designed, Halston pieces. I took a lot more creative license to help dramatically play toward the story and the swing of the ‘80s and the “Dynasty” era. There definitely starts to be a bit more creative license taken at the very end of the story and Halston’s departure from his brand.

FR: How do we see the fashion evolve throughout the series? Halston goes from an  unknown fashion designer to fashion star, so through the clothes how to you capture that transition?  

Jeriana San Juan: I was able to speak to a gentleman from Bergdorf Goodman who was a milliner that worked alongside Halston. He was featured in Halston’s documentary on CNN. He said that Halston was always Halston in his mind. There is some level of Halston inhabiting his existence and how he dressed, even prior to the quintessential black turtleneck and black trouser. There is a lot leading up to that to clue us into Halston’s interest in modern thinking and wanting to create vibrant youthful looks. He himself was dressing with ‘70s trends before the 1970s trends occurred. I definitely tried to play toward him always being ahead of his time in any decade.

HALSTON (L to R) RORY CULKIN as JOEL SCHUMACHER, REBECCA DAYAN as ELSA PERETTI, and DAVID PITTU as JOE EULA in episode 101 of HALSTON Cr. JOJO WHILDEN/NETFLIX © 2021

FR: What do you think was the most defining thing about Halston’s style that we see in the series?

Jeriana San Juan: The most defining thing about Halston and his clothing is the way he made women feel. That’s my takeaway from everyone I spoke to who had firsthand connections to Halston. He was so charming and funny, and he had such an impact on people. In my role as costume designer for the show, that thought was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to not only present Halston’s clothes well, but pay them justice, and honor the people who helped me in researching for the miniseries.

FR: Who was the toughest character to costume?

Jeriana San Juan: Joe Eula! He was the creative director at Halston for ten years, and there was so little documentation of him. I tried to use fashion classics on him, focusing on things that felt sartorial, but unfussy and worldly. Joe Eula was also a fashion illustrator and artist who worked with fashion designers all over the world, but he had humble roots and a very New York story. How do you dress a worldly character, who is also incredibly artistic, but is a confidante for everyone from Andy Warhol to Yves Saint Laurent? There are not many photographs of him, but Joe is mentioned all over Andy Warhol’s diary book. I had to invent someone who was creating their own thing and persona.

FR: What was the greatest costume piece you think you did in the series?

Jeriana San Juan: You’re asking me to toot my own horn or pick a favorite child. That’s a hard one, because there are moments of the show designed like an orchestra, like the scene where they recreate the Battle of Versailles.

FR: Wait, so we see the Battle of Versailles (a fashion event in Paris to raise money for the restoration of Versailles) in the series?

Jeriana San Juan: Yes.

FR: What was it like costuming that scene?

Jeriana San Juan: It was tremendous and a very big task. Doing Versailles was a real study in editing because it had to be very clear about what Bill Blass was doing versus Stephen Burrows versus Anne Klein versus Halston in a matter of minutes. To do that, I really had to edit down the concepts, and the color palette, textures, and fabrics they were working in. I also had to build a cohesive collection that felt inspired by each designer.

FR: I know Ryan is very collaborative with the creative teams from set to costume design. Was that the case for this series, or was that not possible because of COVID-19?

Jeriana San Juan: Initially, I did share my moodboards with Ryan and his producing partner Alexis. I was given a little bit more license creatively, and after that initial pass, the director, Daniel Minahan, really took hold of this project and made it his baby. This project is so great because of Dan and his guidance on cultivating a unique voice between costume design, set, and actors. All of the elements came together through him.

HALSTON (L to R) REBECCA DAYAN as ELSA PERETTI in episode 102 of HALSTON Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021

FR: If you could go back in time and have one Halston look for yourself, what would it be?

Jeriana San Juan: I crave so many. What I’d want is an entire closet full of Elsa Peretti jewelry. After doing this show, I respect Halston as an artist on a whole new level. He really was a revolutionary thinker. Fashion was so democratic in his eyes and celebrated all women. He had a whole tapestry of different ethnicities of women and women of all sizes. We used the word inclusivity now, but he was inclusive early on. Halston wanted women to wear clothes with a freedom of movement.

Netflix’s “Halston” premieres on May 14. The cast includes Ewan McGregor, Rory Culkin, Rebecca Dayan, Sullivan Jones, David Pittu, Krysta Rodriguez, Gian Franco Rodriguez, Bill Pullman, Kelly Bishop, and Maxim Swinton.

— Kristopher Fraser

Despite COVID-19, Rebecca Olson Continues to Make Inroads in Television and Film

You might recognize her from her various small screen roles—“A Wedding to Remember,” “Just My Type,” and “Tempting Fate,” just to name a few. As a matter of fact, actress Rebecca Olson has been lighting up your TV for over several years. Since landing a guest starring role on the hit CW series “Supernatural” in 2014, Olson has continued racking up television credits including “Hell on Wheels,” “My Best Friend’s Bouquet,” and most recently a role in The CW’s widely talked about “Kung Fu,” which debuted earlier this month.

The Vancouver-based actress has found herself at home on the small screen, and in a year crippled by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca has managed to continue stacking her acting resume with a TV movie, “A Vineyard Romance.” Rebecca Olsen found a brief moment away from the set of  her current project to chat with Fashion Reverie about her new role in “Kung Fu,” upcoming projects, and how she managed to keep accumulating acting credits during a year when most of us were stuck at home.

Image courtesy of wikifeet.com

Fashion Reverie: Hello, Rebecca. You’re in Vancouver right now, correct?

Rebecca Olson: I’m back and forth between Vancouver and shooting a project right outside of the city. We aren’t allowed to travel abroad right now, so any chance to get out of the city with work is a treat.

FR: Congratulations on the projects you’ve been booking lately.

Rebecca Olson: Thank you so much! It’s crazy, because it’s been such a difficult year for so many people. I’m in a long-distance relationship across the border. I have family I haven’t gotten to see in a year. But, somehow, this has been good for the acting industry in Vancouver, in some ways, because of more opportunities going to local actors.

FR: There’s been so much film and television work produced in Vancouver recently.

Rebecca Olson: It’s been crazy. Opportunities with American productions and ensembles where American actors would have been guaranteed a certain number of roles have gone to more actors based here in Vancouver ever since the borders closed and people were unable to travel.

Image courtesy of The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

FR: I want to talk about your role in the new CW series “Kung Fu.” How were you cast in that series?

Rebecca Olson: I was lucky I booked that role prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. We weren’t sure what was really going to happen with the show after the pilot episode. All production shutdown, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after that since a lot of productions decided not to come back to Vancouver. There was a waiting period of uncertainty. One of my co-stars, Gavin Stenhouse, who plays the character Evan, reached out to connect to see what I was doing. He kept me in the loop, [as] he was part of the main ensemble, so he was likely to hear what would happen with the show before I did. By the end of summer, the show resumed production, and we went back to filming.

FR: Were you getting nervous about having your character cut?

Rebecca Olson: Yes, I was for sure. I wasn’t sure whether they were going to change around the plotlines or relocate. I had booked another small role on a Netflix production during that in-between time, and that production decided they were going to relocate so they didn’t have to deal with the quarantines. The fact that “Kung Fu” came back to shoot in Vancouver was amazing.

FR: What’s it been liking forming working relationships with co-stars between the quarantines and COVID-19 pandemic? 

Rebecca Olson: That’s what’s been so interesting. I shot a movie called “A Wedding to Remember” this summer. As far as I know, it was either the first, or at least one of the first productions to start back up in North America after the height of pandemic. We shot in Colonna on a resort and my quarantine bubble was me and three other actors. Most of us knew each other from previous projects, but that was a very unique experience. Everything was shot in one location and all four of us were constantly hanging out with each other.

 It was a unique situation because usually when you shoot on location, you’re with the same people for a while, and you’ll bond in different ways, but now I’ve got co-stars seeing me come downstairs in my pajamas. Working this way creates a different bond, because a lot of people don’t have their families up here or couldn’t go home to them because of the pandemic, so the cast got so close.

For “Kung Fu,” we shot two episodes I was in before I went on to work on other projects, then almost two months had passed before I came in to shoot for my next scene, and when I walked in, I was immediately treated like family.

I did three movies last summer, and the working relationships I formed with co-stars last year were some of the strongest I’d ever formed because we were only allowed to socialize with each other. You’re living and working together, so that’s something I will miss in a post-COVID world when things go back to normal. I created bonds over the past year that I don’t think I would’ve had under usual circumstances where a shoot day wraps and everyone goes back to their after-work lives at the end of the day.

FR: How would you describe the character you play in “Kung Fu,” because I know your role gets bigger in later episodes that haven’t premiered yet?

Rebecca Olson: What I loved about the character Sabine and the direction they are taking with her is the love triangle. Sabine is clearly struggling with her boyfriend’s ex coming back into the picture, but nothing is ever done with malice. That insecurity is inevitably going to be there for her, but she’s trying to fight against it and be supportive. When it comes to Evan helping Nikki, she puts her own insecurities and feelings aside because she feels it’s the right thing to do. It would’ve been so easy to fall into the trope of pitting these women against each other, and it’s so not that, and I love that.

FR: You describe your character Sabine with such complexity. How did you prepare for this role?

Rebecca Olson: Life. When you get to a certain age you’re dealing with other people and other relationships in their life and history and learning how to navigate that with a balance of great, at the same time making sure your feelings are heard and validated. There was so much for me to tap into in things that I’ve been through in my own life, it was so effortless. When I read the role I immediately connected with Sabine and felt this hasn’t been something that is seen enough. I know so many women who are like this and it often gets portrayed as the need to go after the other women, but it’s not always like that.

Image courtesy of Jenna Berman Photography

FR: In your character development process as an actor, do you typically draw on your own past experiences or do you ever look to people you may know for inspiration and physical characterization?

Rebecca Olson: I feel lucky in that the roles I have played most of the time I was easy to connect with the character. I’ve yet to play a villain, that would be interesting for me. But if I did, I would still find the parts of them that are lovable to make it interesting.

For me, especially with the romantic comedies I did this summer, I build organic relationships with my castmates because then we read better as an ensemble on screen. I’m most comfortable when I can draw on my own experiences.

FR: Television shows and television movies seem to be a real sweet spot for you as an actress. What do you love about working in television ?

Rebecca Olson: What I love about television shows is the potential for growth and arcs that are unseen. Your character can get brought back in later episodes if they are guest or recurring. Your character can go through a process that isn’t even written. Whereas when you are shooting a movie all the action are determined already. With television, another season could happen, and your character could be taken in a whole new direction. I love that unpredictably and how you can sink your teeth into something that is going to evolve. Even with a show like “Kung Fu,” I’ve an found opportunity to change and adapt as a recurring character.

FR: You have an upcoming role in a new made-for-TV rom com, “A Vineyard Romance.” Could you elaborate about that project and the role you are playing?

Rebecca Olson: I play Sam Hart, she’s a journalist who works for a wedding magazine. Her passion is writing, and her dream is being a romance novelist. She’s a total book nerd, just trying to pay the bills. She’s been waiting for a promotion and she gets the opportunity to cover an influencer’s wedding taking place in her hometown. She’s confused because her hometown is a nothing town and can’t believe that’s where the wedding is happening. She goes home and finds out it’s her ex that’s getting married. She covers this wedding of ‘the one that got away.’ She and the ex-boyfriend never had closure, and she has her own feelings, but she’s doing her best to be supportive and be the bigger person and do right by this couple, even if she’s still dealing with old wounds. She and her ex-boyfriend finally figure out where things went wrong and try to figure out what this means for them going forward.

Image courtesy of Jenna Berman Photography

FR: What’s up next for you?

Rebecca Olson: I’m in the middle of working on “American Dreamer.” The cast is stellar. It’s Peter Dinklage, Shirley MacLaine, Danny Glover, and Matt Dillon. I’ve died my hair brunette for the first time in my career, and I’m playing a twin, so I’m playing two roles. It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. I’m so excited.

“Kung Fu” is currently airing on The CW Wednesday at 8pm EST.

—Kristopher Fraser

Fashion Reverie’s Spring/Summer 2021 Movie Roundup

Images courtesy of variety.com

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

So many shocking things have happened in the past year and one of them is “King Kong vs Godzilla.” The special effects juggernaut was a huge hit at the box office. This is even more shocking when you know that movie theaters are opening with reduced capacity, yet, it still managed to pull in a $48 million opening weekend despite being available for streaming on HBO MAX. The simple explanation?  People LIKE seeing movies in theaters! The summer blockbuster is here to stay.

Please keep in mind, the pandemic is not over. Yes, we have glimpsed the finish line, but we still have a long way to go.  Even if you are vaccinated, you still need to wear your mask and social distance. Health is wealth!!

Image courtesy of Den of Geek

Black Widow

After the wild success of “Wandavision” we have another female-led entry into the MCU (the fictional Marvel Comics Universe) that was actually directed by a woman, Cate Shortland, with the story by “writer Jack Schaffer. The $200 million epic will be a feast for the eyes with its exciting action and top of the line special effects. It tells the story of Black Widow aka Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlett Johansen) troubled past as she is forced to confront her present. It will be available in theaters as well as on Disney+ for an additional charge.

Image courtesy of Looper

Free Guy

Pushed back from its 2020 release, “Free Guy” tells the story of Guy, a simple man who works in a bank, but suddenly discovers he’s living in a video game as an NPC (nonplaying character). But hold the phone, he finds out the game is about to go offline. He’s in a race against time to make himself the hero of the game before it disappears forever.

Image courtesy of Collider

Luca

Still sad you can’t travel? The latest offering from Pixar will take you to a beautiful seaside town in the Italian Rivera. “Luca” is bursting with color and life, telling the story of Luca, a young boy who is enjoying a fun-filled summer with his new best friend while they go on scooter rides, gobble pasta, and eat gelato. But their happiness is threatened by a terrible secret. Not only does this kid-friendly fare work for grown-ups but it will be available on Disney+ without any additional charges.

(Left Center-Right Center) ANTHONY RAMOS as Usnavi and MELISSA BARRERA as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Image courtesy of Variety

In the Heights

Based on the Tony award-winning play of the same name written by Lin Manuel Miranda, “In The Heights” is a bubbly musical set, where else, in Washington Heights. Filmed on location, it tells the story of a bodega owner who, after inheriting a large sum of money, is considering closing his bodega and retiring to the Dominican Republic.

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Jungle Cruise

ANOTHER movie based on a Disneyland ride? Must Fashion Reverie remind you the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” was pretty good until Disney ran the franchise into the ground? “Jungle Cruise” is already getting some advanced buzz that’s it’s a fun action-adventure thrill ride. The film stars Emily Blunt as a scientist searching for the legendary “tree of life” said to have magical healing properties. She hires a grizzled riverboat captain played by Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson to guide her down the infamous Amazon ahead of German scientists determined to find it first. 

Image courtesy of Slashfilm

The Pink Cloud

Looking for some more independent fare? While it may seem like this Brazilian film was tailor-made for the pandemic, the truth is it was written in 2015 and completed filming in 2019. It tells the story of a world where a deadly pink cloud has forced everyone to stay indoors indefinitely, focusing on a young woman now trapped with the one-night stand she brought home the night before. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to excellent reviews.

Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Summer of Soul

This documentary directed by Ahmir Thompson (better known by his stage name Questlove) recovers long-lost footage of a 1969 concert that was all but forgotten when Woodstock would take place just a few months later. The feature showcases filmed footage of the Harlem Cultural Festival, including never-before-seen concert performances by B.B. King, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Stevie Wonder, and more. Despite the top-level talent that performed at the festival, the concert went largely unremembered and, according to the opening title of the film, the footage “sat in a basement for 50 years. It has never been seen.” 

 —Cameron Grey Rose

Amber Chardae Robinson Speaks about Her Role in “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Actress Amber Chardae Robinson is now proud to say that she’s been a part of a film that received the Oscar nomination for Best Picture. “Judas and the Black Messiah,” where Robinson plays Betty Coachman, a supporter of the Black Panther Party, tells the story of party chairman Fred Hampton and FBI informant William “Bill” O’Neal who went undercover to gather intelligence on the civil rights martyr. The role of Betty Coachman was a turning point in Robinson’s career, and she got to work with an amazing group of actors including Academy Award nominees Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield, and rising star Dominique Fishback. Fashion Reverie recently sat down with the actress to discuss the importance of this film, the history of the Black Panther Party, and how this project changed her life.

Fashion Reverie: How did you get cast in this film?

Amber Chardae Robinson: It’s a funny story. I was living my regular actor life in Los Angeles, and I got a phone call from my agent to do the table read for the parts they hadn’t cast. Ryan Coogler, Daniel Kaluuya, and LaKeith Stanfield were all going to be there. The casting director said there was no promise of a role, but I took it as an opportunity to deliver the material the best way I know how

 When I went in, I met Ryan Coogler, who sat directly across from me. After that, I did everything I was supposed to, some folks would say I went in and ‘dropped the mic.’ I thanked everyone when I left, and I didn’t hear anything for two weeks after that. In the meantime I just became obsessed with the history of the Black Panther Party.

FR: Were you aware of Fred Hampton and his story before you found out about “Judas and the Black Messiah?”

Amber Chardae Robinson: No, I had no idea who he was. After I did the table read, all this extra research I was doing on the Black Panthers was leisure, but some people would call it manifestation. I went to Florida on vacation, and I was speaking at Bethune Cookman University about “Always a Bridesmaid,” another movie I was in. Two weeks after that, I got a call from my agent saying there was a role in “Judas and the Black Messiah” for me. I hopped on a flight to Cleveland and lived there for three months shooting this film with these amazing people. It felt so divinely ordained. What are the odds you get cast from a table read?

FR: Do you know the producers came up with the name of the film, “Judas and the Black Messiah?”

Amber Chardae Robinson: For the longest we were shooting; we didn’t have a title for it. It was called “The Untitled Fred Hampton Project.” When the story of the film broke in the press, that was when I learned about the name of film. The entire time we were shooting the movie, we didn’t know what it was going to be called. It was like raising a child without a name, saying you’ll let them find themselves. The producers wanted to finish the project and feel what works.

FR: Talk to me about the preparation to play your character, Betty Coachman?

Amber Chardae Robinson: I engulfed myself in the culture of the women in the Black Panther Party. They played such a vital role in the movement. I listened to speeches from Angela Davis—who coincidentally was never a member of the Black Panther Party—and Kathleen Cleaver, just hearing the intelligence and gravitas they spoke with was very similar to who I am today.

I have an MFA in acting from Columbia University, and I did my undergrad at an HBCU, so I went from a predominantly Black environment to one with a lot less people who look like me. I had to constantly remind myself who I was and that I was worthy of being there.

Thinking about on my time in graduate school, there was a parallel for me. I tapped into my own strength of being a Black woman at a predominantly white institution. I had to learn to assert my intellect. I’m a Black girl from the South with a country accent. People don’t think Ivy League graduate when they see me. White people back then did not look at these women as intellectuals, they were seen as demonizing, rebels, or radicals. These women need their stories told. We need an Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver biopic next.

FR: What do you think you brought to the Betty Coachman character?

Amber Chardae Robinson: I brought myself and all of the things I possess as a Black woman in this time. I’m growing up in a time that’s very similar, but where racism isn’t as overt. I tapped into my real life and used those feelings as fuel for this character.

Growing up in the South and being Black, smart, and loud, and going off to do things like art weren’t supported. I brought strength, power, and knowing who I am to this role. I learned so much about myself doing this movie as well, and I’ve been fueled to chase after my purpose. Learning about Fred Hampton and the vision he had for us as a collective of Black people really changed me and has fueled me in my current process as an actor and person.

FR: Fred Hampton’s murder has been documented in Black Panther Party documentary films, but there’s never been a feature film about his life. His murder happened decades ago. Why do you think “Judas and the Black Messiah” needed to happen at this time?

Amber Chardae Robinson: So many people are uninformed or just don’t know about this history. I heard the name Fred Hampton before, but I didn’t know the history and issues surrounding his murder, the FBI’s involvement, or the role J. Edgar Hoover played. To this day, Fred Hampton is still held on this pedestal, and there’s a reason for that. This movie has given people the initiative to do their research and learn about the actual issues that are going on. The conditioning of this country has led us to believe things that aren’t true or accurate.

FR: Although the film takes places in the 1960s, many of the issues of race and civil rights are still relevant today. Do you think the story and issues of racial justice will appeal to current audiences? If so, why?

Amber Chardae Robinson: I hope this film educates. The reasons I tell stories is to liberate people through art. The people who don’t know anything about Fred Hampton, Bill O’Neal, the FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover will be educated from this film. One of the things that was really astounding for me about this film was someone in the FBI pushed for a bill to take J. Edgar Hoover’s name off the FBI building after he watched this film. The amount of black civil rights activists that died under J. Edgar Hoover’s watch was astonishing. Films like this cause us to reflect and make adjustments to our society. That’s why I do the work I do.

FR: Most people don’t realize the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover were involved in Fred Hampton’s murder. Do you think the film conveys the historical accuracies and horrors of the situation well?

Amber Chardae Robinson: The film does an excellent job of that. It really gives just insight and peaks into just the surface of what happened. I hope people will be motivated to go do more research about what the FBI did to the Black Panther Party and see what else really happened.

FR: Many people know very little about the Black Panther Party and don’t realize the party was established to uplift all people. How does this film help clear up some of the misinformation about the Black Panther Party?

Amber Chardae Robinson: It shows people Fred Hampton’s mission. The party was created to take care of Black people with clinics and free breakfast programs. We had to protect ourselves because they were killing us. It wasn’t about rebelling against white men. That narrative was constructed because people were scared Black people would want revenge for oppression, but Black people wanted to live and be taken care of after we helped build this country.

FR: How has working on “Judas and the Black Messiah” enriched your life?

Amber Chardae Robinson: For a long time, I had imposter syndrome. I kept telling myself get it together, and I forget that I am worthy and ready to be where I am. I spent the money and had the training to be at the point I’m at in my acting career. After working on this film, I have more confidence in my work. I don’t want to say this movie showed me my worth, but it allowed me to watch people who are where I want to be career wise, and I had intimate conversations with them, and built a familial relationship with them. Working on this film changed my outlook on this business and showed me how I’m going to grow in this field. After this experience, I feel like my opportunities are limitless, and I’m so excited about it.

FR: What did you take away from working with a cast of incredible actors including big names like Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, and Dominique Jackson?

Amber Chardae Robinson: I think I’ve gained another family. I learned so much being around these people, because they are so rooted in themselves. If they are ever second guessing themselves, I can’t see it. Their confidence and knowing who they are and what they bring to the table and knowing no one can get in the way of their journey was a privilege to witness. It helped me so much with myself. It helped me understand myself and made me feel more comfortable about what I do. Going on to the next set, I won’t be as nervous. “Judas and the Black Messiah” is the biggest set I’ve worked on. I’m grateful to have experience people who are strong in their foundation.

FR: What are some projects you have coming up this year?

Amber Chardae Robinson: Right now I’m in the process of taking a couple meetings and auditioning. We are still in a pandemic, but I’m using the time to write my own feature film. Writing has always been something I’ve done since I was a little girl. Being able to write a feature has been an interesting process. It’s kept me busy through such turbulent times, and it’s given me a foundation to come back to while the world has felt like its collapsing around us. I’m excited to share it with the world.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is currently in theatres and streaming on HBO Max. The film was directed by Shaka King and is a contender at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Picture.

—Kristopher Fraser

In This Season of Change, Gary Quinn Sets Us on the Path to Success, Wellness, and Growth

Have you noticed that we are on the precipice of great change? We have a new administration in the White House, we are slowly getting a handle of the COVID-19 pandemic with more and more people getting vaccinated globally, the new $1.9 billion economic relief packaged has been signed into law and we are just a week away from the season of budding flowers and chirping birds.

All things appear to be looking up. Still, everything is coming up roses only if you can tap into positivity and this new great shift in consciousness.

Author and Motivational Speaker Gary Quinn spoke to Fashion Reverie about what it takes to live a life of joy, fulfillment, and positive change. This detailed and much-needed conversation fits perfectly into this season of change, if only we pay attention and apply some of these incredible, life-affirming principles.

Fashion Reverie: How did you get on this path to positive thinking and transition your approach to positive thinking into being a life coach, a motivational speaker, and author?

Gary Quinn: I started training for the Olympics when I was very young, and I was fortunate to have great coaches and all these opportunities. Like most kids, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. From swimming I developed a great work ethic and I parlayed that work ethic into working in the entertainment industry.

I have done everything from writing situation comedies to working and representing actors, writers, and directors to being a music producer.  In other words, I have run the gamut of things you can do in the entertainment industry.

Jonelle Allen was one of my first celebrity clients and she recognized that I was very intuitive, and she prompted me to do something with this knack I have for seeing potential in people. I do have the ability to connect to a higher energy and the divine in people and help them connect or reconnect with that divine or higher frequency.

From recognizing that I had this gift, I started doing life coach work privately and from that I wrote my first book “The Yes Frequency.” This book launched a global 37-city book tour.

When I had written my first book, I was at a wellness conference and I met Dan Millman, I told Dan Millman how much admired his work and how his work had influenced and helped me. Millman took me to this crew that was interviewing him for some television show and tells the crew, “You need to interview this guy, also.” I never forgot that moment because that televised interview really helped my burgeoning career.

FR: In your life coaching, what do you teach your clients?

Gary Quinn: I teach people how to be the master of their mind and living their vision is not scary. I teach people how to activate their greatness. I teach how to work with the principles of grace, gratitude, opportunity, and knowing that every day we can do something great. My work is about rejuvenating your thought processes and your perspective on your own life.

FR: You have a book “Living in the Spiritual Zone: 10 Steps to Change Your Life and Discover Your Truth.” Quickly, name a few things people can do to facilitate change.

Gary Quinn: I start with having my clients make a list of all the stress and anger they have had in their life. You cannot upload any positive affirmations or positive change if you have not cleared the cupboards or the subconscious of all the anger and negativity that might be there.

As you right down those things that are negative or cause a lot of anger, if you need to forgive someone that has caused that hurt and anger, you should right a forgiveness letter to that individual, and read it out loud. (Often when clients do this, they began to cry which means they are beginning to release the toxins that came from living in a space of resentment.)

Then I instruct my clients to start to speak positive affirmations for 21 days. As you start to act on those affirmations, you will begin to see a shift in perspective and a shift in behavior. I also get my clients to make a mission statement of what they want their life in this new place of forgiveness and positivity.

FR: Why is making these list so important?

Gary Quinn: Making lists of what you want is very important, if you make a list, you probably will not forget and take your aspirations more seriously. From the list, you can identify events in your life where you felt diminished and felt disempowered and I can help you work through that. From these lists you can began to create the life that you want. It does take work and some research, but it is possible, if you are willing to do the work. It is about putting in  the work, doing the affirmation exercises, and restoring yourself daily.

FR: In this time of rejuvenation, a new presidential administration, and coming into a new season, what can people do rejuvenation their perspective and life?

Gary Quinn First, you should figure out if the career that you are in is the career that feeds your passion. If not, you need to change it. Secondly, you should access and look for things that will cause you to grow. You also need to monitor your diet because what you are eating affects your mood and your thought processes. During this time of activating the new you, changing your diet, exercising, positive affirmations, finding something that inspires your soul that is removed from your work life, and accessing new learning opportunities will put you the track to rejuvenating your life.

FR: We are slowing coming out of this terrible health pandemic. What positive things can people take away from being isolated, shutdown, and not experiencing life as we once knew it?

Gary Quinn: This health pandemic has caused many of us to look within, simply because some of the quarantining has slowed some of our daily activities. And because of this slowing down of our lives, we now have the time to closely examine our lives and look at the things that make us happy. This shutdown has been a great opportunity to focus on change. We all must be willing to accept change. To grow, embracing change is necessary.

This pandemic put us in front or ourselves, and we can look in the mirror and figure out what is not working. We should release what is not working and embrace change. You should also make a daily list of things that are working and things that make your feel good.

FR: Because of this health pandemic, we will be experiencing a new normal. What might this new normal look like?

Gary Quinn: Our new normal is about people looking within to take inventory of what does work. The new normal will be about more efficiency, and not wasting time.

People have been waiting for something to bring them happiness, and during this health pandemic experience, the new normal is about encouraging ourselves and others to use empowerment tools. The new normal is also be about honoring other people more because we are all connected. And this health pandemic dramatically demonstrated that.

Images courtesy of VERY New York

FR: We are now in Women’s History month. What can everyone learn from women?

Gary Quinn: Women are the power of the future and men need to get more into their feminine side to learn mindfulness and compassion, attributes that some women naturally have. Most women are very in touch with their emotions which gives them the ability to be more compassionate. Women can run this country and right now we need compassionate leaders.

Women have helped my career enormously. In fact, my book deals where orchestrated by women in positions of power.

FR: What’s next for you?

Gary Quinn: My next book, “Be Your Business Guru,” which is coming out in the fall, is about how business folks can find their own path to happiness and success in their business. This book will come out in Italy and the rest of Europe in the fall and be released in the US in 2022.

William S. Gooch

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