Melanie Paxson

September 25, 2017

How does a girl from a small town in the Midwest who falls in love with acting grow up to become a successful working L.A. actor with 40 film and TV roles, and almost countless commercial credits? 

Join me and my guest Melanie Paxson on this episode of Hometown to Hollywood, and find out!

Melanie is best known for her role as the Fairy Godmother on Disney Descendants and Descendants 2, as well as Dolly, Walt Disney’s secretary on Saving Mr. Banks. Her guest star appearances include roles on series including The Drew Carey Show, Rules of Engagement, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Joey, Medium and Last Man Standing. She is also the former Red Robin Burger Mama!

Melanie has a BA in theatre from the University of Missouri, then trained at Second City in Chicago, and performed with the renowned theatre troupe Steppenwolf Theatre before coming to Los Angeles at 26.

We cover some great topics in this conversation, including the benefits of training at a university vs. just going straight to professional work at 18 (or younger), what it’s like to land in LA as a young adult, what keeps her going as a successful working actor, and much more. She even gives a little shout-out to SAG-AFTRA for being a great union with terrific healthcare—which it is!!

Some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:

  • “It unfolded effortlessly.”
  • “I was nice and delusional.”
  • “If you are unstoppable, no one’s going to stop you but yourself.”
  • “That’s my job: I audition.”
  • “Doors will open, you go through that door, then another door opens.”
  • “Family is important… it keeps me grounded.”
  • “You need to show up early, and be focused.”
  • “This business is definitely about perseverance.”
  • “If you know it in your heart, then you just keep taking the next step.”
  • “When you’re really lucky, you get to tell amazing stories.”

 

Follow Melanie HERE:

Twitter: @MellyPaxson

Instagram: @MellyPaxson

Facebook: @MellyPaxson

 

Melanie’s story illustrates one of the many paths into a career in Hollywood: you start where you are, study with the best resources available, including university training, then eventually make your way to Los Angeles.

Everyone’s journey is different, but there are common threads that run through the stories of all successful actors: perseverance, faith, hard work, and a great attitude. Staying grounded and maintaining perspective.

I offer consulting services for parents of young actors, or for young adult actors. A single hour with me can answer your questions, including questions you didn’t know you had, and provide an action plan to get you moving toward that dream. WHILE keeping a sense of perspective!

If you’d like some help figuring out your next move, schedule a Skype consultation with me HERE. I look forward to talking with you!

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Cameron Boyce, Part 2 of 2

September 13, 2017

Cameron Boyce Part 2 of

Today my guest on Hometown to Hollywood is Cameron Boyce. Cameron has done MANY film and TV projects, but he is best known for his roles in Mirrors, Eagle Eye, Grownups and Grownups 2, Jessie, Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, Descendants and Descendants 2.

This is part two of my two-part conversation with Cameron. In this second half of our interview, Cameron covers auditions, dealing with fame, surprises along his journey, and much more!

Be sure to catch part one if you haven’t yet, where he shares about how he got started, who inspires him, training, school, and much more. We get into a lively conversation about the CHSPE that is relevant for any young actor considering taking that test so they can work as a “legal 18” in California.

Cameron’s thoughtful take on the entertainment industry reflects that fact that at the age of 18 he has already spent more than half his life working in it, and has worked with legends. Join us!

Some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:

  • “Dancers are some of the best people to be around.”
  • “If you beat yourself up, you’ll get sick of it really quickly.”
  • “My ‘Butterfly Effect’ is really broad.”
  • “I’ve never gotten used to the impact I have on people.”
  • “If you’re passionate about becoming famous? Not a good deal.”
  • “Stay persistent. Because it doesn’t come overnight.”
  • “Give the script the respect that it deserves.”
  • “When you are right for a character and role, it’ll happen.”
  • “Trust the process.”
  • “When you lose your self, you lose everything, so be yourself.

Follow Cameron HERE:

Twitter: @TheCameronBoyce

Instagram: @TheCameronBoyce

 

 

 

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Cameron Boyce: Actor, Dancer PART ONE

September 5, 2017

Today my guest on Hometown to Hollywood is Cameron Boyce. Cameron has done MANY film and TV projects, but he is best known for his roles in Mirrors, Eagle Eye, Grownups and Grownups 2, Jessie, Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, Descendants and Descendants 2.

This is part one of my two-part conversation with Cameron. Come back next week for part two, where he shares about auditions, dealing with fame, surprises along his journey, and much more!

In this first half of our interview, Cameron covers how he got started, who inspires him, training, school, and much more. We get into a lively conversation about the CHSPE that is relevant for any young actor considering taking that test so they can work as a “legal 18” in California. His thoughtful take on the entertainment industry reflects that fact that at the age of 18 he has already spent more than half his life working in it, and has worked with legends. Join us!

Some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:

  • “The kid really has to want to be there.”
  • “Parents really are everything.”
  • “Every single thing on the page is there for a reason.”
  • “An actor is in a prime position the learn about ANYTHING.”
  • On agents: “Find somebody who’s passionate about you.”
  • “You should always go with your gut.”
  • “To get those 6 projects, you have to do 600 auditions.”
  • “It’s rare for a casting director to be looking for a breakout star.”
  • “When all the stars align, it’s really special.”
  • “Throw in a little bit of personality. Sprinkle it on.”

 

Follow Cameron HERE:

Twitter: @TheCameronBoyce 

Instagram: @TheCameronBoyce

 

Cameron’s experience in the entertainment industry first as a true child actor, and now transitioning to a young adult actor, yields invaluable insights into what faces young actors at different stages of their journey. Everybody’s path is unique. The point, I think, is to feel happy and fulfilled no matter where your path takes you. And that has a lot to do with keeping a sense of perspective on your adventure.

I offer consulting services for parents of young actors, or for young adult actors. A single hour with me can answer your questions, including questions you didn’t know you had, and provide an action plan to get you moving toward that dream. WHILE keeping a sense of perspective!

If you’d like some help figuring out your next move, schedule a Skype consultation with me HERE. I look forward to talking with you!

Bonnie

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Paul Becker, Choreographer, Director

August 30, 2017

How do dancers become choreographers? What goes into choreography for film and TV? Who casts the dancers?

This week’s guest on Hometown to Hollywood, Paul Becker, answers all these questions and more in one of my most inspiring and fascinating interviews ever.

Paul is a Hollywood choreographer and director, and his credits are incredible: he’s worked closely with everyone from Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, The Muppets, Michael Bublé, Ciara, and has even directed and created for Kanye West.  In the musical theatre world he’s staged numbers for Broadway legends like Ben Vereen, Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris.
Paul has choreographed over 200 film and TV projects, like “Twilight”, “Mirror Mirror” “Sucker Punch” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1-3”, & he is currently the series choreographer for “A Series of Unfortunate Evens”(Netflix), “Once Upon a Time”(ABC), CW's hit show "Riverdale,"and Deadpool 2.

Paul recently was nominated for the World Choreography Award for his work with his mentor, director Kenny Ortega, as his choreography partner for Disney Channel's mega hit musical Descendants.

Paul talks about training, what the work of a TV and film choreographer really entails, gives advice for dancers, actors who dance, dancers who act, and choreographers, as well as sharing some extremely inspiring stories and wisdom. Don’t miss this—even if you have two left feet!

Some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:
    •    “I took 3 classes a night, training like an athlete.”
    •    “Out of 1,000 dancers, there’s usually 15 guys.”
    •    “Opportunities for guys in dance are greater, but they need the drive.”
    •    “You have to make things happen for yourself.”
    •    “There’s always a way to achieve your outcome.”
    •    “You can see it in someone’s eyes when they’re hungry for it.”
    •    “Being easy to work with is huge.”
    •    “I was rock bottom when I met Kenny Ortega.”
    •    “Stay positive and be nice to everyone.”
    •    “It’s the job of a choreographer to be a ‘dance-writer’.”
    •    “I like to create scenes diverse in ethnicity and all different types.”
    •    “Study filmmaking and acting if you want to choreograph for film and TV.”
    •    “Be able to use Excel, create budgets, and pitch if you want to choreograph for film and TV.”
    •    “You hold the key to your future.”

You can follow Paul and his work HERE:

Website: https://www.beckercreations.com/
Masterclass: https://www.pbmasterclass.com/
Twitter: @ThePaulBecker
Instagram: @ThePaulBecker1
Breaking Brooklyn

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Jessica Rhoades, Producer

August 10, 2017

My guest on this episode of Hometown to Hollywood is film and TV producer Jessica Rhoades.

Jessica has produced many diverse film and TV projects, including Cold Case Files, Eye Candy, Young and Hungry, Cloud 9, Spectacular, and Beauty and the Briefcase. She is currently producing Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams for HBO, and has two pilots lined up to produce this fall—Tremors for SyFy and Run for Your Life for USA.

Jessica is thoughtful and generous with her insights, and this podcast is worth a listen for anyone interested in just about any aspect of the entertainment industry.

We discuss what makes for compelling work in film and TV (casting, chemistry, a sense of attachment to the character) new directions in TV, what it takes to succeed, and so much more. Join us!

Some of my favorite quotes from this interview:

  • “Showrunners have the control in TV that people attribute to directors in film.”
  • “Chemistry is real. It’s either there or it’s not.”
  • “I want to attach to the character, and I want to root for them.”
  • “Have they made this character come off the page—but not so far that it doesn’t feel real?”
  • “I think you have to believe your character, fundamentally.”
  • “Surround yourself with people you can trust.”
  • “Be willing to do the work. Everything is experience.”
  • “If you can log 10,000 hours, you’ll be better than you are after only 10 hours.”

 

Look for Sharp Objects coming soon on HBO.

 

You can follow Jessica on social media HERE:

Twitter: @JessicaRhoades

Instagram: @JessicaRhoades

 

I loved this conversation because Jessica’s personal wisdom is so apparent through her professional wisdom. Her experience as a mom is a part of her approach as a producer because she is a whole person—and that is how Hollywood really works. This is an industry of very real people, doing their best to create work that can both entertain but also create meaning.

Hollywood can seem like an impenetrable, opaque mystery—but it is made up of hardworking, creative people like Jessica. If you (or your kid, if you’re a parent) feel called to be part of this creative tribe as an actor and are looking for help in breaking in, set up a consultation with me. A single hour can set you going in the right direction, save you from some awful mistakes as well as save a lot of money—and give you peace of mind. Just go to my Consultations page, and schedule a session with me at the bottom of the page. I look forward to talking with you!

Xo

Bonnie

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Hannah Kyle Crichton, Producer

August 7, 2017

My guest on this episode of Hometown to Hollywood is Hannah Kyle Crichton. Hannah is a talent producer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, a festival programming and development consultant at Just for Laughs, and a documentary producer at Bite to the Future and A Russian Summer.

We discuss how she got into producing from her beginnings as a kid in love with musical theatre, how she finds talent for Jimmy Kimmel, what her work actually looks like, advice for young comedy performers, advice for would-be producers, and much more.

Some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:

 

  • “If you’re going to be independent as an actor at 22, college probably helps.”
  • “I truly believe anyone can be a good producer if they’re organized, diligent, hardworking, & multitasking.”
  • “Hopefully all of you listeners will get to a place where I’m trying to get you on my shows.”
  • “Don’t send me anything until you know you’re ready.”
  • “If you’ve only been doing comedy for a year, I’m not going to book you on Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
  • “Things will be more fulfilling if you have a life that goes along with your career.”
  • “Be nice to everyone. And especially to the assistants, because they will eventually be big.”
  • “Comedy has all types of people that are succeeding.”
  • “You’re probably going to be really bad at first, so don’t be discouraged.”
  • “If you have an iPhone, and you want to make something, just start making it and put it online!”

 

Look for the results of Hannah’s efforts on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and in the upcoming documentaries Bite to the Future and A Russian Summer.

Follow Hannah here:

Website: hannahkcrichton.com

Instagram: @hannahkcrichton

Twitter: @hannahhhkyle

 

Hannah was a kid who fell in love with musical theatre, studied the art in college, went to LA after graduation and eventually found a better fit in the industry producing rather than acting.

Everybody’s path is unique. The point, I think, is to feel happy and fulfilled no matter where your path takes you. And that has a lot to do with keeping a sense of perspective on your adventure.

I offer consulting services for parents of young actors, or for young adult actors. A single hour with me can answer your questions, including questions you didn’t know you had, and provide an action plan to get you moving toward that dream. WHILE keeping a sense of perspective!

If you’d like some help figuring out your next move, schedule a Skype consultation with me HERE. I look forward to talking with you!

xo

Bonnie

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Wendy Japhet, Movie Producer

July 7, 2017

What exactly does an executive producer do on a movie? How much input do they have on casting, locations, and all the creative choices that make a movie what it is?

To answer some of these questions and much more, my guest on this episode of Hometown to Hollywood is Wendy Japhet. Wendy is a producer of films, for both the big screen and TV. She is best known for producing The Italian Job, An Education, The Brothers Bloom, I’m Not There, Disney Descendants, and Descendants 2.

Wendy shares her story—which begins with her passion for dance, and a degree in English Literature-- and she provides great insight into the challenging, creative world of production, including some great stories from Descendants and Descendants 2. Join us!

Some of my favorite quotes

  • “Movies are stories… and I loved storytelling.”
  • “I’m a big believer in working toward your own strengths.”
  • “I see the EP role as being the person on set who has the heart of the movie in mind.”
  • “Part of the joy for me in doing Descendants and Descendants 2 is I love the kids.”
  • “I always wanted to work with Kenny Ortega. It took me 30 years, but I got there!”
  • “Each movie has it’s own life, it’s own reality, it’s own vibe.”
  • “All our dancers in Descendants 2 are Canadian. And we had 40 dancers.”
  • “You have to not be intimidated by how many things are happening at the same time.”
  • “It gives me a lot of satisfaction to make a good movie that I’m proud of.”
  • “Usually, creative people find each other.”
  • “I think some of the discipline of being a ballet student translates to me through my whole life.”

Wendy is not on social media but you can see some of her amazing projects on IMDb HERE.

Look for Descendants 2 on multiple platforms July 21st!

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Sally Gaglini, Entertainment Lawyer

June 28, 2017

Do you ever wonder what an entertainment attorney would tell you if you could sit down and talk? What advice they might give you? If so—you are in for a treat, because today’s podcast features Sally Gaglini.

 

Sally is a Boston-based attorney, the author of Young Performers At Work: Child Star Survival Guide, and a professor of entertainment law.

 

If you or someone you love is getting into professional performing of any sort, you would do well to take advantage of this free hour with Sally. And then go online and buy her book!

 

We talk about common pitfalls for young actors and their families, how to spot scams, basic laws affecting young performers, money advice, school, and much more. Sally’s advice is useful for actors of any age. Join us!

 

Some of my favorite quotes:

 

“Why should a child, based only on his or her zip code, get more or less protection?”

 

“If you have to pay, then you don’t play.”

 

“Figure out if there is experience to be had locally.”

 

“How much rejection are you willing to allow your child to endure?”

 

“How much money is a family willing to spend before you press the escape hatch?”

 

“Make sure that the dream is your son’s or daughter’s, not yours.”

 

“If you put the child first, you don’t get lost.”

 

“This is a business enterprise. This is not travel soccer.”

 

“Before you spend money on your kid’s career, figure out if they are comfortable working with grownups.”

 

“Watch your child’s body language… it will tell you that they are or are not comfortable.”

 

For anyone looking to understand the basics of how the law affects young performers and their families, be sure to get a copy of Sally’s book, Young Performers at Work: Child Star Survival Guide.

 

Follow Sally Gaglini here:

Website: www.sallygaglini.com

Twitter: @SallyGaglini

 

Are you a young actor, or the parent of one? Are you looking for help figuring out how to break into the business?

I can help you! For about the price of an hour with an acting coach, I can answer your questions and help you make an action plan that gets you moving toward that dream.

Schedule a Skype session with me HERE. I look forward to talking with you!

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Vincent Spano, Episode 2 of 2

June 21, 2017

How does an actor successfully transition from young star to adult star, and build a career that spans decades? This week’s guest is one of the rare artists who has managed to achieve this.

THIS IS PART 2 OF OUR 2-PART CONVERSATION. If you missed part 1, I encourage you to catch it!

My guest on this podcast episode is Vincent Spano. Vincent is a film, stage and television actor; he is also a film director and producer.

Vincent has many, many film and TV credits, but he is best known for his roles in Baby It’s You, Rumble Fish, The Black Stallion Returns, Alive, Oscar, City of Hope, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He currently has 5 films in post-production, including Wonderwell, which was Carrie Fisher’s final film.

Vincent is a born storyteller and dropped a lot of wisdom in our conversation—so much that I had to divide our interview into 2 parts!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from our time together:

“The day I was supposed to show up for college was the day I flew to Italy to begin the adventure of a lifetime, playing Raj in The Black Stallion Returns.”

“Baby It’s You and The Outsiders started on the same day, and I had to decide what to do.”

“I put The Black Stallion Returns, Baby It’s You, and Rumblefish in the can in less than 1 calendar year.”

“Find ways to appreciate everything, and see the blessings in everything.”

“My training was like going to the gym: it was always scene study class.”

“When it comes to auditions, it’s all about mentality.”

On auditions: “It’s an opportunity to create. It’s a chance to say to God: thank you for this gift.”

“Tell the story, and make it real.”

“I want someone who comes in and it’s so real, I’m not even aware it’s acting.”

“I think true success is being the best person you can be.”

“Whoever’s meant to get the role is going to get the role, no matter what.”

 

Join us!

Follow Vincent here:

Twitter: @iAmVincentSpano
Instagram @vincent.spano
Facebook: @VincentSpanoOfficial

 

Are you a young actor, or the parent of one? Are you looking for help figuring out how to break into the business?

I can help you! For about the price of an hour with an acting coach, I can answer your questions and help you make an action plan that gets you moving toward that dream.

Go to my Consultations Page, and click on the link at the bottom of that page to schedule a Skype session. I look forward to talking with you!

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Vincent Spano, Actor

June 12, 2017

Vincent Spano Part 1 of 2 

 

How does an actor successfully transition from young star to adult star, and build a career that spans decades? This week’s guest is one of the rare artists who has managed to achieve this.

 

My guest on this podcast episode is Vincent Spano. Vincent is a film, stage and television actor; he is also a film director and producer.

 

Vincent has many, many film and TV credits, but he is best known for his roles in Baby It’s You, Rumble Fish, The Black Stallion Returns, Alive, Oscar, City of Hope, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He currently has 5 films in post-production, including Wonderwell, which was Carrie Fisher’s final film.

 

Vincent is a born storyteller and dropped a lot of wisdom in our conversation—so much that I had to divide our interview into 2 parts!

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from our time together:

“The day I was supposed to show up for college was the day I flew to Italy to begin the adventure of a lifetime, playing Raj in The Black Stallion Returns.”

Baby It’s You and The Outsiders started on the same day, and I had to decide what to do.”

“I put The Black Stallion Returns, Baby It’s You, and Rumblefish in the can in less than 1 calendar year.”

“Find ways to appreciate everything, and see the blessings in everything.”

“My training was like going to the gym: it was always scene study class.”

“When it comes to auditions, it’s all about mentality.”

On auditions: “It’s an opportunity to create. It’s a chance to say to God: thank you for this gift.”

“Tell the story, and make it real.”

“I want someone who comes in and it’s so real, I’m not even aware it’s acting.”

“Whoever’s meant to get the role is going to get the role, no matter what.”

“I think true success is being the best person you can be.”

 

Join us next week for Part 2 of this wonderful conversation.

 

Follow Vincent here:

Twitter: @iAmVincentSpano

Instagram @vincent.spano

Facebook: @VincentSpanoOfficial

 

 

 

 

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