The Artistic Beauty of Truth

A Personal Commentary

Featured Photo: Purely Zenn Art

Gemma Magazine is an online magazine about artists, their talent, and the comprehensive story of their struggles and accomplishments. Overall, it is about their journey (within themselves and towards reaching their professional goals). On behalf of Gemma Magazine, writing upon artists and attending events of all types is about the facts. Yes, the form is creative and artistic, however; the actual structure of representing someone and their talent needs to be stated in the factual form, while still producing a sense of inspiration and creativity. Trust me, as a writer, there is nothing worse than having the artist let you know that they were not portrayed correctly. Well, here it is — Gemma does not always get it right, even when we think we do. On a personal note, (and as the Editor), I take that to heart. It even takes me a few days to understand what went wrong. Why? It’s simple. We are completely inspired by every artist that we feature.

Artist Daniel Winn


We could post Instagram photos on the daily with one sentence. However, that is not the vision of the magazine. I’m attracted to artists and feel an obligation to them because that is the goal of Gemma Magazine. However, it’s also the vision within my heart. Portraying the artists correctly can be compared to raising kids. If you have more than one, they are all different and as a parent, you should let them thrive based off of each child’s innate personality. You might want to mold them based off of your standards — but that usually doesn’t work. There is also so much to discover and be in awe of by watching them grow into their individuality.

Why is representing someone correctly so important? The answer lies somewhere within me, but I rather not look. It’s more appealing to keep my eyes on them. Maybe I feel I’ve been categorized incorrectly and need to get the artists right. The vision has meaning, value, and importance. Mostly, it resembles integrity and emotion (all in one).

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In the end, we will continue to produce, represent, and write the right way — with heart, objectivity, and a lot of inspiration. Nothing will be swept under the rug. Actually, looking at the painting, performer, and designer dress, is a fantasy that tells a truth. Just listen carefully.

Filmmaker/Photographer Kelly Needleman

The Walter Collection (LAFW)
Bonnie Strauss Clothing

Revealed

Storytelling Through an Unfiltered Lens: Filmmaker Kelly Needleman

Kelly Needleman is a creative force and an inspiring one at that. He is an accomplished landscape photographer and an aspiring filmmaker. He’s motivated, only seventeen, and his work is stunning. He’s prepping to start filming his first feature this summer. “I feel grateful that I have found a passion for creating movies. People search their whole life to find what they are destined to do. I am self-taught in photography and film, but I know I have so much more to learn and I am looking forward to the journey ahead,” says Kelly Needleman. At such a young age, Kelly has already produced beautiful work in both photography and film and you rarely see someone his age with such a strong vision and work ethic.
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However, sometimes talented filmmakers see life through a lens — with the film playing in their mind — it’s part their daily creative process. Needleman is one. Kelly Needleman is a Director, Actor, Producer, Photographer, and Entrepreneur. He’s compelling in his calling to create films, especially in a culture where many teens are not sure what they want to do, especially with so many options. Kelly’s passion and discipline consist of filmmaking told through artistry, nature, and meaningful storytelling.
At a young age, Needleman had a creative eye. Growing up with his cousin, David Needleman, who is a professional photographer that shoots celebrities, influenced him to pick up a camera. Kelly was attracted to the beauty of nature and started taking images and time-lapses of landscapes. His strong ambition to create resulted in being published in various publications and awards, such as National Geographic and Canon. Actually, he’s been published 7 times in National Geographic YourShot. (https://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/1460193/#awards)

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Photo: David Needleman

His pictures became viral on social media resulting in a celebrity status following.
Needleman’s passion for landscape photography was a natural progression into the film industry. He formed his own company called Needleman Productions, where he showcases his movies. He has made numerous shorts and experimental films. Kelly has been recognized locally as a student filmmaker and has recently won a prestigious award (Best Young Director) for his documentary, MY IDENTITY, in the Hollywood International Independent Film Festival. His goal is to make beautiful movies by utilizing the natural elements of nature, fog, sea, and sunlight as tools in an outdoor studio.
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We were stunned when we saw his work. His photos are beautiful, enticing and eclectic all at once. It took me somewhere else, which is the point. When an artist evokes emotion or makes you leave your thoughts for a while; it’s real art. Needleman has a gift, and the only mistake would be if he did not utilize it to his full capacity. It’s incredibly inspiring when someone this young takes the risk and doesn’t hesitate. When Kelly had a minute, he spoke with Gemma.
How did you become interested in taking photos of nature?
My love for nature developed by exploring my surroundings in Northern California. I am fortunate to live in an area where beauty envelops the atmosphere. I started traveling with my family at a very young age and visited unbelievable locations such as Iceland and the Dolomites in Italy which inspired me to share my experiences through film and photography.
Do you sometimes feel like an “old soul?” Your vision is very mature.
Yes, I do feel I am an “old soul.” I feel grateful that I have found a passion for creating movies. People search their whole life to see what they are destined to do. I am self-taught in photography and film, but I know I have so much more to learn and I am looking forward to the journey ahead.
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What was the inspiration to transition into film?
I do love photography and always will — Yet, as a storyteller, I felt the medium of film was more engaging. A movie can create a mood, develop characters and share a point of you. It takes people out of their everyday life to experience something new. It can also make you a different place mentally, which is very powerful.
How did you find the process of screenwriting? Creatively Challenging?
Screenwriting was something entirely new for me. As a director and a visual person, the mood of the film was essential to me. I set the scene in my mind, and the dialog flowed from there. It comes with challenges of course, but I seem to thrive off of that.
Do you feel driven to create?
I do! I always like to try something new and authentic. It is easy to create something that already exists, but I strive to be as original as possible which fuels my ambition to be the best I can.

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Photo: David Needleman

Who are some of the directors that you admire?
I admire directors such as Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese for their mastery of storytelling. I appreciate when a director displays their style throughout the filmmaking process. I also respect the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as student screenwriters/actors to directors.
How do you balance being an HS student, working in photography, and now, making films? (Not to mention, the business aspects)?
I thrive on the energy of always being busy. I am a very organized and disciplined person, but at times it does get a little bit crazy.

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Photo: David Needleman

I know you are working with Gigi Cesare on your upcoming film “Lost Visibility.” We covered her, and she’s so confident, talented, and fun.
Yes, I am incredibly excited to be working with Gigi for my upcoming feature. She is a very talented actress, and I love her passion for the film. She is a beautiful addition.
Can you please expand upon your upcoming feature film, “Lost Visibility?”
The logline for my feature film “Lost Visibility,” is: Maybe they were not as close as they thought they were. Three friends share intimate dreams that bring their secrets to reality. The film is in the genre of Psychological Thriller, Teen Drama, Mystery, and Horror. I am currently in pre-production and plan to shoot during early summer of 2019. The film will most likely be released at the end of 2019.
I also really enjoyed your short film, “Lucid Visions.” Again, visually, it’s gorgeous. Can you explain your personal experience?

“Lucid Visions” was a unique film for me because it exposed me to an exciting genre. I loved the concept of dream versus reality. This short film led me to the idea for my feature film.

You do act as well. How do you like acting?

Yes, I do act, and it’s an entirely different experience from directing. I feel being in front of the camera helps me connect and have a better understanding of the actors when directing a film. In my opinion, it’s essential to learn both aspects of acting and directing to create the best possible film.

Kelly Needleman has an extremely bright future ahead of him. We hope to report upon him again (Part 2) when his film is released. After graduating from High School, Kelly is planning on majoring in Film Production (specifically directing) and minoring in business around LA.

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Photo: David Needleman

You can follow Kelly on the following social media platforms:

Some Like it Hot: An Evening with Funny Girl Sarah J. Halstead

(All Exclusive Photos by John Collazos)

Sarah Halstead is an actress who is authentically inspiring. I admire her — both as a person and an artist. We met at a fashion show (5 years ago?!?) by chance and have kept the connection strong. She’s kind, beautiful, smart, and genuinely funny. As an actress and comedian, Halstead is talented, quite the chameleon, and seamless in her delivery. Sarah J. Halstead is rare and we love that about her. Recently, Gemma was lucky enough to catch her for a photo shoot and an interview. She definitely has that “girl-next-door” look in regards to certain aspects of her personality. However, there are many layers to Halstead and that’s where it gets interesting. We loved that Sarah could pull off the sultry 1940’/50’s “Old Hollywood Glamour look” at the shoot, and yet, speak about her craft corporately. Halstead is the ultimate multi-tasker and has a sharp business sense. I interviewed her a few years prior and she’s busier than ever — blending all her creative talents into one beautiful brand: Sarah J. Halstead — Actress and Comedian!

Sarah J. Halstead is an actress, comedian, and writer from Flint, Michigan who decided to follow her dream. Sarah started her training in NYC and eventually made her way to Los Angeles. Personally, nothing inspires Gemma Magazine more than meeting someone who takes on the challenges that come with fulfilling one’s purpose. Halstead is also an incredibly passionate person who brings a fire to every creative endeavor that she is working on. We have enjoyed watching her star rise. Sarah can be both sarcastic and forthright within one setting. She is versatile in her craft and never misses an opportunity for growth as an actress or comedian. Her late mother was the biggest supporter of her acting and I’m sure she is proudly watching.

Sarah is currently doing standup comedy, producing a comedy show, hosting a podcast, filming a lot of commercials and auditioning for television. Sarah is quite busy, so we really appreciate her taking the time to speak with Gemma.

What is a new project that you are working on?

Currently, I’m co-producing a comedy show titled Casual Monday Comedy and Champers. The lovely Allegra Riggio (who is a talented TV Host/Comic), produces with me. It’s a two-hour show and we hand-pick the comics who we feel would be a great fit. Our debut was amazing with a crowd of creative luminaries! And unlike a lot of popular comedy clubs in Los Angeles, we treat the comics with respect and don’t require them to each bring “eight people or more”. Ultimately, it should be the producer’s job to fill the room and the comics should only be responsible for being funny.

Do you still film a lot of commercials?

I do! I have booked 89 commercials to date (this includes infomercials). It consists of a bit of everything: hair, skin, makeup, a national car commercial, and some banks. It’s gone well, and I’m very grateful for this.

You are so busy, productive, and creative. Do you ever miss corporate life?

I do. I miss the structure and consistency. It’s nice to get up in the morning, go to work, come home, and play. I’m a very structured person and miss doing just one thing. I currently feel a bit all over the place. Previously, I worked for sixteen years at a wine and champagne company. Ultimately, my dream would be to have one job where I can work hard, get creative, and know my daily tasks. My life might not be the exact schedule I desire at the moment. However, I’m still thrilled about all the creative projects that I have going on.

You do so much performing and auditioning (even though you have only been in the business 3 1/2 years. Do you ever still get nervous?

I get butterflies and a sense of excitement. In the beginning, I was way more nervous. Now, I love a “flutter” and the sense that you “Don’t know if you’re going to sink or swim,” says Halstead. However, I think that I thrive upon that.

Do you feel Hollywood is embracing older women in terms of acting roles? 

No. It’s been my experience that there’s a lot of ageism and the roles for older actresses really emphasize the fact that they’re older. I am working, but I’m booking role descriptions such as “former town beauty who’s best days are behind her.” Or “tired mom of young adults”! I’ve even been offered Grandma roles, which I suppose is possible if I had kids at 15. It’s actually funny and I use it in my bit. The badass roles for older women go to the very established A-list actresses and it doesn’t appear that any network would consider a new face for that role. I shall remain optimistic though because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing and I’m simply grateful for any work.

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Tell me a bit about your new podcast 

It’s called Jimmy and Sarah on the Sunset Strip. Previously I tested the waters with a smaller podcast titled “Drinking During Business Hours.” It was received well. Recently, The Comedy Store approached me about this exciting project. My co-host is Jimmy Shin, and we have a good vibe, so it works well. The format is fantastic because all production elements are already in place. It airs every Monday on iTunes and Stitcher. We feature established comics, comedic actors, comedy writers, comedic voiceover stars and talk about their underdog moments. It’s an exciting look into the comedic world.

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In terms of acting, what have you worked on recently?

It’s called “I am The Night” for TNT and it’s produced by Patty Jenkins. I play a scantily clad chain-smoking working girl in Episode 1. It stars Chris Pine and takes place in the late 40’s/50’s, which I seem to book that particular time period quite often. The series is based on “The Black Dahlia,” a murder mystery in LA, which has still not been solved.  I’ve also just completed a pilot called Broken Somm. It’s a talk show about wine and I play the transgressive, irreverent host while interviewing high profile winemakers. We’re pitching to networks now.

I Love the way you function famous authors’ books on your Instagram with a selfie of you holding the book. It’s such a savvy idea. How did that come about?

At first, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my favorite authors, and then it took off. Individual authors have messaged me or sent me autographed copies of their books. I genuinely love to read and don’t have the time for it anymore (in the capacity I used to). When I do have a free moment, one of my favorite things is to curl up and dive into a good book.

Do you feel you do get typecast a lot (outside of the comedy circuit)?

It’s funny you ask because I was just interviewing John Pirruccello on my podcast and he said: “being typecast’ can be a good thing because that means people see you as something”. John is the quintessential working actor so I’m going to follow this advice.

Who is your favorite actress/comedian?

I love Tig Notaro and saw her recently at Largo. She’s funny, smart, and such a confident performer with a slow and precise delivery. I also find her very honest and vulnerable which is the recipe of any great comic.

On behalf of Gemma, I appreciate Sarah speaking with us. It was a creative collaboration with a talented woman who we will continue to keep up with. She’s a “gem” in every sense.

All Photos: John Collazos: https://www.instagram.com/john_collazos/

Hair and Makeup: Ash Ortiz: https://www.instagram.com/mua_ortiz/


You can follow Sarah on the following social media platforms!

as well as catch her new comedy show (information below)…

https://www.facebook.com/sarahjhalstead?epa=SEARCH_BOX

https://www.instagram.com/sarahjhalstead/

Twitter: @sarahjhalstead

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GBK Productions and Mosaic PR: Grammy Gifting Lounge Exclusive

 

The biggest names in music came out to celebrate their 2019 Grammy nominations at the world’s premiere celebrity gifting lounge, GBK Productions’ Annual Pre-Grammy Luxury Lounge. Held this year at the elegant STK Restaurant, inside the W Hotel Los Angeles-West Beverly Hills, past winners, nominees, and many other celebrities were on hand to congratulate their peers and pick up some of this year’s hottest items and trips during the stylish soiree. Grammys Biggest Names (Including 2x Grammy winner H.E.R. and Grammy Winners Opium Moon & Sam Moore) celebrated Grammy Weekend with Two Days of Exclusive Gifting of This Year’s Hottest Items.

For the exclusive event, GBK partnered with STK and the W Hotel (www.marriott.com) for a private two-day celebrity gifting lounge party. STK is a unique concept that artfully blends the modern steakhouse and chic lounge into one – offering a dynamic vibe dining experience with the superior quality of a traditional steakhouse. W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills is a modern urban retreat with highly personalized service, high energy interiors, and luxury amenities.

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STK Steakhouse – Photo Credit: John Collazos

The premiere list of invited guests that attended included 2019 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Sam Moore, 5x nominee H.E.R., 2x nominee Chole & Halle, William Duvall & Mike Inez from Alice In Chains (Rock Album), Ashley McBryde (Country Album), the band Halestorm (Rock Performance), Koryn Hawthorn (Gospel Performance), the band Trivium (Metal Performance), the band Cha Wa (Regional Roots), Tia Fuller (Jazz Instrumental), Yiddish Glory (World Music), Opium Moon (New Age), Raul MIdon (Jazz Vocal), Ian Fitchuck (Album of the Year), 3x Grammy winner Terri Lyne Carrington and Grammy nominees Rapsody, Jeff Hamilton and 9th Wonder. Other talent included musical guests, celebrities and influencers such as Alex Sparrow, Loni Love, Bebe Coronel, American Idol winner Maddie Poppe, Kaila Methven, Lexi Jayde, Shannon K, Luenell, The Ochoa Boys, Prince Amukamara (of the Chicago Bears), Malcolm Kelly (MKTO), Pardison Fontaine, Emma Hunton, Aretha Franklin’s grandchildren Victorie & Jordan Franklin, Yella Beezy and many more.

GBK & STK At The "W" Hotel Pre-Grammy Lounge

Grammy Winner H.E.R. Photo Credit: Rachel Murray

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Wander & Ivy – Photo Credit: John Collazos

The nominees and guests, who attended GBK’s Grammy luxury lounge were treated to gift certificates from STK, The W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills, Icebox Watches and Diamonds and Morrison Hotel Gallery. Pashion Footwear convertible high heels were gifted as were Wander & Ivy organic wines, Ruby-Cell USA gifted cosmetics from their Stem Cell Conditioned Media Extract, Kahuna Chair LED Mask, Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Marathon OG (by Nipsey Hussle) vape pens, Equality Goods clothing with a purpose, Fortune & Frame jewelry, Framed Tweets (art gallery for tweets), Seraph clothing, Lucky Soul CBD water and products, Story Electric Bikes, 1More headphones, Silverite pillows as well as trips to Jamaica through Caribbean Living and Italy through La Corte dell’ Astore and more. The energy of the Luxury Lounge was fantastic and here are some of the featured vendors.

Icebox Watches and Diamonds (www.icebox.com)

Icebox Watches are stunning. They are the nation’s premier boutique for diamonds and watches, located in Atlanta, GA.

Morrison Hotel Gallery (www.morrisonhotelgallery.com) is the world’s leading fine art music photography representing over 125 of the most highly acclaimed music photographers.  The featured collection for the GBK Grammy event was lovely.

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Photo: morrisongalleryhotel.com

Pashion Footwear made an impressive stiletto showing! (www.pashionfootwear.com). Known as the world’s convertible high heel, Pashion footwear features stylish stilettos that can be transformed into comfortable flats with the easy removal of the stiletto heel itself. They represent a smart and beautiful woman.

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Koryn checking out Passion Footwear – Photo Credit: Kirsten Moore

Wander & Ivy organic wines are truly delicious (wanderandivy.com). Wander & Ivy’s mission is to elevate the single serve wine experience by offering high-quality wines in convenient and premium packaging while promoting organic and sustainable vineyard practices and giving back to the community. It’s an innovative and unique concept.

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Wander + Ivy Organic Wines – Photo Credit: John Collazos

Ruby-Cell USA is a Korean Cosmetic brand which uses Stem Cell Conditioned Media Extract to lighten wrinkles and the effects are usually seen within 15 minutes to one hour (www.rubycellus.com). They are a fantastic brand and were highly helpful.

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Ruby-Cell Serum Application – Photo Credit: John Collazos

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William Duvall (Alice in Chains) Photo Credit: Kirsten Moore

Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (www.dulcevidaspirits.com) is an organic tequila from Los Altos that is handcrafted and made with 100% Blue Agave.

Equality Goods clothing with a purpose (www.shopequalitygoods.com) featured a lovely presentation. At Equality Goods, their goal is to be the change we wish to see in the world. Through their alliance with THE INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE (IRC.), Equality Goods hires refugees resettling in America to assemble the bracelets. The brand proudly pays above minimum wage, provides transportation, meals and accounting services. One by one making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Equality Goods produce every one of their bracelets locally, making a direct impact on our community.  Equality Goods is fueled by women who believe in building a culture of compassion and community – both inside and outside of the office.

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Equality Goods – Photo: John Collazos

Fortune & Frame Jewelry (www.fortuneandframe.com) is an NYC brand that creates meaningful jewelry and accessories to protect and honor the messages that inspire you.

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Fortune & Frame – Photo: John Collazos

Framed Tweets is the world’s first art gallery for tweets (www.framedtweets.com). The don’t just frame Tweets—the company makes Art, with a capital A. Framed Tweets use the best quality materials for everything they make.

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Photo: John Collazos

Kahuna Chair Kahuna LED Mask is described as the world’s best 4D gravity chair (www.kahunachair.com)

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Chloe x Halle – Photo Credit: Chris Carlisle

Seraph Clothing (www.seraphdesign.com). Seraph creates trending fashion clothing from the highest quality materials, designed and manufactured in Los Angeles.

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Photo Credit: John Collazos

Lucky Soul CBD Water and Products (www.luckysoul.com) –Lucky Soul is an inspirational apparel brand — A Luxe, athletic-influenced brand to elevate your casual and active lifestyle. Washed to Perfection and Made in the USA. A Lucky Soul is Someone who personifies the heart of a champion. A person who lets nothing stand in the way of reaching their goals and dreams in life. The Vision of Lucky Soul soon became reality from plenty of hard work, dedication, and drive. Lucky Soul was born and founded on the mission of creating a worldwide movement of promoting social good. Synonymous with Hope, Success, and the Power Of Collaboration; they create expressive products that are life-affirming and help define one’s soul. The brand’s capsules serve a purpose more significant than just fashionable apparel items; they open the way for us to create real and lasting changes in the way people see themselves and others.

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Opium Moon – Photo Credit: Thomas Chowder III

 

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Lucky Soul Lifestyle – Photo Credit: John Collazos

 

Story Electric Bikes (www.storybicycles.com) Story Electric Bikes get you where you want to go quicker and with less effort. Even better, for every bike sold, Story Bikes donates a traditional Buffalo Bike to students in Zimbabwe.

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Story Bicycles – Photo Credit: John Collazos

1More headphones (www.1more.com).1More is an award-winning headphone offering premium quality headphones at a consumer-friendly value.

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Grammy Winner Sam Moore checking out 1More Headphones  – Photo Credit: Thomas Chowder III

 

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Halestorm: Photo: Tracy Cahill

Silverlite – (www.silveriteglobal.com) offers an innovative healthy vegan pillow with functional fabric technology. The pillows are infused with silver for continued protection from surrounding bacteria, viruses, and fungi. No foam, no down, and no chemical material. Instead, the pillows are filled with kapok tree, referred to as “natures cashmere.”

 About GBK
GBK Productions, is a luxury lifestyle gifting and special events company, specializing in entertainment marketing integration. Formed in 2000 by Gavin Keilly, the company’s Founder and CEO, GBK consists of five divisions: GBK Celebrity Gifting, GBK Special Events, GBK Weddings, GBK Charitable Consulting, and GBK Marketing & Public Relations. Widely known in the entertainment industry for bringing that little extra something into the Luxury Lounge environment, GBK offers its clients a full range of marketing services. For more information on Gavin B. Keilly (CEO) or GBK please go to gbkproductions.com.

It was an amazing event and on behalf of Gemma Magazine, I  would like to thank both GBK Productions as well as Mosaic PR for the informative fun!


 

Powerful Producing with Writer and Producer Kate Pazakis

Kate Pazakis is an actress, producer and artistic director for the Rockwell: The Table & Stage. It’s a quaint and cozy theatre house that feature musicals of bold talent and meaning. The entire concept itself is fantastic. Located in the heart of Los Feliz Village, Rockwell: Table & Stage offers Angelenos a truly unique experience by staging live, musical performances while serving unwavering cuisine (Chef Wayne) with seasonal alternating menus. Baroque chandeliers and a dark rustic vibe fashion a warm indoor eatery and performance space. So, who makes the Rockwell “rock”? Producer and Writer Kate Pazakis and her talented team, especially producing partner Bradley Bredeweg (who also directed “Edward Scissorhands”).

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Specifically, Kate Pazakis is responsible for the concept development and artistic vision, with a strong influence on script and song selection. She hires and oversees a director, musical director, casting director, technical director, and stage manager to evolve each show from creative concept to final production. In many instances, high profile personalities perform as recurring lead roles or surprise guest stars, creating substantial buzz around each show, which makes it very appealing.

img_8760Kate and her team produce 25 plus original in-house shows per month as well as lead and motivate a production crew of 15. Pazakis has also created her unique niche within Rockwell: the UMPO, which stands for (Unauthorized Musical Parody Of) and represents productions that Kate feels will resonate strongly with the audience.
Recently, Gemma was extended an invitation to see “Edward Scissorhands,” the musical. It was incredible and makes you realize how exciting theatre is in Los Angeles. Furthermore, when, you have an excellent showrunner like Kate Pazakis, the productions at The Rockwell are going to be high quality, filled with authentic talent and deliver a great story. When Kate had a moment to speak with us, we were able to get insight about her creative process and what inspires her.

How were you introduced to the Theatre World? I know that you were a performer before becoming a producer/writer.
I started doing musicals in first grade. I was hooked from that moment.

Being Artistic Director requires many details and tasks. What motivates you (since you are also responsible for motivating cast and crew members)?
For me, it would be the reactions of the audience members, how excited they get when they see live theatre — especially in Los Angeles. It’s very inspiring.

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What made you want to start UMPO (which stands for Unauthorized Musical Parody Of)? It seems like an incredible combination of creativity and sharp business skills.
Rockwell hired me as the artistic director of the space and part of my job was to bring in outside shows. I did not like the shows that were being brought in and decided to create them myself. Furthermore, I do feel that I’m in a great space for a venue that mixes creativity and business skills.

Can you please describe the audition process? Strong Vocals would have to be at the top of the list. Vocals are first. And then acting is just about as close. It must be a robust double threat.

You and who else are the core members of UMPO?
I have a group of about 30 actors that tend to do a lot of the shows. It is not a company per se, but people always want to return.

What do you love most about the theater world?
I love being able to play pretend as an adult with no holds barred. It’s life, the feedback is honest and immediate.

It’s interesting that you choose certain favorite cult films to parody
Is there a common thread that stands out?
I usually pick a property that is quotable or very current. Being a relevant production that will resonate with the audience and initiate a discussion.

“Edward Scissorhands is phenomenal.” The cast is so talented and the writing is superb! The production was directed by Bradley Bredeweg There were light and heavy moments. Do you feel that you are given a powerful platform to shed light on particular social issues? For Edward Scissorhands, police brutality stood out as well as the fear our country has of someone they perceive as different.
Thank you! I feel it is a great platform to discuss the terrifying politics in our world today.

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Do you ever perform in any of the productions?
I played the T-Rex in J”Jurassic Park” and loved it. It was my return to the stage after many years. It’s interesting because, after such a long break from performing, you get to look at the process with fresh eyes. Who knows. Maybe I’ll do it again soon. LOL.

Lastly, you’re a mom and how do you balance that with all your responsibilities?
I’ve made sure that I’ve set strict boundaries with my time so that there is a healthy balance between family and work. I’m an organized person, but delegating is crucial.

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We want to thank Kate for speaking with us. Edward Scissorhands has been extended until the 30th, and we highly recommend you see it. You might even shed a tear.
Tickets: Rockwell-LA.com
www.rockwell-la.com

 

https://www.facebook.com/katepazakis

https://www.instagram.com/pazakattack/

 

 

 

In The Spotlight: Creative Entrepreneur Vicky Mara Story

Vicky Mara Story is a fierce force with an excellent affinity for business. Vicky has defined her entrepreneurial skill set as an art and is the ultimate Creative Entrepreneur, within both her family life and business. She excels as a Producer and all facets of overseeing a business. The loveliest part — she’s humble about it. This makes her a “gem” as we say. Gemma Magazine is excited to cover an inspiring woman with both business and creative talents in addition to managing a family,  as we feel the journey of empowered women is to empower others.

How did Vicky Story become a Gemma Magazine aspiration? After speaking with her for ten minutes at a social gathering that Gemma was covering, we knew. Story is soft-spoken, remarkably calm, and has an inner strength. Vicky is a gorgeous woman but more importantly; she’s a beautiful person. She has concrete goals and a creative business sixth sense. The more she talked about her path, (both within business and life), we wanted to know more.

For a bit of backstory, Vicky did not have the most comfortable childhood. Both of her parents immigrated to the states from the Philippines. Their first stop was Ohio but eventually landed in sunny Los Angeles. The Mara family lived on 37th Street (across from USC). Walking to school in South Central L.A. with her siblings consisted of survival, and as a young Filipina girl, she did not always feel safe. However, her home was filled with love, and her father represented strength to her. Both of her parents instilled a strong work ethic within her that Vicky carries with her to this day.

Vicky is also married to acclaimed film Director Tim Story (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1103162/). Vicky and Tim founded The Story Company (http://timstorypictures.com), an entertainment production company, in 1996. They have a wonderful partnership while continually achieving both family and business goals. They also are the parents of three children. Vicky explained how it could be challenging working together at times, yet, it’s also a beautiful collaboration. While Tim is immensely busy directing, Vicky handles all business affairs and logistics for The Story Company.

When she had a moment, she sat down with us to chat. We must note, there could not be a more appropriate last name for the Story family. The entire family is lovely and Vicky has set the tone for the family environment. Tim Story is very supportive of Vicky’s projects and they both are advocates for education.

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The Story Family

After hearing your story (Both ups and downs), it’s apparent that you have so much love and respect for both your parents. How did they inspire you?

My dad and mom had an incredible work ethic. My dad was a real businessman — he ran rental properties, owned a market in South Central L.A. and managed a nursery. He was terrific under pressure and never cracked. My dad was a self-made entrepreneurial businessman. My mom worked for LAUSD for thirty years, and her consistency was such an influence. They sacrificed so much for their children, and it made an enormous impact. My interest in a business career is most likely from the importance of having a strong role model as a father and watching him succeed through good and hard times.

Why were you drawn to production?

For me, production is inspiring. I naturally am attracted to business — numbers, organization, logistics, budgeting, and scheduling. I probably got it from my dad. I received my degree in Operations Management from Cal. State L.A. Many of the characteristics of Operational Management consist of the production process. I eventually started producing music videos. I worked my way up from PA to Production Manager to Producer. The hours were long (first to arrive and last to leave), but I loved it!

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Did you and Tim meet through work?

No, we were friends for two years before working on ‘The Firing Squad,’ the first independent movie we made together. After ‘The Firing Squad,’ we moved on to music videos. Tim directed music videos before getting into the film industry. However, I never produced for him, only for other directors, but would oversee all his business affairs at The Story Company. He’s a true creative storyteller and is in his element when directing a film. We are both very supportive of each other’s career achievements, and it’s a great balance.

As Executive Producer of The Story Company, what type of productions would you like to bring to fruition and what are you currently producing?

We want to broaden the scope a bit and start branching out more into the television sector as well as producing more as a company, whether it’s an episodic, cable, network or other streaming platforms. Currently, ‘Prince of Peoria’ (https://www.netflix.com/Title/80223556) has been the most recent production airing on Netflix. It centers around a prankster prince who wants to experience life as an ordinary teen leaves his kingdom to live incognito with a single mom and her studious son. We are excited about The Story Company’s upcoming film project. Tim will team up with Eddie Murphy for New Line Comedy Inspired by the hit Walter Matthau-Jack Lemmon comedy ‘Grumpy Old Men.’ Tim will direct and produce the comedy through the Story Company banner, and Sharla Sumpter Bridgett is also producing.

What do you like about production?

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I love the energy of production. As soon as you walk on set, there is this fantastic setting for all creatives from all departments to thrive. It allows me to be in my own world and be an entrepreneur. The beginning is always exciting because the project gives you a clean slate, and you get to build in every department. I love dealing with budgets, negotiating, and money. I’m a businesswoman at heart and production allows me to do that on a per project basis since there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Therefore, I get to treat every production like it’s a new business venture.

You are also a devoted wife and mom. Do you find the balance difficult?

Well, the kids are a bit older now, so it’s not as physically taxing.  I’m very good at time management and setting my priorities for each day (both family and business). Of course, as a mom, there are so many sacrifices we make. I have recently had a renewed sense of wanting to take The Story Company in different directions as well as take on other business opportunities I’m developing. With three children, there are always activities, homework, and sports.  We are big on family life, and it’s our priority.

“Mindfulness represents unconditional love towards the self (without judgment, resentment, or past mistakes), that will transcend and produce a beautiful sense of peace. Ultimately, it is about understanding your true core and letting go of others opinions. My path is in front of me and I take one step at a time.” (Vicky Mara Story)

You are so calm and centered. Do you meditate or practice mindfulness?

I do, but it’s a process. With meditation, it took a while for me because I had to learn that there is more than one way to do it and the most important way is what works for you. In my personal experience, meditation and mindfulness go together. If we are truly able to clear our heads of all the clutter and distracting thoughts, we can have an authentic presence with just “being.” Then, we are completely living in the present moment. I had to get “out of the box” of what it’s all supposed to look like and tap into me. For me, it was honoring myself, accepting myself, being mindful of my time, and understanding what I can give back to others and family. As women, we have a lot of responsibility placed on us as wives, mothers, and work. Mindfulness represents unconditional love towards the self (without judgment, resentment, or past mistakes), that will transcend and produce a beautiful sense of peace. Ultimately, it is about understanding your true core and letting go of others opinions. My path is in front of me and I take one step at a time.

What does self-empowerment mean to you?

For me, Self-empowerment is to stand in your truth authentically and being confident in who you are. It means sharing with people you trust through selfless conversations and giving them insight, empowering them, and having an impact on others. Personally, being authentic with yourself and others is the ultimate empowerment. It has represented understanding my power and accepting it. It has also consisted of standing tall and moving forward without reservation and affecting others who we love.

Vicky Story is such an inspiration as a woman, entrepreneur, and someone who gives back to the community. On behalf of Gemma, I would like to thank her for her time and thoughtfulness for such an insightful interview.


To follow Vicky on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/vickystory

https://www.instagram.com/vickystory/


Carhartt Men’s Acrylic Watch Hat A18, Black, One Size“>Carhartt Men’s Acrylic Watch Hat A18, Black, One Size

Staying True to his Craft: Actor Spencer Trinwith Talks ​Upcoming Projects and “Wonder Woman 2”

The decision to pursue acting is always a brave one. Of course, many artists feel it is their life passion and must fulfill their dream. The fact is the industry consists of handling rejection, competition, and hard moments. However, certain artists learn to lean into the struggle (setbacks and all), and channel that energy to become even more passionate and determined. Sometimes, there is even an art to learning how to adapt. Such is the case with talented actor Spencer Trinwith, who always knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor. Spencer is within his authentic element when working on a film set. He’s on the rise and applies a smart and insightful approach to his craft. Spencer has also experienced an enormous health challenge but tapped into other forms of creativity to stay focused. Trinwith knew acting was his life purpose and that would not change. “There is something so special about how collaborative acting is — all of these different parts moving in unison and working toward a similar goal. Not to mention, it’s darn fun,” said Trinwith.

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Trinwith explained his desire to act as a career became very clear in High School. He expanded by emphasizing that he was not into academics. Spencer wanted to focus on the arts. He attended the University of North Carolina for the Arts and lived in DC for a while. He comes from actor parents and due to his innate interest in the arts combined with the family exposure to creative endeavors inspired his ambition even more. He was even named after Spencer Tracy. Trinwith has quite an impressive resume. He has appeared on television in “Law & Order: SUV” alongside special guest star, Sharon Stone as well as the television show “VEEP” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Hugh Laurie. Spencer’s professional theater credits are extensive. He played Norm in “Suicide, Incorporated” in Washington, DC to stellar reviews. He also starred in an adaptation of the Stanley Tucci film “Blind Date” titled “The Personals,” for the stage.

After a health setback at the age of 21 that left him viewing life from a different perspective, his mindset had to shift to keep him healthy and focused on healing as well as still inspired to accomplish his future goals. Spencer has made a full recovery and even worked on five films this past summer. He’s excited about his short film (about to hit the film festival circuit), Saved by Grace, which required intensive physical stuntwork. Spencer happily took on the challenge. He is also starring in Wonder Woman 2 1984, which is “set for July 5th, 2020 Warner Brothers worldwide release. His story is inspiring, and when he had a moment, the thoughtful and passionate actor took the time to speak with us.

Tell me a bit about your childhood. Your parents are involved in the acting world, correct? It’s always great to have that support.

It is wonderful! I get to have a scene study partner pretty much on call 24/7 between the two of them! I grew up in the Bay Area and Washinton, DC. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of me pursuing this career.

You recently went through a challenging time with degenerative disc disease. How did you stay so strong mentally? Did you feel there was a time that you might not be able to act again?

Music. Most of the time playing guitar would be too difficult for me. But I got into producing on my computer. I would spend hours while on bed rest. Sometimes days. I would compose music — everything: hip-hop beats, electronic, rock, metal, soundtrack, EVERYTHING. I have a gigantic catalog of music from my time before my surgery. I’m very proud that despite everything, I was still able to find a way to be creative. I never stopped creating!

You have had the opportunity to work on many film sets over the past summer. What was the film shoots like for Saved by Grace and Really Love?

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Saved by Grace was particularly exciting for me because I got to perform all of my stunts. From hand to hand combat, to falling out of trees. They had me doing just about everything, and I welcomed it! Mud and everything! I had a blast working on Really Love. My scene with Kofi Siriboe and Yootha Wong-Lou-Sing was virtually all improvised. It was such a fun give-and-take!

Regarding your acting process, you had mentioned that you try to approach from a simplistic approach versus “doing too much.” Can you elaborate?

Yes, the age-old actor dilemma of: “What do I do with my hands right now?” We can easily fall into the trap of feeling like “we are not doing enough” and because of that: we can run the risk overcompensating. Trying to push for a result. For me, I try to keep it to a few steps — Know what your character wants, commit to your character’s circumstances, listen to your acting partner, respond to your acting partner and your hands will follow after.

 

spencer outsideAlso, you are always challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone with your roles. Is this your nature concerning risk-taking with specific roles?

I feel it’s a bit of a mutual attraction! I enjoy working on roles that are a far departure from myself, or extreme circumstances. To let my imagination run wild with the thought of “What If?” It’s certainly a rush and a difficult task. But I love it.

What does acting bring to you personally as well as your life?

I cannot live without it. There is something so special about how collaborative acting is — all of these different parts moving in unison and working toward a similar goal. Not to mention, it’s darn fun. When I was on bedrest, it was very isolating. Yet I did have a deep, burning desire for acting and knew that is where I belonged.

After living in DC, which is a gorgeous city, what do you think of L.A. now that you are after living and auditioning here?

DC And LA couldn’t be any more different! Both have a lot to offer. I will say though, the first time I ever flew into Los Angeles, (considering I have no family here or relation to this city), as soon as my plane touched down at LAX, I had this overwhelming sense of belonging. I knew this was going to be my home and when you are in a new home its best to create a network of friends and associations that make you honestly feel “at home.”

You have been working so much. Did you take a Thanksgiving break?

I did not spend Thanksgiving with my parents this year. I volunteered with “family” at Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, bright and early at 6 am on this holiday, prepping meals in their kitchen for those in need. It’s a fantastic charity in Los Angeles County which provides free meals for men and women too sick to shop and cook for themselves, and it’s been doing this for almost 30 years.

Everyone is super excited about WW2 1984! Can you please expand upon your character a bit?

Due to NDA (non-disclosure agreement), I can’t speak about my character or the film. However, I’m so excited for its release as I’ve been a lifelong fan of DC comics and characters!

On a final note, please click the link below to hear Spencer speak on a recent podcast from KTLA!

https://ktla.com/2018/11/26/spoken-dreams-spencer-trinwith-actor/


Gemma Magazine would like to thank Spencer Trinwith for joining us. We can’t wait to see all of his upcoming projects. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to do a followup. For now, Spencer is happily traveling due to nonstop work and living out of a suitcase. He would not have it any other way.

To follow Spencer on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/spencer.trinwith.3

https://www.instagram.com/spencertrinwith/

 

Photos by Brian To / Styling by Victor Hugo Guevara