(All Photos by John Collazos)
(All Photos by John Collazos)
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.
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.
“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.
(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.
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.
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)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kahuna Chair Kahuna LED Mask is described as the world’s best 4D gravity chair (www.kahunachair.com)
Seraph Clothing (www.seraphdesign.com). Seraph creates trending fashion clothing from the highest quality materials, designed and manufactured in Los Angeles.
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.
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.
1More headphones (www.1more.com).1More is an award-winning headphone offering premium quality headphones at a consumer-friendly value.
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.”
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!
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”).
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.
Kate 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.
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.
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.
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.
Gemma has had the fabulous opportunity to cover several of Bjorn Van Den Berg’s collections before. He is known for his glamorous and luxurious designs. Bjorn is a highly respected couture designer with an innate talent for craftsmanship, creativity and the unexpected. Today marks history for Bjorn Van Den Berg: evian® (pureevian.com) and Bjorn van den Berg have joined forces and created a new collection of evian® Limited Edition bottles. The purity of Evian water and a crystal pendant come together for a chic statement and unique collaboration with authentic meaning for the holiday season. It is an incredible combination of art, design, and fashion — and what every designer aspires to. Eleven years ago, evian® collaborated for the first time with a fashion designer, Christian Lacroix. This year, Bjorn van den Berg has given the evian® Limited Edition an added twist. The latest collection symbolizes elegance and exclusivity, thanks to the refined and creative touch of Bjorn.
Being inspired by the holidays, together with Evian,® the designer developed a unique concept: ‘Something to give ‘, ‘Something to share’ and ‘Something to cherish.’ The bottle is wrapped in a beautiful package (to give) and adorns the Christmas table during the holidays, where family and friends drink the water (to share) with each other. For a final touch, the exclusive crystal pendant can be disconnected from the bottle and given as a gift to a loved one (to cherish). The chain to which the crystal pendant can be attached can is in the box. This component is perhaps an essential element of the bottle; during the holidays it is all about sharing precious memories with family, friends and loved ones.
One of Bjorn’s latest collections, called ‘Fragile,’ which Gemma covered, inspired the look and design of the bottle. In this collection, the purity and vulnerability of humanity are central and clear crystals play the main role. The ‘Fragile’ collection appeared in several American television shows, including the talk show by “Ellen DeGeneres” and “America’s Got Talent.” Celebrities such as Mel B and Viktoria Modesta have graced the collection. Also, the pendant featured on the bottle comes from the exclusive prêt-a-porter collection of Bjorn, which he launched this fall.
The Classic Fashion Fusion
The evian® Limited Edition by Bjorn van den Berg is a timeless standout, a jewel on every table. Bjorn designed a special bracket for the evian® Limited Edition, made of rhodium, on which he carefully placed crystals. The neck of the bottle is provided with beautiful decoration in the form of a cachet, also embracing the symbol of togetherness.
Evian’s overall brand and vision combine seamlessly with the ‘Fragile’ collection and Bjorn’s aesthetic exudes quality couture and pure beauty — every single drop. Bjorn Van Den Berg has an internal vision that is incredibly unique and it speaks to him.
Evian ® natural mineral water originates from the heart of the French Alps, a unique geological area in the world. The brand has always had a pioneering spirit and is the epitome of her iconic live young state of mind: an enthusiasm to discover the wonders of this world and open our eyes to new and inspiring experiences with the ability to marvel as a child. Since 2007, evian® has created an annual Limited Edition bottle together with the world’s most prestigious designers, including Paul Smith, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake, and Kenzo. In every collaboration, purity and playfulness are brought together in a festive way – a reinterpretation of the evian® spirit in art and design.
Bjorn is a luxury designer in heart and soul. His love for luxurious materials and refined finish is unprecedented, and his designs exude intricate details, international allure, and glamour. Bjorn’s work emulates authentic artistry through its craftsmanship and ability to stay a few steps ahead within the fashion industry. In 2011 his adventure started as a designer, and in 2012 he launched his first commercial label. His work has appeared in international magazines, such as Harpers Bazaar, BASIC magazine, Schön magazine, and many other publications. On behalf of Gemma, I am so impressed by Bjorn Van Den Berg’s talent and vision.
The success of Bjorn has not gone unnoticed, even in Hollywood. His exclusive custom-made designs are adored by stars like Nicki Minaj, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Rowland, and Demi Lovato. His clients greatly appreciate his extravagant style, eye for detail and ability to think out of the box. Van Den Berg is the ultimate designer, style collaborator, and storyteller. On behalf of Gemma, I am so impressed by Bjorn Van Den Berg’s talent and vision and was honored to cover this timeless collaboration.