The Rise of Riza Santos: The Inspiring​ and Stunning Influencer — Gemma Exclusive

Riza Santos (Riza Racquel) is on the rise: Fashionista, Influencer, and Making her mark within the music world as a DJ. Riza is also from Canada and expressed her sentiments about her heritage by saying, “As a Canadian, it always warms my heart when people from other countries tell me about their positive experiences with Canadians. Canadians take pride in having a true identity, and we love our hockey!” said Santos. Riza is incredibly ambitious about being a Global Ambassador, becoming a refined DJ, and most importantly; giving back. She’s well spoken and highly professional. Riza also served in the military and highly values her family.

Riza is also an experienced actress and dancer who is vocally trained in music theater and opera. Her additional dance skills include jazz, hip-hop, salsa, and traditional Filipino dance. Riza aspires to become an entrepreneur in order to help students with financial resources who do not have the funds to obtain a post secondary education.

Riza started in pageants because she knew it would lead to the next positive step — which it did. Santos does not take her good fortune for granted. She works hard and with integrity. Riza’s schedule is hectic, so Gemma was so thrilled that she took a moment to speak with Gemma Magazine.

Tell us a bit about growing up in Canada and how you decided to enter pageants and what is your personal view on them?

Canada is an incredible country with a mosaic of cultures. That being said, pageants are not the first thing you’d associate a Canadian with. I entertained the idea of joining a pageant through the influence of my mom and grandpa. My mom is gorgeous and so glamorous. However, my grandma wanted her to focus solely on her chemical engineering degree. I was encouraged to try out pageants as part of an extracurricular activity.

I view pageants as a stepping stone and also to advocate a cause that I’m passionate about. Also, I wanted to see the world, but I was a university student with a limited budget working in retail. Winning pageants gave me opportunities to travel internationally and to see the world through reputable organizations. The pageants I have participated in team up with charitable causes; they have personal meaning. I’ve volunteered nationally and internationally. Pageants were also a gateway to modeling, and that opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for me.

It’s incredible that you have won 3! What has pageant life taught you that you have been able to incorporate into your daily life?

Pageants provide unique experiences that can be transferred for personal development. At the same time, I don’t believe anyone should join a competition without the intention to win. I am a very competitive person; I think the process itself of preparing for arenas of competition–where one has to be self-motivated to produce the best version of themselves–should apply towards everyday life.

The reality is that as humans, we can be both competitive and cooperative. Pageants are competitions, but through them, I’ve made lifelong friendships that have outlasted the competition. Most importantly, I’ve learned that this journey of life is about the people you cross paths with, putting your best foot forward and showing up. People will remember you after the competition. It’s not always about winning.

You are an advocate for environmental protection. Can you please expand?

I think everyone can be an advocate for environmental protection. Just educate yourself and do your part. Lower your carbon footprint, and a be a responsible consumer. For example, I like to ride my bicycle or carpool as methods of transportation. I recycle, carry my reusable bags and utensils, and I love my metal straw. I encourage other people to do the same. Substantive change begins with you.

Can you please tell us why this is valuable to you?

It allows me to speak, and for people to know me behind the image and the persona. I have the real opportunity to be influential, and that being said: I’d like to advocate for a life of principle. The best way I know how to do accomplish this task is to be principled in my own life.

I was on the phone with my sister and niece on the way to the grocery store, when we came up with the acronym #GIFTED. We spoke of our family legacy and what we genuinely practice. Traditionally people think others are born #GIFTED. We want to introduce a new viewpoint. I think it encompasses a mindset that I was brought up with

G is for Generosity starts with being grateful and abundant wherever you’re at in life. It’s also empathetic toward others, seeking to understand them, and having compassion for them.

I is for Integrity. Trust is foundational and valuable because it is the foundation of all relationships in life. My father taught me that you’re only as good as your word and it should be ironclad. My word is my honor, and my courage Geis my life. I aim to live a life of integrity regardless of who is looking.

F is for Focus. Goals can only be achieved through focus and small shifts in action and focus cause people to succeed.

T is for Tenacity. Tenacity is making strong efforts and focusing on purposeful action. It’s not just about working hard but making sure what you do is purposeful. It’s not easy, but I do find that when I stay purposeful in what I do, feelings remain in perspective.

E is for Education. It’s not just about formal education, but learning from experience–and not just the bad ones. You may not always win the battle, but never lose the lesson.

D is for Dedication. Anything worth doing isn’t going to be easy. There are still setbacks, and it can be so easy to not see things through to the end. But dedication is about commitment.

I believe anyone can make the world a better place with these values, because it’s the foundation for a grounded person, and what is society other than the people who comprise it?

Where do you get your inspiration from?
My dad lost his father when he was 17 years old, but thankfully he had his siblings to help support him, and he completed his post-secondary education. My family has taught me the principles of living with integrity, having a self-motivated work ethic, and doing my best. They are conscious of leaving a legacy and creating a better future not only for self but for future generations as well.

“My family inspires me. They have a compelling story to tell, and I see my own life fitting into this larger narrative. My extended family immigrated to North America using education as a vehicle. I have uncles and aunts that earned both MD and Ph.D.’s. One of my uncles had seven degrees and was also a summa cum laude at UP, educated at Harvard Law School on a Fulbright scholarship, and was the first Filipino elected into Canadian government.” (Riza Santos)

Tell us more about some of your hosting jobs and your You-Tube Channel?
I have had excellent opportunities to host various international competitions as well as the Asian Poker tournament in Macau. My You-Tube channel focuses on my international travel, as well as beauty and make-up tutorials.

What are your current goals and aspirations?
I love music, and I am looking forward to DJing. I’m a mezzo-soprano vocalist and musician at heart. I studied Classical Music under a dramatic soprano who studied at the Moscow Conservatory of Music and worked at an Opera house in Paris.

What does music mean to you personally?
I love how music brings people together. I grew up in a home where someone would always be playing guitar, piano or singing. Music moves people and can invoke deep emotions one can’t express in words. Music has always been a big part of my life, and I’m excited to get more involved and share my music on a more general level.

To follow Riza Santos on her social media platforms: https://www.facebook.com/msrizasantos/

https://www.instagram.com/riza.official/

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!


 

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

 

 

 

Shining Bright ~Amazing Actress and Recording Artist: Gigi Cesare

As a writer, there is nothing quite as fun as when your subject is just as excited as the interviewer for a feature. This is the case with Gigi Cesare. Gigi is wise, vivacious, and loves her work as an actress and singer. For only twelve-years-old, Cesare is entirely composed and extremely wise beyond her years. Where does that originate? A large part comes with the “business,” as they say. Another factor is just her: Gigi Cesare. Occhi Magazine interviewed Gigi (almost a year ago), and Gemma Magazine wanted to follow-up with the accomplished actress and budding singer.

Gigi Cesare is an award-winning actress whose film credits include the celebrated feature film “The Kids from 62-F” and the “Street” series, where she is well-known for her co-star recurring role as “Jessy.” In 2017, Gigi was nominated for an Imagen Award for best actress in a feature film “The Kids From 62-F” competing in the same category as Hollywood A-listers Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria.

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA & Hair: Courtnay Schafer

Gigi is a native of Hershey, Pennsylvania and has been acting and singing for most of her life. Taking notice of his daughter’s talent, she was encouraged by her father to pursue the arts a few years after losing her biological father (South American) at a young age. Her acting career began in NYC. Cesare excelled in acting and success came quickly. In addition to the 2017 Imagen Award, Gigi’s awards and nominations include a Young Entertainer Award for best supporting young actress for “Street” and a nomination for a Young Artist Award for best performance in a short film. Her lead role in the television pilot “Amish Haunting” launched her west coast acting career. Gigi will reprise her role as Jessy in the upcoming “Street 2 – Death Fight” and recently cast in the role of “Exandra” in the fantasy series film adaptation “The King’s Prophecy: The Amulet.” She’s also rumored to be reviving her character, Nina, in “The Kids from 62-F” in a sequel to the multi-award winning indie film. Her credits include acting alongside many veteran Hollywood actors and icons in film and television. Gigi is an accomplished vocalist for School of Rock, equestrian, boxer and animal rights advocate. I was thrilled to chat with her! She’s positive, refreshing, and fun.

 

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA: Courtnay Schafer

Hi Gigi! It’s so nice to talk with you for Gemma Magazine. You grew up (formerly) in Pennsylvania, and I know that your late biological dad was South American. Was their someone who was the driving force behind you pursuing the arts? Did you know early on that wanted to be an actress? It sounds like your family is incredibly supportive.

Firstly, thank you for having me. Well, my journey in the arts probably didn’t start out like most people; it was an accidental by-product of not being able to find a sport I enjoyed. When my biological father passed away, and my mom married my dad when I was age 3, my dad knew right away that I was geared more towards the arts. My mom dreamed of me being a cheerleader, going through the same school K-12 as she did in Hershey, PA, and enjoying all the same activities. My dad knew I fit into a more original box and frankly, the school was a challenge for me. If we had art, theater, and chorus all day in school – I’d be golden. So my dad began to urge my mom to seek out artistic opportunities (after I had failed miserably at cheerleading, soccer and a handful of other activities).

It took a lot of persuading on my dad’s part to convince my mom that this “completely outside the box” pursuit of theatrical arts would be a solid long-term decision. There are many days my mom still wonders! But here we are almost ten years since that fateful decision on my dad’s part. It has not been an easy straight road. Its been a windy road with lots of bumps, some great successes, some sad disappointments, a lot of travel, a few u-turns and several wrong turn repeat circles! I wouldn’t change a thing, and the triumphs have outweighed the losses by far.

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What was it like working on “Street” and how did you like playing Jessy?

It was life-changing being on the set of “Street” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3602106/) and having the opportunity to play Jessy. What’s funny in hindsight is that the producer wanted a name, for example, a kid on Disney or Nickelodeon, someone recognizable. After some consideration, the producer gave me the shot, and he changed my life. It’s like they say, “It just takes one, just one person in Hollywood to give you a shot” you know, to get your big break and Producer Lyle Howry was that person for me. A lot of my scenes didn’t make the final cut of the film however it went on to become a big MMA international hit in places around the globe that we didn’t ever expect, so I am popular in Turkey and Indonesia.

Part “2′ is upcoming, correct? Any hints on how Jessy has evolved?

Yes, it is! “Street II Death Fight” is in the works as we speak. Producer Lyle Howry (http://lylehowry.business.site) has made offers this very week to some big-name stars to round out the principal cast. There are quite a few roles, and he’s even made an offer to an Academy Award-Winner this week. The next installment is going to be huge in every way. The new director Dwight H. Little, who is a legendary Hollywood director, has (along with Lyle) made some changes to the script that are just jaw-dropping. “Street II Death Fight” is going to compete as a major Hollywood studio film. I play one of the lead roles in this film; my part is important to the storyline. There are lots of twists and turns. Since I was 8 when I first filmed the first “Street” I am going to be very different this time around, a lot more grown up. There’s so much I want to tell you, but I can’t give it away…! It’s killing me, but you may see some of my boxing skills let’s just say.

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA: Courtnay Schafer

What was it like to win a Young Entertainers Award for “Street” for “Street” at such a young age?

To win a Young Entertainer Award for “Street” was such an honor, firstly because it was the inaugural year for the award and someone reached out to my mom and said, “Gigi received a nomination for the Young Entertainer Award,” which was a total surprise. The event was like a mini “Oscars” in that it was exquisite and I was star-struck seeing some of my favorite kid stars in person. I will always treasure that magical evening and the shock on my face when they announced my name is forever living on Youtube, haha.

How did you like playing Nina in “The Kids from 62-F Film”? You were nominated for the Imagen Award for this film.

I loved playing Nina in “The Kids From 62-F” which will be on Netflix this summer! We are so excited because the film was a fan-fav at almost every film festival that the director and producer attended. Nina was unlike any character I had ever played because she was whiny and unlikable. I struggled to find a way to make her more likable to audiences. When we attended a screening at the HRIFF Awards back in 2016, the audience erupted in laughter at one particular part of the movie when I altered Nina from super whiny/annoying to funny. That was a big career moment for me. The entire team on 62-F was amazing – from top people to cast to crew. I love the cast as a family, and many of the kids have moved on to major career success. There’s talk of a sequel which would be so much fun.

It was the first film I was in that I was not the only child (in a principal role), which was awesome. My Imagen nomination was insane! Not only because I found my 12-year-old self in the same category (Best Actress in a Feature Film) with Selma Hayek, Eva Longoria, and Edie Ganem but because the news came in just as our flight was taking off., Then we got the news, and everything went dark for 2 hours, lol. It was like “wait, what… oh we have to wait.” It was yet another life-changing moment. My mom thought my manager was playing a joke on us. I felt like Cinderella that evening, and I will never forget the honor of walking the red carpet with many icons and favs of mine. I mean Lin Manuel Miranda and Rita Moreno right next to me… its crazy

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA: Courtnay Schafer

Is there anything you can tell me about being cast as Exandra in the fantasy series film adaptation “The Kings Prophecy: The Amulet”? Has filming begun?
The fantastic “King’s Prophecy” trilogy is still in the works with additional revisions taking it from novel to script. That’s a big task to change a book into a film regarding the script. So that’s in the process of happening now, and that role in all its amazing, medieval glory is something every actress dreams of playing: this super strong, smart, capable, “kind of tough girl,” knight in shining armor. There’s never been a better time in history to embrace this fierce young female warrior role!

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I know you have been exploring alternative creative paths lately — singing to be exact. When did you express interest in music? I saw the video “Valentine,” which I liked a lot. Was that your first music video? Do you have a full album coming out?

That means a lot, thank you. The music video, “Valentine” was such a departure from my norm. Early on, I was exposed to music, just about every decade, genre and style one can imagine. My mom is big on the classics from the stage, opera and jazz, and of course 80’s pop; my biological father loved the likes of The Gypsy Kings, Eros Ramazzotti and classic American Rock. My dad today is straight up old school metal. Apparently, my mom was informed at my preschool when I was four-years-old that singing was definitely in the genes. I was performing concerts belting out Barry Manilow tunes. So we knew it was in there. I could also carry the National Anthem very well by the age of 6. It was a matter of how to make that transition and adding more to my creative arc. However, I was so passionate that I knew it was going to happen.

 

I also had the exciting opportunity to speak with Pamela Cappetta, Gigi’s mom, on making this jump to music and her overall role in Gigi’s creative life.

Hi Pamela! How did you feel about the musical transition? Gigi seems very focused and excited about a adding music to her already exciting career.

We had talked casually for years about Gigi releasing a single. A few years ago, not sure of where to turn, I reached out to my high school beau who was and is a talented musician. He was something of a local PA rockstar in the 1980’s, Jason Hollar. 
Jason sent us a few songs he’d written for his daughters that they hadn’t formally released. In that first catalog of songs was “Valentine.” Jason sent us an updated version; we found a local producer and studio where Gigi could record it and voila! Her first single was born. We recorded her first music video which was big fun.

What’s incredible about this story is “Valentine” caught the eye of a prolific soundtrack composer and Grammy-nominated producer named Tom Marolda. Tom, noticing Gigi’s raw talent, signed on to manage her, swiftly began working with her. Fast forward exactly two months later she’s almost finished with her 12 song debut album, having co-written the songs with Tom. It was supposed to be an EP. However, when Tom ran some of the tracks by his industry contacts, they thought she had enough potential to do a full album and talk label record deals.
I’ve learned more in the last two months in music than I have in a decade of the acting industry. It’s fascinating. Gigi’s film career took years and years to grow and build; music is an entirely different story happening on a meteoric level.

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA: Courtnay Schafer

Gigi is lovely, beautiful, and mature for her age I’m sure a lot of the maturity comes from working in the entertainment industry (especially at such a young age). However, as you know, being a mom is hard work (just on a normal basis). Now you add a full-on acting/musical career to and it has to be overwhelming at times. You seem to keep a close eye on everything (which is excellent). Can you expand?

Thank you. We’ve all heard the cautionary tales of Hollywood when it comes to youth and the business. It’s true, it’s no place for children on many levels, but when you have a child that is bitten by the bug and wants to pursue the arts, well some of us parents push forth in whatever capacity we can to assist in their dream.
If it were entirely up to me, we’d be living in the farmlands of PA right now, and she’d be a “normal” kid doing “normal” kid things.
Gigi doesn’t want that. So for me, choosing not to live in LA, traveling for her work, keeping her in physical school around peers and friends, and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy is paramount, and how I keep a balance.

When you have a child performer, the entire family has to be on board because the sacrifices are enormous, to each, and the family on the whole. I have a 6-year-old, so it’s important to keep her in school and to live her regular kid life and schedule. And I try my best to prevent Gigi’s little sister from being disrupted by Gigi’s professional commitments which require at least one parent travel. We indeed aren’t alone in these sacrifices, child athletes have similar lives, and of course, it’s a choice we make. It’s just our reality. I look back sometimes and think “how did we do all that?”

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA: Courtnay Schafer

Lastly, how does Gigi balance it all (both acting and music and (especially at such a young age)? With her schedule, does she have time to hang-out with friends and just get some downtime?

It’s honestly a great question because it’s been a constant struggle and now that we have added music, it’s overwhelming at times.
She’s the consummate pro I must say. She’s a pro on set and a pro in the studio. No matter how many takes in front of the camera or how many times she must repeat hitting a specific note or key in the studio, she grits it out without complaint. Therefore, that’s why we keep at it. Her commitment is there 300%.She receives a new song over email and must know it correctly in a few days or an audition notice with pages of material, and she must be “off book” (memorized) and studied on the character like ASAP.

It’s an absolute immediate shift in priorities and takes the whole family pitching in, running lines, listening to her songs on her loudspeaker system over and over. These days though you can feel she’s on the precipice of something big, and that’s relative. “Big” could be releasing her album to favorable reviews to landing at a label, or a record deal or maybe a big film comes along- who knows. But she’s ready.She’s long planned to emancipate at age 16 so she can get her GED, become legal 18 and work more extended hours. So we have three more years of the juggle of school and tightrope balance, but who knows what tomorrow may bring! In any case, we are prepared.

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Photo: Natalie Warr, Stylist: Veronika Howard, MUA: Courtnay Schafer


In closing, I wanted to get Gigi’s take on the “life balance” and how it comes together. So, Gigi, how in the world do you do it all?

Um, I don’t really, just ask my parents! Haha, I like to say that because kids are reading this, maybe looking at my Insta may think it seems like life is perfect for me, and that’s just not the case at all. Many days I am overwhelmed by my to-do list and organization is not my strongest trait! Plus, math and science are no friends of mine, so that’s an ongoing antagonistic relationship with my schoolwork. My mom just basically forced me back into physical school after years of on and off cyber schooling. She said “middle school was the most enjoyable years of my youth, you are not missing them. Hollywood can wait.” So I am back in school, made the most amazing new friends, I’m doing teen things I never really did before and well, now I have less time on my iPad which isn’t such a bad thing. I want kids to know that no one’s life looks like it does on Instagram and the reality is that acting (or any pursuit in the arts) takes enormous dedication and commitment, years of work and many times five steps forward and three steps backward. Your whole family has to be on board too; it takes everyone being on the same page to succeed in this biz. You have to have grit, thick skin, and be able to see a long-term big picture. The average overnight success took more than a decade or two or three before you knew their name. Find what you love, work hard at it and know that whatever it is, you can make a career out of it. That’s the secret to happiness!

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