Best of 2016: Hollywood Pros Give Practical, Insightful and Inspired Television & Movie Tips that Could Be the “Tipping Point” in ANY Career

In the last year, our “little” blog has grown tremendously with television and movie tips meant to help you succeed in Hollywood or any career, for that matter.

But we couldn’t have accomplished this alone.

We’ve been extremely fortunate to have many, and we mean many notable industry professionals share their “Hollywood” stories with us.

Our interviews don’t hold back in any regard and put on full display the deeply personal, moving, and truly inspiring journeys. Such journeys often travel along a zigzagged path with many different avenues (and complete with enough turning points to make any novelist envious) that ultimately lead one to fulfilling a dream and discovering one’s purpose.

What works for somebody may not always work for someone else. But by reading the stories we bring to you (our awesome readers) it’s reminded us as both producers and storytellers that we too are constantly learning and finding our way.

We are all gathering bits of pieces, almost as if we’re foraging for food – nourishment for the creative soul, if you will – that can sustain us when we feel our creative tank is about to run dry.

Eventually, that creative seed inside will thrive and grow simply by exposing it to your own unique, bright light.

With taking that first step though comes uncertainty, which is what usually scares most people from taking risks in the first place.

We all know those types of naysayers: Sometimes we call them friends…and even family.

But the talented people that we’ve featured have that “it” factor, a spark ignited, a seed planted years ago that withstood time, rejection, self-doubt, financial hardship, oh, and did we did mention rejection?

That’s not to say any of those dark, nasty creatures don’t exist in anyone’s life, but it does take a certain mindset to know that it’s just the illusion of fear, ravenously at work to prevent you from succeeding.

Fear can be a powerful tool when confronting the “unknown”, you know, the side of you that resists putting pen to paper or taking that acting class or switching jobs that you say ‘is impossible’ or supposedly don’t have the strength or time for.

Putting fear in its place gives you the mental traction needed in avoiding certain pitfalls and volatile relationships that come along with Hollywood. But those type of roadblocks are inevitable and almost a must – like some sort of litmus test to see if you can bare the extreme highs and the soul crushing lows.

It’s sort of like an ocean wave rising before crashing into rock, and reminding you how quickly serenity can be shattered.  But that comes with the territory of showing your true self to the world. Because the internal tide always resides, leaving behind a perfect patch of land, washing away that brief moment of worry, sadness or despair. The ground is once again wiped clean, waiting for you to leave footprints behind.

Somewhere between the high and low tide (and that feeling of being pummeled against rocks), are the formation of resilience, tenacity and a reputation of how you will react when the struggle hunts you down.

That’s because in the end, all you have – no matter where you live, or what you do – is your reputation.

And that is the cornerstone of our slogan: Create, Propel, Inspire.


MoreMentum CEO/Co-Founder, Nick Ramos; and Co-Founder, Kukhautusha Croom

It’s simply the law of attraction: You attract who and what you want. If something isn’t working, then maybe it’s time to hit pause and reassess before your reputation is irreversibly damaged.

If you read our blog, or are new to it (welcome!), you’ll notice that our stories and the people we interview have one thing in common when sharing helpful television and movie tips: They do so, simply because these insiders know how difficult this industry can be: physically, emotionally, spiritually. The trifecta of imperfection.

Regardless of your beliefs, chances are, you believe in something, and we here at MoreMentum hope more than anything that you have the courage to believe in your gifts.

One of our subjects, who grew up far from the gleaming gates of Hollywood, even put his dream on a vision board. Seven years later, his vision leaped off the page in the form of an Oscar nomination, as you’ll read below.

They are actors, writers, directors, composers, comedians, entrepreneurs and young, talented individuals who are on the rise. We are lucky to call many of them now, our friends. And in this article, you’ll hear their stories.

We like to call them “generation now” and “generation next”. We merge both ends of the spectrum in order to lay the tracks of how one gets from Point A to B, without losing sight of oneself, because (trust us), it can easily happen.

Passion, conviction, and determination are all the deciding factors that instill a “can do, will do, must do” attitude.

This is the backstory of content creation, which begins with inspiration and is typically borne (as we know ourselves) out of frustration in some facet of your life.

That’s why we we’re rounding up the very best motivational and informational production tips from 2016 that will keep your own creative engine firing away throughout the new year and beyond.

So make 2017 your year…as Shonda Rhimes best says, “the year of yes” (and might we add, “MoreMentum”).

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MoreMentum’s Best of 2016: Television and Movie Tips from Industry Pros

Brionne Davis


Actor / Director / Acting Instructor for Acting UP Network

Davis on how a villainous role in the indie, horror-thriller Avenged paved the way to a starring role in the Oscar nominated foreign film Embrace of the Serpent:

“Seven years ago, I put on my vision board and I had in my journal that I would be getting an Oscar in 2015.  I didn’t know how.  It was a world that was just so far away…from me, but I visualized myself being there.”

**Embrace of the Serpent was released in 2015, racking up over 20 awards worldwide. Davis attended the Academy Awards ceremony in 2016.


Davis with Lady Gaga at the 2016 Academy Awards red carpet

Davis’ movie tips and inspirational advice for those seeking to move to New York or Los Angeles – know who you are:

“Before you do anything…before you get a job…you land inside an actor’s studio, because that’s going to be your foundation.  That’s going to be your family.  Those are my friends to this day.  My mentor and my acting coach was Edward Moorehouse, phenomenal human being.  He said to me one time, ‘Just be 100% yourself, because that’s what’s going to get you work.’”

Davis on how Embrace of the Serpent acting coach Andres Barrientos spotted a moth on Davis’ shoulder, which later served as confirmation for the actor’s destined journey and even changed the film itself:


“When a moth or butterfly land on you, that means you’re going to go through a metamorphosis.  You’re gonna go through a change in your life… and I just opened myself up, and was gonna go on this incredible journey and not hold onto anything.  And just be an observer… The last few days of shooting… there’s this grouping of butterflies on the shore.  And Ciero [the film’s director] says, ‘Brionne, get over there and walk.’… So I get to the butterflies… and the butterflies just swarm up behind me.  It just feels like thousands of butterflies… There was a whole other scene that written and shot, but that butterfly scene is the perfect, magical component to ending the film.”

Davis on the film’s richness in humanity and the message of re-connecting back to nature and one’s own-self:

“There’s this idea of letting go of your attachments, and there’s a fine line between not letting those things burden you, but let those things influence your work.  Once you tap into that pain and become vulnerable to it…you’re unstoppable.”

Read more about all three video blogs here.

Dirk Blackman


Professor & Screenwriter (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Outlander)

Blackman on knowing when your idea solidifies into something tangible and transports the reader into your “real” world:

“There are some ideas that are just cool, but that’s all they are. Then there are ideas that seem to build on themselves almost effortlessly. Scenes and possibilities pop into your head. The characters start suggesting themselves. It’s kind of like the teleporter in Star Trek – they keep getting more solid. That’s when I know I have something good.”

Blackman’s movie tips on deciphering studio notes, or as the keen writer points out, “the note beneath the note”:

“When people give you notes on your script, they might not be able to articulate exactly what the problem is. So you might think their notes suck or are inarticulate and ignore them. That’s a mistake. Instead you should try to figure out why they are saying what they are saying. Because often they feel something missing or something off but can’t quite put their finger on it. So they come up with a ‘solution.’ For instance, someone might say, ‘let’s make your hero the victim of domestic violence.’ But what they might really be saying is “your hero is kind of flat and uninteresting.’ That’s the note beneath the note.”

Blackman on writing believable, three-dimensional characters:

“Empathy is key. If you’re not empathetic, I don’t know how you write characters. Another way to think of it is you have to allow yourself to love People. Get your head out of your ass and listen to them, watch them, wonder about them.”

Read the full blog here.

Benjamin Steeples


Camera Assistant (Paranormal Activity 3, The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Tosh.0)

Steeples’ television and movie tips for networking; and keeping yourself in the “employment” equation:

“It is 10% work ethic & ability and 90% networking… you can be as amazing as you want at your job, but if nobody knows you, and nobody knows to hire you, it’s useless.”

Steeples on how thinking-out-of-the-box and working as a background extra, launched his career behind-the-camera on top-rated sitcoms:

“A lot of people ask…Did you want to be an actor? And my response is always “no”…. What I did have a desire to do is to get on a real set and see how they work… I tell film students and people trying to get into the business – background work is a beautiful education…you watch professional crews at work. I always encourage people to go sign up for Central Casting and do some background work, because it’s basically a paid education.”

Steeples on the “8 to 5” work-hours on a multi-camera comedy and the rarity of finding such steady, fulfilling work:

“Multi-cam to a lot of single camera people is like the dredges [Laughs] … Multi-cam is the goldmine. It’s why a lot of people – later in their career – switch over. I obviously switched over much earlier in my career because the opportunity presented itself. The hours are amazing. It is the closest thing to an 8 to 5 job in this business that you will find as a crewmember. We shoot an entire episode [of The Big Bang Theory] – for the most part – in front of an audience in three to four hours.”


Steeples on Chuck Lorre’s signature formula that continually wins over audiences:

“What Chuck does is he knows how to make the show funny, how to get the best out of his writers…the best delivery for the jokes. And actors have said – it’s in countless interviews – but he’s a musician at heart. The entire show is a song in his head, and if the jokes are in beat to the song that is in his head, he knows they’re gonna be funny. The timing is right. He has a gift for knowing what audiences want and delivering it.”

**Before his lucrative television career, Lorre was a traveling guitarist and songwriter, having penned hits for Deborah Harry. The primetime mogul even wrote the theme to the 90s incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Steeples on the unconventional filmmaking methods (that would spell disaster for any other production) of the Paranormal Activity franchise – a franchise that has made over $400 million at the box office:

“We started with ideas; we started with some themes. We did not have an entire movie, and they never do…There’s a lot of collaboration between the writer and director and corporate [Paramount] in many ways. But it’s kind of unusual because you film these scenes, then they say, ‘We’re gonna take the next couple days off. You’re on hold.’ They review everything, they throw a lot of it out, and they come up with new ideas. And basically you did that for 12 hours a day for 3 ½ months.”

Read the full blog here.

Tony Kim


CEO / Founder of Hero Within clothing apparel

Kim on quitting his day job and pursuing his dream of building a “geek” chic fashion brand that took flight in less than 6 months:

“Many great steps forward in industry is birthed out of frustration… I had talked to my design partner  [Michael Lew of Imaginary Concepts] …the potential of this [Batman] blazer, but I knew that if this is going to actually happen, it’s going to take my full-time investment and start my own company. I got laid off and found myself in this place where, ‘Wow…’ we talked about how it would take me full-time to launch this company … so, I cut everything else out and fully committed to Hero Within.”

**Kim eventually partnered with Warner Brothers and DC for licensing. His first set of orders has since sold out with nearly 99% customer satisfaction.



Kim on enlisting the help from close friends and total strangers – a small yet select group, fueled by passion that paid off:

“You can have a superior idea and not have money, but if you have a great team, you can figure out how to make something happen… From last year’s Comic Con [2015], I put out some blog posts… that’s the wonderful thing about being a fan-geek, influencer… now, you don’t need a million people to follow you. You just need a handful of people that share the same love and passion that you do.”

Kim on taking a leap of faith and finding the courage to be unique and stand out:

“The riskiest thing you can do is be safe. If you’re looking for certainty and saneness and consistency, you’ll never get yourself in a place where you’re really innovating and finding your unique voice.”

Kim on tapping into your own inner-power:

“Many of us grow up feeling inadequate or feeling lost or feeling that sense of ‘what’s my purpose in life’… I remember growing up and thinking for most of my adult life the only two heroes that looked like me were Sulu from Star Trek and Bruce Lee… And I think anyone who comes from any minority, whether it’s culture, handicapped, [sexual] orientation… feels that inadequacy. That was really the DNA of Hero Within… and everyone has that ability to do things that are courageous.”

Read the full blog here.

Charlie Clouser


Photography: Zoe Wiseman

Former Keyboardist / Producer / Remixer for Nine Inch Nails and Television & Film Composer

Clouser on the infamous twist ending of Saw and how his horrifying take grabbed film scoring (and audiences) by the throat:

“In the very beginning when they wake up in the bathroom… it’s little synthesizer sounds and non-harsh, non-evil melodies as they try to figure out what’s going on… through the middle of the score… I start to introduce some orchestral sounds, but very far away and distant and murky… As it devolves into mayhem in the third act … the score just literally devolved to banging on pots and pans… I discussed this with James Wan [the director] and he said, ‘Yes, it’s almost like the lights get turned on in the room and now you’re forced to face the reality of what the story’s about.’”

Clouser on how a film score can add character depth and motive:

“There would be a lot of situations where directors and producers [of Wayward Pines] would say, ‘Here in this scene, we had to cut it down and shape it to fit, and what wound up getting cut out was when Character A looks over at Character B with that certain look on their face, we need to know that they’ve met before.’ … Those become points where the score can hinge and evolve and you know that you need to reinforce a certain expression on a character’s face and add some other deeper level to what they’re thinking.”

Clouser on mastering the “counter-point” method, which can take audiences on a wild and unpredictable thrill-ride:

“A lot of times I’m trying to think of whether I want the score to lead or follow what’s happening on the screen… Your first instinct might be to have some sound that’s swelling up or an orchestral riser that’s leading you up to when the gun goes off …Whenever you successfully resist that urge … and go the opposite direction and pretend, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s going to be fine,’ … before that shocking minute… that’s the horizontal aspect, the left and right on the timeline… The other dimension is the vertical: Do I want things to sound big and tall and thick with lots of tracks and lots of density, or do I wanna have things small and thin… to create a sense of action and danger without using a zillion instruments that are going to step on each other. And that’s one of the most challenging things.”


Photography: Zoe Wiseman

Clouser’s television and movie tips to help others break into the industry:

“There was a series of YouTube videos that Thom Hockenberg [aka Junkie XL] describing his process and career arc and in many cases his technology. He worked as an apprentice for Hans Zimmer, editing drum samples in the basement for years, while he watched over Hans shoulder and learned how it is that this guy is running Hollywood…That’s often an overlooked aspect that’s really important but not exactly taught in books…and can only be learned from watching other people do it.”

Read the full blog here.

Matt Fahey


Fahey on right aboard Deadliest Catch ship

Four-time Emmy® Award Winner, Producer / Deck Shooter, Deadliest Catch

Fahey on building trust with a large cast:

“I always try to be respectful to people.  …Sometimes, there will be a little a resentment, but if you get in there and you’re sharing a space with somebody, you’re their roommate. I try to be a good roommate. You also gotta stand up to these guys.  That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years… I wanna be friend first and you absolutely can, but you trust me.”

Fahey on the extensive camera equipment used to capture the choppy waters, dangerous terrain and (sometimes) flaring egos:

“We put everything in these blue zip lock bags that are on the deck, and that’s how we waterproof.  We use tape, silicon, cut holes and put the mic outside… We shoot on [Canon] XF305… We have some SONY Z5s that we use on deck all the time.  Our wheelhouse camera is a [Canon] C300.  We also have these [SONY] A7Ss…”


Fahey sending footage back to Original Productions

Fahey on how his previous work experience as a river guide served as a strong foundation for his producing skills, which paved the way for multiple Emmy awards:

“I feel like I picked up my ability to read people from taking care of clientele in the wilderness, when you only have yourself and your team to rely on. Also, have thick skin; be as positive as possible… Never stop being creative, and find people to collaborate with… even if it’s not for pay, cause networking not only cross-trains you in many of life’s and entertainment’s needed skills, but having connections leads to opportunities: In life, it’s not always what you know, but who you know.”

Read the full blog here.

Alycia Cooper


Comedian (The Parkers, Last Comic Standing) and recent inductee to Los Angeles’ renowned Comedy Store Wall of Fame

Cooper on facing fierce opposition in the often male-dominated world of stand up comedy:

“We hear the craziest stuff in this industry. You have people tell you that we [African American women] have to be clean. Then you get to the club, and you see the white male comedians cussing their heads off. Then you ask the booking agent, well why do we have to be clean if they don’t, and they tell you, ‘It just sounds different when y’all say it.’ I asked another booking agent, ‘Why don’t females headline?’ He said that the drink sales weren’t as high when women headline the shows.”

Cooper on transitioning from behind-the-scenes to the limelight: Making the move from a working talk-show producer to a stand up comic:

“A year after I graduated [college] I got hired at BET and I stayed in television… I left BET in 1998, and I moved to LA and got a job on Magic Johnson’s late night talk show three months after I moved to LA. I stayed in production, and two years after that I started doing stand up. I produced for TV during the day, and I did stand up at night. I did that for about ten years.”

Cooper on what young people should be doing to better their odds of success:

“Understand that you need to keep a full time job for years before you let anything go for this industry because it’s very fickle, it’s very shallow, and it’s not loyal. Study your craft, read a bunch of books on the medium, study your favorites, but don’t steal anything, be original. Study a comic and their delivery and their timing. Don’t steal a joke; instead study why it was funny. Truly study the art form, and then find out if it’s something that you want to get into.”

You can check out Alycia’s HILARIOUS new podcast called, “A Hot 10 with Alycia Cooper!” Subscribe on iTunes and Google Play!

Read the full blog here.

Joe Strazzullo


Strazzullo with musical icon and Kimmel guest, James Taylor

Writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live / Contributing Writer for the 2016 Emmy Awards Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel

Strazzullo on how his eagerness, hunger and strong work-ethic as a Production Assistant won over the approval (and mentorship) of head writer, Mike Gibbons:

“They [The Late Late Show writers] were doing a comedy sketch and just needed some stupid little drawings for the background, and it would be a throw-away little nothing, where I took it as, “Wow, this is a huge assignment and a huge opportunity to learn.”  We [the other Production Assistants] were interested and hungry, and he [Mike Gibbons] let us come in early with the writers and watch the footage that they watched to start writing jokes, and just started seeing what that experience was like.”

Strazzullo on how comedy writing entails skill, timing and raw talent:

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s a skill, because comedy is one of those things where a lot of people think they can do it and wanna do it.  But then you see somebody who wants to do it that can’t do it… And there’s so much competition out there now.  There are more shows in late night than there’s ever been.  You have competition from YouTube, Vine…it’s not enough to just make stuff that’s ‘good enough’. You have to push yourself.”

Strazzullo on writing those ‘water cooler’ moments and anticipating a viral moment:

“When we are working – it’s always a thought in the back of our head – is this going to be something that goes viral?  It doesn’t dictate us from start to finish, but it’s still a lingering question that exists, whether people say it or not.  You like to think that it doesn’t matter, but if I write something and it gets produced and put on TV and has six million views [online], it’s exciting to see the thing with six million views.”

Strazzullo on how beginners can gain exposure by capitalizing on social media:

“There’s so much opportunity now than there ever was to create and have your work seen…  I started out working in the industry in 2000, and YouTube was ’05. I started before that whole revolution began.   There are so many more shows than there ever was, and there’s a lot more opportunity to work on a shows, even if it’s not the exact kind of show that you wanna work on. Start somewhere, meet people, make connections, and network.  Just create.”

Strazzullo pulls back the late night curtain on the fast-paced, but well-oiled production of Jimmy Kimmel Live:

“You’re ready at your computer at 7AM and start working from a list of topics or you’re welcome to check the news… You’re writing jokes and sketch ideas… Everything you’ve written goes to Jimmy…we’re talking like forty pages of material …what he wants to move forward with… You’re assigned a director and producers and a crew and then you got out and make it… Then we have rehearsal, and if you have anything to show in rehearsal, at that point you’re with Jimmy and a lot of the crew and staff… The show starts at 5, and some days it’s 4:45PM and you’re still trying to finish [laughs] and the fact that it’s just down to the wire like that every day…it’s crazy.”


A “thank you” note from musician John Mayer

Read the full blog here.

David Sobolov


Photography: Eric Weiss

Voice Actor (The Flash, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers Prime, Call of Duty 4, Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters)

Sobolov on why voice acting starts in the psyche of the voice actor, and only then, does Sobolov tap into “the voice”:

“It’s not really about the voice at all; it’s about the character. It’s about living his life, as [Sanford] Meisner said, living truthfully even though you’re given imaginary circumstances. It’s pretty extreme circumstances in animation and video games… I’m trying to make you believe that I am him. I’m looking at his emotional background, and his story…When it comes to the voice; it’s the icing on the cake. It’s the last thing that I do. What I do with my voice goes back to my musical career. I look at the pitch, the rhythm, and the cadence. I try to combine those things with the emotion of the character and that’s how I come up with the voice. I think of it as acting – not voice acting – I’m acting…but you don’t get to see my body.”

Sobolov on a typical day of work as Gorilla Grodd on CW’s The Flash and how voice acting varies greatly between television and video games:

“With Grodd… it always starts with the voice; they animate to the voice… The week that we shoot is only ten weeks before it airs… and they have 150 people ready to hit the ground running to animate Grodd the way they need to… Then I go back for a second session where I get to see what they did, and then I get to make adjustments. On Guardians of the Galaxy, it might take a year before I see that picture. It takes a long time to animate versus what they do on live action TV. With the Marvel process, you’re actually seeing the fights and making sure all the sounds match. When I did Halo 4, I was called in on the very last day of their window to enter anything… the voice comes last.”


Sobolov as the voice of “Gorilla Grodd” facing off against Grant Gustin’s “The Flash” character

Sobolov on breaking into the art of voice acting and avoiding scams:

“You have to start with acting…take acting lessons, do community theatre and improv especially. You have to learn how to act big, be realistic, but big. Theatre and improv will do that… you have to live in Los Angeles. You can’t do it remotely. I can’t move away; if I moved away, my career would be done. After that, you have to do a demo, and I produce those…You have to find a friend in the business. Don’t ever do things without people referring you, and always know that agents should only make money when you make money…. There is a great website for people trying to break in the industry.”

Read the full blog here.

Ben Franklin & Anthony Melton


Co-Creators / Producers of Bloody Cuts UK  (The Birch, Don’t Move, The Outer Darkness)

**Their short film The Birch mixes fantasy and terror to tell the story of a bullied schoolboy and his revenge against his tormenter. The video has racked up 10 million views online and has garnered praise from horror Director/Producer Eli Roth, Blumhouse, Crypt TV and more.


Still from The Birch

Anthony Melton’s movie tips on the importance of short films:

“Short films have always been a manageable and affordable ‘way in’ for all manner of filmmakers …the business has changed… the short film no longer just stands as a CV for the creatives to get noticed by the industry… now a well-executed short film can walk you right in the door of major studios… short films can now establish an audience of millions even before the feature script is written. This viewership acts as proof that the story resonates with the most contemporary audience and also builds familiarity with the project.”

Anthony Melton on what types of camera equipment the UK filmmakers utilize that create an immersive, big-screen feel:

“It’s story first, then technology… Technology has democratized indie filmmaking meaning that it’s easier to capture and distribute on very small or no budget. Whilst you can shoot on a smartphone if you have a little bit of budget, we’d recommend trying to get hold of a fairly inexpensive DSLR (try eBay) with a couple of lenses. Very quickly you’ll be able to produce great results. Also the Blackmagic Pocket Camera is a great little tool shooting at 4K and on a flat profile giving you more color options in post.”

Ben Franklin’s movie tips for every first-time filmmaker: Create with what you have at your disposal or you’ll hit a dead-end:

“Start with a script, for a story you know you can feasibly shoot with friends/colleagues, put a date in your diary, and get it done. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, you don’t need to even show it to anyone! But it’s all learning, and literally each time you shoot something new, you’ll be educating yourself for the next time you do something… I think at a story stage you should be willing to write for what you know you can sensibly achieve. There’s no point writing a script with multiple locations, heavy amounts of CG and highly choreographed action scenes if there’s no feasible way of you achieving it. All you do is put up barriers in front of the likelihood of you actually getting something done.”

Read the full blog here.

Maya Washington AKA Shameless Maya


Maya Washington | Rich Polk, Getty Images

YouTube Influencer / Actress / Photographer

Shameless Maya on achieving massive success online and how it translated to landing a scripted series on Google:

“I would say what really influenced my success online is my “know-how” as a photographer and making sure I was able to produce quality videos. Even [with] that, you don’t need to be a professional to figure that out. You can use anything [YouTube] to figure out how to set up a camera. But in terms of my training as an actor that has helped me beyond YouTube… if you’re trying to expand beyond YouTube and collaborate and meet with people, I do suggest everyone taking acting or performance class. It helps in all areas of life and gives you the confidence to share your voice with other people that you don’t know.”

Shameless Maya on her starring role in Google’s first scripted series God ComplX [you can subscribe for free here] and how it hopes to diversify the tech “playing field” and inspire others to follow suit:

“It was produced with Google, and it was Google’s first scripted series. It was designed to inspire people, especially young adults to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), because there is a disproportionate amount of blacks, Latinos and women in tech careers. There’s an overwhelming amount of straight, white males, and it’s a problem. A lot of the tech companies in Silicon Valley have acknowledged it and showed reports that there’s less than 3% of African-Americans working – not only in Silicon Valley – but in tech careers. The way to inspire change is by what you see. I wouldn’t believe I could’ve achieved a lot of the things if I hadn’t seen the greats before me achieve it. I look to them to get inspiration.”

Shameless Maya on the problem of lack of diversity in Hollywood and why digital can no longer be ignored:

“Whom is Hollywood speaking to? Sure, they have the blockbuster films but people that I’m trying to effect and reach is online. I think it is an issue; it has always been an issue, but for me, the solution is to create and tell your own stories…We don’t need people telling us ‘no’ because we can come together and create our own thing, which is what we’re doing. God ComplX is an example of Hollywood saying, ‘no, you can’t have this cast,’ so it’s like okay, let’s create it online and prove you wrong. Hollywood has a problem, but the solution is digital.”

Shameless Maya on fearlessly building your own brand, no matter where you live:

“When you focus on what you want, you will automatically distinguish yourself from someone else because you have your own unique story and your own unique way to tell that. Because there is so much over-sharing, there are a lot of social media insecurities, a lot of confusion because people are trying to do this whole rat race… My advice is focus on: Why, Story, and Content – and less about the popularity. Then you can figure out, how do I reach a large amount of people and then that’s collaboration, cross-promotion. That’s a way to build your brand, but you need to know what you’re trying to build before you build it…. you can build success from where you are. Be known in your city. Drake is a perfect example of someone who was successful in his own city, Toronto, before he stepped out. Now, he actually put Toronto on the map.”


“Art Official Age” | Photographed and Art Directed by Maya Washington – the late artist discovered Washington on her YouTube channel

Read the full blog here.

Daraiha Greene


Greene speaking at the premiere of God ComplX | Rich Polk, Getty Images

Diversity in Entertainment Ambassador for Google & Project Lead on God ComplX

Greene on how Google is taking the lead on diversity in the tech sector:

“First and foremost, I think the Tech world can be bold…The fact that Google even has a Black Community Engagement lead is tremendous. I think that it would be awesome if all Tech companies had a sector or team specifically dedicated to helping people of color and other marginalized groups. I think it’s just a matter of spreading the awareness, being more open and transparent… I think Google has done an amazing job of that by admitting that there’s an issue and setting an example for others to follow.”

Greene on encouraging young people to follow their dreams:

“Never be ashamed of who you are; share it with the world. Step outside of your comfort zone. Right now, I am stretching so far and that’s because of the team that I’m on now. I‘ve learned so much. Try to meet many people from different walks of life.  Break out of that ‘like me’ social bias and take a chance with someone new. Spread your truth and never give up… for parents and guardians, encourage your children.”


Greene speaking to a packed house at the premiere of God ComplX | Rich Polk, Getty Images

Greene on where others can gain more information on educational programs that Google’s CS in Media offers:

“The CS in Media Team sits on the K-12 Education Outreach Team at Google led by Mo Fong. The Google for Education website is: Teachers, parents, and students can go on there and get some great info and resources.

Read the full blog here.

Van Hayden


Hayden (left) pictured with television legend & pioneer, Norman Lear

1st Assistant Director [AD] (Almost Christmas, Real Husbands of Hollywood, Greek, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Kids)

Hayden on the impact of legendary director Spike Lee in changing the cultural landscape of Hollywood:

“He pushed and fought for internships and opportunities for African-American technicians and young Latino technicians. It literally changed the complexion of the industry. You look at someone like: Kevin Ladson who became a Prop Master for Spike Lee; Lamont Crawford, a Key Grip; Ernest Dickerson as a Cinematographer; Ruth Carter, a two-time Academy-Award nominated Costume Designer; and Robi Reed, Casting Director.

**Hayden gained many of his own movie tips from Lee while working as Production Assistant on such films as Malcolm X, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues.

Hayden on the critical role of an effective and sought-out 1st AD:

“It’s the job of the 1st AD to go through the script, break it down scene-by-scene, then schedule those scenes and put it into a logical, organized shooting schedule. You assign what scenes should be shot on which days and that’s often based on the availability of the actors, special equipment involved, whether it’s a day or night scene, interior or exterior; all these variables that are factored into smart scheduling. Additionally, during pre-production, it’s organizing the meetings the director has; the training sessions that the actors may have to go through; coordinating wardrobe and costumes department when actors are coming into fittings; working with the Stunt Coordinator; dealing with a specialist like for military training. It’s the organizing and scheduling of the entire film.”

Hayden on how a young person can start taking the first steps to becoming a 1st AD:

“The first thing you should do way before walking onto a set is just to have a broad understanding of human nature. Have some idea of story telling and being observant is very important. Recognizing when you’re walking down the street: Who’s on the street? What are those people doing? What are they carrying? Are they loading a truck? Do they have a dog? Are they carrying a briefcase? All those little details that you can lock into your memory and observe are going to come back to you when you’re an Assistant Director and reading a script, because it doesn’t say ‘those things’ in the script. Those are the little brushstrokes that a creative 1st AD can bring.”


Hayden (right) pictured with Kevin Hart (left) of Real Husbands of Hollywood

Hayden on how Oscar winning actor Sean Penn shared a private moment and a valuable lesson, regarding how a 1st AD can be in creative sync – and play a critical role – with the cast:

“One thing that Sean Penn taught me was when he said, ‘Listen, do me a favor, I have a lot of heavy stuff I have to do this in film. Psychologically, I have to prepare myself to deliver that performance. So when I come to the set, I’m gonna be ready to deliver the performance, and when I come out, I don’t want the crew to be moving around lights or adjusting things. I want all that stuff to be ready when I walk in. Please don’t bring me in until that stuff is prepared and ready. The other thing I ask if before you go into the whole, ‘Roll sound, etc.’, just give me a look, and when I’m ready and I got my lines, I’m gonna give you a little nod. When I give you a little nod, I’m ready also. And then, you can roll.”

Hayden on how anyone can continually hits the bulls-eye of production…simply by mastering story:

“My job as a director or an assistant director is that I’ve gotta understand the story and that actor’s interaction in the story and I should have some knowledge of the craft they’re using to deliver the performance that I want them to deliver. When you have that knowledge that’s gonna be your fuel to survive on when you’re struggling and have setbacks – take a learning lesson [from setbacks] and add that lesson to your quiver like an archer’s arrow.”

Read the full blog here.

As they say on the small-screen, stay tuned to see what we have in store for 20-17 for more television and movie tips to boost your career.  First up, an interview with Christina Sibul, a Development Executive, who proved instrumental in launching the career of Paul Giamatti in the critically-acclaimed film, Sideways.

And just like the premise of that film, we have a feeling that for us as well, it’s going to be a ‘good year’.