“Things take time to develop in this career:” A TDQ Q&A With Actor Donald Paul

Donald Paul

Look to see more of actor Donald Paul in the much anticipated seasons of Atlanta, and Quantico.

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with actor Donald Paul. Donald spoke to us about his upcoming work on “Quantico” and “Atlanta,” the influence his family had on his career, and how working with special needs children while he was in college impacted his life and career. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Donald Paul:
 
The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?
 
Donald Paul: Growing up, my mother was a Haitian gospel singer that would travel all of south Florida performing in different churches. I would tag along playing the drums for her. That combined with me being in my church’s Christmas play every year, made me realize that I’m comfortable being on stage. I eventually started signing myself up for improv groups in school and, long story short, ended up moving to New York, and here I am today. 
 
TDQ: Who was your favorite actor growing up?
 
DP: My favorite actor growing up and still one of my favorites is Jamie Foxx. His versatility is impeccable. Im big into improv and his work on “In Living Color” back in the days was some of my favorites. I played football growing up as well and when I found out he played quarterback for his high school team in Texas, it let me know as a young artist that it is possible to make that transition from sports to acting.
 
TDQ: What was your favorite TV show growing up?
 
DP: Um… I watched a lot of TV growing up. Looking back on it I’d have to say “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” That show did a great job of being both funny and delivering a message. “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” also had Will Smith in it. I love Will Smith’s work.
 
Donald Paul - The Fresher Prince

It may be too early to announce because it hasn’t been written, or funded, and we haven’t even talked to Donald about it but…Look for Donald in the upcoming TDQ production “The Fresher Prince”. Imagine if The Fresh Prince was James Bond and I think you know where we’re going with this.

TDQ: What was the best advice you ever got?
 
DP: “What is yours, is yours. What’s meant for you will be for you and no one else.” Which means to me don’t worry about what others have and/or what you don’t have. Just concentrate on what you have and your skills and what’s meant for you will come to you. 
 
TDQ: What was the worst advice you ever got?
 
DP: “Have kids really early so you guys can hang out at a bar sooner.” At the time of receiving this advice I was a sophomore in college so I did not take this advice with a grain of salt. I was like, “he might have a point.” But looking back on it I think I made the right decision. 
 
TDQ: Who are your influences?
 
DP: My sister and mother hands down were my biggest role models and influencers growing up. Jeannie, my sister and Fleurina, my mother, are the most resilient women you’ll ever meet. They don’t back down to anything and don’t give up on anything. Having them by my side throughout this journey as an actor has been nothing but a gift.
 
TDQ: You’ve appeared in shows like “Boardwalk Empire,” “Blue Bloods” and “Elementary.” What have you learned about the business from working with experienced actors like Tom Selleck, Steve Buscemi and Lucy Liu?
 
DP: Working with those actors thought me how to be a real professional and work ethic. It is easy to get lost in the fun within this industry. There was a lot I didn’t know going into the industry or the set life. All I knew was how to act because of all the training prior to getting my break. So being lucky enough to work in that great company of actors was a gift from God.
 
TDQ: When you were younger, you worked with children with special needs to help pay for college and to study theater. How did that experience help you, whether in acting or just in life in general?
 
DP: Working with those kids matured me and I felt made me a better human. I wouldn’t be here in this position if it wasn’t for those kids. Most important thing I learned was patience. In this career you must have it. I think it is one of the most important attributes to have as an artist, because things take time to develop in this career.
 
TDQ: What project are you working on next?
 
DP: I recently finished filming “Atlanta” on FX, which season 2 is set to premiere March 1st. I am currently working in the season 3 of “Quantico” on ABC. 
 
TDQ: Where do you see yourself in five years?
 
DP: In five years I see myself still growing and evolving as an actor. Doing more, working more, and putting my best foot forward in the work that I do. 
 
Check out Donald’s Facebook page and follow him on Twitter.

“I Became Frustrated With The Traditional Voice Teaching Approaches:” A TDQ Q&A With Voice Coach To The Stars Gary Catona

Gary Catona

Come take Gary Catona’s hand and he will take you to a place where your voice is much improved.

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with voice coach Gary Catona. Gary spoke to us about his eclectic list of clients, how he became a voice coach and how you can build your ultimate voice. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with voice coach Gary Catona:
 
The Daily Quarterly: Who was your favorite singer growing up and why?
 
Gary Catona: My favorite singer and inspiration was Mario Lanza – the Andrea Bocelli of his day. From my own city Philadelphia, Lanza captivated me with the beauty, energy, and emotion of his voice – still, in my view, the greatest voice America has ever produced and in the top 5 of all time.
 
TDQ: How did you start your career as a voice coach?
 
GC: I became frustrated with the traditional voice teaching approaches and ended up formulating my own system of voice building and realized the revolutionary nature of my system and decided to teach it to the world.
 
Gary Catona and Stevie Wonder

Gary Catona and client Stevie Wonder.

TDQ: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
 
GC: Be honest with your self.
 
TDQ: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?
 
GC: Go for the money.
 
TDQ: Who are your influences?
 
GC: Enrico Caruso, Friedrich Nietzsche, Muhammad Ali, Shirley MacLaine, Leonardo Da Vinci and many other mentors along the way.
 
Gary Catona and Muhammed Ali

Gary Catona and client Muhammed Ali.

TDQ: Besides singers like Whitney Houston and Steven Tyler, you’ve also worked with boxer Muhammad Ali. What were the different challenges working with someone like that who isn’t a singer? What did you teach him?
 
GC: Ali had a good musical ear so he was able to follow my instruction well. I built back a large percentage of his speaking voice, which was becoming very weak. We worked and traveled together – a monumental episode of my life. There are no real challenges with working with non singers – even pitch issues are not a big deal. 
 
TDQ: Besides talking too much or singing too loudly, what are common everyday things most people do that they wouldn’t think could damage their voice?
 
GC: Talking too much on cell phones while driving or in a loud environment. This causes the person to “compete” – mostly unconsciously – with ambient noise, which could, over time, be harmful.
 
TDQ: Have you ever encountered a client whose voice is just too far gone, or can anybody’s voice be saved or repaired with the proper therapy and work?
 
GC: I have had some voice cases which were too neurologically damaged to help. 
 
Gary Catona's Ultimate Voice Builder

Gary Catona’s Ultimate Voice Builder.

TDQ: Tell us about the Ultimate Voice Builder DVD and why people should grab a copy?
 
GC: Getting the UVB DVD is like having a great cookbook from a famous chef – follow the directions and the results will be excellent. This product is for anyone who would like a much stronger, more attractive singing or speaking voice with increased richness and range. Who doesn’t want that?!
 
Check out Gary’s website and follow him on Twitter.

“At The End Of The Day Never Sacrifice Your Art For Anyone:” A TDQ Q&A With Actor And Producer Monte Bezell

Monte Bezell

Actor, director, and producer Monte Bezell is Brooklyn born and raised. Brooklyn, according to our hasty research, is know for their vegan brunches, craft breweries, and historically accurate facial hair.

This week’s Q&A is with actor/producer Monte Bezell. Monte spoke to us about how growing up in Brooklyn formed his desire to be in show business, how staring out in indie films shaped his career and his upcoming projects. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Monte Bezell:
 
The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to get into show business?
 
Monte Bezell: I was always a big film fan, and one day I walk by this huge set on the steps of City Hall in downtown Brooklyn and I knew right then I wanted to be in the business!
  
TDQ: Who was your favorite actor growing up?
 
MB: As a New Yorker it was always going to be Al Pacino. His roles were classic and he represented everything I grew up to respect and idolize from my upbringing in Brooklyn. 
 
TDQ: What was your favorite TV show growing up?
 
MB: I didn’t really watch a ton of TV growing up but I was always a fan of “Seinfeld” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” 
 
Monte Bezell

Monte Bezell doesn’t follow the rules. He shows us that all black can be green and that you can ride a bicycle down a red carpet.

TDQ: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
 
MB: At the end of the day never sacrifice your art for anyone. I think this really built in the notion of never giving up and always staying true to yourself.  
 
TDQ: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?
 
MB: Someone once told me that no one would care for my Brooklyn accent and that I should learn how to suppress it. That ended up being advice I am glad I never took. 
 
TDQ: Who are your influences?
 
MB: As a New Yorker you have to name the greats of De Niro, Pacino, and Scorsese.  It would be almost blasphemy to not include them. 
 
Monte Bezell - Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas, starring Monte Bezell, appears to tell it’s story from a very interesting perspective.

TDQ: You started your career working on indie projects. How has that background helped you as your career has progressed?
 
MB: Idie films really make you earn your keep. You fully comprehend how a full set works – there is no compartmentalization. This is so essential as you make your way up the ladder of studio films and sets. 
 
TDQ: Besides acting, you’ve moved into a producer role, especially in the past few years. What has that transition been like?
 
MB: It has actually been a smooth transition! I really enjoy finding a great story (tough part) financing the project (toughest part) putting together a great cast & crew (fun part) and shooting it (best part) and finally selling the project (deep exhale, lol!).     
 
TDQ: What project(s) are you working on next?
 
MB: Currently working on two films: a crime drama set in New York, and a sports film. I also have two other films coming out in 2018 entitled “Saint Nicholas” and “El Gallo.”   
 
Monte Bezell - El Gallo

Monte Bezell stars in and co-directed El Gallo.

TDQ: Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?
 
MB: I see myself collaborating with actors and directors I admire on studio projects. And a couple of awards would be cool too!  
 
Follow Monte on Twitter and check out his IMDB page too. 
 

“We Must Present Our Rawest, Most Honest Selves, And Let Them Take It Or Leave It” A TDQ Q&A With Actress Pilar Holland

Pilar Holland

It’s Pilar Holland, everybody!

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with actress Pilar Holland. Pillar spoke to us about working on a bunch of Shonda Rhimes shows, her love of Shannen Doherty and her theater debut, “A Feminine Ending.” Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Pilar Holland:

The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to get into show business?

Pilar Holland: As a child, I didn’t know how to express myself. I had a huge emotional well and no outlet. I was very shy and couldn’t connect with people on a deeper level. I wanted the chance to learn how to do that. In college, when I realized that it was something I could actually do well, that’s when I knew it was my aspiration to explore life and all the different experiences that can be had and share those experiences with audiences. 

TDQ: Who was your favorite actress growing up?

PH: My favorite actress growing up was Shannen Doherty. There’s going to be a theme here. I was a HUGE fan of “Beverly Hills, 90210” and the movie “Heathers.”  

TDQ: What was your favorite TV show growing up?

PH: And here it is!! (drumroll) My favorite TV show growing up was “Beverly Hills, 90210.” I wanted to live in their world and that’s really what first piqued my interest in becoming an actress. I dreamt about living on that campus and wished I could create an alternate life and do so.

TDQ: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?

PH: The best advice I have received was from my acting teacher Stuart Rogers—who taught me the distinction between being what we think a casting director wants, and what a casting director really needs. We must present our rawest, most honest selves, and let them take it or leave it. 

TDQ: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?

PH: One thing I remember a girlfriend telling me once was that if you don’t make it by the time you’re 22, you’re not going to make it at all. And that simply isn’t true. I always tell people you don’t become a doctor overnight. So, why should a career in the arts be any different? It takes time to build a career. You need training and experience.   

There is still time to see Pilar Holland in A Feminine Ending which is showing into early December.

TDQ: Who are your influences?

PH: I’ve always admired Cate Blanchett and over the past few years I’ve become a huge fan of Brie Larson’s career.  Some of the projects they choose have so much weight in social relevance and they have been able to create such empathic characters in their process.

TDQ: Tell us about working with ultra creator and show runner Shonda Rhimes on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”

PH: I actually haven’t had the opportunity to officially meet the woman behind it all. She does have final say on everything. So, I know she’s seen my work and continually hires me. Linda Lowy casts all of Shonda’s shows and they regularly bring me to audition for her projects. Once you’ve become a part of the Shonda Rhimes family, they really do bring you into the fold. One of my favorite acting moments thus far was working with director Tom Verica on the set of “Scandal.” He is one of my favorite directors I’ve worked with and I hope I get to do it again soon.

TDQ: You’ve also appeared on half hour sitcoms like “Young and Hungry” and “Happy Endings.” What’s the biggest difference between working on those and full hour-long dramas?

PH: Well, there’s a huge difference between multi-camera sitcoms and dramas. Those two shows you mentioned were actually single camera sitcoms and not that different from working on dramas, besides the content of course. On a multi-cam set you rehearse the show for four days prior to filming. The script is constantly being altered as the writers are seeing how jokes land and play out during the rehearsal process. Then when we do film, there are multiple cameras filming different angles at the same time versus on a single camera sitcom and drama, they only use one camera for filming. 

TDQ: What project(s) are you working on next?

PH: I’m starring in a play “A Feminine Ending” right now. It’s my theater debut! I’m very excited to share my art and the story with audiences. The subject is very timely and relevant. It’s about gender norms and the societal rules we are boxed and categorized into, and learning how to navigate outside of those boxes. We run through December 2nd, Friday and Saturday nights 8pm at Stuart Rogers Studios. We’ve already gotten a few rave reviews.

TDQ: Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?

PH: In five years, I see myself as the lead on my own television series. Hopefully with the opportunity to film indie movies in between seasons. That’s the game plan!

Pilar Holland Fashion

Sadly the topic of fashion never came up in this conversation. Pilar Holland’s style is both fun and accessible with an eye on repurposing the unexpected. We would say she even looks very stylish wearing nothing at all. Look at those cheek bones!


Be sure and follow Pilar on Twitter and  and like her Facebook page.

“I’m Like A Shark, I Need To Constantly Be Moving Forward:” A TDQ Q&A Filmmaker With Ryan Colucci

Ryan Colucci

Ryan Colucci (seen here on set behind the camera) didn’t originally account on being in the film industry but when he crunched the numbers he knew it was his destiny. (He was almost an accountant.)

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with writer, producer, director Ryan Colucci. Ryan spoke to us about how he got into show business, how he attacks each film he makes and his upcoming project, “Suburban Cowboy.” Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with filmmaker Ryan Colucci:

The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?

Ryan Colucci: First and foremost, I love the idea that someone can create a world… And other people can take a trip inside that world. I have always wanted to tell stories, I’m not the type of person to regale a room with a tale. I am rather introverted. So, writing/drawing was something I was drawn to as a child because it scratched that itch and was solitary (I was fortunate to be good at sports or I would have been a pretty isolated kid).

Growing up I wanted to be a comic book artist. It felt like that was the best way to share the stories I wanted to tell. As I became a teenager, that desire morphed into telling stories with a much different canvas – film.

However, I come from a fairly blue-collar background in New York where a career in the arts was not realistic, so I went to Villanova University and studied accounting, for no other reason than it was supposedly hard and I was good at it. I spent a year overseas studying economics and political science at Cambridge University – and when I was there I realized I was destined for another life. It was the first time I left the bubble that was my life, and really took stock of it. The books I was consuming in large quantities all had one thing in common – they were about filmmaking. Not the racy, exciting side of Hollywood… but books on lighting and editing and screenwriting. It dawned on me that people actually do this for a living.

So I came back, transferred to film school close to home and eventually got accepted to the Peter Stark Producing MFA Program at USC.

I didn’t completely abandon the comic world though. I’ve put out two graphic novels. In fact, my book Harbor Moon makes a few cameos in Suburban Cowboy because the lead is obsessed with werewolves (shameless self-promotion).

TDQ: Who was your favorite director growing up?

RC: Growing up, I knew nothing about directors and writers and stars. Since I was a child of the 80s, Star Wars basically defined my childhood. So, I’d have to say George Lucas. I also have a really strong connection with the Savage Steve Holland movies of the 80s – Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer and, less so, How I Got Into College. It wasn’t until high school I realized the same guy directed them all.

TDQ: What was your favorite movie growing up?

RC: “Rad.” It’s a BMX film from 1986 directed by one of the most legendary stuntmen/action directors – Hal Needham. There was a period of a few years in college where I supported my bar tabs bootlegging VHS copies. For those that weren’t alive back then, you didn’t hit record and it was done in a minute. You had to play the whole movie while another VHS deck (in this case multiple decks) recorded it. I never counted, but I have seen the film well over 500 times.

TDQ: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?

RC: Find the best script you can do for the absolute least amount of money – then go make it.

I have a lot of scripts… some that I know aren’t ready and some I love. After shopping each one, realizing the market was shrinking, I would write another that was smaller. Until I eventually wrote one that I could actually just go do on my own.

TDQ: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?

RC: Sometimes you hear, ‘pick one project and put all of your energy into it.’ I’m not sure I can get behind that idea. I give each of my projects everything I can, but there’s only so much you can do yourself… and then what do you do? Just wait around hoping for a miracle? That never made sense to me. I’m like a shark, I need to constantly be moving forward. Maybe that has hurt me early on, but now I have so much going on and it is amazing.

TDQ: Who are your influences?

RC: I’m influenced in my writing by the people in my life. Luckily, I’m surrounded by colorful characters.

In life I’m influenced by the competitive drive of athletes; Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Ronnie Lott, Royce Gracie and Gary Gait.

As a filmmaker, I’m influenced by every movie I see – good and bad. Sometimes it is more helpful to watch a handful of bad movies than one good one. That said, the two films that really inspired me to forge this career are Pi by Darren Aronofsky and Brothers McMullen by Ed Burns. These are two films that I saw and thought – films aren’t made in some fantasy land (Brothers McMullen was essentially made in my backyard on Long Island). I love these movies… and I think I can do this.

Ryan Colucci's Suburban Cowboy

A clip from Ryan Colucci’s Suburban Cowboy.

TDQ: Tell us about your latest movie, “Suburban Cowboy?”

RC: The film is about Jay, a mid-level weed supplier on Long Island. One of his dealers, also his childhood best friend, robs someone to pay Jay back for his last shipment. His friend disappears and the debt is left to our hero – because the person who got robbed was connected to Serbian gangsters in Queens. He sets off to collect the money he has on the street, but when he comes up short Jay is forced to take drastic measures.

It’s a raw, visceral look into a world you live in but probably don’t want to know exists. The story isn’t groundbreaking, but what fascinates me about it is this idea that the guy next door is a criminal. It’s not this stereotypical gangster story where the bad guys are obviously criminals. It’s more true to life, at least in the part of the world I come from.

The person I was working with on the story was actually arrested as I finished the first draft of the script. I rewrote the ending to reflect what was happening in real life. Of course things change based on budget, locations and particularly cast, but the details/specifics of the world are hopefully what makes this unique.

TDQ: Besides directing, you also wrote and produced “Suburban Cowboy.” Does wearing that many hats on one project make it harder to easier for you in the process of getting it completed?

RC: I don’t know if it is easier, but it means I have more control. Since I’m obsessive about the things I’m working on, I also know I will get it done at the level I expect and plan for.

I love every part of the process. I got into filmmaking to make movies. Not to take lunches. Not to try and be cool in LA. Not to walk red carpets. Not to date actresses. I went to producing school and got my MFA from USC for three reasons; it’s the best film school in the world, they were crazy enough to let me in… and I knew that the way for me to become the best filmmaker possible was to understand the process from start to finish. And that meant script, financing, working with studios, etc…

“Suburban Cowboy” was the first project that I got to do exactly how I wanted – meeting every cast and crew member personally before bringing them on. And it turned into a fine-tuned set. In fact, we were so efficient that we only went into over-time on one day and were able to shave a day off our shoot schedule – on what was a micro-budget film, which is pretty rare. I need to give credit to the cast and crew though. Regardless of how many hats I wear, filmmaking is a group effort and I had some people working on the film at reduced rates out of sheer belief in me.

Ryan Colucci

Ryan Colucci: Con man. You know, like comic convention. He has a background in graphic novels. He is starting an animation studio!

TDQ: What project are you working on next?

RC: I’m currently co-directing Orient City, a hand-drawn animated samurai spaghetti western with Zsombor Huszka (who did the animated titles for Suburban Cowboy). We just finished the short film, but dove right into the feature. I recently returned from a few months in Budapest laying out the storyboards.

Up next for me on the live action side is a contained sci-fi thriller called Andover, a project written by Dikran Ornekian and Rylend Grant. You never know what will happen in terms of financing, so I wanted a project that could be done at the same budget level as Suburban Cowboy, but with the ability to stretch that money further (limited locations, small cast). Those guys crushed the script and there is interest in doing it at what can best be described as a non-micro budget. At a certain budget level you lose your ability to take risks creatively and make something different, so we’ll see how fast it can come together. As nice as it would be to take a step up, I don’t want to be on the shelf that long.

TDQ: Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?

RC: On the set of Orient City, the live action version.

Seriously though, there are projects and avenues I want to pursue and I have a very definitive plan in terms of which projects I want to do in which order… but to a large degree that is out of my hands. I can only keep them in the back of my mind as I make decisions and move forward. I want to stay as active as possible, for as long as I’m physically able. We are essentially starting an animation studio, so the goal is to constantly go from one hand-drawn film to the next with Zsombor, while also pursuing live action features and television.

For all of that to happen people have to go watch Suburban Cowboy. It is currently available for rent/purchase digitally; iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, Dish, DirecTV, OnDemand (Time Warner or Comcast)… If it sounds at all interesting, give us a shot!

Be sure and follow Ryan on Twitter and check out his website.