Greg Contaldi: A Real Contender

After a short hiatus, I am pleased to resume features with a leading lad on and off the camera, Greg Contaldi.

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Greg, a Fairfield, New Jersey native, packed his bags and rushed off to the big city, with aspirations as bright as the stars. Currently studying at NYU, Greg wasn’t too thrilled with his admittance into an alternative Film and Television program, but once engulfed in the curriculum, he truly feels as though the program will benefit him in all regards. With a taxing program and 9 different projects, it is amazing that Mr. Contaldi has managed to keep up with all that he does. Luckily, he set aside time in his schedule and allowed me a glimpse into his hectic life.

To dedicate his entire life, free time and future, he must have a deepseeded passion for film. “I’ve been interested in Film and Television, for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would always have a camera in my hand. If I weren’t filming skits with my friends, I’d be interviewing relatives at family parties or my brother’s sports events. As a child, I appreciated films made long before my time. My grandfather got me hooked on the movies he watched when he grew up. I was the only kid in elementary school who appreciated the work of Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and Sergio Leone. I was obsessed and it only intensified as I got older.

It was after I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, with my grandpa, that I realized I wanted to take part in the creation of the art. Inglourious Basterds was anything but a typical World War II flick. Tarantino puts a twist on the genre of war films and even rewrites history in the process. He has created his own vision of the world that is stylish, witty, and singular and I felt that I could do the same. I want to create my own vision in my films and Tarantino proved to me that there are NO LIMITS when it comes to filmmaking. I feel that I have the potential to create art that has never been seen before.”

And that potential must be cultivated so that it can bloom into what, no doubt, will be an incredible career. What was his first experience in this cultivation process, his first job in film? “My first professional experience working with production and film is when I began interning at Nightstand Studios, in Fairfield, NJ. Nightstand Studios is a fully operational Film, Television, Animation and Recording Studio owned and operated by Emmy Award Winner and Four-Time Nominee; Randy Rossilli, Jr. It was at this internship where I learned about all the aspects that go into a production from idea pitching, set/lighting design, camera setup, animation, and editing. I was able to experience entire productions from the beginning to the final edit.”

To add to that fantastic experience, Mr. Contaldi has also had his run in front of the camera as well. “At my high school, I was part of 5 productions; Guys & Dolls (Lt. Brannigan/ Assistant Director), Midsummer/Jersey (Lyle “The Understatement” Fagioli), Sweeney Todd (Ensemble/ Assistant Director), Our Town (George Gibbs), High School Musical (Ensemble). At NYU, I was part of the student production of Superbad and I am currently in rehearsals for Talk Radio. I have acted in a number of student films and I recently finished shooting a commercial for VYBE sunglasses.”

With each of those roles came experience and an interesting story. What was it like working on all those productions, especially a play based off of the hit movie, Superbad? “My high school drama club is where I got my real start in acting/directing. I was happy with the variety of different roles I was able to play. From a Guido on the New Jersey Shore to a police officer in 1950’s NYC to a murder victim baked into a meat pie.

The last play I was in was, Superbad, which closed three weeks ago. I was on the way to a club meeting when my friend told me that he was auditioning for Superbad. I was so confused. The movie? Are they making a sequel? But no. To my surprise a NYU student theatre group was putting on play version of the movie. I auditioned and I was fortunate enough to get a part. Well, actually many parts. I pretty much played every supporting character in the show. My roles included: Terry, Mark, Maroki (Evan’s Asian partner in home-ec), Liquor Store Employee, and Liquor Store Robber.

Superbad has been one of the most interesting projects I’ve ever worked on. We only had 3 rehearsals before our first show and we were able to use our scripts during the performance. It was a true immersive theatre experience. We performed the show in an apartment around our audience and even got them involved in the show.”

With all those being in the past, what is Mr. Contaldi working on as of now? “Currently, I am part of NYU’s Backstage Theatre Company’s production of Talk Radio. Talk Radio was written by Eric Bogosian and tells the story of Barry Champlain, a radio personality, on the eve of his radio show’s national syndication. I am playing the role of Stu Noonan, Barry’s radio operator.”

It seems as though Mr. Contaldi has pieced together an impressive resume for his future, one filled with multiple feats and talents to beat the band. How has New York helped him lengthen this resume? “My experiences since moving to New York City have been nothing but great. The city obviously opens doors to opportunity, and NYU continues to offer me the best resources, best advice, and best professors, so I can become not only the best filmmaker, but also the optimal person. Coming from a high school where “the arts” isn’t a top priority, it is nice to be in a community of people who are just as excited about the craft of filmmaking, acting, and media production as you are. NYU gives you the opportunity to meet and work with many industry professionals and I feel this is integral to understanding film and anything else.

As I said before, I’ve been doing a lot of acting on my own in student projects. Recently, I’ve been working with one of the Tisch Sight and Sound: Studio Classes acting in their TV shoots. I very much enjoyed acting on a professional set for a 3-camera shoot. It was much different environment then what I was used to.”

So much has already been accomplished, so what more is there to do? Where does he hope to see himself in the next 5 or 10 years? “Hmm. Lets see. In 5-10 years, I’ll still be relatively new to the industry. I hope to continue to get my foot in the door of the entertainment business world and be making connections. If all goes well, I hope to eventually have my own weekly variety/comedy series. Something similar to The Dean Martin Show. I want to put a spin on late night television and break away from the “set structure” many late night shows have today. Narrowing it down to only a weekly show will allow me to work on other projects as well. I hope to be directing features and have a drama series of my own.”

Well, with all that he has done, I’m sure he will far surpass his aspirations and be the star we all know he can be. It was an incredible pleasure and I know one day, we will all know the famous, Greg Contaldi.

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AnnaSophia Robb: True Talent

She captured our attention as the incredibly competitive, Violet Beauregarde. She stole, and broke, our hearts as the girl-next-door, Leslie Burke. She even recreated the iconic Carrie Bradshaw. This extraordinary talent, accomplished to the highest degree, is none other than the lovely, AnnaSophia Robb.

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AnnaSophia Robb, 20, was born in Denver, Colorado. It was at a young age that Ms. Robb found interest in the entertainment industry, pursuing a soon-to-be well-crafted skill. She appeared in successes such as, Because of Winn-Dixie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terabithia, Race to Witch Mountain, Soul Surfer, The Carrie Diaries, and The Way Way Back. Over the years, she created an impressive resume for herself, acting alongside other accomplished talents such as, Josh Hutcherson, Johnny Depp, and Steve Carell to name a few. Ms. Robb can now be found at NYU, devoting herself to her academics, while seamlessly managing to balance her impressive career. Graciously taking time out of her chaotic schedule, I met with AnnaSophia for what became a very charming interview.

As we have seen through a common curve, many celebrities feel that college is not in their best interest, as it interferes with many of their committed schedules. Why did she choose to take the road less traveled? “Education has always been really important to me. Growing up, I always stayed in school. I went to a public High School and was home-schooled one year, I believe it was fifth grade, and I hated it. I do best in communities, like film sets. It’s all collaboration and so, I love being in class, just talking about what other people liked about the book, or a subject, or history; I really enjoy that dialogue. So, college wasn’t even a question. It was more of, “well, of course I’m going to college!” I might not do it the same way as everyone else, but, I think it is important as an actor to not just study acting. You should study life and college is part of that. Plus, I am interested in a lot of different things and I think college is an awesome opportunity to expand your horizons.”

With education being key, it is no wonder that she chose to attend an institution, such as NYU, for her educational career. Even though she did accomplish the feat of gaining an acceptance to NYU, it wasn’t in her initial plan to attend, was it? “Originally, I was going to go to Stanford, which is an awesome school and it would have been a completely different experience. When I got out of High School, I thought I was going to take time off and go to school and not be interrupted with work. So, after doing the Carrie Diaries and being out of school for two years, gaining some perspective, I realized this is what I really love to do, telling stories in different ways and collaborating on projects and I don’t really ever want to be too far away from it. So, I felt like NYU was the perfect school because you’re able to still be in the world of this business and take meetings, and travel, and go to auditions and such, but at the same time, you’re collaborating with other students and having a semi-normal collegiate experience.”

And those two years off were well spent. Ms. Robb coveted the unique experience of recreating the iconic Carrie Bradshaw. What was it like to be given such an opportunity? “It was so much fun. I had never done television before and I had always been opposed to T.V., because I always felt like it was too much of a time commitment. I never wanted to be away from school for that long. But, I loved it, I absolutely loved it. I loved the pace; they shoot really fast. There are pro’s and con’s to both film and television, but I did like that the characters transitioned slower, throughout the season. It’s like you have, 13 hours to develop a character instead of an hour and 30 minutes.”

With a character so quintessential as Ms. Bradshaw, one would want to do their best to uphold the honor that comes with the name. How did she prepare for that? “Yes, well, I watched all of Sex and the City, of course, and read the books. But, it was mainly creating relationships. That’s what the Carrie Diaries were all about; the friendship and finding yourself, and it was kind of strange, because I felt as though my life mirrored Carrie’s in a lot of ways. Even coming to NYU, deciding, “I don’t want to go here, I want to go here!” So, it was mainly creating relationships and managing to create a bridge between the Sarah Jessica Parker character, the character I wanted to create, and what Amy Harris, the show’s writer, wanted to create. It was figuring out a young Carrie, who doesn’t quite know who she is yet, and still trying to figure it out.”

But if there is one thing Carrie Bradshaw certainly knows, it is high-fashion. With all the incredible pieces she wore, which became her favorite? “Oh, I got to wear a lot of cool clothes, and I didn’t get to keep anything. Not, even a pair of tights! I remember, it was our Prom episode, I wore this really cool, vintage dress. It was pink and ghastly. That was the cool part about our costume designer, Eric Damon, he was so talented. They found this 80’s piece and it was really just garish, but then they fitted it to me and gave it this Oscar De La Renta style, like a high-low cut. It was so cool and elegant. He just took this vintage piece and made it modern and I loved it!”

Unfortunately, the Carrie Diaries has come to a close, but that certainly does not mean Ms. Robb has taken a break. What’s next on the agenda? “Right now, I actually just did a film with Janet Grillo, who teaches at Tisch, over the summer. I did that and it is in post-production now. Then, another film I did called, The Conspiracy on Jekyll Island, I did last Thanksgiving and that is also in post-production.”

So, with all these accomplishments under her belt, all these films completed, what’s next for her career? “I’m trying to figure that out, right now. I think college has been a really good respite and helped me gain perspective to go, “what’s the bigger picture?” It’s not just about making movies and telling stories, but also influencing the world and knowing about current issues and what’s real foundational problems. It’s also about finding out what I really love, because I take a class and I’ll find that I thought it would be interesting to me and it’s not, or I may find different aspects of the class interesting. So, right now, I know that I definitely want to stay in film and I want to create my own projects. I don’t know if I would want to direct, but definitely produce and write. I’m interested in characters and stories, but I haven’t quite found that voice yet. It’s nice, because I have been writing so many papers and I am finding it very quickly.”

Is there any new territory she’d like to cover? “I really want to do theater. So, I’d love to do Shakespeare.”

Now, Ms. Robb has had the delight and fortune of being able to work with incredible actors, such as Johnny Depp and Steve Carell. What has she learned from those experiences? “They are really wonderful people. I feel like people think that super famous people are really stuck up, which is ridiculous, because people are people. They just have an immense respect for their craft and for their crew, I mean, that’s one of my favorite parts about filmmaking, it is a team effort. If anyone is missing or not doing their job properly, it won’t work. I feel like, Johnny and Steve, both really value the crew and they are also extremely prepared. With Johnny, people say, he never screws up, he’s always on point. Both Steve and Johnny are really good at improv and they really work with it. They know their characters inside and out.”

She’s worked with many more incredible actors, but are there any she hopes to collaborate with in the future? “Yeah, there are lots of actors I want to work with. Marion Cotillard, I would love to work with her. I would love Judi Dench. It’s a hard question, because there are so many awesome actors I am dying to work with.”

With all that she has accomplished, the amazing feats conquered, there is a sense of wisdom gained through it all. What advice would she instruct her younger self with? “Don’t stress and just work hard. I spent a lot of time worrying and stressing about things when I could have used that energy to work harder and have been more directed about what I wanted.”

Hard to believe that Ms. Robb is only 20 years old. What will the next 20 years hold for her? “I got one of those books, you know, those five year books. I got one for graduation and I was like, “holy sh*t! I have no idea!” I would like to be graduated in 5 years, but who knows, because I might take semesters off to work. I would also like to be in New York, I’d like to be creating my own films, maybe some theater by then, having a writer partner at NYU, create a dynamic duo!”


It was an incredible joy to have the opportunity to speak with such a refined and talented individual. AnnaSophia Robb is a beacon of grace and style, representing the entertainment community in the best light possible. I can only begin to imagine what the future holds for her, for it is bright and surely infinite.