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.

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Breanna Nichelle: Framing a Future

Our next feature can be found behind the camera, creating beautiful visions and images, captivating her audience with a single shot. She’s a unique talent, one that holds the undeniable spark that deserves to be featured.

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Breanna Nichelle has been on the move since she was a child. Being a military kid ensured that. Originally from Ocala, Florida, Ms. Nichelle followed her family around the country, slowly developing her love for photography and keeping the end destination in mind; New York. Now studying photography at the Fashion Institute of New York, Ms. Nichelle is making her mark on the world, working as a photographer for one of the top male modeling agencies in New York. With her stunning work, it is no wonder why I wanted the ability to feature her.

So, as I boast about her work, the idea of developing these skills and the time frame it took comes to mind. How long did it take to master her art? “I was around 12 when I began taking photographs. I just remember all of my family having digital cameras and taking pictures and I wanted one too, so my grandmother bought me a turquoise Sony point and shoot.”

And of course, only the best of the best have turquoise cameras. Soon after receiving her first camera, her first shoot must have came. What exactly did her first shoot entail? “For my first shoot, I took pictures of my older brother. I would pick out his outfits and make him dress up and model for me. We lived in the country, so we would go out to the paths behind the house with these really cool dirt roads and take pictures. I remember getting really excited about the pictures and comparing them to Ralph Lauren, but obviously, they weren’t that good.”

Well, practice makes perfect. Researching different styles, different concepts must have helped too. It probably gave birth to a love of certain photographies. Which genre of photography would she say is her favorite? “My favorite type of photography has always been fashion. I’m inspired by other photographers and creatives like, Steven Klein, Nick Dorey, Mario Sorrenti, Mert and Marcus.”

With inspiration came drive and that drive has led her to accomplishing great tasks, like photographing for notable companies and agencies. What are some of these incredible opportunities that she was given? “I just recently moved to the city, but before moving here I worked with a good friend of mine, Joshua Mcleod of Victor +  Alexander. He designs his own line of handbags. Since moving here, I’ve been testing a lot of models from Agencies around NY, such as Adam Models, VNY, Q, Red and Frame Models.”

Frame Models is a very prominent agency, here in New York. How did she acquire such a coveted position? “I got the position because of Jordan Morris who’s the former owner of BOY and now the Men’s agent of Frame. I worked and tested with a lot of his boys in Georgia, when I attended school at SCAD in Savannah, to help build their portfolios. When I moved up to NY, Jordan offered me an intern position at Frame. I did a shoot with Jake Johnston who’s one of the younger, newer faces at Frame, it was just a test shoot, but Jordan submitted to Male Model Scene and the photos pretty much went viral. It was really cool to see that happen. I was really excited. I also did a shoot with a model at Adam Models, Jonas Spiegelhalter, that also made it onto Male Model Scene.”

Such fame seems to come when most aren’t looking for it, but by the looks of her work, it seems as though the fame would have come at some point. With all the fantastic shoots she has done over her time as a photographer, which one captures her fancy most? “My favorite shoot so far is actually a shoot I did back in Savannah for class. I shot an editorial featuring a model named Montana Anderson from Chosen Models in Atlanta and Meg Witter. It was an editorial based off of a book called Thief. I basically used the book as inspiration and shot the editorial how I imagined it as I was reading. It turned out really great.”

Now with all her achievements in mind, with the distance she has already conquered now, what does Ms. Nichelle believe the future holds for her, or at least, what does she hope it holds? “My short term goal is to broaden my horizon when it comes to models. I would really love to shoot for Models at Ford, Wilhelmina, and The Society, especially since I’m currently trying to build my Women’s Portfolio up. Long term, I’d be really into shooting Editorials and Ad Campaigns for major brands and Magazines. I’d love to shoot for I-D Magazine or F*cking Young and have my work featured in their magazine.”

Well with the incredible caliber her work holds, the world is Ms. Nichelle’s oyster, ready to be opened for her to claim her prize. Continue persevering and conquering, Ms. Nichelle, for I speak for all when I say that we all thoroughly look forward to seeing your success.

 

Reid Mangel: A Double Threat

Stepping away from the child-star legends, we turn back to feature the up and coming, the talented souls who are soon to have their own run in the limelight. We turn to, Mr. Reid Mangel.

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18 years old and living out his dreams, Mr. Mangel fills his schedule with the usual daily activities such as, photography, modeling, the works. As of now, he has deferred his college enrollment until January, which will be when he begins his journey in Fashion Merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). For now, I am given the pleasure to introduce Mr. Mangel and the wonderful life he lives.

To start off, we’ll look to his interest in photography, a hobby that seemed to start when, exactly? “It started when I was about 5 years old. My mother worked at the City Hall in Downtown Orlando, FL and there was a city-wide art contest every year. My mom told me I should participate, so I did — I got first place in my age category, and I’ve been really interested in photography ever since.”

Of course, mother knows best. But, the interest that burned inside of him was only sparked by his mother, while his passion grew on his own accord. Through his experience, what seems to be the best kindling for his fire? What type of photographer interests him the most? “When I first started, I would just photograph buildings/landscape, but then I started getting interested in portraits. I would see someone look very beautiful and not even notice it, then I would snap the photo. I started out photographing friends of mine, and now I’ll just photograph strangers I meet at a party/see walking down the street. I really like candid beauty. I was always inspired by photographers like Ellen Von Unwerth and Terry Richardson, who often photograph unconventional beauty.”

And with his inspiration set, the shoots to follow must have been incredible. Where does his favoritism fall for his favorite shoot? “My absolute favorite shoot is one that I did with Skylar Mann. It was just so effortless. I didn’t have to give her much direction, and she trusted both me and herself. I really loved that she just let go and acted as if there wasn’t a camera in her face.”

To finish with the photography portion, where does he hope to finish with his photography, in general? “I just hope to evolve and constantly try new things. I’d love to work with an agency or retail company, but we’ll see. I’ll be photographing some models at NYFW (New York Fashion Week) shows so that’s good!”

So, as we take a look at his modeling career, did it coincide with photography or did it come about later on in life? “I began modeling at the age of 16. I got a message on Facebook from Danny Roche, a photographer based in NYC that lived in Orlando at the time (where I am from). He asked if I’d be interested in shooting with him, so I did. I absolutely loved it and decided to just keep going at it. Being in front of the camera can help you behind the camera, and vice versa.”

And with the idea of photography in the picture (pun intended), where does he hope to take his modeling career? “Well I’ve just moved to NYC a little over a week ago, so I’d love to be signed with an agency here. I plan on meeting with Fusion, Red, Major Model, etc. in the next few weeks.”

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So now the million dollar question…which will it be, photography or modeling? “I really wouldn’t choose one over another. I love modeling because as a photographer, you’re always directing others. When you’ve done that for so long, modeling should come pretty natural to you. It’s always fun to see another photographer’s vision come to life when you model for them. Pretty much every time I model, I learn something about photography. They kind of work hand-in-hand. Photographing others is so rewarding to me, also. I love seeing someone’s face when they really love a photo I took of them, and then I see confidence of them throughout the rest of the shoot. They’re like, “Yes, I can do this!””

Then where will we see Mr. Mangel in the future, or better yet, where does Mr. Mangel hope to see himself? “I hope to still be doing what I love, and making a living from it would be great. I hope to continue to work with people that inspire me.”

Whether it be photography or modeling, line-dancing or jazz singing, I’m sure Mr. Mangel will aim high and reach the stars with his larger-than-life ambition, drive, and tenacity. It’s refreshing and it will surely take him to the moon and back.

 

Cole Sprouse: Digging Up a Bright Future

As we turn our heads to view the history of Disney Channel stars, we typically see a timeline that follows a particular pattern. Child star on the rise, capturing the hearts of millions of youth worldwide and as they reach their late teenage years, they find the common need to individualize themselves, to capture a new character in their maturing lives. Soon, we see the use of illegal paraphernalia, risque actions follow suit, and unfortunately, a child star shining bright in the limelight becomes a burnout image of what we used to idolize. Almost inevitable, it is in a rare case that a few fortunate Disney alum find a way to escape this engulfing fate, the Sprouse Twins being one of them.

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Both are commonly recognized for their appearances as Julian in Big Daddy, Ben on F.R.I.E.N.D.S., and Zack and Cody on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody/The Suite Life on Deck. On their hit Disney Channel shows, The Suite Life, Dylan and Cole Sprouse captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of kids. With such a strong acting future ahead of them, the Sprouse twins surprised many by taking a hiatus from the entertainment industry and enrolling into a university, New York University, that is. Slowly fading out of the industry, the twins have discovered passions that lie outside of the entertainment business, broadening their horizons and skills. As seniors this year, the Sprouse twins have found their niche outside of acting, but it isn’t to say that they aren’t recognized anymore. Daily encounters with the Sprouse Twins are just as exciting as any other meeting with a celebrity, which you can view from any fan photo on the streets. Luckily enough, I was able to meet with Cole Sprouse at a quiet cafe to discuss his new passions, life beyond New York, and his possible resurgence in an acting career.

Cole has been noted to have a very eclectic array of majors, ranging from Archaeology to Journalism to Photography and even Anthropology. With all those skills at hand, where does his main interest fall? “Well, my main focus I suppose is archaeology. One of the strengths of Gallatin is that you are able to supplement what you may feel is lacking. I chose something like Journalism because I felt as though my writing really needed a boost. In my first semester, I took a photography class. It was digital photography. I had only taken it so I could learn how to use my camera. I got a camera, because I knew I was going to be going on geological expeditions and I wanted to document them and take pictures of artifacts. I ended up carrying my camera everywhere with me and after that I just started taking pictures. I then started doing things on Instagram that made people happy, but the main purpose of what I study and even my photography is still archaeology. It just so happens that it’s all able to apply to one thing.”

While archaeology and acting are on two different spectrums, Cole has managed to take on both trades in his lifetime. Even though archaeology is the focus now, is there any chance that we may see him return to our television screen? “Ya know, my brother and I get that a lot. Right now, an Italian director that we worked with when we were younger has asked us to do something right out of the gate. But it is quite heavy, and my brother and I, well, we came up in a family that didn’t have much and when you come up in a family that didn’t have much, rarely do you go into something like the entertainment industry and say, “well no, I’m going to stick to the artistic side of it, yes?” So now, I think my brother and I are in a privileged position when it comes to acting. Do I really think we could go back and pick and choose what we do and all that? Ya know, it’s strange, we both came to NYU expecting to fade out, we wanted to fade out, and when you’re on a show, like the Suite Life, you’re very recognizable, but when you’re a twin, it’s extremely hard to get away without being recognized. I get recognized by myself, but when I’m with my brother, since we’re a pair, it’s nonstop. And for the longest time, my brother and I, we wanted that to stop, to cease. And we went to NYU to cut that out, and it still hasn’t. It’s both a blessing and a curse. What it has shown us is that a lot of people want us to get back into the industry and so, as of now, it is a great way to make money, a great way to express yourself. You get to meet a lot of cool people. Do I know for certain that we are going to go back yet, not really, but even if we do go back, we probably won’t do the whole “twin” routine. In fact, a lot of interest has been expressed in us playing separate roles or even the same part, which is interesting. But, nothing is really set in stone.”

And as we have seen for his entire acting career, Dylan and Cole have been a packaged deal. Is there any interest in working with his twin again? “Well, when he is your brother, every day is working, you know what I mean? No, no, yeah of course. Honestly, my brother and I are both very critical, which in the industry, can be quite rare, because people see success and they look at you and ask how can they critique someone who is successful, when in actuality, anyone who is successful or not, needs critiquing. Absolutely. And so, the good thing about having a twin is that I can honestly tell him truly, that something sucks. And he’ll listen and vice verse.”

Even though archaeology is his major, Cole has been known to dabble in the art of photography, from multiple, famous Instragram accounts to beautiful shots he’s taken professionally. From the range of photos he has taken, what seems to be his favorite type of photography? “I think my favorite type, and I think it’s good that you noticed that there are multiple types, but my favorite type is probably fortune photography, and what I mean by that is, you have a camera and something pops up, it’s something unique, and the pieces fit together well enough that a photo can create something amazing. Like, I use HONY as an example. You have this character that just appears and he’s/she’s/it’s unique enough to have it’s picture taken. And it’s only fortune/fate that brought the subject and the photographer together. It was just fortune falling upon the incident and it was someone who said, ok, this deserves to be photographed. So, I like that kind of photography. I used to hate portraits. I think that’s because my brother and I used to be in the industry and we were told to pose, smile, take a stance. I took a real aversion to that. And there are a couple forms of photography that I really hate and it’s that type of posed photography, and I wouldn’t even call it photography, I would call it picture taking, where, it’s like, ok everyone, we’re all here in this moment, let’s take some photos. I think my bias is that my brother and I grew up doing that professionally. I love when something is candid and someone does a funny face. I think that a lot of the network that surrounds me nervously asks if I have any bad photos of them because I’ll post them. I think now, more than ever, with our virtual personalities and how we interact with each other socially, being so predetermined and sought out, or posting this photo or that photo, is giving us a very biased understanding of one another. And when you get a photo that is just atrocious or ugly or unflattering or just honest, whether it’s angry or happy, that’s the best. My first semester when I did a photography class,I ended up getting in a lot of trouble. For one of my projects, I dressed up so you couldn’t tell who I was, and I waited at intersections for taxis. I would just open the door and take photos of the reactions of the people inside the cab. I think everyone plans what’s going to happen, and, well, it’s only in those moments of pure surprise that you get those moments of honesty, that true surprise, really any sort of response. I would rip open the door and take pictures. At first, I thought I would only get fear and I thought, ok, even if it is only fear, that will be fine, because at least it’s honest. But, I got a range of emotions. It was really honest. I even had a lady, she was my favorite, when I did it, she had a child sitting next to her in the seat, and rather than going into mama bear mode, she just looked at me and posed. When I opened the door, she just looked at me and posed.”

With so many talents that Cole has acquired, there is the case of remembrance, how will he be remembered by? Many people will remember him by Disney Channel, it’s inevitable, but is this necessarily a bad thing? What does Cole Sprouse want to be remembered for? “You know it’s funny, I’ve received that question before. A lot of Disney Channel actors and actresses, when they stop working for Disney Channel, they have a real aversion for not wanting to be remembered by Disney Channel. They try and redefine themselves through some type of “Wrecking Ball” performance or drug use, or showing their total wild side, which I think is totally foolish. For one, as a human, you’re lucky enough to be remembered for anything. The very human condition is that most of the time you’re forgotten. So, I don’t mind being remembered by Disney, especially because Disney Channel has brought a lot of joy to a lot of young children, which without a doubt are the people who deserve the joy the most. So, I don’t mind being remembered for that, which usually surprises people. At the end of the day, if you’re remembered for anything, you’re doing something right. Since I was young, I was called Julian from Big Daddy, Ben from Friends, Cody for the Suite Life, and Cole by the people who really know me. You just learn to respond to a bunch of names and different ideas. If I could be remembered for anything though, I would want to be remembered by something that pushes human knowledge or questioning forward. My one thing with acting is that it’s a very superficial thing, it’s a very temporary thing. You make people laugh, cry, etc. and that’s it. Most of the time it stays in just a lifetime, 50 plus years, but after that it dies down. People forget about the actors. One of the reasons I love archaeology is because it gets people asking questions. It’s a huge mystery. And once you get answers, it’s so important enough that people take notice and it moves human knowledge forward, they think a new way about something. You can say you have honestly left a mark, you really did something for an entire understanding for the world. That’s what I want to be remembered for, but, Disney Channel has done me a huge service. People know my name, my face. My social media is definitely lacking, but we’re still being recognized, and it has done me a huge service. So, I don’t mind being remembered for that, but I would still like to be remembered for pushing humanity forward. That’s what I strive to do.”

And living in New York must have helped tremendously with him escaping his Disney Channel fate. “Oh yeah, definitely. And I still think the idea that you are able to study whatever you want is the most helpful thing. My brother and I are still some of the only people on Disney Channel to go to a university. That’s because when you’re in the acting industry and you’re making money and you’re determined as being successful, you have the idea that you don’t need to do anything else, that you don’t need to try anything else, you don’t need to study anything else or take an interest in anything else, because if you continue on doing the same thing, that the fame will keep on rolling in, the money will keep on rolling in and bada bing, you don’t have to do anything else. But, coming to New York was amazing because one, it taught me what a brat I was and how spoiled I was, which was absolutely necessary and being able to study something else showed me what actual fulfillment feels like. Like, the acting industry is great and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid and you make a lot of people really happy, but it doesn’t fulfill you as working really hard and studying really hard and getting that good grade off your own back does, all without the assistance of a whole team of cast and crew. Coming to New York has been a fantastic thing. And everyone here doesn’t give a shit. No one cares who you are. If you are a good person, you’re a good person. If you’re an honest person, you’re an honest person. But you can’t get away with showing up and taking off your sunglasses and announcing you’re here to get free shit. And that’s good. No one deserves that. It teaches you nothing. And so the good thing about New York is that no one has that and it makes you strive even harder to have that.”

Now, with all that in mind, with all his majors, his talents, his skills, where does Cole Sprouse want to be in 5, 10, even 20 years from now? “Oh…I think, if I could be in any place in 5, 10, 20 years, I’d wanna be in a place where I’m running something, like a dig, or in a different part of the world and I’m still learning. I think I just want to be uncomfortable. When you are so comfortable, you don’t learn too much anymore. With archaeology, you travel all the time, and when you travel all the time, you’re always uncomfortable, not like nervous, but you’re not in your zone of comfort and so you are so aware of everything. I’d like that. I’d like to be outside of my comfy zone. That would be nice.”

With all of this in place, the world can now see that there is a possibility for a better ending than what we have seen. The Sprouse Twins have found a way for their lives to carry on out of the spotlight, while still maintaining a dignified image of who they are. Congratulations to these tremendous young men and do carry on with all your endeavors.

 

Marvin Funes: Life of Luxury

High fashion, luxurious expenses, aggrandized lifestyles, really, the idea of a life as such collectively tickles the inner mechanisms of all our minds. And as we spend a great deal of time fantasizing about this extravagant life, plotting our way to attain such glory, Mr. Marvin Funes is capturing the scene, bringing our fantasies to view.

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How generous of him, right? Yes, the 18 year old photographer has spent years capturing our wildest fantasies, creating incredible photos that grasp truly what luxury, fashion, and royalty encompasses. Studying photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Mr. Funes will hone in on his skills, perfecting his impeccable craft in order to capture the minds and attention of everyone who comes in contact with his creations. So, without further adieu, I am honored to present a fascinating, talented man.

With such a strong, perfectly worded introduction (I take full responsibility for such *wink*), Mr. Funes must have skills that have been expertly crafted for years, maybe even since childhood. He must enlighten us on his life-long passion. “I first started photography in 8th grade, so in 2009; I was 13 years old. The way I started is actually pretty funny. There was this girl I knew through a mutual friend and we didn’t like each other at all. Before I started photography, I was more inclined to drawing and painting, and digital art every now and then- there was always tension between us since she liked doing those things as well and always tried to outshine me. One day she took up photography and started posting pictures on Facebook; I didn’t like them- I thought I could do way better. So, I ended up buying a cheap point-and-shoot camera and started experimenting with different genres of photography; I eventually fell in love with the medium.

A year after that I started specializing in fashion photography. I got myself a DSLR, that I suppose was considered nice at the time. I still use that same camera, the Canon Rebel T1i. It’s pretty outdated and I still only use its 18mm-55mm kit lens, but it gets the job done.”

So, maybe not lifelong passion, but definitely a passion. This passion is exemplified through his vibrant work. With such incredible pieces, he must be noticed by notable companies, I’m sure. “I can’t really say that I’ve worked with anyone “notable.” I’ve only ever worked with clients/talent who are brand new; up-and-coming. The market in the DMV area for fashion isn’t very desirable, in my opinion- it’s in no way comparable to NYC, obviously, so I never really bothered trying to get a lot of work while I was there. But ever since I made the big move from NOVA to NYC on August 1st, I’ve been trying to get my name out there. So far, some notable people I’ve met with are agents with MSA Models and ADAM. I’ve also reached out to the owner of V-Productions- who’s also a photographer and producer with amazing connections; he helped produce the “X Mark Your Spot” campaign for Calvin Klein. I’m currently in the process of trying to become his second shooter, and sending out my work to more modeling agencies to test with them.”

Soon enough, it will come along, that I feel with no uncertainty. Now, as I have said before, Mr. Funes holds a predilection for the extravagant features of life. Is this what captures his inspiration? “I’m mainly inspired by extravagance; I love rich, romantic aesthetics. I like looking at major fashion campaigns, particularly ones for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, and trying to create work that look similar to those but in my own voice. There’s so much attention to detail in those campaigns to make everything look expensive; the composition, the styling, the story, the mood, etc- it’s all perfected. The way the pictures are shot give a lot of depth and movement to them as well, which is something I like doing a lot. I like having a wider angle in my pictures and seeing the model without losing the background- it feels more real and engaging to me.”

Well, with this love of luxury, where does his love fall in his favorite genre of photography? “My favorite type of photography is definitely fashion. I love the fantasy; the luxury. The creative environment and commercial opportunity is something that I’m really drawn to.”

And as well all know, fashion is a world more luxurious and aggrandized as any, which sure makes for some incredible shoots. What has been his favorite shoot he has done so far? “My favorite shoot that I’ve done has got to be the one I did for my friend, Shannon Tate. It was for her senior collection; she needed shots done to create a lookbook and sell at the runway show. We did the shoot in a gorgeous museum called the Anderson House; it was in DC. Every room was so intricate and luxurious. I had studio lights, assistants, a hair and makeup person; I had to coordinate a time with the person that ran the museum for the private shoot- it was probably the most elaborate shoot I’ve done so far since I usually just work with one other person.”

While it may have been elaborate, I’m sure it was an experience that would never be exchanged. I’m sure, though, that his dream shoot hasn’t been accomplished as of yet though, so what exactly would his dream shoot entail? “My dream would be to shoot a big fashion campaign at the Palace of Versailles with a high profile model like Kate Moss, Natasha Poly, or Magdalena Frackowiak, with couture gowns. It’s been done, sure, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. There are a lot of things keeping me from it, like lack of experience, connections, budget, etc., but hopefully one day I’ll get to experience a shoot like that.”

Well with the talent he possesses, I’m sure the dream shoot will be reality in the nearest future. With one ambition revealed, what other fantasies wonder in Mr. Funes’ mind? “I’d love to become a very well established, notable photographer- just like any other photographer would want, I’m sure. I’d love to see my work in Vogue and on billboards throughout major cities. Branching out from photography and getting into modeling would be really nice, too. I always viewed modeling as another form of performance art- I’d absolutely love to walk for fashion houses like Givenchy or Alexander McQueen. Collaborating with designers and creating a fashion line is something I’ve been interested in doing as well. I’ve done a lot of menswear sketches, but I’ve never bothered to do anything with them since I don’t know how to sew.”

Incredible enough that those accomplishments have not been met, yet. But in close time, I’m sure all his aspirations will fall perfectly in place, as I have only met a few with talent that Mr. Funes possesses. So whether you dream of being royalty or already lucky enough to be granted with a life, Mr. Funes will always be there to capture the fantasy that is such.

Lauren Alef: The Dior Diva

It’s time to tell the age-old tale of the California girl meeting southern hospitality on her way to fame. Never heard of it before? Then you are in for quite a treat.

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Once upon a time, 20 years ago to be exact, there was a stunning girl, born all the way across the land in Santa Barbara, California. Not only were her looks charming, her knowledge far surpassed the rest, allowing her to receive admission to Duke University. And, traveling across the land, the English Major met many feats, taking on Dior, Teen Vogue, Saint Laurent, and even Harper’s BAZAAR. And while it may seem as though it is a fairy tale, Lauren Sachiko Alef is a real, living talent that I had the incredible opportunity of featuring.

Ah, Dior, Teen Vogue, Runway, such amazing feats, she must have fantasized about those accomplishments since she was a little girl, right? “Modeling was never something I even remotely considered growing up. Besides being short (think: 5’3” on a good day), I have an athletic build and was actually a bit of a tomboy. Ever since I was really young, I’ve been a competitive athlete (I was a very competitive swimmer and volleyball player, a scholastic All-American and black belt in judo, and now I’m on the Duke rowing team).

But at the same time, I always had a pretty creative mind. I was fascinated by art – observing it and making it – and towards the end of junior high, that sort of creativity began to translate to my wardrobe. I started experimenting with trying to express myself through my clothes, and became hooked as I began learning about different designers, trends, and styles.

At around the same time this transition was happening, I got my first modeling job. I was fourteen-years-old – a freshman in high school.”

Sad to say, that’s considered somewhat of a late start nowadays. So, what was the first job she was able to covet? “My freshman year of high school, my best friend and I accompanied our older brothers on a college road trip on the east coast. We saw a model casting in a Teen Vogue we were reading on the plane there, and realized we would be in the New York area around the time it was happening. We figured we would go just for the experience, and I truly had zero expectations of being chosen. The casting consisted of them taking polaroid shots and asking us a few short questions (like our favorite designers or to describe our personal style). Towards the end of the day, we came back and they announced 5 winners. I was actually the very last person they announced, and I didn’t believe it when they said my name.

The five of us were to walk in a prom runway show the next week at one of the Teen Vogue Haute Spots that was covered in an in-book listing in the magazine.”

Oh, so fancy. I would say what an incredible stroke of luck, yet, who would be that shocked with a face like her’s? But, I do want to hear more of this incredible endeavor. “The prom runway show I walked in for Teen Vogue was a pretty surreal experience. We came in for a fitting, and I got to try on a ton of amazing designer gowns and accessories. Ultimately, they chose 3 very different outfits for me to walk in (one bright, one edgy, and one romantic). On the day of the show, we had to get there a few hours early for hair and MUA. I loved the whole production of it – the styling and creativity behind it all. But in terms of the actual show, I was kind of a nervous wreck. As weird as it sounds, whenever I had been in the spotlight before that, I was never really aware that people were looking at me. For example, if I was playing a volleyball game, I was so engaged in the actual game that I would tune out the crowd. In this case, I had to be a lot more self-aware, and I definitely felt like I had to fake a confidence that didn’t come naturally to me. It was definitely challenging, but at the end of the day, it was really fun, and I got to meet some amazing people (like Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue).

After that experience, I was totally hooked on fashion. When I had met Amy, I asked her for some advice on how to be successful in the industry, and she told me to get as much experience as possible. So that’s what I tried to do. I started designing formal dresses, taking photography classes, working as a stylist at a local boutique, and interning in the editorial department at a local magazine. As this was all happening, Teen Vogue gave me the opportunity to enter the “Dior Diva” competition. For this, people voted on social media for the winner, who was to be flown out to NYC for a photo shoot to appear in the magazine. My friends were incredibly supportive, and I really think it was because of them that I won the competition.

But again I got flown out to NYC and set up in a hotel in Times Square for a few days. I got to tour the Teen Vogue HQ. On the day of the photo shoot, a car took me to Industria Superstudios, and I went through hours of hair, makeup, and wardrobe styling. The shoot was for Dior makeup, so the focus was portrait images. This was my first photoshoot, and I expected it to be different from my runway experience in that I wouldn’t have a ton of people looking at me. But I was definitely wrong. I didn’t realize that it takes a village to make a photo shoot happen. There were a ton of people on set, and it took me a little bit of time to get comfortable in front of the camera. But it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and it solidified my interest to work in fashion.”

Well, maybe this is a fairy tale then, as all of it sounds incredibly surreal. Yet, this is not the only talent Ms. Alef possesses in the fashion industry. While she was found behind the camera, she also can be found behind the company. “As much as I enjoyed my modeling experiences, I never saw it as a viable career option. I think Teen Vogue was a special avenue for me because they were so accommodating to different looks and builds. But at the same time, I wasn’t particularly passionate about modeling. I was passionate about fashion and the production, creativity, and community behind it.

So, once I got to college, I began to experiment in different parts of the fashion industry with summer internships. My first summer, I worked in the PR department at Saint Laurent in New York City. There I handled a lot of the sample trafficking, and saw VIP and editorial requests through start to finish (from the initial requests to pulling looks, to accumulating coverage of the product). It was a really hands-on experience, and I got some cool opportunities (like helping dress Scarlett Johansson for the Tony Awards) and got to work with some of the most hard-working, fun people I’ve ever met. After working there, I wasn’t completely set on a direct career goal, but I did realize that I want to work in a creative capacity in the industry, and I want to work with people.

The next summer, I decided to switch things up a little bit and work in the Marketing department at Harper’s BAZAAR in NYC. The entire department was filled with such nice people who were so invested in making sure I was getting the most out of my experience there, and because of that, I got some really cool opportunities. One of the most memorable ones was getting to assist at a photoshoot for The Coveteur (one of my favorite websites of all time). Having just finished my experience there, I’m still not entirely set on a particular department, but I know I like working at photoshoots and at events. Because, like I said before, I like to express myself creatively in a collaborative environment.”

With such incredible experiences in the fashion industry, an industry that finds home in New York, why Duke University? “I have the biggest heart for Southern California, but I figured I should have an out-of-state experience for college, just so I could experience living in another part of the country for a part of my life. Duke had everything I wanted in a school. Strong academics, amazing athletics, school spirit, a social scene, and not too severe winters. And it’s totally provided.

I’ve had a great two years at Duke so far. I’ve gotten involved in a lot of different things there – some new and some old. I walked onto the Varsity rowing team. I was an RA for freshman (this year I’ll be one for upperclassman). I’m in a sorority (Kappa Kappa Gamma). I’m a leader for Campus Outreach, an on-campus ministry that’s provided me with really solid, loving community. And in terms of fashion, I got to intern for Rent the Runway during the school year, and I work as a Fashion Editor for FORM, Duke’s fashion magazine.”

So, with such a full plate, full of numerous talents and opportunities, what aspirations and goals lie ahead for Ms.Alef? “There are a couple things I’m passionate about. First – people. I love meeting and working with people. And not on a superficial level; I like really getting to know and connecting with people at a heart level. So I know whatever job I (hopefully) get, I will be working with people. I’ve been so fortunate to work with really friendly, kind people in the fashion industry, but for me it’s so important to reflect that wherever I work. I know sometimes the industry can get a bad rap for being harsh or superficial. In regards to that, I do have sort of lofty aspirations for the industry. I’ve found that a lot of the time, people are searching for something to make themselves feel complete. For me, I don’t want fashion, beauty, or self-image to be the thing that completes people. I want to help people to feel fully complete on their own, and have fashion as an enhancer – as an avenue of self-expression. Because at the end of the day, fashion really is fun. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing when I graduate, but hopefully you’ll see me working hard in the fashion industry, working with people and getting to express myself creatively and influencing people in and out of the industry.”

And so the tale is told to here, but fret not, for this fair maiden has much farther to travel, many more feats to accomplish, and with the talents she possesses, in no time, I’m sure she will be ruling the land.

 

Tal Barnston: The Perfect Fit

To maintain one’s body is a struggle. The calorie-coated items of our daily lives plague our healthy mind, or, well, the part of the mind that is trying to be healthy. It’s hard to master a nutritional, healthy lifestyle, and yet, not only has Tal Barnston perfected the task, he’s helping others do it for themselves.

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The 21 year old, Los Angeles native has spent the past few years taking his physique and overhauling it, for the growth of his athletic abilities and for his blossoming modeling career.  And of course, it only makes sense that he studies Physical Therapy at the University of Santa Barbara. To hear the intensive training he undergoes, as well as his trainees, was incredibly interesting, even though I felt exhausted just hearing about it myself. So, take a gulp of water and a deep breath, for it’s time to undergo some training.

Making it in the modeling world requires you to have a near perfect physique, but with Mr. Barnston, he’s already one step ahead of the game. So, while maintaining an incredible body is one large portion of his life, where does modeling fall? “I have never officially signed with a modeling agency. Since the age of 18 I have been asked to model for different shoots. Various photographers have been interested in shooting for mutual portfolio development and I have also done several shoots for up and coming clothing companies. Modeling has not been a lifelong passion. However, keeping in shape, healthy, and looking as best possible all the time has always been consistent throughout my life.”

So the interest in a healthy lifestyle has been a constant through his life, but when did he first express interest in helping others achieve their ideal bodies? “I started personal training at the age of 17. I wasn’t trying to establish myself as a trainer at the time, but simply develop as a basketball player. I played basketball all 4 years of high school and was by far the smallest and skinniest for the first 3 years. Hiring Rene Johnson, basketball and personal fitness trainer, was one of the best decisions I had ever made. He started as my trainer and developed into my best friend until this day. He helped me gain 35 lbs in the first month and half and take my game to a much more advanced level. After having such drastic changes, I must have influenced a few people because others were now asking for my help as well. 1 person turned into 10 people by the time I was 18. 10 people turned into 15 by the time I was 19. At the age of 21 I currently assist and train 20 people. The numbers seem to increase as I spend more and more time in Los Angeles. Studying Athletic Training and working in the Athletic Training room with all Santa Barbara City College athletes has translated over to my ability to develop men, women, and children all over Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.”

 

And with his intensive knowledge of training and the human body, he got a gig with The Santa Barbara Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. “In Fall of 2014, I rushed the University of Santa Barbara Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity simply for the experience I would receive. I felt that the frat had a collection of individuals who I could create some memories with and build relationships that could only benefit my success in the near future. In the process of pledging I became known as that fitness guy that could most likely answer questions and help out with anything fitness related. I always helped out and decided that after initiation, it would be a great opportunity to help and build my personal experience with a fraternity boot camp. I began hosting open workouts 5-6 times a week 1-2 times a day for 3 months. In a frat that reaches numbers over 100 individuals, over 3/4 had came to the workouts.”

Well, with his popularity among the frat, he must have a great workout system. So, what would a workout with Tal Barnston entail? “Training the fraternity consisted of a 30-40 minute high intensity and high pace bodyweight workout from start to finish. The workout would always begin with a group dynamic stretch (stretching that involves active movements related to the exercises about to be executed). It would then move into separating everyone into even groups to work with. If there were 15 people at the workout that day there would be 3 groups, 20 people and there would most likely be 4 groups. In that group I would choose exercises that needed to be accomplished in a collective fashion in an attempt to always keep our brotherhood working together and keeping the family aspect involved. An example would be one person doing 10 clap push ups while everyone else was in a squat hold. Once the person finished the push ups he would get up into squat position and the person to the right of him would begin his clap push ups. This would continue until everyone in the group had completed the pushups. Group exercises like this may start off easy for the first 2 minutes, but it soon turns into a lot of motivating and positive enforcement in order to finish and move on to a collection of different exercises.”

I’m literally winded from just imagining that. I can’t even begin to imagine what he does on his own. “In order to maintain my physique, I workout and stay active 6 days out of the week. I surf in the early mornings before work 3 times a week,  have a high intensity 40 minute weight lifting/bodyweight workout in the late afternoon, and usually find time to do a different form of cardio 3 times a week at different times of the day or night as well. This includes sprinting, cone work, soccer, basketball, swimming, hiking, jogging, jump rope, and anything else that is available to get my heart rate going for 15-40 minutes of my day.

With such a large focus on physical training, where do his aspirations for his future lie? Do they include modeling? “My aspirations are based mainly around on helping others. I find enjoyment out of training people because I feel amazing as a person develops before my eyes and becomes the person physically and mentally that they have always wanted. Helping others reach their goals has a return that is priceless. However, helping others and training others only benefits the people that I personally work with. For this reason, I aspire to create a system that can help people reach their fitness and health goals on a much larger scale. With this I plan to also be an established Physical Therapist. But besides the training side, I do really enjoy modeling. It keeps me focused on maintaining a clean cut look and body. It is rewarding to see a great picture as I know that it was worked for. If the opportunity to model more than part time rises, I would be more than happy to take it. I would love to travel the world for modeling purposes. I feel that traveling and modeling would be an amazing experience.”

Well, while on the subject of body images, many in the fashion industry hold negative connotations regarding their bodies, as is the case when looking at extremely thin models. What would a trainer say to this? “People that struggle with weight issues go through a very hard time feeling comfortable in there own skin. I speak from experience in being one of the skinniest kids in high school. My younger brother and many of my clients can speak from experience in being remarkably overweight. I advise all people that have such issues to not walk to get what they want but to sprint. It will take a lot longer to walk to the grocery store than to run there. If people want a change it is completely up to them on how long it will take to be successful. The answers and opportunities are out waiting for us.”

And if people are searching for a change, a change to live a healthier lifestyle, they should contact Mr.Barnston, an incredible trainer and, possibly, future model. So, if you’re a model, looking to obtain the perfect physique, or just an average joe, looking for a healthy path, you know who to call.