modOration Exclusive: Interview with Challen Cates from “Big Time Rush”

Challen Cates plays Jennifer Knight, Kendall’s mom, in the Nickelodeon’s series “Big Time Rush”. I had the chance to interview her about her role, working with the Big Time Rush guys and the “Big Time Movie”.

In the show, Challen’s character travels from the snowy Midwest to sunny Los Angeles with her son (Kendall) and daughter to help her son and their friends pursue their music career. She definitely must be one of the coolest TV moms around!

Interview with Challen Cates of “Big Time Rush”

modoration: How did you land the role of Jennifer Knight in Big Time Rush?
Challen: I auditioned for the part with casting director, Geralyn Flood. She had already auditioned me for another popular kid show but this time I got it!

modOration: How did you find out the role was yours?
Challen: My agent called me with the good news. Of course, at the time I had no idea what a big hit the show would turn out to be.

modOration: What’s it like working with the Big Time Rush guys?
Challen: Fun! Fun! Fun! There is never a dull moment. They are all really amazing people and I just enjoy being around them.

modOration: When you are out and about, do fans recognize you as the mom from the show?
Challen: Yes. I get a lot of “Hey Mamma Knight”!

modOration: Are you currently filming season 3? If so, what can we expect from the new season?
Challen: We will begin filming season 3 in April. The band has become incredibly popular which has changed their lives and it also affects the rest of the characters. Season 3 will have us all navigating those changes.

modOration: Out of the episodes that have already aired, which one is your favorite – the most memorable?
Challen: Well… Big Time Moms is near and dear to my heart. And Big Time Beach Party was just plain fun to shoot.

Big Time Moms

modOration: Let’s talk about the movie “Big Time Movie”. What’s it about and what can you tell me about it, without giving away too much of course!

Challen: Big Time Movie was a great experience. The movie feels a bit different from the show. All of our story lines are more intricate so that was nice. And the movie looks more cinematic.

modOration: Since you play the guys’ mom on TV, do you find yourself playing the mom role with them off set as well?
Challen: I try to be more of a friend than a mom to the guys. They all have great parents in real life. I think that because Ciara (Katie) is a bit younger I do feel more motherly with her.

modOration: Are there any other projects you are working on that you can tell us about?
Challen: I am developing a few scripts which I hope to turn into independent films.

modOration: What advice would you give parents whose kids want to pursue acting as a career?
Challen: Be absolutely certain that this is the career that you want to pursue. It is not always glamorous and fun. It takes an incredible amount of hard work, persistence, dedication and resilience.

modOration: What advice would you give kids who want to pursue acting as a career?
Challen: Try not to be focused on becoming a “Star.” Loving what you do can be incredibly fun and rewarding. Enjoy the ride!

Thank you Challen!

modOration Exclusive: Interview with Michael & Marisa

Have you heard of the brother and sister singing duo Michael & Marisa? I’ve covered their music a couple of times (listen to one of their songs here!) and now I am excited to share with you an exclusive interview. I asked them about their love for music, their debut album and where they see themselves in five years.

modOration Exclusive: Interview with Michael & Marisa

modOration: Tell me about your love for music and how long you both have been singing.

Michael &  Marisa: Well, we’ve been singing since we were babies…We used to get up really early and record ourselves singing and playing drum beat machines and other instruments….I (Marisa) started playing drums at age 8 and Michael guitar at age 6.

modOration: When did you decide to combine your vocal talents to form a brother/sister duo?

Michael & Marisa: When Michael was seven he started performing gigs on his own singing and playing guitar.  Shortly after, I joined him on drums and vocals.  We’ve both loved creating, playing and performing music together since we were very little.  Michael was just born musical and that’s what started it.  Our parents are not musical at all.

modOration: What’s life like in your home? Have you been and are you constantly surrounded by music?

Michael & Marisa: It’s a constant rush rush to get it all done…..Our music career is like a full time job and in addition we go to regular school with a full day and lots of homework.  At night we juggle the homework, but also want most to work on our original songs, learning new cover songs, keeping in touch with fans and posting for them on facebook, twitter etc, doing interviews, rehearsing for gigs, playing gigs, making video posts, and thinking of new ways to get our music out there.  So music is all that we do other than school really….not much time for socializing, but that’s OK.  We love this.

modOration: Let’s talk about your debut album Kickin’ It Together. What was it like working on that, from choosing the songs to recording them?

Michael & Marisa: We wrote and recorded the songs over 18 months starting at age 8 and 9 with “I Can’t Stop”.  We had so much fun working with Michael’s guitar teacher, Billy Garzone, who actually produced most of the songs on the album.  He practically lived at our house doing songwriting sessions, guitar lessons, band practice and he even got me (Marisa) started learning drums.  After he taught me what he knew, he brought in his drummer to be my teacher.  Recording the songs was easy and because we are really old school musicians we had real players in the studio playing the instruments that we didn’t play…like bass and keyboards.  We didn’t know it then but we have found that a lot of recordings use prerecorded instruments and don’t have studio musicians actually playing.  Working in the studio was very natural for us.  No adjustment…It was just an extension of our music life….sometimes the studio guys would help us with the homework that we’d have to fit in.

modOration: I love your music video for “That’s How We Do It”. What’s it like shooting a music video?

Michael & Marisa: Well it’s a huge project….clothes, props, instruments, people, makeup, hair, being spontaneous but having a plan….going with the flow…a lot of waiting around and repeating things…like playing the same song three times….It’s a ton of fun and the most amazing thing is when you see how the editing people take the footage and turn it into the music video.  Stokes Nielson at EMI in Nashville produced that song and directed the video.  He suggested that we make the video around a couple of the shows we played last summer on the Greyson Chance tour in Houston and Dallas.  It was a great idea.  The audiences were very receptive to our new song.

modOration: What’s it like being in the studio recording music?

Michael & Marisa: Well, in addition to what we said above, we can say that there is a lot of positive and creative energy in the studio.  The people who work there do it because they love it.  Before a song is recorded it isn’t documented as a song and so creating a song in the studio is the birth of something that didn’t exist before.  It’s pretty amazing that when you get there in the morning, there is no song and by the end of the day a song is created.  In the studio there are the artists, producer and sound technician and sometimes musicians and videographers to document the moment.  Everyone is always really into it and very excited about recording the song.  We absolutely love it.  We have worked with at least six producers in at least six different studios over the last six years and find that the work is the same, but producers all go about things in different ways.

modOration: Is there anything you can tell us about the new music you’ll be releasing?

Michael & Marisa: We LOVE our new music.  We collaborated with awesome people who we admire and appreciate tremendously.  The next song is a Marisa ballad…a follow up to “The Same”.  It’s a teen struggles song that we hope will further empower our peers.  This past week we have been in another studio writing three more songs that are so different and so cool!  We know our fans are going to love them.

modOration: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Michael & Marisa: Doing what we do….but with our music playing in iphones all over the world.  Doing shows all over the world and hearing our music on TV and radio….if there still is radio…hopefully there will be….We love radio….Hopefully, there will still be TV.  The world moves so fast….

modOration: Do you have any dreams beyond singing? Maybe an acting gig?

Michael & Marisa: Sure we love acting…We are musicians first… Music can soothe, inspire, energize, heal, and empower.  It’s all about the music and the way it makes people feel.

modOration: Thank you!

modOration Exclusive: Interview with Madison Pettis from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”

The talented Madison Pettis is the voice of Izzy in Disney Junior’s hit show “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”. I first came to know and love Madison when she starred in The Game Plan and have been a fan ever since!

Jake and the Neverland Pirate’s first season was just released on DVD and in celebration of the release, we have this exclusive interview with Madison. We asked her about getting the role, the differences of shooting an animated show and upcoming projects she has going on.

Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to get your copy of Jake & The Never Land Pirates: Season 1 V.1 today!

modOration: Tell me about how you got the role for Izzy in Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Madison Pettis: I started the audition for Jake & the Never Land Pirates about two years ago. I immediately loved Izzy! I remember when they first showed me the picture of Izzy & I thought, “She kind of looks like me!” My agent told me they really liked my giggles.

mod: Describe your character Izzy.

Madison: Izzy is the only girl pirate in Jake’s team! She is spunky and is a total believer that girls can do anything boys can do, and sometimes even better! She’s definitely all about girl power!

mod: Do you have a favorite episode?

Madison: My favorite episodes are the ones with the mermaids and the ones with the Pirate Princess! Those are some really fun girly ones!

mod: What are some of the differences between doing an animated TV show as opposed to a movie?

Madison: When you are doing an animated TV show, you have to make all of your emotion and energy come through in your voice, since no one can actually see you. You also have to act it out with a lot of enthusiasm in the booth! Also, recording an episode of an animated show is a lot faster than live-action acting. I record an episode of Jake & the Never Land Pirates in about 3 hours. Doing an episode of a live-action show takes about a week. And there’s no hair, make-up, or wardrobe needed for animation!

mod: September 19th was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Do you have a favorite pirate saying? :) Arrr….

Madison: My favorite pirate saying is, “Yay hey!” or “Yay hey no way!”

mod: Jake and the Neverland Pirates has done really well as far as ratings go. What do you think it is about the show that kids love?

Madison: I think kids can really relate to the friendship between Izzy, Jake, and Cubby. They always have so much fun together! And I think kids love being able to go on new adventures with them in each episode. I also think kids and parents both love the music! There are tons of fun songs in every episode that the kids sing, and songs that Sharky & Bones sing at the end of each episode!

mod: So, both the DVD and soundtrack release on the same day. How exciting! Have you heard the soundtrack yet and if so, do you have a favorite song from it?

Madison: My favorite song is “Talk Like a Pirate”! It’s a super fun one!

mod: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Madison: Yes, I’m super excited because I have a live-action show coming out very soon from the creators/producers of Hannah Montana called “Life With Boys”! It’s about a girl living in a household full of brothers and I play her best friend, “Allie”. My character is basically the only female influence in her life. My character is a very girly-girl! She’s a freshman cheerleader in high school who’s very much into fashion, make-up, & boys! It’s a very funny show with real-life situations that both girls and guys can relate to and laugh at!

Thank you Madison!

Exclusive Interview with Nolan Sotillo from Disney’s “Prom”

Did you see Disney’s PROM in theaters? If not, you can get your chance to see it this Tuesday, August 30th when it comes to DVD and Blu-ray! It’s such a fun film and with school back in session for most, this is the perfect time to watch a movie about life at school.

Not only did I have the chance to interview Janel Ortiz who plays Ali, but I also interviewed Nolan Sotillo who plays the shy Lucas Arnaz who’s trying so hard to get the girl. We chatted it up about his character, making the movie and his next project – a pilot for Disney Channel called Madison High!

modOration: Tell me a little about your character Lucas from PROM.

Nolan Sotillo: Lucas is a sophomore and he’s kind of a geek and he has one very close friend at school, played by Cameron Monaghan, Corey. They’re really close friends and Lucas can totally just be himself around Corey. But then when it comes to his crush, Simone who’s played by Danielle Campbell, he is super super shy and just really awkward.

Every time he’s around her, he doesn’t know what to say. He’s done everything he can to try to have a chance with her. Through all his awkwardness and not knowing what to say, he actually turns out to be really charming.

modOration: So, your character was struggling between getting the girl and keeping your best friend, have you ever dealt with something like that in real life?

Nolan: No, not as badly as Lucas did because he was trying so hard [to get the girl] that he forgot about his best friend. He didn’t really do it on purpose, he just wanted to impress Simone.

modOration: Do you have any advice for guys who want to ask a girl out to prom and they’re really nervous and they have no idea what to say?

You know, I don’t think there’s ever really the “right” thing to say. And even if you did find just the right thing to say, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to say yes. You just need to be yourself because you don’t want to put up a front and then they end up liking someone you’re not. Then you can never truly be yourself around them. If it’s the right girl, she’ll like you for who you are.

modOration: Are you and Lucas a like in any way?

Nolan: Yes, in some ways. He has a big love for music and so do I. It’s a big part of my life. I have a couple of really close best friends. I don’t think I’m as awkward around girls as Lucas is though.

modOration: Have you been to your prom and if so, what was it like?

Nolan: No, not yet. I’m only 16 and am a junior this year so I haven’t been to one yet. But, I am definitely looking forward to attending one.

modOration: This was your first big screen movie right? Tell me about that experience.

Nolan: Well, the auditioning process was just like a normal audition. You always have to put 100% into every audition because you never know where it could lead to. Through the whole process, I just gave it all I could and it worked out. I realized then that you have to always give what you do 100%.

The movie itself was just the greatest experience of my life. Being on set and making all these amazing friends. There were such great people from Disney to work with and it was such a great experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast.

This also led to me auditioning for another show, which is a High School Musical spin off called Madison High. I ended up booking that show. It’s a singing and dancing show. It’s a pilot right now and they’re trying to get it picked up, but it should be on next year.

What was it like working with the cast from Prom?

It was just incredible. I didn’t get to work with everybody who was in the movie in a scene, but I did get to hang out with everyone. I had such a unique relationship with every single person. Our cast bonded so well, right from the get-go and I definitely have to thank them for helping me out so much on the film, since I didn’t have much experience. They really helped guide me through the process.

Do you have any funny stories from making the movie?

Nolan: I do actually have one. The shoot was so quick. We only did about 30 days on set of shooting. But, there was this one point where we were doing a photo shoot and Janelle [Ortiz] was in her prom dress and we were doing this shoot at the top of the stair case. So, we finish the shoot and Janelle is walking down the staircase and she tripped and fell and tumbled down the stair case. She was bleeding and think she cut her leg a little. Everyone ran up and wanted to make sure the dress was okay.

Do you have a favorite scene from the movie?

I actually really loved the tree scene just because it was such a blast to shoot. We didn’t do it at the studio, we did it at someone’s house and the tree was just amazing. The tree looks so amazing from the outside and the inside of it is hollowed out, very cool.

So, I had to hit the pencil case so that it would fall down. They worked some movie magic there. They had a piece of clear tape and string, but it turns out that I hit it every time that I threw. The scene was shot at midnight and that whole scene was a lot of fun to make.

modOration: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about? You mentioned Madison High. Can you tell us anything about that?

Nolan: Right now, it’s still just a pilot. But the cast is just incredible. I’m not sure if it’s just luck or what, but everyone is just bonding so well. It’s going to be a great show. It’s really funny. The music is great. We have some really talented song writers that wrote music for the pilot. I got to be in one of the songs.

My character’s name is Colby Baker and I’m pretty sure he’s a sophomore in high school. He’s really into anime and he draws cartoons. He’s such a gifted artist. His cousin is a really good tennis player, she’s a girl named Peyton and she’s played by Leah Lewis. She tries to guide him [her cousin Colby] through his first high school experience but his motto is stay out of trouble, don’t bother anyone and everything will be fine. But she goes out and does the exact opposite.

modOration: When did you start acting?

I started getting really serious about acting in January of 2010 and then I auditioned for PROM, so I had been acting for about a year and a half.

modOration: Do you have any advice for kids wanting to get started in acting?

Definitely. Just know that it takes a lot of hard work. And it’s not as easy as it might look. You don’t just audition and then the part is yours like magic. It takes a lot of hard work and perserverance. Just put everything you have into every audition. I probably auditioned for about 30 things before I even got a call back. So, you have to realize that part of it is luck. They’re usually looking for a very specific type of person but they’ll bring you in anyway thinking maybe you would be right for the part. Just work really hard and don’t worry if you’re not getting call backs right away. Just keep trying, keep on working on your craft. All you need is one yes to take you somewhere.

modOration: Thank you Nolan!

Exclusive Interview with Janelle Ortiz from Disney’s “Prom”

Disney’s Prom is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on August 30th and I had the chance to chat with a couple of the stars from the film. First up, Janelle Ortiz who played Ali Gomez. I enjoyed talking with her about her character, her own prom and making this fun Disney film.

modOration: Tell me a little about your character Ali from PROM.

Janelle Ortiz: I play Ali Gomez and my character is the best friend of Aimee Teegarden’s character. She is basically the person in high school who wants to know everything about everybody else. She’s not necessarily malicious. She’s the typical teenager who texts all the time and tweets all the time and wants to know everybody’s buisness.

modOration: Are you and Ali a like in any way?

Janelle: In some ways. I like knowing things about people. She’s always trying to keep herself busy in a way. She meets Rolo and is fascinated by Rolo and just what he’s about and how interesting and awkward he is. I like finding quirky things about people and finding out things but not as much as she does.

modOration: Have you been to your school prom?

Janelle: I did! I was a senior this past year. I went to my friend’s prom when I was a junior and my prom when I was a senior, and they were both absolutely fantastic. We had a massive party bus and it was a 2 story bus. We took all the awkward pictures by the fireplace beforehand. We all got in the bus and danced on the way to prom on the bus, danced at prom, and danced on the way back in the bus, so there was a lot of dancing that night.

modOration: What do you think it is about prom that makes it such a big event for high school students?

Janelle: I think prom is the ultimate celebration of high school in a way. You’re celebrating everything you’ve learned in the past four years, and the relationships you’ve made and the things you’ve done at that school. It’s the final celebration with your entire class before every student goes and does their own thing and goes to college. It’s the final celebration as a group, I suppose.

modOration: This was your first big screen movie right? Tell me about the movie making experience for you.

Janelle: Yes it was my first movie. I got the audition and manager and then she submitted me for it. I went in to audition and I believe there were 1600 girls and it was pretty ridiculous. I didn’t know that there would be a lot at the time, and if I did I probably would have crawled in the corner and freaked out. There was three different auditions. You go to the casting director and director and producer and it was all on tape.

It was kind of a funny story because I got the audition, and I thought early in my career that I didn’t want to be a kid actor on like Disney Channel or Nickelodeon or anything like that. So I found out it was a Disney movie and I said I was going to rebel agaisnt it and not conform to what they watch. So I went in and I purposely did the most awful audition. There was a bunch of random pauses and random beats. After I came out I was talking to one of the producers and they said that after I left, she knew I was the one because it was the most natural. So it was fun for me.

modOration: Tell me about making the movie and what that was like for you.

Janelle: It was so great. I was so nervous. It was my first show and I didn’t know what to expect. There were so many great actors and producers there that have been working for a long time. I was nervous because I was the newbie, but they were so sweet and they took me under their wing and helped me and taught me everything I needed to know. If I messed up they said it was okay and we kept on going. It was the best experience.

modOration: Do you have any funny stories from the set you can tell?

Janelle: Yes, we have a lot of funny stories. I was the cast klutz. I’d always fall all the time because I wear glasses in real life. When I was younger I wore contacts because I played softball and I was a catcher, so I’d always get dirt in my eyes. So I have a scratched cornea and all that nonsense. So I can’t wear contacts for more than two hours. Filming is like, 8,9,10 hours straight, so I did everything on set blind. I would always trip over things and knock things over and I would just fall.

We were doing a photo shoot at the top of the staircase and I felt so cool because I did my first photo shoot snd everything. So I was walking down the stairs and I tripped and fell and rolled and tumbled and it was terrible. I was wearing my prom dress and everyone ran to me and the first thing they asked was if I ruined the prom dress.

modOration: Do you have a favorite scene from the movie?

Janelle: Yes, we have a character named Lloyd and there’s a scene where he goes up to a couple who have been together forever and it was the most awkward scene. He goes up to her to give back her pencil and they are just hugging and it’s my favorite scene in the whole movie.

modOration: I was reading that you had a sports injury, which led to you giving up your dream of a college sports scholarship. Can you tell me about that?

Janelle: When I was 8 I started softball and I was a catcher. From then I always knew what I wanted to do and I wanted to go to college doing that. My junior year in high school was when I was recruited by colleges to play and I had about five colleges recruiting me at one time. I had everything that I worked for since I was 8 years old right in front of me. My junior year, which was the most important year in the process, I got injured and I knew I could never play ever again.

What happened was I had tendonitis in my shoulder for about two years and I was a catcher. I really didn’t want to tell anyone. So for two years I told no one and it got to the point where I couldn’t even throw it to second base. So when I would play, my muscles would rip, and when they would go back together they would overlap each other.

Once that happened, that was my identity. I was the athlete, the one wearing my Letterman jacket to school, that was me. So it was like my identity was taken away from me and I kinda freaked out for a little bit and I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I started acting classes so I could get out of my own head and become somebody else. Once the classes started I just fell in love with the class, and once I got comforatble with my talent and my skill, I started auditions for Prom.

modOration: Do you have any advice for kids who have the same acting dreams as you?

Janelle: When I told my softball friend that I wanted to be an actress, she was like “What are you doing? You’re never going to be an actress. Why would you do that?”and I just told her that I was extremely passionate about it. I would definitely tell them to follow your passion. It doesn’t matter what people tell you. If people tell you no, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It doesn’t matter what they say. If you try, the worst thing that can happen is if they said no, and then you move on to the next one.

So just follow your passion and never give up and never let anyone tell you no because it doesn’t matter what other people have to say about you. If you believe in yourself, you’ll be good.

modOration: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Janelle: Yeah, I have a couple things in the works. I’ve actually decided to go back to acting school. So I’m going to train better and hopefully get better with the craft itself. I’m also auditioning here and there and working on some music, so there’s a lot going on and I’m really busy but I love it!

modOration: Thank you Janelle!