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Entries in Horror (2)

Tuesday
May162017

Call Answered: Brooke Lewis: Coaching From A Professed Hot Mess

Brooke Lewis, Photo Credit: Birdie ThompsonBrooke Lewis is an award winning author and actress. Known as a "Scream Queen" for her horror genre films, I was most taken by Brooke as a life coach. I'm all about entertaining, heck, I stand for entertainment, but nothing feels as good as helping people through tough times. Brooke's new book Coaching From A Professed Hot Mess, is a fun bedside table book that provides coaching tips on life, love, online dating and LGBT support.

What a thrill it was to speak with Brooke about her vast and varied career. From acting to life coaching to being a professed hot mess, Brooke & I cover it all!

For more on Brooke be sure to visit http://brookelewis.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Brooke Lewis, Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson1. Who or what inspired you to become an actress? I was an incredibly emotional and sensitive child with a vivid imagination. When I hit my teenage years, I became obsessed with drama, old Hollywood and my inspirations Elizabeth Taylor and Mae West. I was singing and dancing from a young age, which led me into musical theatre in Philadelphia, which led me into comedy in New York. I got my first "break" in the New York Off-Broadway Comedy Tony N' Tina's Wedding, then went on to do TV sitcoms like Quintuplets and Mafiosa, then acted in mobster dramas like Pride & Loyalty and Sinatra Club, then broke out in the horror, thriller genre with films like Kinky Killers, iMurders and Slime City Massacre earning the title of a "Scream Queen," then combined my experience in comedy, mobster movies, and horror and created the role and brand, which I am best known...Ms. Vampy!!!

2. What was the moment you decided to also become a life coach? Ironically, many of my most powerful career choices have been made while facing challenges or hitting walls! I had been a working actress and producer for many years, and shortly after the economy crashed in 2009, my investors pulled out of my production company and projects and I was forced to make changes. In 2011, we launched the award-winning TV pilot/talk show for teen girls Ms. Vampy’s Tween Tawk, Teen Tawk and In Between Tawk and I was hugely inspired by my young cast and their issues and messages. It was the first time anything beyond acting inspired me, so I paid attention. When my reps were pitching my show and I to TV talk shows, we were receiving incredible feedback, BUT…the networks were all asking if I had a "credential" as a therapist, counselor or life coach. Of course, I had two college degrees, but they wanted a certification in the coaching arena. Since I am not one to leave any stone unturned, I chose to go back to school again to receive my life coach certification at the Life Purpose Institute. My initial intention was for the purpose of my Ms. Vampy brand and TV series in development, but I became so passionate about my support career, I launched my company Be You And Be Fearless Life Coach.

3. You just released your new book Coaching From A Professed Hot Mess, which is a fun bedside table book that provides coaching tips on life, love, online dating and LGBT support. What made you want to put all these tips into a book? What is the most heartwarming comment you've heard about the book and what is the cruelest thing someone has said about it? Again, I had been facing challenges and hitting walls in my support career as a Life and Dating Coach (see the pattern that pushes me into being tenacious?) I was paying my dues again and feeling overworked and underpaid, shelling out fabulous advice for various publications and morning shows and several people had suggested that I should write a book for myself and my coaching business, instead, and my "blessed lil bedside table book" was born! Now, I am going to cheat a bit here to answer the first part of your question, as I pull an excerpt I love right from my pages: "Life can be crazy! So, in 2016, I chose to embrace my "crazy" and use my blessed and beautiful bedside table book to profess..."I am a HOT MESS!" Yup...I said it, rock it and OWN IT! Now, being an Actress, Life Coach and Dating Expert in the public eye, some may think I am really "crazy" sharing this with the world! I know some of you are thinking (and judging) that a Board Certified Life and Dating Coach, professional and working actress should not "air her dirty laundry." Well, I cannot tell you how good it feels to be self-aware enough to admit and embrace my "flaws." Along with my strengths, my "flaws" and weaknesses make me vulnerable, special and unique. I also believe that by sharing my HOT MESS quirks with you, it will support you in embracing your HOT MESS quirks, too! Let's break the 'rules' and stop chasing "perfection." It gets tiring trying to be "perfect" all the time, doesn't it?"

To answer the second part (and, as an actress I learned early on to not take any positive or negative comments too seriously) I will share two comments on Amazon that stayed with me. I received one three-star review that was by no means "cruel," but upset me because the reviewer stated that in the dating chapters of my book, I created the perspective of "needing a significant other." This frustrates me greatly, because I breathe, coach, speak and write the antithesis of that statement! I am all about self-empowerment and female empowerment and how we need to love ourselves first and want, not need, a partner to share life with! But, as we know, we cannot control others’ interpretations of our art and work!

I am blessed to have received so much positive feedback with this book! It is always heartwarming to receive praise from my friends and family (because we know they tell us the truth! I have had some of my best girlfriends tell me they keep my book on their bedside table to reference daily! I recently received a fabulous review on Amazon and I will share my favorite part, "This woman is a genius and the most useful and relevant life coach in the world (before this book I thought they were useless and overrated). Even if you do not need life coaching this book is still an amazing read!" Now, is that a compliment to keep doing what I am doing or what? Serious author gratitude here!

Brooke Lewis, Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson4. In describing the book, you have classified yourself as a HOT MESS. What events/activities in your life, made you go, "You know, I'm a HOT MESS?" What behaviors have you changed or become aware to not be a HOT MESS? Um…have you seen me at the Spike TV Scream Awards or Saturn Awards in 105-degree-heat with my hair frizzy and makeup running down my face? Yeah, HOT MESS!!! And, at that point, there is nothing I can do, but own it and rock it! But, yes, I use the term HOT MESS, both literally and figuratively! That’s the beauty of it…and, life! None of us are "perfect!" We are all perfectly imperfect! We make mistakes and lousy choices in life and I have surely made many! I have made some poor career choices and even more really poor dating choices! I have had emotional meltdowns over nothing and I have locked myself in the house for three days, after gaining five pounds on the scale that weekend...life is full of a whole mess of messes, so let’s make them HOT!!!

5. In writing this book, what did you learn about yourself that you didn't realize while living through it? If I may humbly declare this, I learned that I have much more value as a woman, actress, life coach and dating expert, than I ever imagined! I, too, struggle with worthiness and never feeling "good" enough, so it was a huge catharsis and gift to empower and acknowledge myself through writing this book. I also learned how much I need to take my own tips and advice!

6. Your book will help readers exist in the world around us, gain clarity and fulfillment. What used to give Brooke the biggest sense of fulfillment and what fulfills Brooke of today? Thank you! That was a fantastic and revealing question! I used to receive a sense of fulfillment by being liked, loved and praised by others. I focused a lot on my external appearance and fame. I would try to fill the void, and based my worth on the above. As I have worked hard on myself and become more evolved over the years, the things that fulfill me have drastically changed! The things that fulfill me now are integrity, truth, loyalty, being a "good" person, staying artistic, having integrity, committing to great work, surrounding myself with people who support each other, true love and charity work. The one constant that has always fulfilled me (and always will) is being an actress and doing the best work I possibly can!

Brooke Lewis, Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson7. What do you get from being a life coach that you don't get from acting? I suppose I have a bit more control over my coaching career and I get to be my own boss! Both my careers are rewarding in so many ways. However, I love the instant gratification of knowing I just supported a client in having a huge breakthrough, while coaching her.

8. I read that your favorite genres to act in are horror and mystery. So, I'm going to take these genres in a different direction and relate them directly to your life. What is the scariest thing to have happened to you that you are willing to talk about? What is something about yourself that you are still trying to figure out? One of the scariest things in my life (that I have not shared often publicly) was when I got the chicken pox at 21 and ended up hospitalized with 104 fever, encephalitis and nerve damage. I was blessed to make a full recovery, but I live with chronic pain and a compromised immune system ever since. It is a challenge every day, but it taught me that life is short, there will always be obstacles to overcome and to live fully and follow your dreams!

As far as the thing I am still trying to figure out, I could write another book here (wink)! One of my biggest frustrations is trying to understand how I could work as long and hard as I do, yet not have my hit TV series (yet). I always feel like I have to work just a little bit harder than most to bring my dreams to fruition! Things appear to come easier to others sometimes. But…appearance vs. reality, right? You can’t buy into the social media hype!

Brooke Lewis, Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? May I acknowledge you for a moment and tell you this is fabulous? 

I want to take things less personally…by One Percent Better…every day!

10. I have a new segment in my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear up misconceptions. What is the biggest misconception about Brooke Lewis that you'd like to put to rest? I feel like a lot of people in my personal and professional life perceive me as "courageous" and "fearless," because I preach my mantras and quotes quite often:

"Be You…And Be Fearless!" – Be You And Be Fearless Life Coach

"Let's break the 'rules' and stop chasing "perfection." It gets tiring trying to be "perfect" all the time, doesn't it?" – Coaching From A Professed Hot Mess

"When faced with fear, dig deep inside, find your inner vamp, and Vamp It Out!" - Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk

But, remember, this is a misconception, as we teach what we need to learn!!!

Brooke Lewis, Photo Credit: Birdie ThompsonMore on Brooke:

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Brooke always had dreams of being an actress. Brooke soon moved to New York City where she cultivated much of her acting career and landed her first role as "Donna Marsala" in the off-Broadway, hit comedy Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. After four years of making a name for herself on the east coast, Brooke decided to move to Hollywood where she currently resides. Brooke has built up quite the impressive resume by launching her own production company, Philly Chick Pictures and has worked with many veteran actors including Mark Ruffalo, Andy Richter, Charles Durning, Michael Pare, Dominique Swain, Joey Lawrence, and many more!

Tuesday
Dec092014

Call Redialed: Ashley Griffin: Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody: 54 Below

Ashley Griffin, Photo Credit: Kristin Hoebermann"Call Me Adam" once again chats with writer and performer Ashley Griffin! We revisit her musical Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody which will be making it's re-vamped debut at 54 Below on Tuesday, December 16 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody is a hilarious, intelligent pop rock musical that lovingly takes a bite out of everyones favorite vampire series (and a few other pop culture icons along the way).

For more on Ashley be sure to visit http://www.ashleygriffinofficial.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

1. On December 16, you will be presenting a new reading of Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody at 54 Below. I saw a previous incarnation 2 years ago. What made now the right time to present this new version? It was a huge honor to have the show become such a success when it premiered at New World Stages. The show surpassed all of our wildest dreams, and ended up becoming a bit of a pop culture phenomenon, so we wanted to make sure we had all our ducks in a row before moving forward with a commercial production. We’ve been working with an incredible team of lawyers and are so excited to finally be able to bring the piece back. We have an amazing group of fans who have been waiting very patiently, so I’m excited that, especially since we sold out so quickly at New World, those who haven’t had a chance to see the show will finally get to! (And it’s even better then it was last time!)

2. The last reading was at New World Stages. Why did you choose 54 Below as the venue to present this incarnation of Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody? I’m a huge fan of 54 Below. It’s been described as "Broadway’s living room" and, I think, provides the perfect blend of intimate, classy, and "cool" in which to experience the show. The performance at New World was a very large benefit concert - this time we wanted to do something more intimate as a sort of "welcome back" for the show. And we’re so honored by all the love we’ve gotten from 54 Below, and their excitement at hosting the piece.

3. At the time I saw the previous reading, it had a different name. What made you want to change it to Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody? Well, one of the big reasons is we wanted to make it very clear that this is a (loving) parody show – and I think this title much better encapsulates the essence of what the piece is all about. And it has a fun double meaning (our leading man’s name is Deadward Cologne).

2012 Cast of "Forever Deadward" at New World Stages in NYC4. How did the feedback from the previous reading influence this version of the show? What changes did you make? What was it like to rework the show for what it is now? What was the most challenging part about the revising process? I may be one of the few writers who feels this way, but I love the rewriting process. The whole development process in general. Some people do Sudoku, I rewrite shows. The New World Stages reading was hugely beneficial – it was the first time Gabriel Barre (the director) and I got to be in a rehearsal room together actively working on the show, the first time we were hearing that draft of the script up on its feet, even the first time I heard some of the songs with a band, and not just as a piano demo. It very much helped us figure out what was working, and what needed to be changed. We made some great adjustments during the rehearsal process, but there’s only so much you can do in a week, so this time has been invaluable to go back and really do all the rewrites that needed to be done. Some songs have been cut, some new songs have been written (including one of my now favorite songs in the show "We Can Give You Everything (Just Give Us Everything)," written by the incomparable Jeremy Ezell and performed with sheer brilliance by Martin Landry as "Arrow" and the rest of the Vampire Capital (yes, another change – we now have an additional pop culture franchise we’re poking fun at). The show is also now a one act, and has even more of the heightened parody everyone already loves. But ultimately the thing I was most happy to have gotten out of the New World reading was to see how much of the show really did work very effectively. And now it’s even better!

2012 "Forever Deadward," Jenna Leigh Green, at New World Stages in NYCThe process of reworking a piece can be a long one. I’m actually a very fast writer – I’m known to have fully rewritten drafts to my creative team a matter of hours after a production meeting. But the process doesn’t end there. Everyone needs to read the rewrites, sit with them for a bit, then give feedback, possibly have a casual table read with members of the creative team to hear how the changes sound out loud, wait for sheet music to be finished, record demos, and then do it all again. Probably the most difficult part of the process is coming to terms with the fact that a script and score will never be finished (at least until the producers force you to "freeze" the show on opening night). I think all writers have a secret fantasy that they’ll turn in a new draft and it will be so fantastically solid and brilliant that no one will think a word or a note needs to be changed. But you’re always going to be tweaking things. You just have to enjoy the process. I think it’s also difficult for me in that there are three other composers on the show in addition to myself– I’m not precious at all about my work, but I always feel terrible having to call one of the other composers to talk about potentially changing, or even cutting one of their numbers.

2012 "Forever Deadward" Martin Landry and Colin Hanlon, at New World Stages in NYC5. Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody will feature the Broadway talents of Colin Hanlon (Modern FamilySubmissions Only), Cortney Wolfson (Kinky Boots), Jenna Leigh Green (Wicked), Jared Zirilli (Lysistrata Jones), Sara Jean Ford (The Phantom Of The Opera), Stephen Anthony (Book of Mormon), Tyler Maynard (Mary PoppinsThe Little Mermaid), Michael Padgett (Upright Citizens Brigade) and featuring Martin Landry (Dear Edwina) as "Arrow." What excites you about having this cast perform your work? This is an incredible cast and I’m so fortunate to get to work with them Colin, Jared, Jenna and Martin were all a part of the show at New World, and it’s been so exciting to have them continue with the piece. We also have some wonderful new additions Tyler, Sara, Stephen, Cortney and Michael. It’s been great to see all the wonderful new things they bring to the show. I’m especially excited in that some of the cast are not typically known for doing this kind of work – Sara for example is most well known for her fantastic portrayals of ingénues like "Christine Daae" in Phantom of the Opera or "Lusia" in The Fantasticks. But Sara is hilarious, smart and beautifully quirky and I’m so excited for people to see that side of her onstage! I’ve admired all the folks in this wonderful cast for a long time, and it’s such a joy to get to work with them.

And I do have to especially say, Martin Landry has literally been a part of this show since day one, rehearsing in my living room. He’s a very dear friend of mine and it’s very special that we’re still able to work on the show together all these years later. Such a thing is very rare, especially when a show moves into a more commercial realm, and I’m so so excited for people to see his hilarious performance.

2012 "Forever Deadward," Lauren Lopez and Jared Zirilli, at New World Stages in NYC6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody? First and foremost I hope that everyone has a really fun time, enjoys some great music, and laughs a lot. But there is a deeper message behind all the comedy of Forever Deadward and I hope people walk away thinking about the things that we as a culture take a bit too seriously, and on a more personal level, the things that we as individuals tend to obsess over, to "make into gods." Hopefully "Ella Fawn" can be a bit of a cautionary, albeit really entertaining, tale for us all.

7. How do you feel you've grown with this piece over the past 2 years? I’ve grown a lot with this piece. As an artist, I’m a much better writer now (and I’m sure I’ll be better still two years from now). I’ve had my first (minor) taste of "commercial" success and have learned a lot from the whole process. I think the piece, and I, have matured together.

8. Since this show centers around Vampires, what was your favorite vampire movie growing up? I wasn’t a big Vampire girl growing up, although I do have two odd connections to well known Vampire projects –

I was a child actor growing up in L.A. and almost played the role of Claudia in Interview With The Vampire. (I was the youngest girl seriously up for the role – at all of eight years old). I remember some very funny discussions with the director when she broached the subject of my kissing Brad Pitt.

I was very often compared to "Buffy" (a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the TV show) in high school – I looked like I could be Sara Michelle Gellar’s little sister, and have a bit of a Buffy vibe – (to this day one of my good friends calls me "Buffy.") But in an odd series of coincidences the high school gym where they filmed the prom episode of Buffy was the gym of my high school, and my address when I was younger was shockingly close to the "Summer’s" address (minus the "Sunnydale" of course.) Nowadays I’d probably say that Buffy (the TV show) is my favorite Vampire "thing." (Yes, I’m apparently "Buffy" AND "Hermione Granger" (see previous interview).

But when I was a kid I probably would have answered The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t. It’s on youtube. Check it out. Brilliance.

Ashley Griffin as "Elphaba" in "For Good" Special Event Concert at the Gershwin Theater9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? If I was really only allowed one, I would have to go with flight. But If I could add on and get a little more creative I would say:

- The ability to survive in any element (i.e. breathe under water, stand in fire, etc. In my mind this includes flying…)

- The ability to create things (even just in the mind) a la "Ariadne" in Inception (but in waking life,) or "Mastermind" from X-Men (but used in a creative way, not a bad way J)

- I’ve always thought that "Door" from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere had an awesome power – to create doors anywhere that lead exactly where you want them to.

10. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? This is terrible, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a Life Saver! Being a true nerd I looked them up online and based on the list they provided (though with no actual experience of the taste) I’d have to go with pineapple. It may be my favorite fruit. And… (see next question).

BONUS QUESTION:

11. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what would you put in it? I actually have a (non alcoholic) drink that’s on the menu at Green Symphony in Times Square. It’s a juiced drink I invented, and I love it! It has kale, parsley, lemon, ginger, green apple, and pineapple juice. Tastes like vegetable soup. So good! (It’s called the "Ashley Special" – go get it!)

But, I have worked as a bartender in the past and invented a drink for a customer which quickly became very popular, and I guess is my signature alcoholic drink now in a way, (though ironically I’ve never tasted it – I mean, you can’t drink on the job! But I hear it’s very good.) It’s also been called the "Ashley Special" by pure default, but it needs a better name (maybe "The Griffin?" LOL. When we were doing Broadway themed drinks it was called "The Ingénue" for a bit…) Tweet me at @ashleyjgriffin with your suggestions! It has: Malibu, pineapple juice, sprite, and a dash of cranberry to turn it pink. Very fruity, and very girly.

Though my default alcoholic drink on the rare occasions I do indulge is a Chocolate Martini. I mean, come on.

Ashley Griffin, Photo Credit: Kristin HoebermannMore on Ashley:

Ashley is most well known as the creator of the pop culture phenomenon Forever Deadward (New World Stages.) As a writer, Ashley’s plays have been produced off-Broadway in New York, as well as in Los Angeles, and Chicago. Highlights include: Theater: Changed For Good (for which she also wrote the book, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz which had its premier in 2006, and is currently in development at the York Theater Company, Trial, Fairy TalesThe Death of Emily Webster, SubtextTwilight: The Unauthorized Musical Parody, as well as Alice...in Wonderland (in collaboration with Joel Jeske) and Lyra: A Dark Fairy Tale (both currently in development.) Film/TV/Web: The 8th Square (currently in preproduction: Doug Jones and Pat Carroll attached), Blank Paige. Music: Ashley has contributed music and lyrics to several musicals including Forever Deadward, and has written and performed many original pieces as a singer/songwriter. Three of her songs were featured at the Comix Comedy Club’s Epic Fail: Broadways Future Flops concert in NYC.

Ashley Griffin in "Epic Fail" - Comix Comedy ClubAshley was the recipient of 2007 outstanding playwriting commendation from the NY International Fringe Festival, and a Grand Prize winner in the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival's Literary Competition. Ashley has taught Musical Theater History at NYU (Tisch,) and was the 2011/2012 Artist in Residence at Dreamcatcher Entertainment. She is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. As a performer, Ashley has performed on Broadway and is a proud member of AEA.