Samantha Newark: Singer/Songwriter/Actress/Voice-Over Actress (Voice of Jem/Jerrica in “Jem and the Holograms”)

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Like many little girls in the 1980s, I religiously watched the cartoon, “Jem and the Holograms.”  Knowing from an early age that I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry (particularly music), Jem became a childhood hero of mine.  So imagine my extreme thrill when I found out that I would be sharing a film soundtrack with “Jem”/Samantha Newark in the 2011, the indie horror/thriller “The Girl”.  While best known for providing the voice of Jem/Jerrica in the “Jem” cartoon, Samantha has also had success as a solo artist, actress, voice over talent, and even dabbled in the comic book world lending the lyrics to her song, “Blue Sea” to be adapted into comic form for the female power driven hardback, Womanthology.  She released what is in my opinion an excellent new album titled “Somethin’ Good.”  Connecting with Samantha in recent years has been a dream come true and it was especially interesting getting to know her take on the industry and her experiences.
MU: Well first, we of course we like to know how you came to be in the entertainment industry.
SN: I have been singing professionally since I was 7 years old. It all started when I saw a child performer in a big show – I was so transported and memorized, I wanted more than anything to do what she was doing. I used to sing to her records night and day in my room and drive my parents bonkers and then one day my Mom and my uncle realized that I was really singing quite well over the record and it wasn’t long before I was doing little shows that soon turned into the family business.

 MU:  Many fans to this day know you best for being the voice of Jem/Jerrica in the 1980s cartoon, “Jem and the Holograms.”  How would you say that this has shaped your career and is there another career path you may have taken had you not had that opportunity?

SN: It was such a wonderful treat to get to play JEM and now to be reliving it all again with it being back on TV and DVD for a brand new generation of viewers is really fun.  For a while I didn’t realize how big the show actually was. I had no clue how many fans all over the world there are. At the time it was just a wonderful job I got to show up for, working with some of the best voice-over talent in the business. After Jem I was perusing music in Los Angeles, it wasn’t until I got on the internet one day and googled Jem and the holograms, I was totally blown away to see that it had crossed over into a Pop Culture type status with celebrity homage and millions of fans all over the world. It has shaped my career especially in the last few years in the sense of finding my nitch and my target fan base for my music.  As far as another career path, I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I have wanted to do this since childhood and it’s never left me. I would have maybe gone to college and studied a myriad of different things, moved to Paris married and had a bunch of children – that could have possibly lit me up – but music and this business is such a part of which I am it’s hard to imagine a different path now.

MU:  Many industry professionals I talk with note the changes in the industry particularly in the last decade.  What would you say are the pros vs. the cons of how the industry has changed since the 1980s?

SN: Whereas an artist’s only avenue for success was the ever elusive big record deal, the tides really started to turn when the internet and social media took off. Suddenly if you were smart, you could create a substantial fan base for yourself and keep all of your profit instead of being owned by a big machine and being in debt to them. Labels obviously do still have the power to take a career into the stratosphere but artists like Ani Difranco were being courted by labels back in the beginning of all of this and she was saying “why would I give you 90% of my work when I’m doing great all on my own and I own everything”. Artists were starting to be able to have full time careers doing music by being marketing savvy themselves.

It’s like a backdoor opened and gave indie artists a shot that would never have been looked at twice by a record label because they were not video friendly or too old or whatever small box you have to fit in by label standards. It started to give really talented people a real chance to have the fans decide their worth and run their own business and have control of their own careers.  The downside is that now the field has become saturated because everyone can make a record for not too much money on their computer and distribute it on the web and no one buys CD’s anymore so you have to find creative ways to earn because people expect their music for free. It’s just about using all of the changes to your advantage in clever ways and making yourself stand out from the millions of indie artists with a record promoting it independently. 

 MU: I’ve asked a few people this question, but I’m interested in getting different points of views on this issue.  Being that you have worked extensively in the independent and mainstream realms (and the entertainment industry in general), do you feel that there is a sort of disconnect in how people tend to view the industry vs. how it really works? I ask this because the mainstream media tends to saturate us with stories of the so-called ‘overnight successes’, the American Idols, the reality tv ‘stars’, etc. Do you think that such images tend to give (especially) young people a rather unrealistic view of becoming the ‘next big thing’?

SN:  I don’t mind American Idol, the business can be real tough and if it can give someone a shot and a career who would have been slugging it out for 100 years in the clubs and they are truly talented then that’s awesome. But there is a lot to be said for paying your dues and working on your craft and growing as an artist and that you can’t do overnight. I do think there is a big difference between celebrity and people who are really in this for the music. When reality stars decide to make a record just because they are in the spotlight but that’s the only reason then it’s pretty gross. I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my brain around the people who think they can sing fabulously and yet they are completely tone deaf and their families are even in denial because they are all so addicted to the idea of fame and quick money they will believe anything if they think they can have a piece of it, it’s really bizarre to see that. We have dumbed ourselves down absolutely with the quality of what is put out there in the media for the most part.  “Snooky” and her friends making $20,000 to walk a red carpet are sending a pretty bad message to kids.

 MU:  So what type of projects have you taken on since “Jem and the Holograms” wrapped?

SN:  I did lots of on camera and radio voice-over spots during and after Jem. I got to play the British voice of the young Peter Pans mother in the the feature film “Hook”. I played all over Los Angeles in different incarnations of solo projects and bands. Sang on some popular game titles like “God of war”, “Twisted Metal black” and “Everything or nothing”. I’ve done a ton of session work in many genres for different songwriters and producers and worked hard to be able to place my own original songs in film/TV projects. One thing that was a special job for me was working with Leonard Cohen as a back-up singer for a project in late 2006. To be in that camp singing that material was a big career highlight. I just released my second album called “Somethin’ Good” which was produced by my good friend Dave Polich (Keyboard programmer for Michael Jackson’s This is it tour). I’m really excited now to be working with a talented MD on my live show right now so that I can start touring and promoting this record.

MU: How would you describe your new album release, “Somethin Good”?

 SN: It’s actually a really fun record, very glittery, electric synth pop. The songs are pretty sexy and I wrote all the songs for the record on my Mac in Garageband and demo’s for them myself which was a great experience for me.  I can’t wait to put my live show together for this album and feel that vibe with an audience. I’m really in a cool place right now with the energy of this record, I hope to share it with the Jem fans all over the world and make some new music fans along the way too.

MU: What would you say to a young person trying to break into this industry?

SN: I know what is feels like to be a kid with a head and a heart full of dreams but I honestly had no clue what I was really in for as far as this industry. You have to be prepared for endless rejection and that is never easy. What really separates the winners from the losers is tenacity and consistency and of course talent. Money can buy you a lot but it can’t buy real talent, so make sure you have really taken the temperature of what you have to bring to the table in a real honest way. I always have tried to work with people that were steps ahead of me so I could learn and watch and listen to people that had already been successful on the path I wanted to travel. There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance, the talented people I look up to are humble and gracious and just let their work speak for them, that goes a long way to building really great relationships in this business. I would also say it’s imperative to have integrity and be your word and be professional. Learn as much about the ever-changing business of the music “Business” that will help you makes good choices and most of all enjoy the ride and have fun, its music after all. 

Thanks Samantha!  🙂

Samantha’s Sites:

Official Samantha Newark Website

Samantha Newark Mailing List

Samantha Newark on YouTube

Samantha Newark’s Twitter

Samantha’s Facebook

Samantha Newark Facebook Fanpage

 

Tiffany Apan is an award winning and acclaimed independent recording artist along with being a stage/film actress, producer, and writer.  You can find more about her at her Official Website , Web Blog, MySpace , Twitter , and Facebook She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers.  She also writes for the publications Rogue Cinema and Horrornews.netShe is also responsible for starting up the Music’s Underworld Webzine .


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Chuck Owston: Musician, Songwriter, Visual Artist, Rockabilly Hall of Fame

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“Jack of all trades” can most definitely be used to describe Chuck Owston.  In our first on-camera interview, Chuck talks about his experiences in the entertainment industry since the 1960s and how he views it today.  He also talks about his new projects and how he is able to get into the creative process. 

(No, we don’t have fancy graphics yet on our video interviews or cool intro song…but that may be something we work on in the future 🙂 )

Chuck Owston on Facebook

Chuck Owston in Rockabilly Hall of Fame

Night Owl Blues Revisited

 

Tiffany Apan is an award winning and acclaimed independent recording artist along with being a stage/film actress, producer, and writer.  You can find more about her at her Official Website , Web Blog, MySpace , Twitter , and Facebook She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers.  She also writes for the publications Rogue Cinema and Horrornews.netShe is also responsible for starting up the Music’s Underworld Webzine .

Michelle Shields: Actress/Model/TV Show Host

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Actress/Model/TV Show Host, Michelle Shields.  Shields is known for her work in films, “Frankenstein: Day of the Beast,” “Post Mortem: America 2012,” “Not Another B Movie,” and “Sister Mary.”  Comic fans may recognize her likeness in ‘Deadly Threads’ and she has hosted/co-hosted TV shows, “Indy Chicago” and “World of the Weird Monster Show.”  Oh yeah, and she also had a role in a little film you may have heard of called “The Dark Knight.”  Read on to find out more about Michelle AND why nerds are sexy too!

MU: So when and how was it you decided to make acting and entertainment your career and livelihood?

MS: I have always known that I wanted to be involved in film. From as early on as I can remember I always
loved entertaining my family and friends at every occasion. My favorite activity was watching movies over
and over so I could act them out later. As I got older I made to sure join all the school plays and musicals.
In school I was known for my acting, singing, and always being a jokester. After I was casted in my first
film at 16 I was definitely hooked. Whether in front of the camera or behind it, film has been a really big
part of my life and I have a true passion for it.

MS: What would you say was the project that made fans and other industry professionals recognize your name? In other words, which project would you say was your “break”? Or was it something that built itself up over time?

MU:  It’s hard to say there has been just one role that I have been known for. My career has been more of the built up type I would say. People do know me from shorts like “Special Day”, “Exile”, and “Illusion” and also from feature lengths like “Post Mortem America 2021”, “Sister Mary”, and “Frankenstein: Day of the Beast”. I have also been featured in many comic books from Comic Book Divas like “Behind the Mask”, “Fangs”, and “Deadly Threads”.

MU:  I asked this question in Nicole Kruex’s interview, but I’m interested in getting other’s viewpoints on it as well. The mainstream media tends to saturate us with the stories of “overnight successes” with all the reality tv ‘stars,’ American Idols, and the ‘cinderella stories’ of how “so and so became an
overnight sensation in a matter of five minutes.” Would you say that such articles and stories tend to give (especially) young people trying to break into the industry a sort of false hope and distorted view as to how the industry really works?

MS: First off, I feel there is a significant difference between reality tv stars and actors. Actors are able to convey many different emotions and can play different characters whereas most reality tv stars play themselves or an exaggerated version of themselves. Many people long for the idea of being famous with little thought of what exactly they wish to be famous for. There are many celebrities that are essentially famous for nothing. It is usually the case, with few exceptions, that most overnight successes don’t stand the test of time. The entertainment industry is all about networking and time. If a young person wants to become the next big movie star or great singer it really takes a lot of time and effort.
I feel a lot of people do get swept up in these Cinderella stories and become very discouraged when nothing happens for them right away. People don’t often realize that most of these Cinderella stories are presented to us merely as a marketing tool to increase ratings and sell magazines. Everyone loves a
great story. What will get you far is having a passion for what you do and perfecting your talent.

MU:  Now having been in your fair share of horror films, I’m sure you’ve been tagged with the title, Scream Queen. Do you see this as a positive or negative impact on a person’s career? Do you think the title tends to get overused and misused nowadays?

MS:  I have been tagged with the title Scream Queen and I always tell people that I’m not a Scream Queen but merely an actress that plays one. There are many fantastic actresses that do deserve that title however I do feel like the term is being overused these days. I have seen ladies labeled as a Scream
Queen after being in one horror film and they don’t even scream. It has become almost a generic label for women who act in horror films. The title has really changed its meaning since the 80’s and these days it seems that any woman that has anything to do with horror is labeled as one.

MU:  In addition to your acting projects, you’ve also been made a comic book character in Deadly Threads put out by Comic Book Divas along with being a fan of the genre. Who was your favorite comic book character growing up?

MS: One thing I always loved growing up was reading comic books. Asking for my favorite character can get a little tricky hahaha. I have always loved Neil Gaiman’s character Death. She is beautifully written and drawn in every comic I’ve seen her in. She has an amazing outlook on life. When it comes to other comic book characters its really hard to say what my favorite one is however I absolutely love Batman and all of the Batman mythology. All of the characters have such amazing backgrounds and psychology behind them that it makes you really care about every character. I have made my own costumes and cosplayed as many characters from the DC universe including Harley Quinn, Zatanna, and a couple different versions of Catwoman. I have a large collection of comics as well as models I’ve built that include many comic book characters. Yes, I am very much a nerd 🙂

MU:  Stemming from the third question, if someone fresh out of high school came to you wanting advice on ‘making it’ in the entertainment industry, what sort of advice would you give them?

MS: I would first ask them how serious and passionate they were about it. This is not something you just “do”, this is a lifestyle change. If they were unsure I’d tell them to take some acting classes or workshops and see how they like it. This industry takes a lot of time and effort so it’s nice to be able to enjoy what you do. I would tell anyone that wants advice to take classes to perfect their art. It’s important to start meeting people and networking in the industry. Seek out auditions and try your best.  Not everyone has to go to Hollywood to “make it” however most of the best opportunities will be there.  Just remember that it takes time and to make sure only do things that you want to do.

MU: And last but not least, are there any new projects everyone should be on the lookout for?

MS:  I have a lot of new projects coming up and everyone can always keep updated with my projects and
appearances by going to my Facebook page facebook.com/MichelleShieldsActress.

www.facebook.com/MichelleShieldsActress

www.imdb.com/name/nm2512598/

www.youtube.com/theMichelleShields

www.myspace.com/michelleshields

Tiffany Apan is an award winning and acclaimed independent recording artist along with being a stage/film actress, producer, and writer.  You can find more about her at her Official Website , Web Blog, MySpace , Twitter , and Facebook She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers.  She also writes for the publications Rogue Cinema and Horrornews.netShe is also responsible for starting up the Music’s Underworld Webzine .