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5 Minutes with Taya Calder Mason

Recently we caught up with our friend and two-time Hollywood Immersive alumni, Taya Calder-Mason.

 

As an actor, singer, composer, writer, director, and producer, Taya is quickly becoming a major force in the entertainment industry. She just finished her short film, “Fight Like A Woman” which delivers a very powerful message. We were excited to hear more from this talented artist.

 

You have joined us on HI twice for music and acting as a teenager, and you have always had a no-nonsense, take no prisoners attitude that impressed everyone.  You’re mature well beyond your years.  Where did that come from?

 

Probably my Mum or my childhood. Growing up with two older brothers teaches you a thing or two about standing your ground. I swapped schools 4 times before leaving at 16, so I had to build a strong sense of self, meeting new kids all the time.

 

Most recently, you wrote, directed and starred in a short film called “Fight Like A Woman” about a female boxer competing against a man. It puts women’s equality in the forefront.  What do you want people to take away from your film?

 

That women don’t want special treatment, they just wanted to be treated as an equal with respect. It was really important for me not to make a film that is like ‘women rule and men suck’, it’s just about shining light on equal opportunity between men and women.

 

The fight scenes looked very realistic.  Were you influenced by other boxing movies when choosing the direction for this film?

 

Surprisingly no. I didn’t decide to make the film because I’d watch something that looked cool, I made it because 3-4 times a week, for 4 years I’ve been heading to my local boxing gym and wanted to mix my two loves together.

 

Singer, composer, producer, actor, writer, and director.  How do you stay focused on your career?

 

Being successful has always been high priority for me. I’ve never liked being second or doing something half-arsed. I remember in Year 2 (6 years old) at school everyone was asked what they wanted to study at University and I just knew that wasn’t something I was ever going to do.

 

What advice would you give other young artists who are just starting their careers?

 

Don’t wait for someone to give you the opportunity to do what you love. Why is it always someone else’s choice? Learn that it’s a career, there are

 ups and downs and only those who persist when everything is going to sh**, will be successful.

 

Who are your inspirations?

 

Professionally, people like Greta Gerwig, Jane Campion, Elizabeth Moss, Margot Robbie. Personally, my Mum and Nan.

 

In this very competitive entertainment industry, creating your own projects is very important, and is a key way to get yourself out there and tell your own stories.  What stories do you want to tell?

 

I think one of the best parts about being a filmmaker is you get to be incredibly selfish. Make the things you like, shoot the way you like, write the characters that you want to play. I just want to entertain, start conversions and have fun.

 

What is coming up next for you?  When can we see more of your work?

 

Next project is a thriller called Harrows Forest, which we shoot in August. It’s a really fun, creepy short that follows a group of 4 people as they try to uncover the truth behind a supposedly haunted forest.  I actually hate horrors and scare very easily so this should be lots of fun…

 

 

5 Minutes with Andrew Lorenzo

Our HI Program Manager, Adam Rotenberg, managed to catch friend of Hollywood Immersive, Andrew Lorenzo, for a five minute chat about his L.A life, his work and his journey so far.

 

You are originally from the USA, then you moved to Australia, and then came back for Hollywood Immersive.  Tell me about your journey.

 

It’s certainly been a long journey, but a fruitful one.  I have always been involved in acting since I can remember (mostly stage until recently) but at the time of moving to Australia, I was actually teaching Ballroom and Latin dance—  Funnily enough, a form of dance I had originally learned to put on the special skills section of my CV!  When I got to Australia, it had been a few years since I had been on stage and the itch was certainly there. I saw that a theatre in Geelong was about to put on The Phantom of the Opera— 1 of only 3 theatres in Victoria given the rights to the show that year— the first year the show was available to semi-professional theatres.  I knew I had to get involved.  Long story short, I auditioned for the role of the Phantom, got it, and I was back on stage once more. It was ultimately the role of Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men that was the turning point for me.  In that role, I knew that I wanted to become more of a film and television actor and start toward my goals of becoming a career actor.  This is when I started taking my training much more seriously.  Along the way, Ashleigh, my partner, was given the opportunity to record with some top producers in LA (whom she connected with through Hollywood Immersive)… As fate would have it, I joined her on this trip and this is where I met Lilly and you (Adam).  It was on this trip that I auditioned for and secured my spot for Hollywood Immersive.  The rest, as they say, is history.  This was the real launch forward my training and career needed… Ultimately, I have secured amazing training at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, a new agent here in Australia, and most recently, a talent manager based in LA… The Lovely Keely Wells’ company, C Talent.. All of which were direct results of Hollywood Immersive and doing the work.

 

Let’s discuss the elephant in the room.  For anyone that knows you, you are a huge Superman fan, with a tattoo on your chest.  What does Superman symbolize for you? 

 

Understatement :).  The tattoo symbolizes a few different things for me.  Firstly, Superman was the reason I got into acting in the first place.  As early as I can remember, I would run around with the towel wrapped around me like a cape and put on little skits for my parents, pretending to be superman.  Let’s be honest, I still do this. My friends all have houses and new babies and I just want to know if I look like a different person with and without glasses! Christopher Reeve was my Superman and watching his movies over and over again always made me want to be on that screen and just have fun while doing so.  Second, I have always tried to live my life with a certain moral code.  Now, I am not saying that I am perfect— far from it… But I do believe that everyone is fighting their own battle and I try to be kind to all those I come into contact with, I try to make a difference, and ultimately, I just want to be able to say that I lived a good life and gave what I could to help others.  Lastly, the John Williams Superman score is my favorite piece of music… ever. That could keep me running on a treadmill for hours!

 

You are extremely motivated, and you’re always hustling and working towards your career.  Can you talk about your career administration and what you do on a daily/weekly basis to stay on top of your career?  

 

Admin is a huge part of my daily and weekly life as an actor.  One of the best courses I ever had the honor of taking was Mark Gantt’s admin course at HI.  He really puts into perspective just what you can be doing when you’re working— and when you’re not!  I generally spend anywhere from 20-30 hours weekly on admin… Give or take,  in terms of daily, I start off every day thinking about my goals as an actor… I even have a sort of “career concept” on my fridge that I look at every day.  Sometimes I read it out loud, sometimes I just look at it… But every day, I start of by acknowledging it.  It’s funny… On the day I really take it in, I get a call from my agent about a new audition… Coincidence? Maybe… Maybe not. In terms of more physical approaches, I am constantly updating social media on a daily basis to make sure what I have up is relevant to what I would like my brand to be as an actor.  I search other artists’ pages and see what works for them and I try to reach out to people and network as often as I can.  I also work daily on improving myself, whether that be health wise, self-test wise (seeing what works and what doesn’t so when I do have a test come up, I’m ready to roll), or keeping up with the trades (variety, backstage, etc.).  Also searching for castings that are relevant to me is a huge part of my day.  Yes, my agent is there to work for me but I also enjoy securing work for myself because as the old saying goes, “an actor acts”. Looking at new monologues and scenes is also a daily habit which helps me to work on new material and develop new tools for future auditions and projects.  I also work on creating my own content as well which keeps me fresh and sharp.  In terms of weekly, keeping up with all the casting websites is crucial, as well as my website.  All of these have to be up to date and ready at a moment’s notice for when a casting director looks at them.  I set aside a weekly time to make sure training and roles are up to date.  I also make sure I set time aside for me to write and create.  This could be ideas, full scripts, skits, etc. But it’s something always to have in the bank for a rainy day.

 

What are your goals for your acting?  What would be a dream role…besides Superman, of course? 

 

Goals are definitely an important part of my daily, weekly, monthly, and beyond.  My main goal is to be able to be walking that red carpet with the knowledge of how hard I worked to get there and that it paid off and continues to pay off.  That’s long term… Short term is to keep working on myself as an actor and discover new things to strengthen me as often as I can… which of course will meld with the long term as I hope to never stop learning.  But in the words of John Ferriter, I’ll settle for “superstar”!  My dream role… that’s a tough one… Of course Superman but if it had to be something else… I think it would have to be either Indiana Jones or one of the Doctors (Doctor Who).  I might have to settle for the Doctor because if they ever reboot Indiana Jones, I seriously fear for whomever takes that mantle away from Harrison Ford… Some seriously intense fan outrage I sense in that future.  Or working with Greg Berlanti on a superhero show.  My gosh, Adam!  How can you ask me this?!  Too many options, ha-ha.

 

What inspires you to keep going and moving forward when times are tough?  

 

The main thing is to keep pushing ahead.  I always find that a good acting class or workshop will help rekindle things when I feel like I need a boost. Those classes help sharpen you up and really help you to feel like you have walked away with something that will change your life.  So, what do I do when I can’t afford an acting class at the time?  I create my own work.  The times when I feel the worst, are the times that I feel like I am not doing enough… So what’s the easy fix?  Do more myself!

 

What advice would you give to young artists starting out in the business? 

 

Do the work and listen to everyone you can.  There are so many people that have years and years of experience willing to help… Listen.  Listening is your best tool, both in a scene and in training (and in life).  Don’t try to be anyone else—be you and find your process. But do the work.  Oh, and make sure that people want to work with you— develop an outstanding work ethic!

 

Your partner Ash Watson is also a super talented singer and has also joined us on HI. What is it like for you both to be on this journey together you’re both so focused?  

 

It is amazing actually.  To have a partner as focused as Ash is just a huge advantage for me.  She really motivates me to make sure I keep on top of what I need to do.  We both have work ethics that work really well together.  Even though we are in different fields, we bounce ideas off each other all the time, whether I have her help me with admin or a new script, or if she wants some advice revolving around a contract, etc.… I think the fact that both of us studied with Hollywood Immersive is a huge advantage.  We are constantly drawing from that training and networking with the people we have met and it drives us hard to keep working toward our goals.

 

What’s next up for you?  Where can we see your work and what are you currently creating?  

 

At the moment, I have just finished a 6 week intensive with Damian Walshe-Howling.  The man is amazing and just like the wonderful teachers at HI and BHP, like you, Lilly, Gary, Michael, Luke, Jeremy, Anastasia, and so many others, he motivates you to do your best work.  I am always creating new ideas and at the moment, I am working on what will hopefully turn into a web series based off a James Bond Spoof I did a little while back.  I’m in the middle of collaborating with a few people to help get it off the ground.  Aside from that,  I have a few projects in post-production at the moment so once the production companies release those, I will make sure to put them on my sites as well!  You can also check out my stuff at www.andrewlorenzoactor.com  (shameless plug I know!)