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Entertainers of the year: Joshua Maloni's top interviews of 2023
Entertainers of the year: Joshua Maloni's top interviews of 2023

Entertainers of the year: Joshua Maloni's top interviews of 2023

by jmaloni
Fri, Dec 22nd 2023 07:00 am

Entertainers of the year: Joshua Maloni’s top interviews of 2023

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor


Commitment to quality sure isn’t what it used to be – and forget attention to detail or building a work ethic.

This is the era of the easy way out.

The quick fix.

The overnight success.

The pajama work day.

It’s not a great look for society – but it does make crafting a list like this much easier.

Just look for the aberrations.

The entertainers on this list spent years honing their craft.

They spend months on the road.

Sleep is not their friend.

These people have chosen the road less traveled, actively throwing themselves headlong into hard work.

Long nights.

Even longer paths to the promised land.

And why?

Because they see purpose in the pain.

They have passion for the process.

They take pride in the quality of their work – and in perfecting performances for us to enjoy.

At a time when it’s not hard to become famous, these actors and musicians have made a name for themselves – a mark that will outlast the fads and phonies.

When the dust settles and the phone charge fizzles out, these entertainers will endure. In 25 years, we’ll remember their names and still cherish their work.

The year in celebrity interviews:


Lauren Daigle (Image courtesy of Atlantic Records/Centricity Music/PFA Media) • Daigle headlining at Artpark in July.


From the article: The artists performing at Artpark this summer have placed songs in major motion pictures, sold millions of records, toured the world and, yes, even had a flavor of Hibbard’s Original Frozen Custard named in their honor.

But only one is an “American Idol.”

Lauren Daigle, a past competitor, season 21 mentor to finalist Megan Danielle, and recent finale headliner, will perform July 14 in the Artpark Amphitheater.

Following her time on “American Idol” as a contestant on seasons nine and 11, Daigle wasn’t necessarily planning to flip the music world on its ear. She chipped in on a project spearheaded by fellow Louisiana musicians, and her vocal prowess caught the eye of Centricity Music.

Daigle was signed to a record contract and, over the course of just two full-length albums (plus a Christmas sampler), Daigle established herself as one of the most important and impactful artists in all of music.

She earned Platinum status, plus, a slew of awards (two Grammys, four AMAs and 10 GMA Doves), as, get this – a Christian artist.

While that might seem less daunting in a decade featuring for KING & COUNTRY, We the Kingdom and Anne Wilson, this level of success by a faith-based songwriter hadn’t been seen since the days of Amy Grant.

Like, in the 1990s.

Pre-Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok – you name it.

It was a time when only Zack Morris had a cellphone, and the internet was just an idea in Al Gore’s mind.

Three decades later, Daigle has shattered the wall that separated church and state – or, more accurately, Christian and mainstream music.

From the second article: Daigle’s music is about three things universally accepted and valued: hope, positivity and joy. It’s not for or against anyone, but values human connection – for everyone.

Lauren said, “Joy, for me, comes from seeing people; seeing people's smiles; being able to offer a helping hand; offering any element of hope to people.

“The epitome of joy, to me, is knowing that God loves me – knowing that I have that relationship with him. That's the epicenter of my joy.

“And the good thing about it is it doesn't have to run out. Like, it's not one of those things that is built on circumstance. Joy is so much deeper than circumstance.”


James Roday Rodriguez as Gary Mendez and Allison Miller as Maggie Bloom. (ABC photos by Matthias Clamer)


Appeared on "A Million Little Things"

From the article: ABC’s “A Million Little Things” began with a death, and it will end with a death.

But just like poet Linda Ellis once wrote regarding the dash among dates on a tombstone, it’s what happens in between that matters most.

Over the course of its first four seasons, “AMLT” has unabashedly put a spotlight on mental illness and suicide; relationships, marriage, fidelity and childbirth; the coronavirus; racism; LGBTQ+ and inclusion; sexual assault; disability; and cancer. Storylines have been heavy and – as cast members admit – uncomfortable at times. Yet, each one has sparked conversation, seemingly with a goal of building unity and positive change in society.

Creator and showrunner DJ Nash has ensured these topics have been tackled with respect and dignity. Credits often come paired with names, numbers and websites of helplines.

At the same time, working in the TV business means Nash is tasked with entertaining audiences. In the midst of important discussions – and despite its somber notes – “A Million Little Things” is surprisingly fun to watch. Nash’s show is oftentimes funny; its characters’ intentions are decidedly heartfelt; and the plotlines leave us craving five more minutes at each episode’s end.

Allison said, “It's scary out there, and we are very fortunate to know that this is the end, and to be able to really enjoy every minute of this final season; and being together and telling these stories. I think we’re going to wrap it up in a really beautiful way.”

James said, “I would agree with all of that. It's rare. I've been very lucky in that I've been a part of two shows that kind of called their own shot at the end. When you sort of know how many stories you have left to tell, and you can tell them on your own terms – and kind of Elway it.

“I like to use ‘Elway’ as a verb. But basically, it just means going out with the getting’s good – while you’re at the top of the mountain, and not allowing for the possibility of a slide. A tumble. You don't want to Brady it. You want to Elway it.”


Amy Grant (Image courtesy of the media collective)


From the article: It’s been an eventful decade for Amy Grant.

A few months after performing at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda – early into the pandemic – the acclaimed Christian/pop singer had open-heart surgery. Just as she was fully recovered and the world was reopening, a bike accident led to additional surgeries and more time off the road.

The news isn’t all bad, though, as the 2020s have also brought Grant three record rereleases – “Unguarded,” 35th anniversary; “Heart in Motion,” 30th anniversary; and “Behind the Eyes,” 25th anniversary; two significant honors: induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and a Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts honor; inclusion in one major motion picture, “The Jesus Music”; and, more recently, new songs “Trees We’ll Never See” and “What You Heard”; plus an 18-song project, “Lead Me On Live 1989.”

Amy said, “This sounds crazy, but everything that has happened, including COVID, open-heart surgery, the bike wreck and the two surgeries that I had to have because of the bike wreck, there have been so many hidden gifts – and I just feel so much gratitude and energy.

“And part of me, I just feel like – I don't know how to say this – but like an older-model car that was running just fine, but kind of hanging in there. And I feel like all of those unexpected changes were like being taken to a detail shop and having all the rust ground off, and then a fresh paint job, and coming out going … ‘Hey, I feel differently about myself, about the music I've made, about just going, ‘Hey, let's just celebrate that we made it this far.’

“I hope I still make music. I was thinking of a song idea this morning. It just felt like I've had the chance to take a deep breath and high five a lot of people who've made this journey with me.”


Everclear is Art Alexakis (vocals, guitar), Davey French (guitar), Freddy Herrera (bass) and Brian Nolan (drums). (Photo credit: Ashley Osborn // provided by PRESS HERE Publicity)

Rocker ART ALEXAKIS of Everclear

From the article: Behind the strength and downright ear-worminess of alt-rock hits “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” “I Will Buy You A New Life,” “Wonderful” and “Everything To Everyone,” Art Alexakis has almost 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify – not to mention four albums certified Gold or Platinum, and 6 million-plus record sales. Everclear songs are So-Cal staples meant to be heard driving along the beach or in person at a sweaty rock club.

But beneath the easy-breezy chords you can’t help but hum along to, Alexakis shares stories of his upbringing – a time defined by hardship.

Art said, “It's just fun to be doing this again. You know? We've been doing it for so long, I just, I was cool just going out and playing shows. But last year, doing the 30th anniversary, was really cool – and I saw how excited people were about it.”

“We know who we are; and you know, I'm 61; and the guys are in their 50s. And, yeah, we put on a rock show, man. I got MS. You know, it's hard for me to move like I used to, but I still move around and still jump up and down. And you know, we put on a rock show.

“But I've always said if I can't move around, I can't put out that kind of show, I'll stop playing live. But I don't know, man. I don't know. I think fans want to hear the music, and see it performed live, and sing live.

“I'm singing better than I ever have. I've been working on it. I've got a vocal coach, and, just like physical therapists for the MS, I do the work. I put the work in. I just came from physical therapy about a half hour before we got on the phone. I swim every day, and work out, eat right. You know, follow the protocol, do my medication and everything.

“But the point is, I'm still out there doing it, and we're still out there doing it. And I love what I read online. I've read the same stuff you have, where people are like, “Wow, man, I can't believe these guys have this kind of energy.” (Laughs)


Lindsey Stirling "Snow Waltz 2023" (Image by Cara Robbins // courtesy of Shore Fire Media)

Violinist, dancer and showwoman LINDSEY STIRLING

From the article: Already well-known across a number of musical genres – classical, pop, dance, gaming and rock, among them – Stirling’s songs successfully entered into the holiday canon with 2017’s “Warmer in the Winter” (plus a 2018 deluxe version) and her more recent release, 2022’s “Snow Waltz.”

A hit-making musician, wildly popular YouTube creator, author, philanthropist, friend of Buffalo – Stirling has raised money for the Ronald McDonald House – and a former star on “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars” – there’s little Stirling hasn’t already achieved in her young career.

Lindsey said, “It was kind of fun to really lean into that gray area a little bit. We have one song that specifically talks about starting celebrating Christmas way too early, for the Christmas fanatics. We also have ‘Snow Waltz,’ which melds kind of the Halloween aesthetics and sounds into the magical Christmas – which I think finds that sweet spot that ‘Harry Potter’ hits, where it kind of hits both feelings of spooky but also festive.

“So, it was really fun to lean into that a little bit on some of the music videos. And yeah, we do bring a little bit of the ‘Snow Waltz’ feeling to life on stage with a little bit of a creepy moment in the show, which is kind of fun.

“Subtly creepy – don't worry, kids won't be creeped out.”


Ashley Newbrough (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)


Appeared in "Love in Glacier National: A National Park Romance"

From the article: The Canadian actress is superb in striking just the right balance of real life and Hollywood dreams, crafting characters that are relatable and aspirational. Whether playing a girl-next-door antique shop owner, an in-demand novelist, a theater geek or a scientist, Newbrough’s characters are as approachable as they are venerated.

It’s easy to watch Newbrough on screen and get caught up in her character’s story. Even though we know what’s going to happen, we still want to join the journey.

Of the myriad performers who’ve tried their hand at a Hallmark-type movie, no one has mastered this world better than Newbrough.

Ashley said, “I love to be part of a story that can serve as an escape for the viewers. Whether it's just mentally checking out and enjoying a beautiful, cozy atmosphere; or it's going on an adventure; or it's falling in love – I love to be a part of that.

“I'll go through the scripts and I'll try to find where the funny is, and where the heartfelt beats are meant to be; and I really just try to do the story justice, and the character justice, the best I can.”


Anya Banerjee stars as Siya Malik. (NBC photo by Will Hart)


Appeared in "The Blacklist"

From the article: Like the character she’s playing, Anya Banerjee earned a unique chance to join a well-established team wresting its way through myriad layers of spy craft.

She joins NBC’s “The Blacklist” for its 10th and final season. Banerjee plays Siya Malik – and if that last name sounds familiar, it’s because Siya is the daughter of Meera Malik (Parminder Nagra). Her mother was an original task force member who met an untimely end trying to protect the world’s most-wanted criminal mastermind – Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) – who has turned FBI informant.

Anya said, “In terms of the actual work (laughs), I was lucky enough to be thrown straight into the deep end with stunts and firearms training. I have some pretty action-packed scenes early on in the season.

“And yeah, it was a lot for me to absorb, as well as breaking down the intentions for my character within the script, and figuring out how to relate to these characters who all know each other very, very well at this point – and I'm stepping in as a newcomer. So that was a satisfying challenge.

“I remember the first scene I got to shoot was with Harry Lennix – the incredible Harry Lennix – who was just so warm and welcoming. And I remember having the sense of actually just stepping into a family, and being embraced by this family; and when you look around on that set, and you see all of the crew who have come together to support this incredible cast for such a long time, you really do feel like, ‘Wow, I'm being welcomed into something special.’ ”


Amanda Schull (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Allister Foster)


Appeared in "The Blessing Bracelet"

From the article: Sometime this Sunday, after church, the Easter egg hunt and the ham dinner, take time to start a new holiday tradition by sitting down to watch “The Blessing Bracelet” with your family. Amanda Schull’s new Hallmark movie is a perfect reminder of what this season is about: faith and guidance, community, rebirth and renewal following loss. Throw in some well-timed humor, an adorable dog and some fancy bling, and you’ll find this film offers a basketful of reasons to feel good.

Amanda said, “Every single Hallmark film I've ever had the opportunity to do has been inspiring in one way or another. You know, the woman's story. My character's story always has something that people can relate to, and not just find an escape from reality, but maybe relate to and then be able to identify within their own mind, and feel inspiration from it.

“I think this character, in particular, she's – to put it mildly – she's in a pretty unfortunate circumstance when we first meet her. Things have not been going well for her the last several months, and then, of course, a few years – and for circumstances that are not entirely of her own making.

“Something that really drew me to her was just that she doesn't get down about it. She doesn't mope and feel sorry for herself. She knows that the only way out is through, and she does just that.”


Chad L. Coleman (Photo by Benjo Arwas // courtesy of Anderson Group Public Relations)


Appeared in "Superman & Lois"

From the article: When “Superman & Lois” returns for season three on The CW, its title characters will face a villain whose resume includes wiping out this Earth’s John Henry Irons.

Though he appears to be a big-hearted, philanthropic Metropolis pillar, Bruno Manheim is actually the head of Intergang, a vast criminal outfit – and he’s no fan of the Man of Steel.

To play this foe of many faces, the series cast a master of many talents: Chad L. Coleman.

Chad said, “When you put an African American male in the role, and you say you're from South Metropolis, the backwash that nobody gives a damn about. And there's certain things that are happening in this community that you can draw social-political thoughts and constructs from that are happening in the real world. And that's what these writers were able to do with it.

“And so, he's a self-made man. And he loves his community. And he said nobody gives a you-know-what. ‘I do. I'll do it myself.’ So, if you juxtaposition that to who Superman is, and what he's about, this man has some very trust things to say to him because of the way he came up. Like, ‘Where were you in this community, Superman?’ And it's true. ‘You were in Metropolis, living it up; and doing your thing. But you didn’t come over here to try to help us.’

“So, it's very, very powerful.”


"Eating Out with Eric & Steve" graphic courtesy of Lippin Group


"Eating Out with Eric & Steve" podcast

From the article: It’s too bad the expression, “Food, folks and fun” is already taken – because what a great title that would be for the new podcast cooked up by TV stars Eric McCormack and Steven Weber.

In “Eating Out with Eric & Steve,” the two longtime friends and charter Character Actors Dining Society members “yack and snack with their favorite show biz friends to share behind-the-scenes stories of their lives in entertainment.”

Steven said, “I have to say that Eric is the one that approached us, and he was approached by ('Will & Grace' co-star) Sean Hayes, who produces this and does 'SmartLess' and 'HypochondriActor,' among others.

"I mean, the appeal was that we like to talk; we like to eat; we like to talk to each other, and talk to our friends. And, you know, everybody had a podcast. So, we thought 'Eh, why not get into it?' But the more we talked about doing it, the more we wanted to do something a little different. And it kind of evolved into 'Eating out with Eric & Steve.' ”

Eric said, “And also, like so many podcasts, it evolved out of the lockdown. We were missing our friends. We were missing restaurants. We were missing any kind of experience that was not just, you know, heating up TV dinners in our own homes, and washing them first in dishwashing liquid. So, it was a bit of fantasy. For me, it was like, 'I just want to sit down with the guys that we used to go out with.' And we’d do it over Zoom, but it was not the same. And so that's why the title evolved. It’s like, 'We just want to eat out again.'

"And we have this wonderful group of men, two of whom were on that first episode – Richard Kind, LeVar Burton – that we have the greatest times with, and the most hilarious conversations over a meal in a restaurant.”


John Ondrasik performing at Artpark.

Five For Fighting's JOHN ONDRASIK

From the article: Myriad hit singles will echo down the Niagara River on July 11 when the Barenaked Ladies return to Artpark with “The Last Summer on Earth Tour.” But one song will be especially poignant in light of continuing hostility in Ukraine.

Five For Fighting (aka John Ondrasik) will perform “Can One Man Save the World,” music he originally released almost one year ago while in Kyiv. He teamed with the Ukrainian Orchestra for the song, which he said was inspired by the courage of President Vladimir Zelenskyy.

This initiative is the latest in a series of Ondrasik’s philanthropic exercises.

John said, “It actually started with Afghanistan. I'd written a song, after the withdrawal, kind of critical of the withdrawal; and it became, actually, a song – a voice – for many of our Afghan veterans who were just devastated that we abandoned their allies and Americans. And in this crazy world, I started getting emails from people trapped in Afghanistan, Americans reaching out to me. So, I found myself embedded with many of these NGOs: Project Exodus Relief, Operation Pineapples (Operation Pineapple Express), Save Our Allies, who are actively rescuing Americans and our allies.

“Working with them, again, I saw some incredible heroic acts, tragedy, all that you can imagine.”


Katie Leclerc (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Courtesy Mood Independent/H9 Films)


Appeared in "Letters to Santa"

From the article: Making a pie isn’t easy.

They say it’s a science but, even when the formula seems sound, there’s no guarantee the apples will stay soft while the crust crisps.

I mean, if the hot air really is circulating inside the oven, then why is it that the bottom always takes longer than the top?

Baking is hard work.

But so is acting.

Still, Katie Leclerc doesn’t seem to mind either job.

Katie said, “Joy comes to mind, honestly. I feel like it just brings such a big smile to people's faces,” she said. “A few years ago, there used to be a bit of a cheese factor, perhaps, and what I have to say about that is thank God! Because I love the cheese, and I really think it makes people joyful. I really think it makes people happy.

“And I think more and more, right now, people are embracing that sort of joyfulness. I think we need it more and more. It's a place where Christmas is not always easy, but it is always rewarding. The character goes through (something and), hopefully, there's a problem. That's what making stories is; that's what making movies is. So, they have to get through it, but you kind of know on the other side that peace of mind. And while you're watching it, you're going to feel good; and it's warm and peaceful and joyful.”


Darren Mulligan of We Are Messengers (Photo courtesy of Southside Entertainment tour publicity)

DARREN MULLIGAN of We Are Messengers

From the article: It’s rare that an internationally successful, chart-topping musical act would perform in the Buffalo market twice within six months – especially with one of those shows set for “Sno-vember.” But that's exactly what We Are Messengers planned when lining up dates for a fall tour.

Darren said, “It's a whole different thing, once you get up there, because people are so hungry and so excited. They love music and they love rock ’n’ roll, which are two of my favorite things.”

He explained, “When people come to our show, yeah, they’re paying for a ticket, but they’re paying for entertainment; they’re paying for music; they’re paying for a good night out. But Jesus is free. And the cool thing about our shows is you get both.

“And I love how we’re received up there. So, yeah, genuinely – you know, sometimes artists say they can’t wait to be back. I actually can’t wait.”


Emerson Hart, center, and Tonic (Photo by Catie Lafoon // provided by Milestone Publicity)


From the article: With new TV documentaries and creative concert events, the 1990s are all the rage once more.

Some of the most interesting musical pairings include Everclear with Hoobastank, Living Colour and Wheatus (from 2021); Vanilla Ice with Rob Base, Young MC and C+C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams (this year); and the upcoming “Summer of ’99 Cruise” (aka “Creed Cruise") with a reunited Creed, plus 3 Doors Down, Vertical Horizon, Fuel, The Verve Pipe, Tantric and Dishwalla (2024).

Emerson said, “Well, I mean, it's the OG, isn't it? I mean, it's how it all started. And I think that the best part about Tonic, in this kind of format, No. 1, we're out with a bunch of friends. So, the atmosphere is already amazing, with Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms – the Gin and Tonic days, like all the stuff that we've done together. That adds to it.

“And No. 2 is that we really get to lock into the nostalgia and what we have created over the years, and deliver it directly to people as a piece of work. It's live. There’s no tracks, there's no nothing. We do it as it should be done.

“And I think, to be able to still do that now – I mean, we're not old guys, but we're not young bucks in rock ’n’ roll, that's for sure – but still be able to do that, that comes through – that energy comes through.”


Michael Tait on stage (Photo ©Sidney Grace Photography // provided by Newsboys management)

Newsboys frontman MICHAEL TAIT

From the article: There is, perhaps, no bigger stage show in all of Christian music than a Newsboys concert.

Big theatrics – even bigger light packages – and a gravity-defying drum kit are some of the visuals fans can expect.

Musically, the show offers more than two-dozen songs, including many hits: the band’s biggest (“God’s Not Dead”), its newest (“I Speak Jesus”), and the one you always hear in church (“You Are My King {Amazing Love} ). dc Talk and U2 covers round out the setlist.

Michael said, “I’ve been with the band now for 13 years. This is, by far, the best live show I've been a part of with Newsboys. It's just a night with Newsboys. …

“ ‘Let the Music Speak,’ we call the tour. It's 28 songs, and it's a fun night. Acoustic set to power set of pop songs, to a power worship set, to songs that you've heard way back in the day – some old, (for) old-school Newsboys fans, to new stuff. I do a song called ‘One’ by U2, and talk about how we are better together. And although we're different, that should be celebrated, and not pushed away – because the beauty is found in the diversity.

“The show is just another level.”


Foreigner (Photo by Karsten Staiger // provided by Lappen Enterprises)

JEFF PILSON of Foreigner

From the article: Music fans know there’s usually a time at each concert where they can take a song or two off: Go to the bathroom, get a snack, grab a cold one, check email.

That routine is going to be a little trickier when Foreigner takes the Darien Lake concert stage, pairing with fellow 1980s hitmakers Loverboy.

Jeff said, “Loverboy is killing it out there. And we're just having the time of our lives. I think the set has been real strong. So, I guess the clue is, make sure you go to the bathroom before we start the show. Get a beer – have it all ready!”


The Australian Pink Floyd Show (Photo by Mark Gibson // provided by Lappen Enterprises)

CHRIS BARNES of The Australian Pink Floyd Show

From the article: Sometimes a number is so large that it becomes ethereal or incomprehensible. So, to understand how many copies of Pink Floyd’s March 1973 release, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” have sold to date, consider this: If every man, woman and child in the state of New York bought two copies, it still wouldn’t equal the musical masterpiece’s sales.

An astounding 50 million copies of “The Dark Side of the Moon” have made their way into the hands (and record players) of fans around the world. The album has spent a mind-melting 962 weeks on the Billboard charts.

What makes this music so special?

The Australian Pink Floyd Show will seek to answer that question when it performs “The Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety at Artpark in Lewiston.

Chris said, “It's not two blokes with wigs. It's very serious,” he explained. “The music requires a huge amount of concentration and, also, it's an honor to play this music. And everyone involved in the band, and the crew, treat the music with such respect. That's the reason why the band is as big as it is, and why it's been going on – it's 35 years old this year. …

“They've worked very, very hard at it for such a long time.”


Samantha Fish (Photo by Daniel Sanda // courtesy of devious planet media)


From the article: While her fans appreciate what they see on stage – be it in L.A., Green Bay or Buffalo – they recently had an opportunity to learn more about the time, effort and resolve Fish puts into her craft when she was featured in a documentary titled, “Love Letters.” The biopic showcased the rising singer/songwriter/guitarist’s beginnings in Kansas City, Missouri, where she started as a shy drummer, avoiding the family instrument of choice; her ascent into stardom, and recognition as one of the world’s top blues musicians; a relocation to New Orleans to further refine her sound; and a fascination with the unusual cigar box guitar.

Samantha said, “I feel like learning how to be an entertainer – there's just as big of a learning curve as learning how to be a musician and learning how to be a writer. You have to learn how to entertain an audience, because it's one thing to play your songs and to play them good or make them sound good. It's another thing to captivate an audience.

“That's just, again, it's taken years and years of just trial and error. And for me, it's like I don't want to just be a guitar player, or be singer, this or that, or just one thing. I want to be a really well-rounded entertainer. Part of that is how can you captivate the audience, how can you hold their attention.”


Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, Patrick Stewart as Adm. Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as Capt. Will Riker and Todd Stashwick as Capt. Liam Shaw. (Photo credit: Trae Patton/ Paramount+. ©2021-2024 Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved.)


Appeared in "Star Trek: Picard"

From the article: In the concluding season of Paramount+ hit “Star Trek: Picard,” the USS Enterprise crew reunites for one last mission to save the galaxy – this time from matter-shifting Changelings who have invaded the upper ranks of Starfleet looking for revenge.

Todd said, “I think that sort of legacy extends itself forward in the same way that I imagine the legacy of Kirk and Spock and McCoy had to have some effect on Jonathan when he first showed up to work (on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’). He's like, ‘Now I'm on a starship,’ right? And now they create their own legacy.

“And then I, having pretended to be a Starfleet captain since I was 6 years old with my Mego action figures, have that same experience of going, ‘Wow, I am a custodian of the legacy that started long before I got here. And what a treat. What a rare and wonderful treat this is.’

“And then as an actor, to be given these wonderful, meaty scenes to be able to, instead of playing with action figures in a yard, I'm actually sitting across the table from the character that is Jean-Luc Picard. The amazing actor that is Sir Patrick Stewart.

“It never got in the way, but it was never lost on me.”


LaRoyce Hawkins stars as officer Kevin Atwater. (NBC photo by Lori Allen)


Appearing in "Chicago P.D."

From the article: The “Chicago P.D.” showrunners couldn’t have found a better person to play officer Kevin Atwater than LaRoyce Hawkins.

After all, it’s only fitting a character described as “an honorable and trustworthy detective who stands for what is right and always puts others before himself” is brought to life by someone who, NBC noted, “spends his time off screen helping youth from disenfranchised communities follow their dreams and recognize their potential.”

LaRoyce said, “The most interesting thing for me about this storyline was what it taught me. I had to learn how to embrace my imperfections. You know, LaRoyce had to learn that, and so did Atwater.

“It's funny: Sometimes we can read these scripts, and we admire our character so much that sometimes we expect them to be perfect, right? And then when they're not perfect, I think sometimes the artist can make the mistake of wanting to make them perfect. And I almost went down a dark hole trying to make Atwater as perfect as possible in this episode; and I was thankful for the reminder that humans make heroes – and not the other way around.”


Formerly Det. Jay Halstead, actor Jesse Lee Soffer stepped behind the camera to direct an episode of "Chicago P.D." (NBC photo)

Actor/director JESSE LEE SOFFER

Director on "Chicago P.D."

From the article: When “Chicago P.D.” revisits the Arturo Morales storyline this week, it will be in an episode directed by longtime cast member Jesse Lee Soffer.

After playing Det. Jay Halstead for nine-plus seasons, Soffer opted to leave the show last fall. He recently returned to the set to make his directorial debut.

Jesse said, “It was easier than I thought it was going to be. I was so nervous going into it. But I know ‘P.D.’ so well, and we're such a tight-knit family as that cast and crew, and it was really rewarding. Once we started rolling, and we got on set and started playing, it was just like any other episode.”

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