Cast from the Past: My Family

The ability to capture an audience for a few seasons is quite credible for a comedy series. People do tend to get bored of them or the series just dries up due to the same old jokes and gimmicks. Even when changes are made to the sitcom to try and refresh the brand, it can fall flat on it’s face due to the audience not liking new characters or just plain old missing the characters that have left. The show “My Family”, however, managed to not only last for eleven seasons over the course of 11 years, but also made changes throughout the eleven seasons and stayed strong throughout the whole time.

“My Family” was a comedy series about a Dentist named Ben (Robert Lindsay) and his family, with many complications along the way that were either caused by their kids, their neighbours, their place of work, or just random happenings that they have no control over.

People thought that when Kris Marshall (Nick) decided to leave the sitcom, it would slowly wither away as he was one of the main forces for people tuning in. However, this was proven completely wrong, with the show lasting another 6 years before calling it a day.

“My Family” truly was a stronghold throughout the Noughties, with it being one of twelve UK sitcoms that managed to make it past 100 episodes when it finished in 2011. It allowed top talent to shine as well as bringing light to actors, allowing their careers to kick start.

As usual with this blog, I attempted to contact as many of the actors as possible who were a part of “My Family”. To my good fortune, I managed to get in touch with Keiron Self, who played Roger Bailey…

…along with Zoe Wanamaker, who played Susan Harper.

zoe wanamaker

Keiron and Zoe were happy enough to answer the questions I had for them. Here is what they had to say:

How much of an impact (professionally and personally) did the show My Family have on your life?

Keiron: Professionally and personally, My family had a fairly large impact. But I was so busy working on both that and a sitcom in Wales called High Hopes and with a theatre company I have with a group of friends called Mappa Mundi, that I maybe didn’t push myself more to be on other television series. I was very lucky for 7 years in that I always had a job to go back to with so many great people and I was doing interesting theatre stuff at home in Wales appearing in plays like The Canterbury Tales, She Stoops to Conquer, Dangerous Liasons and many more.

Zoe: It had a huge impact, massive.  I had never done a situation comedy before, which, as was the norm in the ’90s, was recorded in front of a studio audience.  It was a new experience for me and was therefore exciting and challenging.  For me it was an experiment which went well, in the same way as “Love Hurts” and “Paradise Postponed” had done earlier in my career.

 Was there anything from the time at My Family would you have liked to have changed? If so, why?

Keiron: I think the thing you never fully appreciate when you are working on a a job is how lucky you are. I was aware of that to a certain extent, but could have done more. I wish I’d had a go at writing a script for the show. I write as well as act and although there were some great writers on the show, I wish I’d tried to write one myself. It would have probably be thrown out immediately but it was something I always thought about doing but didn’t.

Zoe: No, there was nothing I would change.

 Is there anybody from the cast that you still keep in touch with regularly?

Keiron: Siobhan who played Abby I’m still in contact with. She’s so lovely and was a pleasure to work with, as was everyone else/ Rhodri who played Alfie lives round the corner from me now and we have the occasional meet up and pint when we can fit it in with our own families. We all send each other the occasional messages of support and general greetings. Usually there’s a drunken photo of the family sent to Robert on New Year’s Eve, that type of thing. Robert and Zoe are also patrons of our theatre company Mappa Mundi so we keep them up to date on what is going on with that. We are touring The Trials of Oscar Wilde around Wales in April and May this year, and inviting them along if they can make it.

Zoe: I’m in touch with Daniella (Denby Ashe) and Robert (Lindsay), as well as Milanka Brooks and occasionally Keiron Self.

 What are you up to these days? What is your latest project in life?

Keiron: My latest project is as mentioned above. I’ve just done an episode of Still Open All Hours which was filmed in the studio next to the one we used in Pinewood for My Family so that brought a lot of memories back. It was directed by Dewi Humphreys too who directed many of the episodes I was in and got me in for my first episode. I owe him a lot! I’m also writing a feature film with my writing partner and friend Giles New. We have five features in development at the moment and are hoping one of them at least will come off!

Zoe: I have just finished filming “Britannia” for Sky and Amazon, where I’m  playing Queen Antedia, and I also worked on “Babs” for the BBC.

 If there were ever to be a reunion show in the future, would you be up for it? Or would you leave it as it was?

Keiron: I’d be up for a reunion show, so long as the script was good and everyone wanted to do it. There was no real full stop to the series as no one knew if it would be the last one as we did series 11, so yes, a rounding off would be pleasing. I always said Roger and Abby could have a spin off, opening a dental practice in Wales! I’d get her out of that nunnery that’s for sure!

Zoe: I would definitely be up for it, depending on the scripts (it is always about the writing).  It would be a delight.

 Is there anything else you would like to add for the fans?

Keiron: I’d just like to add that people have always been lovely about the series. I’m glad we brought a few smiles to people’s faces Thanks for watching!

Zoe: I think what I’ve found is that people loved My Family and what is so charming is that when people who have been fans of the show meet me they smile, which is a wonderful legacy.  They seem to have really enjoyed sitting down as a family and watching an episode of My Family on a Friday night.  It was ageless.

I’d like to personally thank Keiron and Zoe for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer my questions, it was very much appreciated. If you want to say hello to Keiron, feel free to visit his website here, or you can talk to him on twitter here. Or if you want to see what Zoe is up to, feel free to visit her website here or drop her a message on her twitter here.

Robert Lindsay (Ben) went on to star in other TV series since My Family finished, such as Atlantis and Wormwood, along with still performing in theatres.

Kris Marshall (Nick) went on to be the face of the BT adverts and is now currently starring in the TV show Death in Paradise.

Daniela Denby-Ashe (Janey) has recently starred in the TV show Silent Witness and is currently filming in an upcoming film called Heidi: Queen of the Mountain, so keep your eyes peeled.

Gabriel Thomson (Michael) has given up acting and is pursuing Higher Education by studying in Philsophy at degree level, with the hope of eventually becoming a Human Rights Lawyer.

Since leaving the show in 2009, Siobhan Hayes (Abi) went on to star in Horrid Henry: The Movie, whilst also making appearances in Doctors, Holby City and Crime Stories.

Rhodri Meilir (Alfie) is currently starring in the highly rated Welsh TV series “Byw Celwydd”

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Cast from the Past: Two Guys & A Girl (and a Pizza Place)

The 90’s sitcoms were not just dominated by Peter Engel and the multiple teen sitcoms that he created. There were other sitcoms that shone brightly within his teen-centric domination. One of these sitcoms was Two Guys, A Girl & a Pizza Place (later becoming just Two Guys & a Girl). This sitcom started off being similar to Engel’s sitcom template, which included a small group of friends, with an educational link to it. However, this sitcom did what Engel never let occur in his sitcoms. Instead of staying in the same environment, the show followed the characters on past their graduations and onto their separate studies, jobs or even on to some completely different path from what was originally expected. For me, this helped the sitcom grow, the characters went and got jobs, others decided education/the job wasn’t for them and changed careers, just like real life. All whilst still being absolutely hilarious. This portrayed to the audience a lot better in my opinion, with the change of environment keeping it fresh, meaning I thoroughly enjoyed every season of it. The cast bounced off each other brilliantly too. It was hard to have a favourite as each character had their unique likeable persona.

If you don’t know what Two Guys & A Girl is about (why wouldn’t you?!) it’s about two guys and a girl and their lives during college with most of the sitcom’s focus being about life choices on love, their studies/ jobs, whilst the guys having a part time job at a pizza place. It was created by Kenny Schwartz and Danny Jacobson and it ran for 4 seasons, airing 81 episodes from 1998 to 2001.

Where are the cast now? After attempting to make contact with most of the cast, I was lucky to receive a couple of replies from Richard Ruccolo, who played Pete Dunville…

RR

…and Suzanne Cryer, who played the part of Ashley Walker..

suzanneCryer

…who were willing to answer my questions. Here is what they had to say:

How much of an impact (professionally and personally) did the show Two Guys and a Girl have on your life?

Richard: Two Guys was a huge impact for me. My first series after only living in LA for three months. It completely changed my life. Had to learn on the job. It was like winning the lottery. At the same time it gave me a legitimacy. Which I had never had before. On a personal side it made things seem a bit too easy. Looking back I had a very “Well this is how it works. You come to LA and land on a series. No big deal.” I didn’t have any idea as to how lucky I truly was. Going from begging people to pay attention to you to getting everyone’s attention almost overnight is a bit of a mindfuck.  

Suzanne: When Danny Jacobson cast me in “Two Guys”, it had a huge impact on me, both professionally and personally. I will always be grateful to him for believing in me. “Two Guys” gave me the opportunity to work with a really interesting, bright and funny group of writers. I still cross paths with them all the time and am so thankful they created such a smart and hilarious character for me to play. I also got to work with many of the best comedy directors in the business. We did multiple episodes with Gail Mancuso – and then I shot a pilot with her only last year. It is so great to work with people years later having known them from early on. It was an unbelievable introduction to 4 camera television.

I really love doing 4 camera shows because I come from a theater background. I love the energy and immediacy of film in front of a studio audience. It is always funny to me because people complain that laugh tracks seem fake. I tell them – based on my experience – that the artificiality of the sound tracks is mostly coming from the fact that they have to be trimmed so much. Our audiences would laugh so long, so hard and so much that it is hard to understand how our poor sound department ever got clean takes. I never remember looping, so those guys were geniuses. Well, I had really wanted to get on a 4 camera show and knew I would be happy doing one. I had been testing all over the place after grad school, and producers thought I was funny, but no one was actually putting me on a show. I think networks thought I was too acerbic for a lead female, and not kooky enough for the best friend. I was really blessed to enter a show that already had a dynamic established and had Traylor Howard in it. I may have been brought on to play as Ryan’s girlfriend, but perhaps the more important dynamic was that I was so different from Traylor. She and I had a lot of fun doing scenes together and the writers put us together a lot. I feel really lucky to have gotten to work with her. She is a lovely woman and a terrific comedic actress.

Being in the shadow of “Friends” and “Will and Grace” was hard. However I think our producers were brave and funny and we had some ground breaking episodes. How many sit coms geared for a young demographic would be brave enough to do a silent episode? We really did some crazy, interesting and fun things on the show and our fans went along for the ride. I do believe the show, though loved ardently by fans, was unfairly dismissed by critics. It wasn’t hip to love us, but honestly, there was some truly terrific episodes of the show and we had a tremendous cast. Everyone is well aware of how immensely talented Ryan is. His comic skills and fearlessness are tremendous. Rich Ruccolo’s comic ability is massive. He and Ryan really worked together brilliantly, and Rich has a dry wit, a creative mind and a soulful pathos that make him unforgettable. I loved watching the guys work together and play. Getting to join them was truly a treat. Traylor was fabulous and I learned so much watching her work. She has a skill set I truly admire and she made me laugh so often. She had an ability to make things real and grounded so that you cared about her, even when her character was making poor choices. She really understood how to craft a full character, and I think her work is sometimes not fully appreciated because the boys were so hilarious with their clowning. But anyone who saw her do the “money dance” for Johnny will know this woman is a real comedienne. Nathan and I joined at the same time. I adore him. His work was just flawless. I loved that drain episode. He and I had a great time. He was so kind and Ashley was so cruel. It was great working with all of these actors – I learned from all of them and was allowed to be myself. So yes, the show couldn’t help but have a huge impact on me.

Was there anything from the time at Two Guys and a Girl you would have liked to have changed? If so, why?

Richard: The only thing I would have changed. As I stated above is my appreciation for how blessed I was. I let it fly by so quickly and never really gave myself the chance to appreciate how fortunate I was. People gave advice. I wish I had listened closely. Most of them wound up being right. 

Suzanne: Well we all wanted the pizza place gone. It left… but not soon enough. A bigger sadness was that it ended right before syndication. There was all this ridiculous energy over “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” at the end of our run. The network started putting it on the air 24 hours a day. It was hilariously insane. We were a steady performer and I wish we had done one more season. Plus, as I understand it, it wasn’t only because of WWTBAM. I think we got caught in the middle of some studio/ network negotiations that made our return complicated. Ah well.

How was it for the cast when it changed format and left the pizza place?

Richard: Ryan used to call the Pizza Place the ‘albatross set’. Because we were stuck in there at least once in every episode. It became difficult for the writers to find a reason to be in there. Hence losing the name. We were all pretty happy seeing it go I think. I think the writers more than us. But it was time to put it down. haha.

Suzanne: A huge fucking relief. Rick and Kenny (the two show creators) put that pizza place in there on a whim I think, and it was fine for a while. But then it was a pain in the derriere for the writers and actors. You cannot have a damn physical life in a pizza place. You don’t have personal belongings there. My character didn’t work there. Sharon didn’t work there. Johnny didn’t have a reason to be there. Why would we want to go there? And poor Berg and Pete needed to grow up and do interesting things. So it was a giant albatross. Like a pet you thought was cute and then realized it was a bloody nightmare – coming home all excited from the pet store with Clifford as a puppy and having him slowly morph into Clifford the huge, nightmarish, big, red dog. Who could feed that thing? Who knows where to put him???

Is there anybody from the cast that you still keep in touch with regularly?

Richard: I still talk to Suzanne Cryer. Jillian Bach. And a bunch of the crew and most of the writers. Facebook helps. In fact I just saw the creators of the show last week. Rick and Kenny. Great guys. 

Suzanne: I always loved being on set with those other actors. It was a warm and welcoming place to be. We had fun working together and always really were excited and happy rehearsing our scenes. However I did not hang out with them after work. I really prefer to keep my work and my personal life somewhat separate. It is important to me to have a life that is not about the industry and separating the two worlds helps me a lot. Plus I was in a different place in my life toward the end of the show. Ryan and Nathan were beginning to have major film careers and I was really thinking about getting married and having kids. You cannot wait to do that as a woman. But Rich and I have always been close and I talk to him a few times a year. He is a peach. 

What are you up to these days? What is your latest project in life?

Richard: I’m honestly up to nothing. I’m always looking for work. Just the way this business is to some. I spend all of my days with my wife who’s my best friend. We have a great life and an RV that we’re usually in traveling around doing mostly nothing in different places. I’ve started writing but it’s no easy task. I wrote a comedy script with Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward that we’re shopping around now. 

Suzanne: I am on a tremendous show – “Silicon Valley”. Brilliant writing and a hilarious cast. And HBO is a great employer. I occassionally am on “The Fosters”, which is a show I deeply respect. It grapples with issues that are thorny and complicated. I love how bold and unapologetic it is. It is helping American kids and doing a great service culturally. Also, I am in “10 Cloverfield Lane”. Briefly. I do things when they work with my schedule and when they come up. I am a busy, busy mom. Three kids. Lots of work on that front.

If there were ever to be a reunion show in the future, would you be up for it? Or would you leave it as it was?

Richard: I would love to do a reunion. It would be great and strange at the same time. I doubt Ryan or Nathan have that much time to do something like that. And I don’t even know if Traylor is acting anymore. I would love to see what the relationship between the three of them is now. It’s amazing to think where our real lives took us all. And where those characters would be. I’m sure it would involve Berg running for President…and winning of course.

Suzanne: Well, there surely won’t be a reunion because everyone is off doing different things. On one hand I would be happy to try to recapture the magic, but on the other hand, I think it is nice to allow things to be as they were. That show was very specific to a certain time, and it wouldn’t work in the same way now. Also I am not wearing bikinis and leather pants on TV anymore. I was 10 years older than Ryan and apparently ABC thought I could get away with that at 30, but now, yikes. That would be hard. No one wants to see an actress in her 40’s pretend she is 10 years younger than she is – that leads to a lot of botox and creepy work on the face! We already see it too much and it is sad and frustrating to me. We should be allowed to mature without frantically scrambling to pretend we are still nubile youths. Americans are terrified of aging and it is a bummer. So if Ashley returns, she needs to be Head of Surgery and have made her choices about her personal life – with a family or without one. But not screwing around and dating. She needs to be able to be a woman in her forties. And she has a kid, we know that. She was pregnant and about to be a mom. I don’t think that is what the show is about – so I think we need to let it RIP.

Is there anything else you would like to add for the fans?

Richard: Just that it means a lot to hear all of the good things. I wish the show didn’t end so quickly. Our cancellation was mostly REALITY TELEVISION related. It was the birth of it and the death for us. (Who wants to be a millionaire on 4 nights a week…really?) The compliments and the comments don’t go unnoticed. So proud to have been a part of it. 

Suzanne: I am glad to hear the box set of DVDs is available. I will show it to my kids when they are a teeny bit older. I hope the fans are psyched they can own “Two Guys” and see those insane Halloween Episodes whenever they want to chuckle. I also want them to know that I truly appreciate the opportunity I had working on that show. It was a great time in my life. So much fun to do and so much fun to remember. 

Ryan Reynolds (Michael “Berg” Bergen) has been in several big movies, such as Blade Trinity, Smokin’ Aces and Green Lantern with his latest being the record smashing Deadpool.

Traylor Howard (Sharon Carter-Donnelly) went on to star in the TV series Monk. I believe she is no longer acting as she hasn’t appeared on anything since 2010 and is enjoying being a full-time mother.

Nathan Fillion (Johnny Donnelly) has starred in many TV shows and films since, notably Firefly, Serenity, and his current TV series, Castle.

Jillian Bach (Irene) went on to star in multiple TV shows, such as Gilmour Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Bones and The Mentalist. It seems she has taken time out of the industry to become a full time mother.

I would like to personally thank Richard and Suzanne for taking time out of their lives to speak to me and answer my questions. It is truly appreciated and wish them all the best in the future. Keep an eye out and fingers crossed for Richard’s comedy script and tune in to Suzanne’s Silicon Valley. Don’t forget, as Suzanne said, the box set for Two Guys and a Girl complete series is available already in the UK, but is available in the USA on June 28th 2016. If you are wanting it in the USA, you can pre-order it from most online shopping sites, including Shout! Factory here, so go reminisce and enjoy a fantastic sitcom that can be enjoyed for many more years.

Cast from the Past: USA High

During the 90’s there was an influx of Teen sitcoms that involved a group of friends in an educational environment, who dealt with everyday problems that related to teenage reality, with that extra pinch of cheesey comedy. Each sitcom had it’s own version of success,  some lasted longer than others, but all captured the hearts of a vast amount of teenagers in their time. In this instance, I am focusing on one particular Teen sitcom from that era, USA High.

In case you didn’t know USA High was about a group of six friends who all went to an American Academy Boarding School in Paris, France. It ran for two seasons from 1997 to 1999, reaching a combined total of 95 episodes and was created by Peter Engel, who also created Saved by the Bell, Hang Time, City Guys and California Dreams.

The reason for writing this blog is to bring attention to the point: Where are the cast now?

What started this process off was like how most of my other ideas tend to originate from. Reminiscant chats with friends. Quite a few of us, when we younger, used to watch USA High and wondered what the cast have been in since and what they were up to now. I decided to take it to the next step, which was to find them online and ask them personally, as you do.

After a bit of searching and message sending, I got a couple of responses from Josh Holland, who played Jackson Greene,

JoshuaHollandBioPic

Elena Cardone (nee Lyons), who played Lauren Fontaine,

elenacardone

and Marquita Terry, who played Winnie Barnes.

marquita terry

They were willing to answer a few questions I had for them, here are their answers:

How much of an impact (professionally and personally) did the show USA High have on your life?

Josh: USA High had a big effect on me. It was the first time I was cast as a series regular. I learned a lot about the TV business while working on that show. Made great friends who I still stay in touch with. It didn’t have much effect professionally for me. When the show ended I was back to pounding the pavement looking for work like any other actor.

Elena: I didn’t realize it at the time what an impact USA HIGH would have on my life. It was a great accomplishment at a young age which gave me a tremendous sense of responsibility and work ethic. Even when times at work appeared to be difficult, I now recognize the value of work for my sense of pride, confidence, moral and financial success. 

Marquita: Okay…doing the show was the most important job I’ve done, really.  It was like getting paid to go to school.  I learned how a show operates, the entire process from the writers room, to wardrobe, to shoot days.  It was in invaluable education that I carry with me in work I do and pursue today.

Was there anything from the time at USA High would you have liked to have changed? If so, why?

Josh: The only thing I would have changed from back in that time would be to have the show last longer. After a few years working together you really do become like a family. I wasn’t ready to leave that group at the time. There was talk of spinning the group off to college together but the business end of TV had other idea’s.

Elena: I wish I would have appreciated that opportunity and experience more as I was living it. I allowed others to delegitimize the role I played on the show. Looking back, I see that others were jealous, but my own insecurity prevented me from truly relishing that awesome experience.

Marquita: If I could tell my younger self anything I think it would be just to really appreciate that time. Young actors can be so bratty, and I’d remind myself to stay in gratitude.  With an acting career there are challenges and ups and downs.  It was such an amazing rare blessing to have a job, on television, where I got to go every day.  I don’t think I always recognized it as being such.  I learned it can all be amazing, but also fleeting so it’s important to make the most of each and every opportunity in grace.

Is there anybody from the cast that you still keep in touch with regularly?

Josh: I still keep in touch with the entire cast through social media. Hopefully you’ll be able to talk to them for this piece but every one is doing really well. About a year ago I met up with Marquita Terry and Kristin Miller and we went and saw a play together. It was being directed by one of our USA high directors Mary Lou Belli. Love those ladies.

Elena: I follow the cast on social media and keep in touch that way but I live in Florida now so I don’t see them. They will always be very special to me though. 

Marquita: Kristen Miller is my very best friend.  We were Maid of Honor at each others weddings, we are Aunties to each others kids, we’re family.  She’s couldn’t be more of a sister if we were blood related.  She’s the best gift I got from the show.  We all keep in touch to some degree, though.  Thanks to social media, we get to peek in on big life changes, kids accomplishments, and so on.  Everyone seems really great, super happy and all just getting better with age.  Most of us were able to get together a couple times last year which was fantastic.

What are you up to these days? What is your latest project in life?

Josh: These days I own an entertainment website called THTerrorTime.com. It’s entertainment news about the horror film and TV genre. My father is writer/director Tom Holland. He made the films ‘Child’s Play, Fright Night, Psycho II and is considered a master of horror. The genre has exploded over the last few years on TV here in America. We’re having a lot of fun talking about zombies and vampires on the daily.

Elena: I’m married with 2 children. This role has turned out to be the best yet. I truly value being a wife and mother. I also star and produce 3 shows, which can be viewed on GrantCardoneTV.com: “The G & E Show” with my husband Grant Cardone, which promotes the business of marriage. “Women in Power” which covers a variety of topics and women in today’s modern world. “Whatever it takes” a reality based show which gives insight on what it takes to be great.

Marquita: I’m first a wife and mom to two amazing kids. I still dabble in acting, but am concentrating more writing and creating content.  Kristen and I produced a series for the web together that I wrote called Work In Progress.  It was SO much fun and so great to work with her again both in front and behind the camera.

If there were ever to be a reunion show in the future, would you be up for it? Or would you leave it as it was?

Josh: If there was ever a reunion I’d come back in a heart beat. Just to be able to spend some time with the gang and make some people laugh again would be awesome. That was probably the biggest gift of USA High. Being able to make people laugh everyday.

Elena: I would totally be up for that. I wish the show would get re-released as I think it was a great show then which holds up even today!

Marquita: I’d of course be down for a reunion,  how fun would that be?

Is there anything else you would like to add for the fans?

Josh: In closing I’d just like to add a big thank you to the fans of the show. They really were the best to us. They always came out to support us. Hopefully some day they’ll put USA High out online. All of Peter Engel’s shows for that matter. For now it’s just really bad copies on Youtube.

Elena: There were no greater fans than the fans of USA High and I loved you then and I love you now!

Marquita: Just a huge thank you to you and to those who were and still are fans of the show.  It never ceases to amaze me when people reach out to say how much they loved the show and the characters.  It makes my day every time, and I’m super grateful.

The other cast members, to this point, have yet to reply, so I will update this blog if any updates occur.

Kristen Miller (Ashley Elliot) is still acting and have recently worked on a Web series project together with Marquita Terry, which is called Work In Progess, check that out by clicking here.

Thomas Magiar (Christian Mueller) is now a Realtor and owns his own business, here is his business website.

James Madio (Bobby Lazzarini) is still acting, recently appearing in Law and Order: Special Victims unit and according to imdb.com, has been announced to star in the film “Pep”.

Nicholas Guest (Headmaster Patrick Elliot) also continues to act, do voice overs in multiple films as well as singing and playing guitar.

Angela Visser (Miss Gabrielle Dupree) is now enjoying being a full time Mother and wife.

I would like to thank both Josh, Elena and Marquita for being willing to chat to me and answering my questions, it was hugely appreciated. Please go check out Josh’s website www.THTerrorTime.com and see what great work his website is achieving, along with Elena’s website www.GrantCardoneTV.com and get watching her shows! Also check out Marquita’s web series “Work In Progress” web site here!

An Ode to Chocolate Cake

As soon as I’m awake

Doesn’t take me long to take

A piece of my chocolate cake.

Now let there be no mistake

about this chocolate cake

and the qualities needed to bake.

The basic ingredients for any cake

is what you need to take

along with a chocolate flake.

You then give it a good shake

Allowing the flake to break

and then throw it into a chocolate lake.

Now the next part to take

to complete this cake

is to get my mate Jake.

But for goodness sake

keep an eye on Jake

as he will try to take

this most delicious cake

which takes so long to make

that it will make your heart ache.

So if he slithers away like a snake

Hit him in the face with a rake

and take the finished chocolate cake

for you to enjoy after your rump steak.

Or before, if you like….

Depression – What to expect when you seek help

Depression has come to the forefront recently, mainly due to the publicity of celebrity deaths who were linked to suffering severely with it, with Robin Williams being the most recent celebrity to take his life. Due to his death, it opened my eyes that I had been depressed for a long time, around 5 years to be precise, for reasons I won’t bore you with and that his passing made me think that I didn’t want to get to the stage that he ended up at where the only way out is to end it all. Yes, my problems were not as huge as his, but that’s not how you measure depression, that’s a school playground mentality (“My Dad is bigger than your Dad” ). Each person has a unique way of thinking. What may seem like a problem to some people, others won’t even see it as a problem at all and vice versa. If it affects you, then that’s what matters, regardless of other people’s perceptions.

I felt like I was coping for most of the time I was depressed until the birth of my second child. Not because of my daughter herself, but the extra stress and a lack of sleep heightened my emotions to a point where I was crying over nothing, felt a failure at life etc. As soon as the news came out about Robin Williams, I immediately started looking up on the internet for the first time on how to get myself out of depression and there was plenty of information about depression itself, but felt there wasn’t much information on what happens and the experiences people have or had leading up to treatment and also during treatment itself.

This is why I am writing this blog, for anybody who is depressed and is anxious on what happens at the Doctors, what happens during counselling, this is what I experienced. This is for you.

The first thing that I did was I went to the walk-in clinic at my local Doctors rather than making an appointment as I would get seen that day. I thought it would be best to go see the Doctor straight away at my worst rather than wait a week or more for an appointment, which by that point I could have talked myself out of it and it also would be playing on your mind more with all the waiting. If your Surgery doesn’t do a walk-in clinic, then try the Out-of-hours at the Hospital. Whilst walking to the Doctors, I nearly turned back. I felt daft as I was going to the Doctors because I was just down in the dumps and crying, I wasn’t physically ill. Even to the point of being called in to the Doctor’s room, I felt embarrassed and silly, but as soon as I started telling the Doctor what was wrong, I just burst out crying and told her everything that was making me feel down. The Doctor was brilliant. She didn’t judge me, she didn’t brush me to one side and tell me that “that’s life” and to get over it. She talked to me about my problems and asked me how I wanted to be helped. If a Doctor does judge you, or tells you to get on with it, ask for another Doctor at reception and report the Doctor who has just seen you. The options my Doctor gave me were:

*Anti-depressant tablets

*Counselling

The Doctor also got me to fill out a questionnaire which is rough measurement on how depressed you are. The score is from 0 to 30 with 0 being not depressed whatsoever and 30 being severely depressed that you’d consider the worst. The score of 5 is considered to be the lowest level to offer treatment. I scored 19.

The tablets change the chemicals in your brain to make you feel more at ease and and feel happier, I’m sure there is a better, more detailed explanation on anti-depressants out on the internet if this wasn’t understandable/ correct. They do, however, take up to 2-3 weeks to kick in and also make you feel worse before you feel better, so is best to keep taking them for at the very least 3 weeks. I personally asked for Counselling as I felt that tablets would only mask the problem and that talking to someone who can advise me correctly on how to overcome my mental issues would be more beneficial. It’s all optional and if you feel like you will benefit being on anti-depressants, great, not a problem. I chose not to. My Doctor prescribed me the anti-depressants just in case and also rang the NHS Psychological Health department, who would get in touch with me to make an appointment to see which treatment would be best for me. This process depends on the availability of Counsellors. It can take a few days or can take a few weeks because of this.

The first appointment is basically talking to the Counsellor and telling them everything that’s bothering you and they’ll decide which is the best course of action. If you feel that your Counsellor isn’t listening to you and is saying things you don’t agree with e.g. saying something is wrong with your marriage when you know there isn’t, ask for another Counsellor at reception. This didn’t happen to me, but have known it to happen.

This is the part of my experience where procedures may vary due to the options available. After I told my Counsellor everything, the Counsellor suggested the two options of: Counselling for bereavement and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and allowed me to choose what I think would be beneficial to me. I chose Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is basically changing the way you think at points in life, to a more positive outcome, rather than thinking negatively. For example if your friend blanks you when crossing paths in the street, instead of thinking “Do they hate me?”, you’ll think “They probably didn’t see me”. The counsellor will also suggest to carry out small tasks in between your appointments to improve your mental well-being.

I couldn’t tell you really what happens in a counselling bereavement session, along with other sessions that exist, but the layout would be similar of sitting in a room with a counsellor and just talking and helping you improve your mental health. After every session you will fill out a questionnaire like the one at the Doctors to see roughly how you’re doing score-wise.

I’ve now finished my CBT as I managed to get my depression score down from 19 to a 4. I’m feeling better now. Don’t be disheartened if you find that the choice of CBT or Counselling Bereavement or whatever, doesn’t work, as it doesn’t work for everybody. If it doesn’t work then ask your Counsellor to try something different. You need to bear in mind that sessions don’t make you feel better overnight, it can take weeks. You also want to be as open as you can to your Counsellor, they are there to help you. Take that opportunity, don’t hold anything back, tell them everything, do the tasks that they ask you to try out of session. Going to the sessions alone may be enough for some, but do the tasks they ask of you, it’ll get you back on track quicker (it did for me).

I hope this has eased people’s minds of what to expect when seeking help for depression. I know it can be scary with depression still considered as taboo in some areas, so knowledge and experiences are lacking in this category. But now you know roughly what to expect from me sharing my experience, there is a less fear of the unknown throughout the treatment process for you. In fact, there is nothing to be scared of at all.

If you are depressed, the daft/ silliness feeling of going to the Doctors is temporary and minute compared to the better, depression-free feeling at the end of the treatment. Don’t wait for 5 years and for a well known celebrity to die to get the ball rolling like I did.

I hope this helps.

Ass From The Past #4 – Karyn Parsons

Throughout the nineties leading into the noughties (with the continuous repeats),  I was always a big fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The comedy it delivered, the morals that were attached to certain episodes and the brilliant casting to bring it altogether made it, for me, one of the top TV Series of it’s time. For this next Ass From the Past entry, it will be for the actress who played the eldest daughter Hilary in the Banks family, Karyn Parsons.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Karyn started getting into acting at the age of 13 and got her first TV role in 1987 in “The Bronx Zoo”. After a few more appearances on other TV shows, she finally found the big break she was looking for, starring as Hilary Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.  With myself living in the UK, I only knew Karyn for starring as Hilary, who’s character also appeared in other US TV sitcoms, such as Blossom and Out All Night. I can remember her character for her ditsy, but annoyingly snobbish persona, with the alluring verity that she was unbelievably attractive, making it a love/ hate relationship for people worldwide. Since Fresh Prince finished in 1996, Karyn went on to co-create and also star in her sitcom “Lush Life”, which lasted one season. She was last seen on our TV screens (according to imdb.com) in 2002 when she was a regular in “The Job” starring alongside Denis Leary.

 

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Like most celebrities who I try to contact, my first port of call was Twitter. I found Karyn with ease and asked her outright if she was interested in answering any questions that I had for her. I didn’t believe I would get a response as, with this blog being only a few entries old, I saw Karyn as a popular celebrity to the previous ladies and so I didn’t expect anything to happen. I was wrong. Karyn replied quite quickly saying that it was okay to ask away and to reach out to her on her website Sweet Blackberry. Shell shocked, I went straight to her website to immediately send her my questions before she changed her mind. Unfortunately at this moment in time, she has yet to answer my questions, being busy with her Sweet Blackberry project along with being a full time mum is very time consuming. If there is any progress with Karyn, then I will swiftly update the blog with her answers.   KARYN PARSONS2 From fictional weather girl of yesteryear to the reality of modern, professional grace, my concept of Karyn hasn’t changed at all. In fact, the motivation and will that she enforces into delivering Sweet Blackberry to children across America is a powerful, attractive quality in itself and I will highly recommend you check out her story-telling project by clicking here. If you fully support Karyn’s project and want to help her even more, you can make a donation here to help Sweet Blackberry grow even further.

Ass from the Past #2 – Katelyn Rosaasen

For the second Ass from the Past entry, I was struggling to think of someone  who immediately came to mind from memories past, seeing as though I didn’t think I would be writing another entry and put no thought into anyone in particular. However people asked me for a new post so I decided to act upon it.  After a lot of thinking and people-asking, I just could not get any decent results. I decided to go through my old music collection and came across a nostalgic beauty. It came from watching The Offspring’s “Want You Bad”. I remember this stunning woman at the time of the song’s release as she was also in Linkin Park’s “Crawling” music video. I never found out her name or who she was….until now.

After a quick google search, I have found out gents (and/ or ladies) that her name is Katelyn Rosaasen.

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Katelyn was known for appearing as the main woman in Linkin Park’s “Crawling” video as well as Offspring’s “Want You Bad” video. She also briefly appears in Saliva’s “Your Disease” and a brief stint in NSync’s “Gone” according to the eagle-eyed fans on one of her fansites, who also say she has starred in adverts for KFC, Pepsi and a European Gum advert, which I found really hard to find.

With her only being known for these events, it is hard to pinpoint the exact facts of her life so far, which concludes that she is a private person and just prefers to stay out of the limelight, or decided to take another path in her life that didn’t involve the public eye.

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I got to work on trying to contact her and originally wrote this blog several months ago with no success, apart from finding her instagram profile and what I believed to be her Facebook page. I decided to send her a message on facebook with some small hope that she may reply just like Lindy Christopher did, but to no success and the possibility that it was a fake. However after re-visiting the situation, it seems she has now signed up to twitter a few months ago. As soon as I discovered her profile, I immediately contacted her hoping for a positive response. This time I was more successful, with her replying and being more than willing to answer my questions. Here is what she had to say:

 

Out of all the music videos and adverts you have done, which one was the most fun to do/ favourite to film?

My favorite print job I ever did was for the Fornarina campaign in Italy. The location was amazing and the shoot was so much fun. My favorite music video I’ve ever done was probably the Crawling video. Linkin Park was amazing to work with, the nicest guys, and filming was so much fun. The want you bad video was great too. I made a lot of good friends working on that video.

 

What have you been up to since your appearances on the music videos? Are you still modelling?

I took some time off from modeling and acting to start my family. I got married in 2002, and now I have four amazing children. I’ve done a little modeling over the years, but I’ve put most of my time into my kids. I’ve just recently decided to go back to work and Pursue my passion once again.
If you never became a model or an actress, what do you think you would have done for a career?

If I never became a model I would have probably pursued music. I love music so much and I love to sing.

 

How long did you film in the foam for in the “Want You Bad” video? That couldn’t have been fun after a while. Also how hard was it to keep a straight face when the actor licked your ear and you licked his neck?

The Filming of the offspring want you bad video took a full day, the actual filming in the foam was probably about 3-4 hours. It was a pretty crazy time. So much fun. I’m not sure how I kept a straight face when Shane licked my ear, it was pretty gross to be honest, I think you just have to get into character, and you just go with it. The actor, Shane Powers was a great guy, super funny. It’s crazy cause the second girl in the video, Michelle Belegrin was his girlfriend at the time and we all became really close friends after that. I think the hardest time I had keeping a straight face was the last shot when they threw the foam in my face, they didn’t tell me they were gonna do that, so that was a real reaction on my part.

 
Are we likely to see you back on our screens or magazines any time soon? What does the future hold for Katelyn Rosaasen? 

Yes, I’m hoping you will see more of me on screen in the future. I recently signed with Wilhelmina Brown in Austin, and just recently moved back to LA to continue my career. Let’s hope everything goes well 🙂

 

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After a decade passing from her appearances in the music videos and having four children, I believe she looks even better now than when she was back in the videos, which I thought wasn’t even possible. She was very approachable and humble to allow me to ask her questions and responded with great news that she is wanting to return to our screens and gave us an insight into certain parts of her life, which I am very thankful for.

If you’re on twitter and a big fan of Katelyn’s work then go pay her a visit and say hi (@KRosaasen) and say Martin sent you, unless you’re going to pester her then don’t bother. Keep an eye out for her come back, with the possibility hopefully arriving much sooner rather than later.