Welcome to New York, Tom Duke

Part of a series on young professionals moving to New York City.

Name: Tom Duke
Age: 23
Hometown: Northampton, MA
Date Moved to NYC: May 1, 2016
Current Residence: Brooklyn, NY
Profession: Actor
Day Job: Expert at Uber (Independent Contractor)
College: Drew University in Madison, New Jersey
Major: Theatre Arts (Bachelor of Arts)
Class Year: 2015
Ethnic Background: Caucasian (Irish, Scottish, English, Polish, German, Spanish, and a bit of Native American)
Relationship Status: Single

welcome to ny tom duke

Me: How did you get into acting?
Tom Duke: When I was in 6th grade I did my first play, which was Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and I loved that so I kept doing the play and the musical every fall and spring.

Me: Why did you pick Drew University?
TD: Well, for several reasons. It’s a small, liberal arts school that was far enough away from home but also not too far. It’s in a forest, which I really loved. There’s squirrels and deer and all that. They also have the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, which is on campus, so that was the draw, and the great theater program in general.

Me: What made you fall in love with Shakespeare?
TD: Like I said, my first play was “Twelfth Night,” but I think the real first work of Shakespeare that I fell in love with was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when I did that in 8th grade. I was one of the clowns, Rude Mechanicals, and it was just so much fun that I fell in love with it.

Me: Tell me a bit about your experience as a director. What aspect of performing is most exciting for you?
TD: I directed two scenes in my Acting and Directing class at Drew. One was a “Nonsense Scene,” which is a fairly meaningless dialogue that gains meaning through acting and directing choices, and the other was a scene from a play called “The Children’s Hour” by Lillian Hellman. My only other directing experience was of a staged reading of a student-written play, one of our department’s weekly “Plays in Process” series. I am most excited by language in performances, which is why I am so drawn to Shakespeare. I find great words and phrases delicious especially when they convey the passions of characters in turmoil or ecstasy.

Me: Tell me about “Tape.”
TD: That was for my Acting on Camera class and I recorded that last spring [2015]. Each thing I do is sort of challenging in its own way, and that particular challenge was playing the character as he didn’t believe that he’d raped the girl, but his friend had. It turned from what was a friendly hanging out to being accused of raping someone.

Me: What was it like reading through the script for the “Tape” scene?
TD: It was very conversational, very natural, but obviously a very dramatic situation. In my Acting on Camera class we were really focusing on the difference between on-camera acting and stage acting. On-camera acting is a lot more subdued. It’s a lot less projecting and more gestures so I was working on that for the scene too.

Me: What was it like transitioning from Massachusetts to New Jersey and then New York City?
TD: It was really different. Well, Massachusetts to New Jersey was not that different because they’re both kind of rural-ish, kind of a small town sort of thing with nature, but New York City is totally different. It’s so big. I’ve been here before and I’ve seen shows here but living here is just a lot. It’s also really good because there’s a lot of opportunities that I don’t have in other places like theater and also job opportunities.

actor tom duke times square

Actor Tom Duke in Times Square in July 2016.

Me: When you first moved to NYC you lived in Astoria, Queens. Why did you move to Brooklyn?
TD: I moved because I saw an apartment that looked nice and I liked the idea of living in Brooklyn.

Me: Tell me about your time as a legal courier.
TD: I had to go to mostly Manhattan, but a couple of times Brooklyn or Queens. Once I went into Bronxville.

Me: Oh?! So they just gave you the package and sent you all the way up there?
TD: Yeah, but it was only one time, though.

Me: What’s your preferred method of travel?
TD: The subway.

Me: Tell me your favorite line of Shakespeare.
TD: “Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York […]” – “Richard III”

Catch Tom Duke as Brutus in “Julius Caesar” at Narrows Botanical Garden on August 13, 14, 20, and 21, 2016.

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Brief Interview and Collab with The Amna Ali Boutique

A few months ago, I found out a fellow Her Campus Blogger Network member named Amna Ali started her own boutique online. Amna is a Chicago-based blogger, engineer, fashionista, and jewelry designer. Her boutique, called The Amna Ali Boutique, sells gorgeous handmade bracelets in fun vibrant colors.

I asked her if she wanted to be featured on my blog and she not only agreed, but she also decided to send me a bracelet set and name it after my blog!

whisper box bella amna ali boutique

The set is called “Whisper Box Bella,” and you can get it here. Keep reading for the interview I did with Amna!

Me: Why did you decide to start a collection?

Amna Ali: Ever since I can remember, I always have had a love for designing. Whether it’s designing my room, my own website, logos, my graduation card… I just love designing it! I honestly could say I have an eye for these things. I love playing with colors and putting things together. If I don’t like the color combination, I’ll start all over again from scratch. Even though I took the route to be a software engineer in life, I secretly have always wanted to be the next top designer! Every child has a dream. They want to be a super star, an actress, a model…it sounds crazy when we say it as we get older, but I never believed it was impossible. When I was overweight and over 200 pounds, I thought it was impossible to ever lose it, and drop 65 pounds, but I did it. I had a goal, I wanted it so badly, and I didn’t stop working towards it until I reached my goal. Even when I reached it, I set myself higher goals. I never gave up. Now, when it comes to my outfit and the accessories I wear with it is what truly shows off my style. One thing I caught myself always wearing is bracelets! But sometimes, they didn’t match my outfits, or I wish I had a certain type of bracelet…and I am always buying evil eye bracelets if I see them when I am shopping, but every time I bought a bracelet, I was always wishing it was a certain way, so I decided to make my own. I designed a bracelet I wanted to wear, made out of beads, and turned it into reality. Surprisingly, I had a lot of compliments on that one bracelet I made, and my friends and co-workers were asking what store I got it from. This gave me the idea to start my own collection. I knew it wasn’t impossible, but it would be a lot of work. I always love a fun challenge, so, I set myself a new goal. This sounds cheesy, but the truth is, I decided to chase my dream. Where this will go? I still have yet to find out!

amna ali boutique bracelet

Me: Tell me about your design process. How do you decide on which pieces to use for your designs?

AA: Truthfully, I don’t have a process when I am designing! If I go somewhere, I see something, I always wonder if it’ll look good if I turned it into a bracelet. I am always curious about everything. Just the other day, I looked at a wine bottle and I wondered if there was a way to turn the cork screws into a bracelet! I research, go shopping for beads, and buy them. When they come in, I play with them, and put pieces together until I love it! I have taken a part a bracelet probably over 50 times just because there was something I didn’t like about it. I just don’t want the bracelets to look good, I want them to be amazing. If I love it, then I know others will too!

Me: Which piece from your collection is your favorite?

AA: I can’t just pick one that is my favorite. Each piece I make has a different story to how I came up with the design, that makes me love each piece for it’s own. Although, I love my evil eye collection, because of the meaning behind ‘evil eyes’, and wearing them for protection. I love the tassel collection, because I remember playing around with string and different colors for hours and trying to tie gold thread around it, until I finally made the perfect tassel.

Me: If you could design a piece for any celebrity or model who would it be, what would you make for them, and why?

AA: I would say either Priyanka Chopra or Kim Kardashian. I would make an evil eye bracelet, because I feel like they believe in the meaning behind it, and would appreciate an evil eye bracelet design that no one else has.

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Be sure to check out The Amna Ali Boutique and Amna’s blog! Her bracelet sets make great Christmas gifts!

Brief Chat With Hofstra’s 2014 Homecoming Queen Hanna Knuuttunen

TV production major Hanna Knuuttunen, 21, was crowned Homecoming Queen at Hofstra’s Fall Festival in September.

Hofstra University’s Homecoming Queen Hanna Knuuttunen is ready to head back to her hometown in Sandown, New Hampshire for the Thanksgiving holiday. The 21-year-old TV production major and drama minor just landed an internship with Sesame Workshop’s Domestic TV Distribution Department, which she’s excited to begin in January 2015.

I got to catch up with Hanna on campus to talk about the Fall Showcase, her post-grad plans and where she keeps that gorgeous crown.

Me: Where are you from?
Hannah Knuuttunen: I’m from Sandown, New Hampshire, a very small New Hampshire town.

Me: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
HK: Passionate, motivated and genuine.

Me: Are you involved in any campus clubs?
HK: I’m the president of Alpha Phi, and I’m also the president of Sigma’capella, which is a co-ed a capella group. I’m an RA in the Netherlands Hall and I’m in She’s the First.

Me: What did your friends and family say when you told them you were going to be part of the showcase?
HK: They were very excited for me. They were all very supportive as well and super excited to see what I came up with. My mom was constantly calling me and was like “Oh, so did you decide what you’re doing? You need to get it on video to show me!”

Me: Did you think you were going to win? At what point did you feel that you could actually win Homecoming Queen?
HK: I was so nervous the entire time. I had no idea. It was great because I feel like every girl that was up on stage is a leader in so many different things on campus and we’re all so unique. So it could of been any one of us. During the showcase I had such a blast and I had a huge group of friends that came out to support me so that made me feel a little more comfortable. But until the second my name was called I had no clue.

Me: What went through your mind when the crown was being placed on your head?
HK: I just couldn’t stop smiling! It was so exciting. It was President Stuart Rabinowitz that crowned me so I was like ‘This is so cool.’ It’s such an incredible honor to be Homecoming Queen at Hofstra. It’s something that you should really cherish and be honored that it happened to you because it means that you’re involved and you’re respected by not only your peers, but administration. I was happy that everyone was supporting me and it was such a great moment. Definitely one of the best moments so far.

Me: Where do you put the crown when you’re not wearing it?
HK: I have a bookshelf in my room, and one of my residents actually came in and re-did my bookshelf and set my crown and sash. She made a pretty display for it so it’s just sitting on the bookshelf.

Me: What do you like to do for fun?
HK: I love theater. I like singing, dancing and acting. I live for that. Anything to do with performing really. I just love being able to be in front of people and talking to people and making them laugh or whatever it may be. I love writing scripts. Like, one act plays. Not necessarily stories or essays, but I love creating dialogue.

Me: What’s your favorite film?
HK: I love West Side Story. That might be a classic for me.

Me: What are your plans after graduating in May?
HK: I want to travel. I would love to take a year off and just go everywhere I can and not have a set plan. Like, just save up and go to one place and take a plane to the next place and just keep going. It’s gonna be a lot of money. I’d have to save but that would be the dream. I would also love to go to grad school, potentially, or just work in the city.

Me: Who is your female role model?
HK: This is probably so cliché, but definitely my mom. She’s the reason that I’m the person that I am today because every single thing I’ve done, every club, group or rehearsal I’ve had since I was in elementary school, she’s supported me through and she’s been the thing that always keeps me going. If I’m upset about something she’s the one to remind me why I’m here doing what I do and why I can achieve whatever I’m trying to achieve. She is, without a doubt, the reason I have accomplished anything that I’ve accomplished.

Me: What is your life motto?
HK: I actually got this from a fortune cookie once, and I wrote about it in an essay: You can’t have a beautiful ending without making a few beautiful mistakes.

 

Check out some of Hanna’s work below!

For the fall 2014 semester of Hofstra’s television show For Your Island:
Ace Handicraft
Spirit Ironworks
Island Pottery & Studio
Martial Arfs

Sketches:
There’s Nothing Holy About Starbucks
Hopping to the Top (credited as actress)

Exclusive Interview with DJ and Producer Goldroom (Josh Legg)

goldroom

If you’re a fan of EDM and you’re not listening to Los Angeles based DJ and producer Goldroom (Josh Legg), you’re missing out.

Last week, Goldroom and his live band came to NYC to perform at Rough Trade and the Bowery Ballroom with Chela, an Australian alt-pop singer whose vocals are featured in his song “Fifteen.” His recent EP Embrace, released in September 2013, is a favorite amongst fans with its dreamy vocals from Ariela Jacobs. The music video for the EP’s lead single, “Embrace,” released last month, was directed by fashion photographer Carlos Nunez.

I got the chance to sit down with Goldroom at Rough Trade before Wednesday’s show to talk to him about his childhood, his experiences as a DJ and his life in LA.

Me: Tell me about your childhood and what it was like growing up in Boston.

Goldroom:
Well it was great in some ways. I spent a lot of time with my parents traveling and I sort of grew up on boats for the most part. Every summer was spent sort of exploring the Northeast with my dad on our little sh*tty boat. Those are some of my more fonder memories from childhood. It wasn’t until sort of my late teens when I “found myself” for lack of a better word I guess, but I liked Boston. I have really fond memories of Boston but it wasn’t really until I moved out to LA that I sort of really became who I am.

Me: Who are your musical inspirations?

G: 
That’s a crazy hard question because many of them, I think I take inspiration from, you know, almost everything that I listen too at all times, but you know, when I sit down at the end of the day and I think about what artist I wanna be like it’s always older artists from the 60s and 70s that are my songwriting heroes. Guys like Al Green, Tom Petty and Bob Dylanthese are the guys that, I feel like wrote songs that would of worked a hundred years ago and wrote songs that would work in a hundred years and that’s really what I care about the most.

Me: Where did the name Goldroom come from?

G:
Well, the very basic answer is that it’s my favorite bar in LA. It’s a little place in Echo Park called the Gold Room, which is this tiny little dive bar that used to have Mariachi bands and free tacos some nights and it was great. But, in reality, you know, when I started thinking about it more, Southern California and the Southwest has influenced me so much since I’ve moved out there that it’s sort of one big giant “gold room,” and that’s when I actually started thinking about what it would mean to name the project Goldroom. That’s sort of the real explanation.

Me: Tell me about your first experience as a DJ.

G:
Oh man. Well, my old band NightWaves, we started releasing music. That was actually the first time in my life that I’d ever actually released songs that I had written. It was the first time that I’d ever given anything away to the public, and then sort of out of nowhere people started to ask us to DJ and Kyle (Petersen) and I, we had no idea how to DJ or what really to do. We kind of figured it out on the fly, and I think we DJed a pool party at the Standard Rooftop in LA and I remember it being super fun. I DJ very, very, differently now, but, you know, back then it was a laptop and lots of controllers and knick-knacks and doing all this crazy stuff. It was super fun, but it’s very different than what I do now. I don’t think we train wrecked anythingI think it was okay but, wow, it’s kind of crazy to think back on that.

Me: What are some words you would use to describe your music?

G:
I don’t know, I hope ‘honest,’ more than anything else. I think that the style of music or the production behind it might change over time and I don’t know if I’m going to be into the same genre or the same style later on but at the end of the day I hope that the songwriting is honest and true. So, more than anything else I hope that’s what my music as a whole remains.

Me: Of all the artists you’ve collaborated with, which one has been your favorite so far?

G:
Hahaha, you’re trying to get me in trouble! I guess I’ll just say, because she’s here now, Chela, because I feel like we’re musical soul mates in a lot of ways, and it happens to be that she sang on “Fifteen” which is a song that, you know, I had written, and that resonated in the right way with her. We started writing songs after that and I love all of her music, and, I don’t want to speak for her, but, I think she likes my music, and we just have a really strong connection in what melodies we like and what kind of harmonies we like, and the type of lyrics that we like to write. She’s sort of a special collaborator.

Me: What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you during a live set?

G: 
I mean, I don’t think it really getsI mean, I’m sure it could get crazier but there have been three or four times where I’ve had people, like, very aggressively sort of attack me in a positive way, but like sort of getting “love tackled” for lack of a better word. And that’s always a really weird experience because I’m really happy that it’s happening and I’m also sort of scared that it’s happening at the same time and I don’t really know what to do so it’s a good thing and a bad thing.

Me: Do you have any rituals that you perform before going out on stage?

G:
No, I sort of wish that I had more. I definitely take some time, especially before the live shows, to have some quiet time to myself where I think about the show and sort of visualize what’s going to happen and it puts me in a better place than to come running around and trying to talk with friends to do this and that and the other thing.

Me: What is your favorite track off of your ‘Verano Mix 2014′?

G: You know, I really love that remix that’s near the end of London Grammar. It’s just really beautiful, and the idea of using like a clean electric guitar line that has the basis for like a sort of mellow house song is really exciting to me and really inspiring.

Me: Where is one place you’d like to play a live set that you haven’t already?

G: London for sure. We’ve played a lot of places in North and South America but I’d love to do a full live band thing in London. In the right situation I just know a lot of people would like us to be there and I think it would be really exciting.

Me: What is one thing you love most about being a DJ?

G: The fact that it’s like just pure. Since I have less to worry about when I’m DJing as compared to doing it live, it allows me to in some ways be in the moment sort of in some ways even a little more. And I love how fun it is. I love DJing because it’s just you and the crowd interacting in such a different way, and you can take in so many different directions. Whereas with a live set it’s like, you’re getting me for the next hour, and with a DJ set its more like we’re going on a journey together and we’ll see what happens.

Me: How does playing at a music festival differ from playing at a venue such as Rough Trade?

G:
You sort of have to fight to find that audience connection. You’re just so much further away from everybody, and when you look out I think you’re probably playing 50 rows back at a festival, but at a club there are people right up in your face so it’s a lot easier to connect with people and catch their energy. So, at a festival you just have to have a different mentality and understanding of how each one is a little bit different.

Me: What do you like most about NYC?

G: The energy. I really like the electricity. There’s no other city in the world that has this sort of “anything-can-happen-to-me-in-the-next-five-hours” sort of feeling. In New York there’s just this electricity that doesn’t stop.

Me: So I notice you’re wearing a wedding band. How long have you been married?

G: Just over a year and a half, closing in on two years. My wife Lessa and I, we live a nice little life in LA and it’s great.

Goldroom and his wife, Lessa

Follow Goldroom on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud, and add him on Snapchat (goldroom) for some amazing palm tree stories set to dreamy synth beats.

Upcoming shows:

July 31: New York @ Verboten (DJ Set)
Aug 1: Philadelphia @ Morgan’s Pier (DJ Set)
Aug 2: Los Angeles @ HARD Summer (DJ Set)
Aug 14-25: SE Asia Tour

Dior Homme – The Film featuring Robert Pattinson

Three things will be on my mind all day today: Robert Pattinson, Camille Rowe, and DIOR.

dior rob

Robert Pattinson and French model Camille Rowe in the Dior Homme Fragrance Film

If you haven’t already heard, Robert Pattinson of the Twilight Saga is the new face of Dior Homme.

The official fragrance short film was released this weekend, and I don’t think I’ll be able to peel my eyes away from it for a while.

I think I’ve watched it about seven times in the past half hour alone. It’s just that amazing.

The black and white short film lasts just over a minute. Meaning if you keep watching it over and over again, this won’t be taking up too much of your time…

Right?

WRONG.

Dior leaves a link at the bottom corner of the video, leading viewers to the 1:46 uncensored directors cut.

Still think its not too much time?

Think again. You’re going to be tempted to click a new link on this directors cut, taking you to a behind the scenes video, and after that the link to the interview with Mr. Pattinson about the Dior Homme fragrance.

I’m not complaining. This is a lovely piece of work that director Romain Gavras has decided to share with the world.

I love the elegant sophistication of the romance in this short fragrance film commercial. It’s very raw, very real, and very impulsive. From the moment Pattinson walks into that dressing room with all those burlesque dancers, you can feel the sexual tension between he and Camille Rowe.

My favorite parts of the official film are the scene where Pattinson and Rowe are kissing under water and the scene where he chases her from a rooftop as she runs on street level.

In the directors cut, I realize that there was supposed to be an adorable little dance scene between Pattinson and Rowe in a French restaurant. I love the way Camille Rowe acts like a child, taking bites of food from strangers’ plates and eating it as she runs to the dance floor with Rob.

dior homme

The music for this commercial happens to be “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin.

The part where he sings “I’m gonna send you back to schoolin’,” pretty much took this whole sexy French rendezvous to a new level. Brilliant song choice.

The interview with Robert Pattinson was particularly interesting to me.

And no, not only because his British accent is deteriorating (how sad though!), but because he actually had quite the intriguing commentary.

Rob mentions director Romain Gavras’ violent style, and how working with him is a pleasant change of scene from the acting gigs he’s known for.

I love this comment in particular:

“The Dior Homme man is someone who is just a little bit wild. […] He does whatever he wants. He’s a bit of a free spirit, not really scared of anything. He can kind of be whoever he wants to be at anytime.”

I don’t know, ladies and gentleman. What do we think of the Dior Homme man?

Enjoy Garvas’ creation in all its tension and sophistication, and be sure to watch the interview with the new face of Dior Homme.

Emma Watson: “They didn’t think I should act…”

Imagine a world without actress Emma Watson.

Emma Watson (57)

I don’t think anyone would like that world very much.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Emma Watson discusses how some of the people in her life lead her to believe she shouldn’t continue acting after the Harry Potter franchise was over.

“For a while I kind of bought into the hype of, ‘Will they ever be able to play anything else?’ It gave me a sense of paralysis and stage fright for a while,” she said in the interview. “And then a professor told me that they didn’t think I should act, either. So I was really grappling with it and wasn’t feeling good about it. And then, I don’t know…it got so bad and people had put me in a box so much that it started pissing me off. I suddenly wanted to prove them wrong. It gave me fuel, in a way. I’m not sure why that shift happened.”

hermoine granger

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, 2001-2011

After ten years in the Harry Potter film series, it became difficult for many to picture her playing any other role but Hermione Granger.

“I wanted to make a conscious adult decision that [acting] was what I wanted to pursue, because that decision was made for me as a nine-year-old. I had no idea what I wanted. I had no idea who I was really. So I wanted to step away and make sure this is what I wanted to pour my life and my energy and my blood, sweat, and tears into,” Watson said in the interview.

Emma Watson got back to acting in 2012. “I was really unsure, but then I read the script for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and falling in love with that and then having such a great experience on that movie kind of sealed the deal for me.”

Although I’m not much of a Harry Potter fan, I really enjoyed seeing Emma Watson play Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I cried at the end of that movie. That’s how amazing the actors performed for that film.

perks sam

Emma Watson as Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 2012

I can’t fathom any other actress filling the role of Sam in that film. It wouldn’t have been the same if Sam were to be played by anyone other than Emma Watson.

Since then, Emma Watson has gone on to play Nicki Moore in The Bling Ring (2013) and a fictional version of herself in the film This is the End (2013).

Don’t ever stop doing what you do, Emma. You’re an amazing actress. Never let anyone let you believe otherwise.