Tramaine Montell Ford is an American actor that hails from the infamous Cabrini Green Housing Projects in Chicago, IL. The theater school prodigy and BFA graduate of Syracuse University was recognized in 2009 by NBC News Chicago as a rising star to watch out for, and they weren't kidding! Mr. Ford's portfolio of appearances includes ABC’s One Life To Live, Saturday Night Live, Aida (International Tour), Hairspray (Feature Film), The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and a supporting role in the Off-Broadway production, BJ. While currently residing in New York City, Tramaine is hard at work gearing up for his upcoming One-Man Show titled “The Tramaine Experience.” The Republica Update managed to catch up with the lad and kick him a few questions.
Name: Tramaine Montell Ford, www.tramainemontellford.com
Job title: Actor, singer, dancer, comedian
In the field(s) of: Film /Television, Theatre, Music
Originally from: Chicago, Illinois
Motto to live by: Life is too short to not spend it doing what makes you happyTHE 5Q'S
What brings a native Chicagoan like yourself to NYC? Well, I've always the dreamt of going to a place where art, fashion, and culture thrive. What better place than New York City? I think its a great place to cultivate an artistic career with so many people and so many venues. Having grown up in the theater scene also played a big part. There was always this allure about the lights and action on "Broadway."
What was the breaking moment that convinced you that you were doing the right thing by pursuing acting? I discovered acting early in my life. I remember always being involved with theater and arts programs and every year that I went, it only kept reconfirming my passion for it. There really was no "one" particular moment that convinced me, however I did have a breakthrough after college. My plans were to attend a school near New York City and hope that it would lead me into acting there. By the time I finished up my BFA at Syracuse University my plans had changed and I was now going to pursue a career in Los Angeles. But before I could go I wound up being selected to perform in a school showcase in New York City. It just so happened that there were talent scouts in the audience that evening and I was approached by two agents the very next day. So I decided to find a place in the city and the rest is history!
In today's industry it isn't uncommon to find many stage actors transition over to film (and vice versa). Which art form do you enjoy more? I love both for different reasons. Theater is cool because of the energy that a live audience reciprocates. Theater is also something that gets approached chronologically, a start, a climax and an end. Film is different because its all divided up. You might shoot the end scene first and the beginning last. It also requires a sharper [acting] technique in performance.
What exactly is "The Tramaine Experience?" The name has two meanings. The first is the telling of my story and my "experience" up to now, growing up, going to school, and arriving in New York City. The second definition is about the audience's experience as they arrive into the theater space. Unlike traditional theater, The Tramaine Experience breaks the proverbial "4th wall" that stands between the performer and the audience. The show will actually involve "you," the audience member...
Blackberry or iPhone?
Some of you may know her from her most recent 2008 film “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” but like many actors, this young lady has been doing it since ‘91 when she made her small screen debut on “Law & Order.” Since then she’s has gone on to appear in more than twenty-five film and TV projects including: The Sopranos; Guiding Light; CSI: Miami and The Shield for which she is currently nominated for an Alma Award in the Best Supporting Actress category. In 2007, she got her EP on in the animated film “Red Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence.”Here is Medellin fly-girl, Paula Garcés.
Name: Paula Garcés, www.paula-garces.net
Job title: Actress
In the field(s) of: Film & Television
Originally from: Medellin, Colombia
Motto to live by: No matter what family and friends come first…everything else is secondary.
How did a girl from Medellin, Colombia wind up being one of Hollywood’s most employed Latina actors? I have been very lucky and blessed with my acting career. I think my success is due to a combination of persistence, dedication and a lot of luck.
Since you’ve done all three, talk about main differences between working on a TV project versus working on a Film project versus working behind the scenes as an Executive Producer? Which do you prefer and why? I love working on TV projects the pace is fast and you get to see the results a lot faster than in film. I also love working on film its a lot more relaxed usually I'm on location somewhere cool that I have not been before and since the pace is a lot slower you can really work out the scenes. Producing is a lot of fun because you get to create an idea from the ground up. Its a lot of hard work but when you see the finished product and you see an audience enjoy it, its a lot like watching your baby grow up. Its extremely rewarding to create something from beginning to end. I really enjoy working in both TV and films I have been really fortunate to work with some of the most talented actors, producers, writers, and directors in the business but I have to say producing Red Princess Blues has been the most difficult and the most fun I have had in my career yet.
What motivates Paula Garcés? I've always had an incredible need to express myself creatively and acting has provided a great platform for me to do that. I have been motivated by that need to express myself since I was a little girl and as time went on I have been motivated by my friends and my family. I have been really lucky to have a close knit family and group of friends who believe in me more than I believe in myself at times and never let me give up on my dreams.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself having my own production company that produces many TV projects and films that include giving work to so many of my talented friends who deserve a break and deserve to be working on really great productions.
In November of 2008, McCain or Obama?
I'm an Obama girl!!!!!!!!!!
UPDATED 10.28.06 (6:18PM EST): Bella is now ranked #2 ($8,026 per theater) in the nation this weekend at the box office based on a comparative per theater take, as the number one film opened in 3,183 theaters vs. Bella's 165. It is second only to Saw 4 ($10,088 per theater) and #17 overall. This success is in large part due to great word of mouth.
"Bella" is out in theatres in all major markets. We saw it on Friday in a packed theater in Times Square where the audience laughed, cried and applauded together. We highly recommend it.
At "Bella's" New York Premiere at the Tribeca Cinema's, Tony Bennett was so moved by the film that he made an impromptu speech, with tears of joy in his eyes, during the post screening question and answer:
"This film is an incredible, incredible piece of art, a master piece that every American must see."
"Bella" also just won the Heartland film festival, the largest cash prize of any film festival ($100k), beating “Lars and the Real Girl,” starring 2007 Academy Award Best Actor nominee Ryan Gosling.
For more news updates on this important film, visit www.BellaNews.
Some of you may know him from the TV show "100 Centre Street", the film "Washington Heights" or more recently as Hector Lavoe’s best friend Eddie in “El Cantante". His latest work "Bella" makes it’s theatrical debut this Friday October 26th at a theater near you. The film has won a host of film festival awards including the highly coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film festival. Without further adieu, we present, The 5Q’s with actor Manny Perez.
Name: Manny Perez, www.mannyperez.net
Job title: Actor
In the field(s) of: Film & Television
Originally from: Baitoa, República Dominicana
Motto to live by: If my dad fed and raised 11 kids while working in a conuco with a machete in hand, I CAN CONQUER THE WORLD!!!
How did a boy from Baitoa wind up being one of Hollywood’s most employed Latino actors?
Well, first of all, I surely think God has blessed and is guiding me. And secondly, if you do your homework and prepare yourself in respect to the craft of "acting", I believe you will go far. When I walk into an audition, I give it my all! I’m not just auditioning, I walk in prepared to SHOOT THE FUCKING SCENES I’m auditioning with. Producers and directors, they see and respect that and I feel that’s what has gotten me so far. It’s my commitment to the craft.
Looking back on 2007 do you feel like this was your breakout year?
Yes, again, I’ve been blessed!! I’ve been working non-stop for the last 3 years and somehow all of my films are either out or coming out this year and 2008. It’s very exciting and at the same time nerve-racking, because the older you get, the more your work matures. I always have one eye closed as I watch my work on the screen. I always think I could’ve done it better, because I have matured with my choices and in my craft. It’s very hard for me to actually watch my work on screen. It’s a learning process for me to accept what I have done on the screen.
Talk about Bella which opens up this Friday?
Man, BELLA is a pearl!! Truly it will change a part of your life, I am not kidding. It makes you realize the beauty of life. I love this film, it’s the type of film Hollywood should be making about our culture, our people and our values as Latinos. If this film explodes at the box office, Hollywood will make hundreds of films just like this one. A must and a necessity for OUR GENTE. Something different and with a lot of heart. I think this film has a chance to get nominated for an Oscar. All I want to say is "IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”
What motivates Manny Perez?
Hmmmmm....I think my dose of the craft… what does that mean? Well, acting is like drug for me, it’s my high, my kick! When I’m shooting a film and I'm "in the moment", and when you know you are creating a masterpiece from words on a piece of paper to the big screen, that’s what motivates me to continue to do, what I do. I can’t get that feeling out of anything else.
In 2008, Hillary or Obama?
I say, lets O-bama them all!!! : )
BELLA MOVIE TRAILER:
For more info on Bella the movie visit: www.bellathemovie.com
Name: François Girbaud
Job title: Denim Design Pioneer and Co-founder of Marithé + François Girbaud
In the field(s) of: Fashion Design
Originally from: Paris, France
How did you get started in fashion? In the beginning of the story, it was obvious to me. I’m 62 years old now, but back then I wanted to be a cowboy. In France, to be a cowboy was a great thing, we didn’t have cowboy’s. I was really passionate about this whole John Wayne look and style. Then one day we received Rock & Roll music with this guy Elvis and this was the beginning that led our generation to wear these kinds of clothes, adopt this kind of style, to move this kind of way and I was part of that. I was also part of creating this scene in France led by the Cowboy/Rock & Roll style and so we opened a western store to recreate the looks we saw in the movies. This wasn’t a typical western store like what you would see in the west, we had all these ideas and incorporated penny loafers, button down shirts, Hawaiian shirts. We re-interpreted the look you call western style. For me, it wasn’t about it being fashionable, it was part of my life. I lived the life that I was leading. I never started out wanting to be a designer, it simply evolved for me and we we’re successful because at the time American design was boring for us and so it just continued evolving. Tomorrow will be a continuity of what I do today. Girbaud is a constant work in progress. Sometimes you get the customer, sometimes you don’t. Fortunately for me the customer has followed us for so many years.
How did you evolve from buyer to designer? I wanted to create my own stuff as an evolution of buying. To create what wasn’t available. Somehow, we managed to influence style in France with a lot of people and designing became a natural progression for us.
When did you officially become Marithe + Francois Girbaud? In 1969, we we’re creating our own custom clothes and one day we had to style and sign with our name and so we came up with Girbaud. We decided to place the label on the fly. And it caught on. People didn’t wear Girbaud because it was written on a label, but because it made them feel better. I don’t know how it became so popular in America because we broke all of the rules. We didn’t create product for an uptown or downtown customer, we blurred the lines and created product for everyone. We we’re the first to break the rules.
What differentiates Girbaud from the rest of the denim brands out there? What differentiates us is that we’re constantly tying to innovate and not follow the trends.
What is your design process? For me it’s a job. I am in the studio and cutting room everyday. I get inspired by my team. This is part of my process. You have to go to the factories, you have to meet people and you have to know the process. You have to do that to be a designer. It’s the only way.
What influences Francois? I am influenced by what’s happening around me. How to think about this new generation. There are billions of people on the planet and we cannot continue to behave the way we have. It’s impossible. There is room for everybody. I have to try and do my part. It’s my duty. I feel that I am responsible somehow. I have to work to improve the possibilities for that next generation.
Where do you see fashion headed in the next five years? In 5 years, I’m not clear. In 10 or 20 years I’m much clearer. I see something big coming out of China, India or Russia.
Where do you see Gibaud in the future? I’m pessimistic about tomorrow because of what’s happening on the planet, the people are destroying everything. When we started doing denim we had no idea that it could destroy the rivers and destroy the ground. When you start something, there’s no way of knowing that you’re causing damage. But now we know better. As part of the new generation we are responsible. When we launder, we have to be aware of how it affects water, because tomorrow we may have a shortage of water. As a designer, I have a responsibility on how we affect the environment.
In 2008 wil it be Hillary or Obama? The woman.
Name: Vergi Rodriguez, www.vergirodriguez.com
Job title: Choreographer, Dancer, Actress
In the field(s) of: Artist Development, Choreography, Entertainment
Originally from: Astoria, Queens
Motto to live by or 1 childhood lesson that stuck with you thru today: I have all of the answers I need within myself. The only people I depend on is myself and God. I've learned that the "hard" way. My mother is also someone who I use as an example of how strong I have to be in order to persevere. She helps me see things clearly whenever I'm at a crossroads.
THE 5 Q'S:
Talk a little about what you do, who you've worked with and how you broke into choreographing music videos? I started my dance careeer in New York, dancing with local groups / artists and eventually started auditioning for different gigs. Through a referral of a friend I began to work with a Merengue hip hop group called Sandy & Papo MC. It was the first international tour that I worked on. Not only was I a dancer, but the choreographer as well. I learned a lot and was able to see the world doing what I loved. Soon after, I auditioned for the New Power Generation Dance Company which was formed by Prince. I booked it and within a week's time I had to leave and go live in Minnesota for two months because rehearsals were going to take place at Paisley Park. The legendary studios built in Minnesota by Prince. It was an opportunity for me to work with a legendary artist. Unfortunately, the tour was short lived and was cancelled while we made our stop in Los Angeles. I had to get on the grind again as I was now in Los Angeles. Since I had worked with some Los Angeles based choreographers in New York, I went to every audition I knew about and luckily they remembered me. With the few jobs I would get here and there I began to build my resume and eventually my credibility as a dancer.
I have worked as a dancer with Prince, Shaggy, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, P.Diddy, Jordan Knight, Missy Elliott, Jessica Simpson, B2K, Mario Winanas. Recently, I choreographed Don Omar's music video "Conte" which was featured on the "Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift" soundtrack. And L.D.A. feat. Zion & Lenoxx "Te Invitan Al Party" off of the Chosen Few: El Documenta Part II. I also choreographed for the movie "Soul Plane" & worked as assistant choreographer on the movie "Honey."
I've had the opportunity to work with some really amazing artist, but I am now focusing on working a lot more in the Latin music world again.
I guess if I had to give a "job description", it would be that I work with artist’s, not only for choreography purposes but to also to help them enhance their stage presence / performance skills. I am currently focusing on moving into more artist development.
A lot of my success has been by me hustling and staying focused on moving ahead to achieve my goals. I am gratefully blessed with a very supportive mother, who has guided me and provided me with an unending supply of moral support and unconditional love. She has been my mom, my cheerleader, my advisor and most of all, my best friend.
What we're some of your greatest challenges breaking into the business? For me, some of the challenges that I came across were my own self-limiting beliefs. It was the times where I didn't think that I could actually "make it" or that I was "any good." Those were the times were I really found myself learning the most of how strong and thick skinned you have to be to maintain longevity and be successful in this business.
What differentiates Vergi from the rest of the pack? My determination and wanting to see other people learn new things and implement those qualities, not only for "performance purposes" but , hopefully as an everyday part of their lives. If there is something I can teach an artist or performer at a rehearsal and it's a quality that they can use as a life lesson, then I really feel like I have "done my job". To me, it's not only about getting an artist, dancer or anyone I work with to "do as I say" but, for them to possibly learn something new about themselves that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Things that influence and motivate me? My mother, film-making, music, people that are using their fame and success to better the world (i.e. Angelina Jolie, Bono, etc.). Seeing my goal and even though I may not know how I will accomplish that goal. Just having the inner knowledge that I have all the strength and courage I need to go after it no matter how far fetched it may seem at the time.
Mac or PC and why? Mac because it's all I've ever used and I love their programs. Especially iMovie. They have a really clever ad campaign as well. I'm already planning on getting the new iPhone.
Job title: Emcee, Activist, Actress, Writer, TV Host, and Filmmaker
In the field(s) of: Edu-tainment
Originally from: The Boogie Down Bronx, parents from the Dominican Republic.
Motto to live by or 1 childhood lesson that stuck with you thru today: Don't get bitter, get better! Failure is not falling down, it's staying down!
THE 5 Q'S:
Talk a little about what you do and how you got into all these different careers? I'm a hip-hop head, so everything I do is connected to hip-hop in some way. I'm like the female version of Bobbito, I'm a hustler. I stay on the grind. My passion is writing and telling stories, and I found different mediums to be able to express the stories that I want to tell. Mainstream media has put women in hip-hop in a very small box. My job is to smash it. Whether it's writing for a sneaker magazine (Kicksclusive), or being on the production side of a music video set, when mostly women on set are the "video girls". We can be beautiful, but we can also be smart, strong and bold. Also, I was just getting upset & frustrated at being a dark skinned Latina and the only roles I could audition for was to be the crack head, or the gang leader. Instead of complaining, I took it into my own hands. I began writing plays, then short films. Music however, has been able to free my spirit in a way that no other artistic medium has. There is no script, there is no one on the page - but me, what I bring to the table...what I want to say to the world. It's more of a risk for me, and that's what I'm about taking risk. So my focus right now is on my music. I'm working on my album. It's about time a female emcee stepped up and put the industry in a choke hold. I'm a role model to the young people I work with, so if I talk about it, I gotta be about it.
What differentiates Patty from the rest of the pack? My passion, my hard work and ethics. I love working with the youth. I'm a people person. I'm political & I'm smart. I'm Dominican, I'm an emcee - when was the last time you saw a Latina just spittin' fire instead of shakin' her booty? and of course...my name, PattyDukes... it was given to me - it's not a gimmick. It's who I am, I put my dukes up - I’m ready to fight. I'm a Bronx chic feel me? I've had to fight for mines, every step of the way.
What advice would you give so someone trying to break into the field of entertainment? Be your own boss. Let them come to you, instead of you begging anybody for anything. Too many people want to get "put on" or "blow up”, you don't need Hollywood to be an actor, write a script and shoot it yourself. If you want to write a novel, do it and print it yourself. If no one wants to print it - then build the print press like Antonia Pantoja once said (founder of Aspira). The world will notice, plus you'll be in a position to negotiate, instead of signing the first deal that comes to the table. Don't be afraid of hard work and doing things for free, I was an intern for so long, people saw the hustle and respected it. Don't act like you’re too good to get your hands dirty. Get in there! Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do something. Prove them wrong.
Things that influence and motivate me? Hip-Hop culture & all the elements - graffiti, bboys/bgirls, dj's, emcees, sneakers, traveling, the Bronx, New York City, the projects, young people, young people in prison, poor people, fear, hatred & ignorance - all influence me to do what I do. What motivates me? My people. The Rhyme Factory. My best friend Lemon. A two-time felon with a Tony award for Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. Everyday he makes me feel like it's all possible and the world is ours. It's important to have people in your life that believe in you but also can call you on your shit. Now that's love.
Mac or PC and why?
Mac, are you kidding me? What are PC's used for anyway?
Name: Omar Jermaine
Job title: Designer, Creative Director
and Founder of the Omar Brand
In the field(s) of: Fashion Design
Originally from: Virginia Beach by way of New Jersey
Motto to live by or 1 childhood lesson that stuck with you thru today: If you believe, anything is possible
THE 5 Q'S:
Talk a little about your past design experiences and tell us how OmarXOmar came about?
In the past I have designed for a lot of brands who's esthetic has not been in sync with my design belief system. The brands that were developed during my career did allow me to experiment and raise the level of the expected industry standard. But, the scope of the Urban market is a limited one and my need to grow as an artist helped me to make this decision. "Omar" the bespoke collection came from my desire to create what I am truly passionate about, the redefinition of the essential men’s wardrobe.
What differentiates Omar from the rest of the pack?
The attention to detail is what separates me from the rest. Hand finishes, luxurious fabrics, elegant tailoring and masculine but sexy styling are a few of the elements that are a part of my aesthetic.
Where do you see fashion and style heading in the next 5 years?
I see the "Exclusive Luxury" market expanding because the need for Individuality will become more important over the next few years.
Things that influence and motivate me?
I am influenced, inspired, and motivated by life and all of its imperfections. And besides "When all else fails look good."
Mac or PC and why?
MAC have you seen the commercials?
Name: Trina Bardusco
Job title: Co-creator, Habla Mas on HBO
In the field(s) of: TV Production
Originally from: Venezuela and U.S.A.
Motto to live by or 1 childhood lesson that stuck with you thru today: My Mom always told me “Don’t be afraid to be strong.”
THE 5 Q'S:
Tell us how Habla on HBO came about?
I was working at HBO Latino in On-Air promotion and my boss at the time, Alberto Ferreras, came up with the idea of doing talking portraits of Latinos in the U.S. A as an interstitial campaign and I did the casting. It became so popular that it turned into a series. We’ve done over 200 monologues with folks in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.
What differentiates Trina from the rest of the pack?
I am a completely bilingual and bicultural person. I want to create bridges of understanding through media between Latinos and the mainstream in this country. It’s what drives me and it’s the basis of my work. (But a lot of us are already working on that, not just me!)
Where do you see Latino’s in entertainment heading in the next 5 years?
I think that there will be more shows that reflect a whole generation of Latinos who live between both cultures and who speak Spanish, English and in Spanglish. There’s no getting away from us! We are a force to be reckoned with.
Things that motivate me.
True friends and wanting to stay healthy. All original forms of expression and good music. I am inspired by the mix of people in New York and how they interact.
Mac or PC?
Name: Antonio "AJ" Ortiz
Job title: Child Actor
Current projects: Feature Film, "Illegal Tender"
In the field(s) of: Acting
Originally from: Spanish Harlem, NYC
Things that motivate me: Seeing myself on TV and people noticing me.
THE 5 Q'S:
What projects are you currently working on?
Just wrapped on the feature film, "Illegal Tender" starring Manny Perez, Tego Calderon and Dania Ramirez amongst others.
What makes “AJ” such a good actor?
I always ask the director if I am doing what they want when I am working. If they tell me no, then I listen to them tell me what they want and I do it for them.
Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now?
I want to be rich and buy a big mansion for my whole family.
One actor or actress that I would love to work with?
I have done stuff with a lot of people that I really wanted to so I don't know.
Mac or PC and why?
I am only 7 and I use my Mommy's computer. She said it is a PC. That is all I know.