Composure Magazine – ARIEL WINTER

Cover Story for Issue No. 18 of Composure Magazine.

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STORY BY MIN. A. LEE 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN WEST

MAKEUP BY ARCHANGELA CHELSEA

HAIR BY LUCY GEDJEYAN

STYLING BY ROBIAT BALOGUN

Whether you recognize her as Alex Dunphy on Modern Family or the voice of Disney’s Princess Sofia, Ariel Winter’s push to the top is unstoppable! At just twenty years old, she holds an extensive filmography. The wide range of roles showcase her talent perfectly, and if this is just a small glimpse of what’s to come—she will dominate the silver screen. This combination of wit and ability comes from personal experience, and for Winter that began with an early start in the industry at four years old. Hollywood is a beast, and to grow up in a frenzied world where everyone’s a critic, she remains very self-aware.

Every experience, good or bad, adds strength to the young starlet’s character. She never shies away from controversy and this fearless approach to fame is admirable. Winter shares with us some sincere advice for Hollywood hopefuls and how she handles the volatile nature of social media. If there’s anything you can take away from her words, it is to be kind and be humble. Two things that can be quickly forgotten, but in all of Winter’s years of acting she stays very true to.

Composure Magazine: You do voice roles with various shows, and it’s impressive how every character you’ve done has their unique tone and personality to their voice. Is it challenging or more fun? How does it compare to acting on a set?

Ariel Winter: Voice acting was actually one of the first things I did when I started in the industry! I think it is more challenging than on-camera work because you have to bring an animated character to life using just your voice—typically alone in a soundproof box. On-camera acting can be more physically and emotionally taxing, seeing as you use all parts of yourself, and you also work off the other actors in the scene. I don’t think I have a favorite [character] though. Voice-over work can be done in your pajamas which is pretty fantastic, but on-camera work is a little more communal.

CM: Can you share with us any valuable lessons you’ve taken away from the set of Modern Family so far?

AW: The time it takes to make quality. The show has been on for ten years now, and we still take a great deal of time and care to make sure every scene is right, and we’re making the most of our funny moments.

CM: What’s the most substantial piece of advice you’ve been given so far in your career?

AW: Always be professional! Make sure you’re on time and prepared at all times. Also, always be kind and grateful for the all of the blessings you get, perspective really helps in this industry.

CM: Any advice you’d give for young dreamers in Hollywood?

AW: Being humble, kind, and professional are some of the most important pieces of advice I give people. Focus on what you love about the craft and make sure you are secure in who you are because you are going to have to face a lot of judgment and rejection in this industry. It’s important to fight for what you want, and don’t get caught up in all of the side bullshit.

CM: What goals do you have set for yourself as you continue your acting career?

AW: I want to continue making movies and maybe move towards producing a little more. My ultimate goal is to make enough money to purchase some land and open a dog rescue.

Read the full article and more on Ariel Winter’s advocacy here…

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Composure Magazine – Michaela Conlin

Celebrity feature for Composure Magazine’s 16th Issue, available here.
Read the full article at Composure Magazine.

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An Excerpt:

Michaela Conlin on Saying Goodbye to Emmy-Nominated TV Series “Bones” and Navigating One of the Toughest Industries.

Photography by Amanda Elkins
Styling by Jessy Cain for The Wall Group
Makeup Kindra Mann for Tomlinson Management Group
Hair by Sascha Breuer for Starworks Artists
Story by Min A. Lee

You’d recognize Michaela Conlin from her impressive 12-year run as Angela Montenegro on the acclaimed television series “Bones.” The crime drama aired its final episode on March 28th, following for the last time the work of Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel, and FBI special agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz, as they solved FBI murder cases with forensic anthropology. As Angela, Conlin explored forensic facial reconstruction at the Jeffersonian Institute Medico-Legal Lab and invented the Angelator then Angelatron – graphic simulators that showed victims and crime scene scenarios – and for over a decade, Conlin’s strong-willed portrayal of Angela added even more depth and balance among the already-stellar cast.

Watching Conlin on screen, you see a natural ease. She seems at home with any role she undertakes. This ability likely stems from her years of experience beginning at the young age of six. “I did a production of ‘The King and I,’” she shares. “It was a professional local theatre, and it was such a big deal to me to be a part of something. Acting was the only thing I was interested in doing.” Growing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania with a strong support system, Conlin continued to flourish. “My parents still live there, and they’re incredibly supportive. They drove me to endless play rehearsals, dance rehearsals, and they were always really, really great about it,” she beams.

From Allentown to New York City and now Los Angeles, the “long road” has proven rough at times. Conlin opens up about one of the toughest lessons to be learned as an actor. “You can’t take it personally. It’s very hard not to take everything personally because it’s such a personal business. It’s a human business. It’s based on humanity. When you don’t get a job, it’s hard not to take it to heart, but really, you can’t,” she advises. “That, and just having the tenacity to keep going against all odds.”

Perseverance does pay off, and “Bones” is proof of this – not only showcasing stability in a notoriously rocky industry, but also a solid learning environment. “I think being on a 22-episode show is a really great way to prepare you for a lot of things because your workload is so intense, the hours are so demanding, you’re shooting for so many months of the year, and you’re memorizing lines at the very last minute. It’s a really great place to train,” she explains. “For example, I did [the film] ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ a couple years ago, and that was a tough shoot. It was a lot of locations, a lot of nights, and I felt much more comfortable being on that set because of ‘Bones.’”

Going through the evolution of Angela Montenegro season to season, we see why fans adore her outgoing and confident personality. “She’s a bit free-wheeling,” Conlin boasts. “She was very forthright, strong, and direct. I really loved being able to play her for so many years. I was grateful.” As for a favorite memory during her time spent portraying Montenegro, there isn’t necessarily just a single moment, but rather “being able to have spent that much time with people laughing.” While certainly there are memorable episodes, she says, “We laughed a lot shooting the show. It’s a really nice way to look back on it all. There were a lot of hours in that lab, and I feel lucky to have spent so much time laughing with everyone.”

Composure Magazine – Skylar Grey

The current cover story of Composure Magazine‘s 15th Issue: Skylar Grey

Five-time Grammy Award-nominated artist Skylar Grey talks about her latest album “Natural Causes,” the music industry, and being true to one’s self.  

Photography by Benjo Arwas
Photographer Assistant Brandon Wholihan
Styling by Monty JacksonThe Wall Group
Makeup by Jenna TuckerTomlinson Management Group
Hair by Bobby EliotTomlinson Management Group
Story by Min A. Lee
Video by Jonathan Navales

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An Excerpt: 

Scroll through the comments on Skylar Grey’s YouTube channel and you’ll find a common sentiment: “She sings from somewhere deep inside.” If you’ve ever heard her music — hauntingly beautiful, sinful yet sweet — you’re likely to agree. Her alluring vocals pull you in, and you understand immediately why Grey has been nominated for five Grammy Awards and holds a number of multi-platinum records. Yet despite her accolades, Grey doesn’t let the attention and fame drive her creativity. Her popular collaborations, such as “Love The Way You Lie” with Eminem and Rihanna and “I Need A Doctor” with Dr. Dre, offer only a peek into her genius as a singer and songwriter.

Her latest album, “Natural Causes,” unfolds a new chapter in the Skylar Grey saga, weaving you in and out of new stories and sounds. The chords and bass never overpower her vocals, creating a beautiful balance among all the underlying acoustics. She blends several themes throughout, pulling inspiration from three particular contemporaries. “I’ve been studying recently Kendrick Lamar, Bon Iver, and Radiohead,” says Grey. “As much as they are very different artists, there are things that tie them together. I feel that there is a blending of genres happening in some of these artists. Kendrick, for example, uses a lot of interesting chord changes that remind me of Radiohead. And Bon Iver, who’s collaborated with Kanye West, does this crossing-of-genre thing, and I think I do that, too.”

The way we see it, Grey is a genre all her own. There is no one way to describe her music other than it pulls at your emotions, even the deep, hidden ones. On closer inspection, “Natural Causes” incites love, hate, and every feeling in between. Take, for example, “Kill For You,” which reunites Grey with prolific rapper, writer, and producer Eminem. It carries forceful lyrics that spin the story of Bonnie and Clyde and speak of a dangerous love that can push you to the brink. It tells “both sides of the story” while exploring “different vocal approaches,” says Grey, and the process by which it came to be is the very epitome of Grey’s unconventional artistry. The collaboration started as a simple series of beats that Eminem shared with Grey with no definitive intention.

“I didn’t ask [Eminem] to put a verse on it initially,” she says. “Two weeks before my album was due, as he was tweaking the mix, I thought, ‘Hey, what do you think about adding a verse to this because I always felt it could be really cool to be a duet?’ Over the weekend he [gave it a shot], and when he turned the song back in to be put on the album, he had a verse on it. That was the first time I heard it — when he was turning it in! I was pretty stoked.”

When it comes to writing, Grey doesn’t abide by any rules. “What works one time doesn’t necessarily work the second time,” she says. “I don’t limit myself to recreating the same thing over and over again. Usually it doesn’t work out like that for me. I try to keep an open mind.” This kind of open-mindedness seems to be the foundation for her raw, candid, and “from somewhere deep inside” quality of music. It’s also what leads to the type of creative mentorships and relationships Grey has built around her, like her ongoing collaborations with Eminem, forged by intuition, confidence, trust, and good old-fashioned hard work. And building upon said foundation, she remains involved and engaged, always holding true to the heart of her vision, whatever it may be in the moment. “When it comes to my own stuff, I like to be a part of the production just because I’m such a music nerd that being confined to just doing a melody or lyric — it gets old,” says Grey. “I like to be involved with chord changes, the sounds, but I also don’t trust myself 100 percent to do it all myself, so I like working with people who can bring their expertise in and bring fresh ideas to the table.”

Another hit track off the album, “Lemonade,” showcases the same organic, avant-garde artistic stylings of Skylar Grey. She explains: “Lemonade was originally a different beat by Symbolyc One aka S1, a producer. He had given me some beats to write to, and it inspired that chorus melody which was very experimental for me. That triplet feel, it’s something I wouldn’t typically do. I did it almost playfully; I wasn’t trying to be serious and write a song. I was just throwing sh—t out there, and I recorded it. Then I listened back, and it was actually really cool. It grew from that. Originally I wrote rap verses to it, but the chorus was just so strong. Everybody on my team saw that the chorus was so strong, but the verses weren’t quite there at the same level. So we reproduced the track a bit with Alex da Kid, and the verse chords changed, the music changed, and I rewrote verses to it. It was a rewrite process, but it was because the chorus was so special to us, we wanted everything surrounding it to be just as powerful.”

Read the full article and pick up the latest issue print issue here

Composure Magazine – Laura Marano

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Issue #14 of Composure Magazine has released, and I was fortunate enough to interview Laura Marano for the cover story. To find and shop the issue click here.

An excerpt:

The “Austin & Ally” actress and “La La” singer opens up about her upcoming debut album, as well as landing her new role in “The War With Grandpa,” alongside Robert De Niro and Marisa Tomei. 

Photography by Benjo Arwas
Photographer Assistant Brandon Wholihan
Styling by Jordan Grossman
Styling Assistant Ava Jones
Makeup and Hair by Melissa Bedi
Story by Min A. Lee
Video by Jonathan Navales

When Laura Marano’s mother finally gave in to her daughters and brought Marano and her sister Vanessa to a talent agent — one who was notorious for rejecting most young hopefuls — Marano wasn’t going to let anything stop her. She remembers being “crazy and outgoing, singing to everyone and making up songs” in the meeting. After all, she had grown up performing in the children’s theater run by her mother, and though her mother didn’t want her daughters to go into acting, Marano, even then, knew what she wanted.

“The agent says, ‘We want to take Vanessa,’” Marano recalls. “And I say in the cutest voice possible, ‘Well, I don’t have an agent.’”

The reply she received in return? “Oh, honey, I’ll take you, too!” She’s been with the agent ever since.

Clearly, Laura Marano is hard to resist. She’s one of those people — you can’t help but smile when you’re around her. Her stories are accompanied by an infectious laughter, and her persistently positive outlook reveals the grounded quality that makes her a star. It’s a rare thing, given that the 21-year-old has been acting since she was 5, most recently as one of the leads in the Disney Channel television show “Austin & Ally,” which just completed a very successful four-season run.

Growing up in Hollywood is no doubt challenging, but with a refreshing candor Marano looks at her career as “a journey.” “It’s definitely a business that is full of rejection, full of no’s, full of people telling you, ‘you’re not this, you’re not that,’” she says. “But when I was 5, I was so confident and very like, ‘World, here I am! Take me or leave me!’ I’m so thankful I started early. I really gained so much experience, and by the time I hit middle school or high school — the years you start to feel more insecure — I already had so much experience with my acting that I didn’t feel as insecure with that.”

Indeed, Marano’s skills in front of the camera were evident in “Austin & Ally,” where she played Ally Dawson, a girl with an extreme amount of musical talent who suffers from stage fright and eventually finds her confidence through the help of Austin and their friends, Trish and Dez. Marano remembers how she felt when she found out she landed the show: “Oh my gosh, it was one of the best days ever! I never wanted a role so much. It was a dream role for me, and it became an even greater experience than I could have imagined.”

While the end of the show signaled the end of any more music by Ally Dawson, it did not for Marano. Driven by her passion for singing and songwriting, she released two singles this year, “Boombox” and “La La.” In the latter, she sings:

You can stand on my stage
You can preach every word
That you want to about me,
But I won’t believe

You can think what you think, 
But that don’t mean a thing 
The same things as you do 
‘Cause I am not you

Let me know when you are done
‘Cause whenever your mouth runs
All I hear is la la

With its upbeat tempo and melody, there’s a strong message in the lyrics. “I was coming from a place where I had been getting so much criticism from so many different avenues: professional, personal, just so many different places that I couldn’t take it anymore,” says Marano. “But instead of being angry about it, I was almost in a place of acceptance. I went into the room and said, ‘I want to write a celebratory, happy, ‘screw you’ song. Not angry, but very ‘I’m not going to let you bring me down,’ and I couldn’t be happier about that.”

For the accompanying music videos, Marano wanted to bring a certain energy to them — one that was fun and funny. “I wanted a comedy element,” she says. “I wanted something funny, and who is funnier than Ken Jeong [star of the ABC sitcom “Dr. Ken”]? I asked him to be in the [“Boombox”] video, and he was sweet enough, with his busy schedule, to do it. After that we completely bonded.” For her next video for “La La,” Marano called on Jeong again. At first, Marano wasn’t sure what the video was going to be about, “but when we started shooting it, Ken was so funny, it became this fun skit video, which was hilarious! It was actually shot in my mom’s theater, and in three hours we were done.”

With two popular songs paving the way, Marano is currently preparing for the release of her debut album. “There’s kind of a balance of relationship songs and self-empowerment songs,” she says of what fans can expect. Her voice grows deep with emotion as she continues. “It’s also about growing up in general. You’re finding yourself, you’re finding your voice, and I think everyone can relate to times you’re feeling insecure, feeling not sure about yourself, and needing some sort of outlet to find that confidence. That’s why I think art is so important in general, whether via a TV show, movie, or song. Something [to help you] find strength within.”

Marano proves that with determination life can hold amazing opportunities. She just recently landed a role in the upcoming major motion picture “The War With Grandpa” alongside Robert De Niro and Marisa Tomei, something she gushes about with an endearing exuberance. “Oh my god, I’m freaking out! I’m so excited! I haven’t met them yet, but I feel like I’m going to be — I don’t know, I think it’s going to be such an amazing experience, not just because they are awesome people, but they’re such amazing actors. I feel like I’m going to learn so much.”

Click to read the full article and see all the images from Laura’s stunning cover shoot. 

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Composure Magazine – Rebekah Marine

From the current issue of Composure Magazine a look into how one woman works to change our perception of the fashion runway industry. Find the print here.

An excerpt from the full article:

When Rebekah Marine’s confidence down the catwalk won over the fashion industry, she not only fulfilled a lifelong dream but also proved that a disability didn’t have to hold anyone back from making a fashion statement.

Story by Min A. Lee

When Rebekah Marine walked the runway for designer Antonio Urzi during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week last year, the audience was agog. Sure, the silver body paint and futuristic dress were spectacular, but what really made heads turn was the myoelectric prosthesis that Marine wore in place of her right arm and hand, something she calls an “accessory.” Born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital limb anomaly, which, in her case, meant an unformed hand and partial arm, Marine had faced numerous rejections during her early modeling years. But that day, she made headlines, becoming a face of diversity in an otherwise rigid runway world.

The self-proclaimed “Bionic Model” says she feels grateful to be at the forefront of such a massive shift in perception. “It’s interesting, yet humbling, to see the constant headlines of disabled models making a push in the fashion industry,” says Marine. “I never saw anything like this growing up; there just weren’t models like me. I hope in the next five to 10 years, disabled models won’t just be a headline but a new standard. It’s important to educate people about disabilities, and the fashion industry is the perfect medium. It’s such a huge platform to reach people.”

FINAL NOTE:

I tend to work a lot of trend stories and layout designs, but the part of fashion I truly enjoy is interviewing the people working within a difficult and competitive industry who found even the tiniest beginnings of their dreams being fulfilled. While a lot of strive to be huge influencers/bloggers, I always end up falling for those who view fashion as a humbling and life-changing experience.  

Sounds like a love affair right? Haha, not quite, but learning strength from a woman who never let physical differences hold her back and then to become an advocate for uplifting the young, impressionable people around her in positive ways…there’s much…much to respect. Fashion has become such a numbers game within the confines of social media, but I like to hope that these talented individuals will continue to have a beautiful light shining on them throughout their careers.  

I hope even more you’ll really take the time to read Rebekah’s words and feel her emotions when she walked her first New York Fashion Week. Heartfelt and kind, I know deep down this woman will always remain the same and true to herself. Yes, fashion is about clothes and yes it is about the people who wear them…but as a whole it as Rebekah said—”a huge platform to reach people.”

Visit her site and see more here.

 

 

 

Composure Magazine – Wanderlust

From the print issue #11 of Composure Magazine, trend and fashion story + layout spread design based on travel favorites.

Wanderlust Style – Min A. Lee

  • SEYCHELLES –For the couple wanting true relaxation, the Seychelles, often referred to as the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” is heaven, with its world famous powdery beaches and crystal ombré waters. Breezy tops and sundresses along with trendy swimwear pieces are ideal for basking in the sun while sipping a delicious cocktail. Ahh, the stress-free life!
  • PARIS –If you’re a pair of sightseers, Paris boasts over 50 museums and monuments, renowned eateries, and of course, is home to one of the major four fashion weeks. In a city where art and fashion are cherished, look to chic, classic finds that will have you looking stylish even among the Parisians.
  • NEW ZEALAND –Are date nights always movie nights for the two of you? Then New Zealand may be the place to go to release your inner geek, exploring Hobbiton and reveling in the picturesque landscapes used to film the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Go ahead — run around pretending to be night elves! Just dress appropriately for the popular walking tours.

To read the full story and find the items featured as well as where to shop them CLICK HERE! Be sure to pick up a print issue!

Composure Magazine – Candy Coated

Fashion Writing + Layout Design For Easter-Inspired Fashion—Read the full article here at Composure Magazine as well as more fashion, beauty and celebrity articles!

Images From Composure Magazine (composuremagazine.com) Via Designers And Brands