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Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning

Glitz, glamour, celebrity premieres, amazing events, and nights illuminated by camera flashes. This is the rarefied air of Hollywood, a place known for its ability to make a relative nobody into the “somebody,” everyone will know tomorrow. What does it take to make in this industry? What are the sacrifices? So many lose themselves among the lights that they soon forget who they are, or even where they came from. This definitely cannot be said of Ser’Darius Blain. Ser’Darius is a leading man in a new wave of actors taking Tinsel Town by storm. For many of us, he came on our radar thanks to his starring role in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, but there is so much more to this amazing man. Indeed 2018 will be the year of Ser’Darius Blain! “I have a few things in the works that are pretty awesome, and I’m really excited for people to see all of them.”

ser'darius blaine

Photographer Credits
Sam Dameshek

Acting seems as natural as breathing for Ser’Darius, especially because he has been doing it since he was twelve years old. “…acting is pretty amazing and believe it or not as a kid I use to be really shy and was always up under my mom…I overcame that thanks to my girlfriend at the time…There’s a lot of work that goes into it. Most people really don’t realize, but I love getting to do what I do…” As aforementioned, Mr. Blain came on to our radar in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, a reboot/sequel of sorts of the original Jumanji. Here, Ser’Darius plays “Anthony ‘Fridge’ Johnson,” a cocky high school athlete who, alongside a few other students, gets trapped inside an old Jumanji video game. Fridge then becomes the playable character, zoologist Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, portrayed by Kevin Hart.

ser'darius blaine

Photographer Credits
Sam Dameshek

Jumanji had a star studded cast with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Nick Jonas, and Jack Black alongside, as aforementioned Kevin Hart. Ser’Darius revealed he loved working around such veteran actors. “Man it was amazing, when you have so much talent around you, you really learn a lot. Kevin [Hart] is hilarious that’s all I can say, like the man is seriously funny and crazy…it was a great experience and I’d love to work with them all again…” We are not sure what the cast for the next Jumanji sequel looks like, but we know it makes its debut in December 2019. We just hope that Ser’Darius is back on board with even more laughs. We would love to see Fridge on the forefront of the action this time around. Maybe with some real world super powers the game grants him. It’s just a thought movie gods!

Yes, we loved Ser’Darius in Jumanji, but it is his upcoming role in The CW’s Charmed reboot that has us stoked! Yep, “The Power of Three” is back on television, with a new trio of sisters– Macy (Madeleine Mantock), Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery)—who come into their powers after the death of their mother. Ser’Darius will play the role of “Galvin,” Macy Vaughn’s love interest and a fellow scientist. “I can’t tell you a lot about the show due to contract [he laughs], but Galvin’s a cool dude and he’s going to be there for the sisters. I can tell you he plays a pretty important role in their lives.” The first trailer for the reboot dropped earlier this month and has been met with mixed reviews. When a Charmed reboot was first announced many assumed it would be a continuation of the original series by Aaron Spelling, starring Shannen Doherty (Prue Halliwell), Alissa Milano (Phoebe Halliwell), Holly Marie Combs (Piper Halliwell), and later Rose McGowan (Paige Matthews); especially since all of the actresses expressed interests in reprising their roles and the comic book series continues their storylines. As a true fan of the original series we are definitely here for something out of the ordinary with the series. Sometimes a reboot is better off as a revamp! Either way if Ser’Darius is in the mix you know it is going to be a hit! You just make sure you tune into Charmed this Fall on The CW!

ser'darius blaine

Photographer Credits
Sam Dameshek

If there is one thing Mr. Blain prides himself on being great at besides acting, it would have to be fatherhood. Unbeknownst to most—anyone who is too lazy to check his Instagram profile (LOL) he is the father of a four year old boy. “I love my little man. What can I say, he’s my motivation and I try to spend as much time with him as possible…his mother and I are not together, but we are great co-parents and both do what it takes to make sure he has everything he needs.” Fatherhood definitely suits him and his son is one of the cutest kids you will ever see. It seems like there is nothing Ser’Darius can’t do and we are truly enjoying his rise to the top. He advises all aspiring actors to “Keep God first. When he’s first, everything else falls into place…”

Celebrity Interviews

To Tame A Lyon! Meet Toby Onwumere (@toby_onwumere), The Newest Addition to Empire!

Hollywood is here FOREVER! The stages and the names change, but one thing for sure is that Tinsel Town will always be looking for talented and fresh faces. When that face also happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, the look is all the more exciting and tantalizing. Meet Toby Onwumere, a rising star that just so happens to meet the criteria of “tall, dark, and handsome,” and most of all talented!

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toby onwumere kai empire

Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning

Hollywood is here FOREVER! The stages and the names change, but one thing for sure is that Tinsel Town will always be looking for talented and fresh faces. When that face also happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, the look is all the more exciting and tantalizing. Meet Toby Onwumere, a rising star that just so happens to meet the criteria of “tall, dark, and handsome,” and most of all talented!

toby onwumere kai empire

Toby is taking hearts and Fox’s Empire by storm as “Kai,” Jamal Lyon’s (Jussie Smollett) love interest and now fiancé! As Kai, Toby is doing groundbreaking work, as he showcases the life and love of a Black, gay, and HIV positive man against the backdrop of family drama, corporate sabotage, and ignorance. “I feel honored to play him [Kai] and bring his story to the forefront…It’s time to really inform people and push forward with representation and inclusivity, all while delivering a really unforgettable story.”

Toby is a first generation Nigerian-American, hailing from Dayton, Ohio and has always dreamt of being an actor. He counts his parents, Fidelis and Prisca, as being the driving force behind his pursuit of the arts as they allowed and encouraged him to do what he loves. “My parents were traditional, but not in the sense of what they expected me to be…usually when you’re Nigerian you the career paths your parents want for you are pretty narrow, you have to be like a doctor or lawyer, for them to do that is really amazing.” Toby admits he is stoked to be on Empire, revealing he has been a fan of the show since its inception. “Man I love it [Empire] I would be in class and thinking to myself I’m gonna be on that show one day, and here we are [he laughs].”

jussie smollett and toby onwumere empire kai jamal

Empire continues to be a ratings giant with no sign of slowing down in its fifth season. However, in an interesting plot twist the series has flashed forwarded two years into the future and we find that The Lyons are mostly in shambles. Lucious and Cookie continue to fight to win Empire back, Andre is incarcerated for Anika’s death, and Hakeem is unable to perform after a grave injury. Jamal, however, has flourished in his self-imposed exile to London, finding new label and love with Kai. Their relationship stands to be the strongest one we have seen for Jamal as Kai is empathetic, intelligent, and compassionate. Toby admits he and Kai are very similar in those aspects, but fundamentally different in others. “Well for one I’m straight [he laughs] and then I’m way too silly! Kai is more straight-laced and serious. I like to laugh and joke and be goofy.” Kai’s storyline is definitely a serious one as no shows have really shown a relationship like he and Jamal’s. Although the Kai’s HIV status has been a topic on the show, the larger phenomenon of him being with a partner who is negative and on PREP (via whatisprep.org, PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medications to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected. PrEP is approved by the FDA and has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing HIV infection.”) “The storyline was meant to be more informative than anything else. People still have these notions about HIV/AIDS from the eighties and so many advancements have been made since then…the love between the two of them [Jamal and Kai] shows that everyone deserves love and can be loved. Kai just so happens to be HIV positive, but he really loves Jamal and he’s a great person. That’s what counts here love…The scene when they proposed to each other was really just magical and powerful.  It’s why I’m honored to play this character…this is really encouraging dialogue and I think people just need to be more open minded and educated.”

toby onwumere kai empire

Toby continues to look forward to the rest of this season of Empire and hints he has some pretty amazing projects in the works that he is not ready to share. However, he did reveal his holiday season will be international as he travels to Europe to bring in Christmas and the New Year. If 2019 is any bigger than 2018 was for him then we know he is about to be a household name! He advises aspiring actors to “Really study the craft. Take the classes and remain diligent. If this is what you want stick with it and never give up!” Catch Toby every Wednesday night at 8 PM EST on Fox’s Empire!

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Young & Winning! Meet Xolo Maridueña (@Xolo_Mariduena)!

Young teen, Xolo Maridueña is making a name for himself in the acting world, and slowly but surely becoming a young star. Xolo is just 17 years old and already the lead for the hit YouTube Red series “Cobra Kai.” He’s been named Latina’s Magazine Hottest Youngest Stars Under 25, and even with all that success, Xolo is a normal teenager that attends a regular HS, and shares the same celebrity crushes as just about every young teen in America.

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xolo mariduena

Young teen, Xolo Maridueña is making a name for himself in the acting world, and slowly but surely becoming a young star. Xolo is just 17 years old and already the lead for the hit YouTube Red series “Cobra Kai.” He’s been named Latina’s Magazine Hottest Youngest Stars Under 25, and even with all that success, Xolo is a normal teenager that attends a regular HS, and shares the same celebrity crushes as just about every young teen in America.

Before starring in the hit show, “Cobra Kai,” he played in the NBC show, “Parenthood” as Victor Braverman, which he explains is his ‘first big break.’ Xolo also discussed how working on that show made him come to a realization that acting was his passion, “At the time, I had never worked with such talented people before in my life, the whole cast are really some of the most professional, astonishing actors I ever met. And working with them, solidified that I want to be an actor, as my career.”

xolo mariduena

Xolo currently plays Miguel Diaz on the “Karate Kid” sequel, “Cobra Kai,” where he’s a sophomore in high school, trying to find himself. Xolo describes his character saying, “He’s struggling with a lot of teen struggles, being a kid going to a new high school…he has to find where he fits in, through Cobra Kai, he really starts to figure what’s important to him.”

Because the show is centered around martial arts, Xolo had to do a lot of preparing for the role. He talked about how a month before filming the show, he would practice every day, which included stretching, choreographing fights, and just learning about martial arts/artists. There were also about 2 or 3 hours of training Xolo had to do a day; Xolo talks a little bit about his struggles in the early stages of training, “My body was telling me to quit because I wasn’t used to this type of exercise or training…my body wasn’t really conditioned to work that way.” But fortunately for us, he didn’t quit because he’s killing it on the show.

With some of the original actors from the original “Karate Kid” starring in the show (Ralph Macchio and William Zabka), and with the huge legacy of “Karate Kid”, Xolo said he definitely felt the pressure to do a great job playing his character, “It definitely was a lot of pressure, but not just because those guys were on there, this is what people have been waiting to see for 30 plus years…the fans are very passionate about “Karate Kid.”

Xolo, who’s Mexican, Cuban, and Ecuadorian expressed how important his Hispanic heritage is to him, “I try hard to represent the Latino culture I’m a part of, not just in a role, but in everyday life, that I’m not only embracing my heritage but actively finding ways to spend time in my communities to come together.” He mentioned how him and other Latinos in entertainment are beneficial to the youth, “In this industry, having representation is the biggest thing, for people of color especially.”

xolo mariduena

Although he’s a young star with his own TV show, Xolo describes himself as a regular teenager, who also attends a regular school, and gives all the props to his parents for keeping him grounded, “My parents helped mold me into the guy I am today, and because of that, I have to thank them… My parents were very admitted about me attending school, it’s not like I’m working everyday throughout the whole year, there’s not really a need to be home schooled.” Xolo also went to prom with one of his friends from school, but young ladies don’t worry…he is still single, but unfortunately, he’s not looking for a relationship right now, he’s focused on his craft. But if he was, it would wishfully be one of his celebrity crushes, Zendaya, Yara Shahidi, Amandla Stenberg, or Rihanna.

So, Xolo is currently on summer break from school, and is gearing up for season 2 of “Cobra Kai” and although we have no word on when season 2 will air, he mentioned how he himself isn’t too sure of what the fans can expect. He did say we will learn more about the characters from season 1 and that we will be introduced to some new faces.

Photo Credits

Photographer: Tim Schaeffer at Cellar Door Studios @cellardoorstudios.la

Grooming: Joseph Adivari @adivaribeauty

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Celebrity Interviews

Kontrol Exclusive (@kontrolmag): Actor, Miles Mussenden (@MilesMussenden), Reveals Darker Themes In Marvel’s “Cloak and Dagger”

Miles Mussenden is a familiar face given the number of commercial spots and television roles he’s in. Now, the fast-talking New Yorker dishes on his latest role as Otis Johnson on Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger.

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miles mussenden

Miles Mussenden is a familiar face given the number of commercial spots and television roles he’s in. Now, the fast-talking New Yorker dishes on his latest role as Otis Johnson on Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger.

As an actor, the audition process can be grueling. Waiting on the fruits of that labor can be even worse. Miles shared the excitement of when he got the call.

“When you first find out everything is kind of surreal. The world is spinning around. I got a call from Jeph Loeb who is the Head of Television for Marvel. He said, ‘This is an opportunity to do your best work.’”

That conversation gave Mussenden all the focus he needed. The Marvel enterprise reigns supreme in box office numbers and television spin offs. Miles has been acting on and off for years and he acknowledges this is the role of a lifetime.

The Brooklyn native began his acting in the halls of his elementary school.

“They were doing these plays and I wasn’t really interested in them, but I got such a positive response from the plays I did.” Miles reminisced on his experience, “We used to have a teacher that was very into it and would take us down to Broadway.”

miles mussenden

However, the acting bug was only temporary. His neighborhood lifestyle seemed to be a distraction and the melodies of 90s reggae came calling.

“I grew up in Brooklyn and it wasn’t cool to say you wanted to be an actor when you grew up. So, I kind of put that on the backburner and decided to go into music instead. That was just the cool thing at the time. I grew up around a bunch of West Indians in Brooklyn. We used to go to parties and grab the mic and do our thing.”

The love of music led him to working with major artist and eventually owning his own record label.

“So, as I got a little older and met the right people, I got deeply involved in the music. I started going to Jamaica and producing for Shabba Ranks, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. In those days it was a lot of fun. I’ve been on tour with Shabba and those are fun guys. For part of Shabba’s tour, I ended up being a hype man by default.”

Despite his success in the music industry, Mussenden was a victim of the 2008 economy crash. He admits the failures during this time lead him back to his first love of acting.

“About 10 years ago the economy went kind of crazy and my business went down the tubes. I went bankrupt. That’s when I started acting professionally.”

Ten years later, he is now a series regular on Cloak and Dagger. Mussenden recognizes the shows major themes and says they’re not afraid to deal with contemporary issues.

cloak and dagger freeform

As the TV father of main character Tyrone Johnson, he admits, “It’s a lot of responsibility I feel to being a father to an African American male teenager. We are dealing with a lot of issues of today. That’s what I love about this show. We’re not running from it. It’s raw and it’s gritty.”

Miles admits the show will only get darker from here.

Setting the stage, he says, “On the show my son, Billy, is also killed. So, I think you’ll see how that trauma affects a family. It doesn’t go away. We’re really getting to the heart of some of these issues these families are dealing with. Every decision you make affects your family. We’re going to see [the characters] grapple with these decisions and have super powers to boot. It’s going to affect the family dynamic in a real way. It’s not just about people flying around in pantyhose. You’ve got some real life things I’m hoping the audience will appreciate.”

The actor admits this is a major point in his career. He has only been acting consistently for about ten years and despite his many directions, this is a full circle moment.

“It all clicked and 10 years later I’m a regular on a Marvel series. I’m living the fantasy.”

 

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