• Your one stop for college news and resources!

Teen Actress Thalia Tran on Preparing for “Little”

We love a talented, yet sensible teen actress, and when we talked to Thalia Tran, who appeared in the comedy Little that came out earlier this year, it’s clear that she is just that.

Tran is 13 and lives in California. She’s pursuing a burgeoning acting career, but also singing, piano, guitar and Kung Fu. Read our interview with her to hear Tran talk about how she found her way into acting, preparing for her first big film role in Little and what else she’s interested in.

College News: First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thalia Tran: Hi! My name is Thalia Tran. I’m thirteen years old, and I live in California with my two amazing parents and the best little sister in the world. I’ve always been interested in the arts. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I’ve played the piano since I was six years old, and I also play guitar. When I have some free time, I would love to start learning the drums and devote more time to music composition which is something else that I enjoy. As for my interests that are not related to music or acting, I’ve recently started learning martial arts. It’s definitely been difficult for me, but being the type of person who loves a good challenge, I decided that Kung Fu was perfect for me. My enrollment has been interrupted several times by my filming schedule, but as with anything, you just have to keep pushing forward. As my instructor always reminds me, Kung Fu is not only about training the body but also about training the mind. Through Kung Fu, I have learned a lot about hard work, dedication and perseverance.

CN: What inspired you to get into acting?

TT: Something that not everyone may know about me is that I actually did not start out in acting. My first love was music. My parents always tell me stories about how I used to hum myself to sleep as a baby. From there, my love for music only grew. I sang anywhere and everywhere, and to this day, I still do the same. I had been taking vocal lessons for a while when my vocal coach recommended that I take acting lessons. He said that it would be a great way to improve my performance skills. I signed up for a lesson just to try it out, and I simply fell in love with acting. If it hadn’t been for that one vocal lesson, I would probably not be involved in acting today.

“My first love was music. My parents always tell me stories about how I used to hum myself to sleep as a baby.”

Thalia Tran; Image courtesy of Alex Stone.

CN: Have you done any theater acting? How is that different from your experience acting on film sets?

TT: I have been involved in some wonderful theater projects with some wonderful people, and although I don’t see theater work as my ultimate goal, the experiences were incredible and extremely valuable. There are multiple differences between theater and on-camera acting. While you have the freedom to redo scenes and edit out mistakes in film and tv, on the stage, you only have one chance to take your audience on a journey. Something else about theater acting is that your movements and expressions must be seen by everyone, including those in the back row. When you are on camera, your actions and expressions can be more subtle, and you can speak at a normal volume. However, despite these differences, theater acting has taught me several lessons which are helpful in on-camera acting as well.

CN: Is Little your first big film?

TT: Little is my first big film, and it truly was everything I dreamed of and more. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and they all inspired me with their incredible dedication. I am so grateful to be a part of a project that not only entertains the audience but also promotes positive messages to the world.

“I am so grateful to be a part of a project that not only entertains the audience but also promotes positive messages to the world.”

CN: How did you prepare for your role in Little?

TT: In preparing for my scenes, I had to put myself in Raina’s shoes and consider her circumstances. Every person has a different point of view, and it was fascinating to explore what it’s like to see the world through Raina’s eyes. What was so amazing about working with such talented people was that their commitment to their characters made it so much easier to be present in the scene and have genuine reactions.

CN: As someone so young who’s still figuring out who she is, what is it like to immerse yourself in being someone else?

TT: Being in the industry at a young age, it is especially important to surround yourself with people who ground you because it’s easy to get caught up in all the craziness of Hollywood. I am so grateful to have such an incredible support network of friends and family who have encouraged me endlessly and stood by me through every single challenge. Acting has definitely had a huge impact on my outlook on life as well as my personality. I learn something from every character that I play. By getting into the mindsets of these different characters and learning where they are coming from, I feel that it helps me to become a more sympathetic person. Realizing people’s motives behind their decisions allows me to better understand them.

Thalia Tran; Image courtesy of Alex Stone.

CN: What other types of roles would you like to play one day?

TT: One of my goals is to play a superhero someday. I’ve always loved fantasy and magic, so I would love to play a character who lives in a world where anything is possible. Long before I started acting I always loved to imagine what it would be like to have superpowers. Also, the superheroes portrayed in the movies often become the role models of children. It would be amazing not only to bring the superhero of my childhood dreams to life but also to inspire so many young children.

“One of my goals is to play a superhero someday. I’ve always loved fantasy and magic, so I would love to play a character who lives in a world where anything is possible.”

CN: Are you working on anything else at the moment?

TT: I recently finished filming Council of Dads, an NBC drama pilot based on Bruce Feiler’s bestselling novel. It’s about a father, Scott Perry, who is diagnosed with cancer, so he gathers his close friends to become a father figure for his children in case he doesn’t survive. I play Charlotte Perry, his adopted daughter who is struggling to figure out who she is. It tells the story of how all of us cope with the devastating news of the cancer diagnosis while simultaneously struggling with the other challenges of our lives, challenges that are magnified by the prospect of losing Scott. The script is so beautiful and powerful, and I truly believe that this is the show that the world needs right now.

CN: What else do you like to do with your free time?

In the little free time that I have, I love to spend time with my friends and family. It’s really important to take time to just be a regular teenager. Whether it be watching a movie or just playing card games at someone’s house, as long as we are together, it’s always fun.

See also: Mads Mikkelsen Open Up About Polar, Gymnastics and Playing the Bad Guy
Rampage Jackson in Conversation: Wrestling, Acting and Family
The Resistance Will Be Cross Stitched: Interview with Shannon Downey

Need Motivation? Meet Astronaut Abby

Need Motivation? Meet Astronaut Abby

Abigail Harrison—known online as Astronaut Abby—is a 20-year-old aspiring astronaut, college student, influencer and creator of the non-profit, The Mars Generation.

The Mars Generation has more than 1,800 students worldwide participating in an innovative Student Space Ambassador Leadership program and has sent over 36 youths to space camp.

We spoke with Abby about her inspiring plans to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars, as well as how she is exciting others about pursuing a career in STEM and how she manages to balance college, work and her personal life.

College News: How did you know you wanted to be an astronaut? 

Abigail Harrison: I’ve wanted to be an astronaut for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of looking up at the night sky and knowing that I wanted to explore the unknown.

 CN: Who were your role models growing up?

AH: Growing up I looked up to many astronauts—especially the women! Especially prominent to me was Astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. Not only was she an astronaut, but also an educator. It was her great passion for sharing space exploration that made me look up to her. Three years ago this came full circle when she agreed to join The Mars Generation board of advisors.

 CN: What’s so special about Mars?

 AH: Landing humans on Mars is the next stepping stone for humanity in space exploration. It’s just hard enough to make it nearly impossible, but still doable. It will push our boundaries, challenge the very things we believed to be true about our universe, and allow us to make life here on Earth better. It’s also a great opportunity to search for extra-terrestrial life.

CN: What does your future look like in regards to reaching Mars? 

AH: After graduating from Wellesley this upcoming spring with a BS/BA in Biology and Russian Area Studies, I’m planning to go to grad school for a PhD in astrobiology or planetary sciences/geophysics. Following that, I will work for a few years doing scientific research to gain experience and then I will start applying to the NASA astronaut corp. Throughout this time span, I’ll also be pursuing other skills and qualifications which will hopefully aid in becoming an astronaut and eventually getting to Mars. These skills include obtaining my pilots license (this winter break), continuing to obtain advanced certifications in SCUBA diving, studying Russian and Mandarin Chinese, skydiving licenses and anything else that can strengthen by application to the NASA astronaut corps.

CN: Can you tell us a bit about your non-profit?

AH: The Mars Generation is a 501(c)(3) focusing on educating the public about the importance of space exploration and science literacy, inspiring young people about STEM, and supporting them to pursue careers in STEM fields. We run several core programs including our Future of Space Outreach Program, Student Space Ambassador Leadership Program and our Space Camp Scholarship program that provides full paid (transportation included) scholarships to students experiencing poverty.

CN: What inspired you to start The Mars Generation?

AH: When I was 15 years old I worked with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano as his Earth Liaison, sharing his experiences living and working in space with my social media audience. After working with Luca during his six months in space, I realized how important it is to provide inspiration and educational resources for today’s youth. If we want to see humans walk on Mars—to truly become The Mars Generation—we need to be creating a culture today that will result in a highly skilled and passionate work force in the future. Other than space exploration, educational advocacy is my greatest passion in life. 

CN: Why do you think girls are still underrepresented in STEM occupations?

AH: There’s a long standing stereotype that girls aren’t good at STEM—a stereotype which causes bias in the way girls view themselves and their performance and in the way that everyone else see’s and treats them. We often consider this kind of bias to be a thing of the past, but it’s really not. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it still exists and is hugely problematic.

CN: How can we combat this? 

AH: An incredibly important way to combat the underrepresentation of girls in STEM is to showcase women who are already doing great things in STEM fields. By having highly visible female role models we can teach today’s girls to be able to see themselves pursuing STEM fields, and today’s boys to not be surprised when they see girls excelling in STEM careers. It’s especially important that these role models are visible in pop culture and media—where they’ll have the greatest impact. 

CN: What advice would you give to young girls who are apprehensive about pursuing a career in STEM?

AH: I would tell them that it’s okay to mess up! It’s okay to try something and then decide to go a different path! I think that as girls and women we feel that we need to be better—perfect, even—at things we’re told by society that we can’t do. This is exactly the opposite attitude needed for a career in STEM! A huge part of STEM is messing up—it’s failing 99 times and then succeeding on the 100th. That’s because it’s hard, and it’s not something natural—you have to learn it. It can be really easy to be discouraged early from STEM after failing a few times if you don’t realize how normal and vital to the learning process this is. 

CN: How do you balance college, work and life obligations? 

AH: It’s hard. Balancing my personal life, my work with The Mars Generation, college, and everything else is a constant struggle. I’m constantly double tasking and trying to squeeze every last second out of my days. For example, when traveling to speak at conferences or represent The Mars Generation as an influencer at events, I frequently find myself doing homework in cars, trains, buses, airports, planes—really wherever I can. Sometimes this means getting creative with how I study or what materials I have available. Even so, there are plenty of times where I really have to ask myself: “What’s important to me? What do I want to put my time and energy into?” And that means sometimes having to sacrifice something in order to do something else well.

CN: What would be your number one piece of advice for anyone starting out at college?

AH: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. College is such an incredible opportunity to learn—both from your classes and from your classmates. But in order to do so you have to recognize that everyone has different talents. So not being the best at something isn’t a reason to not do it, it’s a reason to ask “how can I learn?” and “who can I learn from?”

CN: What is it really like to be an influencer?

AH: Honestly it oscillates between being incredibly tiring and out of this world rewarding. Being able to share my journey towards the red planet with millions of people here on Earth has been an incredible honor.

Common Interview Questions

Common Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

Getting the invitation to attend an interview after countless job applications can be both exciting and daunting. For recent graduates or those still in college, this interview may even be your first in the professional world, so it stands to reason that you might be getting a case of the jitters. While there is no exact science to making a success of an interview, there are various ways would-be candidates can prepare, so that the meeting goes as smoothly as possible. Here are some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

This is largely intended to be an ice-breaker—what it is not, however, is an opportunity to reel off your life story, so try to avoid mentioning where you grew up and what your favorite hobbies are. Hiring managers expect candidates to discuss relevant skills, academic qualifications and work history leading up to this point. To prepare, write down key experiences you have that relate closely to the job you are interviewing for. For example, if you are interviewing for a sales position, your skills and academic qualifications may include:

  • A business or retail degree
  • Previous work in shops/telemarketing, which developed negotiation skills
  • Strong communication and public speaking skills
  • Good at building relationships
  • An interest in the industry.

Why this position?

“I just need a job” is not the correct answer to this one, sorry. When hiring managers ask this common interview question, they want to know the depth of your knowledge about the company and what makes you the right candidate for the role. Thoroughly research the company prior to your interview: Find out their philosophy, achievements, what it is they do and their primary service or product. Then consider how your skills and experiences align with the company as a whole.

What can you bring to the role?

Bragging is a massive faux pas when it comes to interviews, so try to avoid the hard sell when asked this common interview question. Use this time to highlight your skills and how they can increase the company’s overall success for the future. If you are interviewing for a marketing assistant role, you might want to emphasise how your excellent writing and analysis skills gained throughout college can be put to good use. Offer an example of a successful social media campaign you ran that reached a high volume of people, and how that resulted in active sales or drove more traffic to a website.

If you are applying for a sales position, you may want to emphasize your strong negotiation skills. Give a sound example of when you successfully negotiated at work or university and the immediate result. Carefully planning your answer in this way shows hiring managers the effort you have put in to how hiring you would be good for the company.

Further reading: Free Courses to Boost Your Resume

What are your strengths?

Focusing on the strengths that closely relate to the job you’re interviewing for is the best way to navigate this awkward question. Hiring managers ask this question to gauge whether your skills and abilities align with the needs of the company, and whether you would be able to hit the ground running with your new role. Your strengths might include leadership skills, the ability to work both autonomously and within a team, ability to work to tight deadlines efficiently and accurately, or that you are calm under pressure.

What are your weaknesses?

Yes, career coaches tend to advise answering this common interview question with a positive spin. But if there’s anything you take from this article today, it’s that you should avoid “I’m a perfectionist.” This answer is extremely common. Hiring managers hear this very often and it won’t make you stand out from other prospective candidates. Instead, think of an occasion where you effectively turned a previous weakness into a positive. Examples of this might be:

  • You once found it difficult to delegate tasks to others, but now are able to do it with ease.
  • You once tended to overcomplicate your work, but now you look at them logically and create to-do lists to manage your time more effectively.
  • You once found it difficult to speak in public, but after pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and practising throughout college, you can now do this with confidence.

Answering these common interview questions doesn’t require rocket science, just simple, old-fashioned research and practice. The more interviews you have, the more at ease you will become.

Further reading: Avoid These Interview Mistakes

Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Bill Cosby, previously dubbed “America’s Dad”, has recently been sentenced for three to 10 years and “total confinement”. The 81-year-old comedian was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

The fall of such a powerful media figure began when prosecutors re-opened Constand’s case, after more than 60 other women came forward against Cosby. Her allegation against the man whom she thought was her “mentor and friend” was the only case that occurred within the statute of limitations.

“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others,” she wrote in her statement.

Cosby may have declined the opportunity to speak before his sentencing, but the voices of many brave women haunt the aftermaths of the trial.

Actress, Lili Bernard said: “On the one hand I feel absolutely elated that justice was served. On the other hand, I also feel disappointed, because clearly the three-year minimum sentence does not adequately reflect the havoc this man, this rapist, has inflicted on so many women, including myself.”

“It does indicate there is now a shift in the legal system that is now going to reflect modern culture, and that now women’s voices are being believed and women’s lives are being valued,” she continued.

Janice Baker-Kinney, who also testified against Cosby, thanked him directly in a statement: “Your arrogance sparked a movement that has grown to thousands of women taking back their self-esteem and proudly standing up for what is morally right.”

Such an inspiring outlook on equality has been helped by Cosby being the first celebrity of the #MeToo movement to be sent to prison. Following the sexual misconduct allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, men and women everywhere are encouraging each other to speak out against sexual assault and domineering ideologies with the hash tag, #MeToo.

“The #MeToo movement has shown that we are at a turning point on certain issues. While many of our elected officials are yet to catch up, the public has become more comfortable with talking accurately about sexual harassment,” says Camonghne Felix, Senior Communications Manager at the Ms. Foundation for Women.

“However, not all women have benefitted from the #MeToo movement equally. The initial survivors who shared stories about their experiences were wealthier, white women, while women of color, LGBTQ and transwomen, undocumented women, and women in lower income work still face exceptional risks to their personal safety every day.

“They are the least likely to be protected and believed in the case of sexual harassment and we need to continue to fight until all women, everywhere, are respected.”

Cosby’s case comes at a time when Brett Kavanaugh is also facing accusations of sexual misconduct.

President Trump has publicly challenged the assertions against his Supreme Court nominee, questioning why they weren’t “immediately filed”.

In the era of #MeToo, thousands of social media users have responded with passionate fury to the president’s comments, recounting why it took them time to open up about their attacks.

College News asked Felix for her thoughts on the link between shame and trauma—an emotion that Andrea Constand openly described as “overwhelming”:

“We need to change the way that our country talks about sexual assault, and we need to change the messages that we send to girls and women about their value and their worth.

“Our country was founded on patriarchy, misogyny, and white supremacy, and cultural acceptance of these societal systems needs to change. For it is these issues that send a clear message to women and girls that they are to blame for what happens to them, and that men do not care about their pain, humiliation, and self-worth,” Felix said.

“We live in a highly patriarchal and misogynistic society—it’s what this country was founded in. Boys and men are applauded for their sexual activity, while girls and women are degraded for it. If a woman is sexually assaulted, often the first instinct is to ask what she was wearing, whether she had been drinking, or how she had been behaving.

“But it does not matter what she was wearing, or if she was drinking, or if she was flirting prior to a sexual assault. Period.

“Because of these expectations and these types of questions, it is difficult for women in our society not to internalize the events that may have happened to them and to blame themselves.

“Overcoming this way of thinking depends on listening to women and believing their experiences so that they are not inclined to blame themselves and feel shame for the abuses perpetrated against them.”

It does not matter what she was wearing, or if she was drinking, or if she was flirting prior to a sexual assault. Period.

And how can we continue to bring attention and justice to sex offenders? We asked.

“It is critical that we continue to listen to and believe women and their stories. Whether allegations of misconduct took place three days ago or three decades ago, whether it took place in a social setting or a place of work, it is important that we continue to listen to the stories of women and learn from their experiences.

“But we cannot count on women alone, and women shouldn’t have to share stories about their deep personal traumas in order for change to happen.

“We have to have honest conversations with boys and men about what it means to respect the girls and women around them. Men need to step up and do the hard work of teaching men around them to do, and act, better. Movements can’t grow without allies, and we need to ensure that men are just as active a part of the #MeToo movement as the brave women who have stepped up have been.”

Camonghne is a member of the nation’s oldest women’s foundation, that works to build women’s collective power in the US and advance equity and justice.

“We provide financial and capacity-building investments to grassroots, women-led organizations, that are making meaningful social, cultural, and economic change in the lives of women.

“Only 2 percent of fundraising money goes to women and girls of color, and we believe that, by targeting these underserved groups, we can create better outcomes for all women.”

Felix’s passionate intellect made us eager to get involved.

“Visit our website, join our mailing list and learn more about our current grantee-partners in your community to get involved in issues that matter to women at the grassroots level.

“Keep an eye out for the next Young Professionals Advisory Committee (YPAC), which is currently planning upcoming events in which there will be plenty of opportunities to participate in and advocate for women!”

Bill Cosby may be in prison, but it’s clear that the fight isn’t over.

Find the Ms. Foundation for Women at forwomen.org

Further reading: Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski Arrested During Kavanaugh Protest

Dr. Sherry Benton on Mental Health Support at College

Dr. Sherry Benton on Mental Health Support at College

If you’re a college student and you’re struggling with mental health, you’re definitely not alone. College News got advice from an expert.

With a recent research study showing that one in five university students are affected by anxiety or depression, the pressure on campus facilities is high. College News discussed the problem with Dr. Sherry Benton.

Dr. Benton is a psychologist and mental health care administrator with over 22 years of experience. She is also the founder of TAO Connect—a digital platform that functions to make mental health recovery treatments easily accessible.

College News: How can college students reach out about mental health struggles?

Dr. Benton: Most campuses have a counseling center, counseling service or psychological services. Find your campuses service and learn about their programs and services. Typically, they offer a range of options.

CN: What kinds of mental health support facilities should students be looking out for when applying for colleges?

DB: Ideally, campuses should take a campus wide, comprehensive approach—including prevention, resilience training, counseling, groups, bystander education programs and other services. The Jed foundation, “Jed Campus” program works with a campus over a four-year period to insure the campus approach to mental health, substance abuse and suicide, are comprehensive and well-coordinated. Jed Campus designation is an excellent way to insure a campus has taken these issues seriously and thought out the best approaches for them.

CN: What are the most common and the most effective ways to deliver mental health therapy?

DB: Different people have different needs and respond to different approaches. Traditional face-to-face individual psychotherapy is the most common and best known. However, research has shown it is not more effective than group therapy or internet based cognitive behavioral therapy for many common problems. Many people also find self-help or apps effective for them.

CN: Do you think that students do not receive enough mental health help at college?

DB: I think most universities work very hard to meet the need, yet providing psychotherapy is really expensive and often difficult to access everywhere not just in universities. Using effective models such as stepped-care can help campuses to stretch limited resources to provide more help to more students. In stepped-care, students are quickly assessed and then begin with a level of help likely to be helpful. Progress is monitored regularly and students can be moved to more intensive or less intensive levels of help depending on their responses.

CN: How can campuses raise awareness and take a proactive approach to mental health?

DB: Campuses can raise awareness through the following: educational campaigns, resilience training in freshman orientation classes, bystander education programs like Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) or Kognito, education programs through Greek houses, residence halls, athletic departments, clubs and organizations.

CN: Are there exercises that students can practice on their own to help improve their mental state?

DB: Mindfulness meditation is something everyone should do. The many health benefits and mental health benefits would suggest that daily meditation should be as consistent as brushing your teeth. Another option is TAO Connect, which provides students access to its self-help courses whenever they want, without having to make an appointment to see a therapist.

CN: What is TAO Connect?

DB: We are a suite of online tools for mental health screening, assessment, patient education, skill development and progress monitoring. TAO can be used as self-help or with a therapist or case manager. TAO’s materials are interesting and engaging with actors in scenes, animations, interactive exercises and journaling.

CN: How can students take advantage of TAO Connect?

DB: There are 120 colleges in the US and Canada offering TAO’s programs to students either as self-help or through their counseling center. Contact your counseling center to find out if your school subscribes to TAO.

Further reading:

You’re Not Alone: Facing Loneliness In College

How To Conquer Exam Anxiety?

Bo Turnham Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham on Eighth Grade

Comedian, musician, actor and writer Bo Burnham talks with College News about the upcoming release of his directorial debut Eighth Grade, anxiety and life as a comedian.

College News: Let’s talk about your directorial debut, Eighth Grade. What has the response been so far?

Bo Burnham: The response has been really lovely so far. We’ve only shown it at a few festivals, but it feels like it’s connecting with people which is very, very nice and relieving.

CN: Eighth Grade centres around shy 13-year-old Kayla. You have spoken often about the character being the vessel with which to voice your own thoughts and feelings on the world. Were there any challenges you faced when it came to writing her character and how did your initial character ideas evolve as you wrote the film?

BB: The challenge was always trying to capture this voice authentically. My disconnect from her was two-fold: I was never a 13 year-old girl, and I was never 13 years old right now. And I knew both of those things lent themselves to a specific experience that I couldn’t fully understand. And the answer was just to research—and Generation Z is very easy to research. They post literally everything about themselves in real time online. As far as the ideas evolving, it all evolved once Elsie Fisher [actress who stars as Kayla in Eighth Grade] got involved—I told her every day that I wanted this movie to come to her and not the other way around. Once real kids got involved I deferred to them for the sort of nuts and bolts “truth” of the thing.

CN: When conceptualizing and writing the screenplay for Eighth Grade, what themes and topics were you keen on portraying through the characters and the plot?

BB: I wanted to talk about the internet and about anxiety. I have struggled with anxiety a lot in my life and have felt that my anxiety has deep ties to the internet in some way. And this story felt like the best way to explore it. I think the internet makes eighth graders out of us all.

CN: There is a pivotal, sexually awkward scene during the film that sees Kayla apologise to older character Riley for not being intimate with him. Was this scene written with the current political/social climate and #MeToo movement that’s currently engulfing Hollywood in mind?

BB: Definitely not. This was written two years ago and shot last summer—but I’m happy that people see that scene as in alignment with the values and concerns of the #MeToo movement—as I think it’s a vital and insanely overdue public conversation. And we still have a long way to go, especially with young people, in educating them on consent and sexual behaviour.

CN: You have had an extensive and thriving career as a comedian. How would you describe your comedic style?

BB: Trying very, very hard. Effortful!

 “I have struggled with anxiety a lot in my life and have felt that my anxiety has deep ties to the internet in some way”—Bo Burnham

CN: A common reaction that comedians and comediennes receive is backlash and criticism for using un-PC language or satirising socially sensitive topics. Has there been a particularly standout moment where this has happened to you? How do you deal with that kind of backlash personally?

BB: Oh sure I’ve dealt with backlash for things I said, especially when I was younger, 17 or 18 years old just trying to say the most offensive things because that’s what I thought comedy was. I tend to only look back on that stuff cringing at myself, not at the people objecting to it. I feel like comedians get to express themselves all the time, so they shouldn’t start complaining when the audience wants to express back.

CN: Can you tell our readers about how you got your break in the industry and how your career evolved into the realm of film and television?

BB: [I] started posting videos on YouTube and those sort of took off. And then it was just a sort of long, weird journey of performing stand up everywhere and quietly writing scripts in my free time. And then when it felt like I had gotten enough momentum in the comedy world to justify getting a small budget for a movie, I dropped stand up and started working on this movie. And here we are! And death next, I think!

CN: Writing is very much central to your career having written for your own comedy performances, television shows and now film. Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process for you? How do your ideas emerge and manifest into full-rounded projects?

BB: Honestly, they are often not full-rounded until the very end—if they get there at all! The initial point for me, usually, it just reading books or watching movies and just getting excited about things I like. And then trying to daydream and find any sort of ledge I can grab onto to start climbing towards something. My ideas usually start very specifically with an image or a scene or a moment—not with a THEME or some BIG SWEEPING IDEA. I like to start from a moment or image that I really love and then work outward. Because it’s really the moments that I’m going to be working on, and it’s the moments that people will experience, so if a moment can’t work out the gate, it feels not worth the time. That may make no sense.

CN: What three key pieces of advice would you give to budding young comedians, actors and writers that you wish you had been given yourself when you were starting out?

BB: I would say relax and enjoy it. I do believe that the best part of the creative process is available to everyone—just doing it. Just starting the process of picturing things and making things and seeing how they turn out and editing and making yourself better. Just start and jump in and don’t worry if you suck out the gate. This is what I try to remind myself of all the time. Just focus on what you can control which is your work and your ability to get better by your own standards. Just do the work and enjoy it. The whole reason to do creative things is to be able to do something interesting and enjoyable and the interest and enjoyment is available right away!

CN: Do you have any new and exciting projects on the horizon for 2018 and early 2019 that our readers should keep an eye out for?

BB: Just Eighth Grade. Hopefully in the next few months I’ll bang my head against a wall and something will fall out. But I’m only seeing tumbleweeds at the moment. Help!

> Watch Eighth Grade at cinemas from July 2018.

Further reading: Summer Blockbusters 2018

Ron Pope

Ron Pope Interview

Defining independent artist of the moment Ron Pope has sold more than two million digital tracks worldwide, has racked up over 200 million streams on Spotify and 150 million views on YouTube. On the release of his latest album, Worktapes, he talks music, almost giving up and what’s in store for 2018.

It was in 2012 that I first heard A Drop in the Ocean (2007), one of Ron Pope’s most listened-to tracks on YouTube (with 53 million views at the time of writing). That song marked the beginning of a lifelong love of all things acoustic, so when the opportunity to speak with the man himself arose, I jumped. We’ve just a 20-minute slot in which to speak, but Pope is relaxed, optimistic and ready to go. Naturally, the conversation begins with the release of his highly anticipated EP, Worktapes. “The response has been great,” he tells me. The EP comes just months after the release of Work, the first in the two-album series. “I kind of thought of it as one project, but I wanted to divide it just to give people more manageable, more bite-sized pieces.” Pope explains that with the advent of technology and smartphones (“little computers”, he calls them), musicians have to compete with everything out there now. “Because there is so much that people are doing, and so much in their faces, I think it’s easier on my audience if I give them 10 songs at a time or seven songs at a time and not 20, or whatever.”

 A nod to the past   

Worktapes is a nostalgic trip to the musician’s earlier albums—slow, quiet and vulnerable tracks that have earned him his distinct sound and reputation. I ask Pope if this was a conscious decision. “It’s intimidating writing quiet music. If a crowd makes noise and you’re in a band, you can just play louder, you know? If you’re playing quiet music live, if people aren’t quiet, then it’s ruined, it’s a waste of time. So you have to really believe that people are going to listen to it if you’re going to create it… [quieter music] has come back into my life in a very real way in the last handful of years.” Pope is truly in touch with his intuition and it’s his connection with his emotions that makes his deeply authentic music so attainable to his fan base. “You make music for yourself, and then you release it for your audience, so I’m creating music that feels good to me; I’m shaping the music and I could never manipulate that [process]. What sounds good to me right now is what I will create, that’s why the records sound different from album to album, that’s why sometimes there’s loud songs and sometimes there are quiet songs and it really has to do with what feels right to me.”

On giving up

The indie star attributes the freedom he has to create the music he wants to his label Brooklyn Basement Records, a company that he runs with his wife, Blair. “Music is really keeping me off the streets—which is good for me and good for the streets,” he jokes. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey; Pope’s past encapsulates the old ‘struggling musician’ adage almost entirely. Has there been any point where he considered giving up? “There were definitely times early on where I thought about giving up,” he recalls. “I was playing in the subway, I was paying my rent in rolled change and I was living off, like, hot dogs. One day, when I was down in the subway playing and I hadn’t eaten all day and I didn’t have any money and I was freezing… It was the middle of winter, nobody came, I played a bunch of songs and it was just so cold down there and at some point, I just started crying. I couldn’t control it and I just started crying.” This would become a defining moment for Pope, one that would change his attitude to hard graft in the coming years. “The adversity I deal with in running a business and being an entrepreneur and trying to compete on a global level with the giant multi-national corporations…Even when that gets overwhelming, at least I’m not starving. I try to have perspective.”

 2018

So what does 2018 have in store for the captivating artist? “It’s been 10 years since my first solo album Daylight came out, so I’m probably going to do some ‘stuff’ around that,” he chuckles. “I say ‘stuff’ because I’m not going to tell you what that is yet.” That’s unfair, I think, but I can’t wait. 20 minutes goes by so quickly, doesn’t it, I say; it does, he replies in his cheerful, chippy tone.   

“Music is really keeping me off the streets—which is good for me and good for the streets”—Ron Pope

Ron Pope in the Hot Seat

 CN: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

RP: [Laughing] I really don’t have any other skills, so I have no idea—thank God I am a musician.

CN: Which animal would you be and why?

RP: My dog has the best life in the world. If I could be any animal, I would be my dog.

CN: If you were a musical instrument, what would you be?

RP: I would be an old telecaster [guitar], kind of beat up and rough around the edges but still plays pretty good.

CN: Top piece of advice for budding musicians?

RP: Don’t give up! If you’re meant to be a musician, you don’t need me to tell you not to give up—but don’t give up. When everybody else quits, keep going.

CN: Tell us a secret…

RP: I’m still wearing my pyjamas and it’s 1.20pm!

Further reading: Ron Pope Releases Seventh Studio Album

Interview Mistakes

Avoid These Interview Mistakes

Spring time is around the corner which means new jobs are almost ripe for the picking, however the interview process does all the choosing. Being a fresh face in the work force or even if you’re a seasoned veteran can have its intimidating moments when you’re looking for that perfect new job. It’s understandable that an interview isn’t as easy as one, two, three, but with a few easy reminder tips, that looming interview will be a simple stroll through the park.

1. Not doing your research

Doing your homework on an establishment before even applying for the role is imperative as it will save everyone’s time. Knowing the hours of operation, what some customer reviews say, or even asking an employee what a typical day is like at the prospective company is nothing to be ashamed of. Everything mentioned down to not knowing what you’re interviewing for can lead to a failed interview. Always remember that your time is as valuable as a potential employer’s.

2. Not knowing what you want

After investigating your potential opportunity always remember firstly what it is you want out of this job and second what you want out of this interview. As much as you’re walking in to the interview and hoping the employer chooses you, keep in mind that you should also be in a position to walk away from the meeting knowing more about this new venture than before you walked in. Generally not knowing the job spec could backfire and be a waste of time for both parties.

3. Don’t rely on your comfort zone

A group setting-style interview may mean that you will be interviewed alongside other potential candidates or interviewed by multiple senior staff members. Both scenarios are uncomfortable and not very appealing but both require your full attention and both need you to leave a lasting impression regardless. Don’t rely on your comfort zone during a make-or-break conversation.

4. Remember! Try and always give an answer

Whether you’re about to take on your first interview or your fifth interview, it’s key to always answer the questions. During a “get-to-know-each-other” conversation, there’s not too may wrong answers you can give when the interview is all about you as a candidate for employment. Over-thinking questions can lead to a mind blank for answers but taking a few seconds to gather your thoughts isn’t something to shy away from.

5. Not having examples ready for behavioral interview questions

This one ties in with point number four, however, this can tend to be a bit trickier for those with not much work experience and those with plenty. In her 5 Biggest Job Interview Mistakes article on Linkedin, career coach Lori Bumgarner writes “Behavioral questions are asked not to see how you would potentially handle a certain situation, but instead to see how you’ve handled that situation in the past. This is because past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” This is a great question because it’s an opportunity to paint a picture of how you handle situations.

6. Do Not answer in generalities

Specific and definitive answers are the best and only way to go in to any kind of interview. You should be able to walk away from a talk knowing what answers you gave and what questions were being asked of you. Your personality shouldn’t be forgotten when it comes to a question regarding your interest in applying for the job.

7. Being distracted

The last thing you want is to be distracted—or distract your interviewer­—during an interview. Avoid fiddling with something in your hands, rambling, slouching, chewing gum, and not make eye contact. These things can make you come off as being uninterested because all of these things are, in one way or another, a distraction. A straight posture, a focused yet relaxed demeanor, and an on-topic discussion about why you’re there is the best path to stay on.

8. Not having questions or notes prepared

Lastly, a common mistake potential candidates make is to arrive to an interview empty-handed. A great and easy way to stand out and give you a better understanding of what you’re signing up for is to have a few questions of your own prepared. If needed, also be ready to take notes. Think of questions that no one is probably asking like what the company’s work ethics are or what opportunities will you be given to climb the career ladder. This is an effective way to get a genuine interest going in you as a possible new employee.

Further reading: Free Courses to Boost Your Resume