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In this Interview, Hollywood Actress and Filmmaker Giovannie Espiritu Shares her Tryst with Entrepreneurship

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Giovannie Espiritu , lead in the Amazon series, “Dyke Central” and known for her online acting workshop, Hollywood Actors Workshop, where she coaches kids and teens is a true entrepreneur at heart.

Her students include series regulars, an Emmy Nominee, and are signed with the top agencies in Los Angeles. She was also named one of the Top 40 Audition Coaches in LA.

Earlier, she was nominated alongside Academy Award Nominees Alfre Woodard and Amy Irving for Best Supporting Actress at MethodFest for the Mynah Films feature film Fiona’s Script. She also has several primetime credits to her name including a recurring role on ER (NBC), Bones (FOX), Gilmore Girls (ABC), and Trauma (NBC). We recently Interviewed Giovannie to know more about her workshop and her tryst with entrepreneurship.

Giovannie, Thank you for talking with us. Teaching others how to act is a different ball game altogether. Given your vast experience as an actor, how and when did you start teaching acting, and how has been your experience so far?

Thank you for having me. I started teaching acting for various schools in the Bay Area in 2003, so I learned and taught quite a few different acting techniques and finally branched out on my own in 2008. From the beginning, my students began booking major gigs. One of my first students, Rayna (last name withheld for privacy) was flown to Los Angeles to test for an upcoming Ben Stiller movie through a self-tape that we worked on and sent in. Since then, my students have booked major campaigns and signed with the top agents in local markets and in greater markets like Los Angeles and New York.

I have a few alumni students who have gone on to book series regular roles for Dreamworks (the Espina sisters who hosted, “Life Hacks for Kids”) and an Emmy nominee (William Lipton, who plays Cameron on General Hospital).

Your students have worked with some of the big names in the industry including Disney, Universal Studios, Cartoon Network, and Pixar among others. What does it feel like when one of your students make it big and have a taste of success?

I am extremely proud of my students. Not only the ones who have booked major gigs but also the ones who have made strides in their schoolwork or overcome their fear of public speaking. Although, booking gigs and signing with agents is a great goal that a lot of my students have been able to attain, there are also goals like better reading comprehension and emotional empathy/EQ that I think are just as valid.

Tell us more about your teaching methodology. How have things been during the ongoing pandemic?

I try to teach my student to the standards of the Los Angeles Market. Even before I moved down to Los Angeles, and taught locally in the Bay Area, I still taught to LA standards just because I wanted my students to be prepared for the professional world (if that was their goal). To quote Natalie Portman, acting is empathy in action, and I always try to teach from that perspective. What would it be to approach the world from someone else’s shoes and really take on their experience of the world? As far as the pandemic goes, I was already teaching my students online before it became commonplace to do so. The pandemic has changed the industry drastically though. Most auditions will probably now be self-taped without in-person auditions.

With the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime, many actors have shot to fame thereby breaking the monopoly Hollywood had all this long. What are your views on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime? Do young actors prefer these platforms over making it mainstream?

I actually think that Netflix and Amazon are considered mainstream entertainment these days… especially now since the Academy has broadened its requirements on what qualifies for an Oscar to streaming platforms. I do think that platforms like TikTok have changed the game in terms of connecting with an audience and building a fan base which has changed the game for young actors. I know that a lot of agents have been asking about social media following numbers. It does help independent filmmakers to attach talent with a built-in fan base especially if their marketing budget is small.

To our readers, who are interested in the field of acting, what tips you would share with them? What should be their approach when they enter this field?

I have so many free acting tips and resources (including a 10 part podcast) on my website that your readers can access, but the number one tip I would give is to only get into the industry if you love the art of acting. The actual day to day business of the entertainment industry and movie making is tough, and if you do not start out with a foundation of loving the craft, the lifestyle is not worth it. I even tell parents that if the kid is not having fun, then it might be time to take a break. The mental health and well-being of my students is of the most importance to me.

For all those women entrepreneurs out there, please share your experience as an entrepreneur and how women can handle work-related challenges?

I have been extremely lucky in this business to have women mentors that I have looked up to and followed their footsteps. My current mentor is an amazing producer named Suzanne DeLaurentiis who is a veteran movie producer who has been working in the film industry for over 35 years and shepherded over 100+ feature films. She still had the tenacity and strength to make her films even when it was a boys club and there weren’t resources like Women in Film and the Alliance of Women Directors (which I am a member of). I also encourage other women to collaborate with other women – it is only by supporting one another and amplifying each other that we can create tangible change.

Interview

An Interview with Actor & Musician Carrel Lasso

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Carell Lasso is a Colombian actor and musician. He is well known for his role in La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave) which is available on Netflix. Carrel is also one of the actors of the new HBO show “One thousand fangs” or “Mil Colmillos” .

Carell, thank you for talking with us. To be a part of the first HBO series in your home country must have felt great. How was the experience like?

Thank you for having me. For me it was a wonderful experience, to be part of the first HBO Series produced in my home country.

I met very talented people. The shooting days were extensive and 70% of the filming was at night in difficult conditions due to the weather and the jungle, but at the end of the day, it was a blessing and a great pleasure to be part of this awesome crew .

Tell us more about your character Barakus.

My character is called Alfredo Barranco aka Barakus. He is a corporal in the army’s special forces, and embarks on a mission where unexpected things happen
By the way, I had to gain 10 kilos of weight to play this character and had to go through a difficult military training and extensive gym workouts.

You have been a part of several awesome projects. Which project is really close to you?

La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave) has been a project that meant a lot to me due to the conditions and the circumstances that I was going through in my life at that time. It was also the production with which I obtained international recognition for my work, since it was sold to more than 280 countries in the 5 continents and was dubbed in many languages. You can watch this awesome show on Netflix.

 What suggestion would you give to actors who are struggling to get their first break?

My suggestion is to prepare, to work hard and to have their minds focused on what they want no matter what others say.  People who are not capable, are always going to want you to be like them, so through criticism and ridicule they will  want to discourage you, but you must be patient and persistent and trust the talent and the desire that is in you. The best things come from heaven when you least expect them.

How are you helping young actors achieve their goals?

Since last year I have been collaborating with NYC Latin Media preparing their new talent for  productions.  Through live acting workshops and now via Zoom I serve as an acting coach, teaching different techniques and methodologies of acting and hoping to instill my passion for acting to the next generation of actors. 

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Interview

An Interview with Russell Jack, Southland-based Yogapreneur and Mindfulness Teacher

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Russell Herbert Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.

Russel, thank you for talking with us. Even the best of Mindfulness experts and life coaches have their own ups and downs. Tell me about your best days at work and also about days when you feel low.

Thank you for having me. You are right when you say that it doesn’t necessarily mean that people who are life coaches and who teach mindfulness are immune from their own life challenges. The thing is, they know how to deal with such situations better than most of the people out there.

For me, the best days are whenever I can be at the beach. I love teaching outdoors, and the days when I get to teach by the ocean are the best. There are so many distractions in our life that can bring us down, and being out in nature walking, running, doing yoga, or simply observing is so therapeutic. I also feel down sometimes. Those are the days when I get bad news. I am very close to my clients and I am an empathetic person, so I take their problems too close to my heart.

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

I enjoy teaching, reading, and writing. I recently started a blog to practice writing and share my thoughts with the world. My primary focus is teaching though. I teach yoga, mindfulness, and Qigong, and I love walking my clients through the processes and seeing their results improve.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

Well, my biggest “a-ha” moment happened when I tried eating meat after a long break. My parents are vegan, so I was used to a meatless diet for the longest time. But during my late teenage years, you know, everyone rebels, and I decided to try a steak while I was away from home. I didn’t like it though.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

Dropping out of college when I felt like pursuing teaching as my life calling. There are many societal and parental pressures nowadays. My parents really wanted me to go to school and get educated, but I chose to educate myself. It’s my path. If I didn’t leave college, I would probably just hang out with my friends now, instead of building my teaching business and helping people connect with themselves through yoga and mindfulness.

The ongoing Pandemic has impacted businesses in so many ways. What risks is your company facing?

Well, COVID-19 has impacted many businesses, but luckily for New Zealand, we didn’t get hit as hard as the rest of the world. I am still able to teach and continue my practice. But I know that there are many people around the world who have lost their jobs and companies who didn’t survive the pandemic and subsequent closures. My heart goes to those.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

I would invest them in protecting animals around the world. There are many people who are conscious of the harm we create in the animal world, but there is not enough funding to make a big difference, I believe.

Being a Yoga practitioner gives you the necessary skills to immerse yourself in whatever you do. Still, When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I lose myself when I teach. I turn into a vessel of knowledge and try to help my students connect with themselves through my teaching.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I love traveling and being in nature, writing and learning, listening to music, and talking to my loved ones.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

My impact is not as big as I would like it to be, but I still think that by volunteering, teaching, and leading by example, I do contribute to the betterment of the world.

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Interview

CEO of VEDOC Talks About the Initiatives taken by the company During the Ongoing Pandemic

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In a previous Interview with Times of Startups, Yoguef Sanchez-Jarquin, the founder of VEDOC talked about how VEDOC or Vehicle Doctor helps users connect with vetted vehicle service providers with a few screen taps. We recently caught up with Yoguef Sanchez to know more about where his company is heading owing to the unexpected situation we are witnessing because of Covid-19.

Yoguef, It’s great to have you back. Since we last talked, how has been the growth story of Vedoc so far?

Thank you for having me again. Vedoc has grown significantly in the past few months, We are starting to expand and introduce our platform in places such as New Jersey, Chicago, and Detroit. Our goal is to create awareness in major cities and gradually work our way into smaller towns.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your organization and Vehicle service providers in general?

Thankfully the Automotive industry has not had any real setbacks overall. As an organization we have adapted well and we are continuing to grow as a team

Tell us more about your recent program in which your company will provide service attendants to gas stations in cities that have seen a massive surge in Covid-19 cases?

We have plans to roll out the program for the remainder of the year upon launching. We are currently seeking to onboard as many fuel stations in the most affected areas. Our goal is to reduce contact between people and provide additional income for locals who are struggling during this current crisis.

Social distancing is one of the tools which can help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. How can fuel stations and car service providers facilitate contactless service for their customers?

Vedoc app was developed with the idea of making the way you service your vehicle convenient which results in being able to contact service providers through the app, chat , schedule and pay and we are also now on-boarding mobile service providers which has become a trend in growing cities.

We genuinely believe that it will complement the concept of contactless service by maintaining people safe at at their homes. On the other hand, some gas stations can see up to 100 vehicles per day so imagine how the amount of germs are transmitted through people.

Through our recent initiative, our service attendants will reduce the risk by keeping you safe in your car while your vehicle is being fueled and providing safe paying methods.


At its core, Vedoc is known for connecting car users to service providers. However, several businesses have evolved in the last few months owing to the ongoing pandemic. Are their any significant changes in your organization in the recent past?

We have made minor modifications and improvements to our organization. However, the core operation has continued to run smoothly without significant setbacks. In that sense, we can consider ourselves fortunate. Overall, we believe this to be perfect timing to introduce a new, convenient and honest way to service your vehicle while contributing our 2 cents to the current crisis.

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