Mom/Award Winning Journalist/Media Personality/Film Festival Founder/Filmmaker
Tell us any and everything that you want us to know about you as a person (personality, funfacts, upbringing, etc.)?As to my upbringing, I have often said that trauma builds tenderness and chaos makes creativity flourish. Sad statements but true. I had parents that were absent either physically or psychologically. I witnessed abuse and addiction. It was not pleasant, and it in many ways, has made me very distrusting, destructive to myself and immensely insecure. On the other side of the fence, it made me strive to be much more. I knew I wanted to be the best parent and person I could, and realized that I never wanted to be an addict or abusive. I am told that today, I am a loving, big hearted woman that is both inspiring but also motivating. I guess this means I am succeeding in being a better being than before. As to my personality, I will say that I am an incredibly passionate person who has no problem telling others how I feel or what I think. I am loyal to a fault; love supporting art of all kinds - as well as artists. I have been in love with the cinema since I was a child, and LOVE Marilyn Monroe. My preferred cocktail of choice is wine, and one day soon, I hope to have my first tattoo. Lastly, I LOVE my children without limits, am madly in love with my better half, and believe that words are really magic.
We've been watching you; it seems like you have your hands in a lot of pots. Media Personality, Teacher, Author, Model and Editor in Chief, did we miss something?Well, first and foremost, I am a journalist aka a writer. This is the one thing I have lived to do since I was eight years old. I have been running Art is Alive Film Festival for almost six years, and Co-Founder of the all black and white film festival, Bedford Falls Film Festival, for almost three years now. I took to going more so in front of the camera, having shot a TV series this year while acting as one of the lead actors. I also completed a comedic short film, and a documentary about a motorcycle rider who is also an artist. Soon, I will be hosting my own talk show on independent television!
You have interviewed so many celebrities, who has been your favorite to interview, why?Anyone that knows me well realizes that I regard EVERY single person that has been on my show or in my magazine as a celebrity. I believe that being a celebrity means you inspire, educate, entertain or motivate. However, to answer your question, I would have to say it would be when Kal Madsen and his father (actor Michael Madsen) were on my radio show. Most know that I have adored Michael Madsen for most of my life, and been given the chance to support and speak to his son and himself was truly amazing. I will be interviewing Michael again and alone, but for now, this was my favorite.
Who was the first celebrity that you interviewed? How did you get to interview him/her?Well, I had to sit down and think about who would be my first interview on air, as there so many to choose from in my list of favorites. I also realized that as a newbie on radio, not everyone would take a chance on me. I have been a long time fan of reality television, and so the Real Housewife franchise is a weekly must watch for me. Thus, I reached out to Peggy Tanous on Twitter (one of the Housewives from the OC), and she consented to come on the show. Honestly, I did not have to try too hard to get her to say yes! I thought I was going to be sick throughout the whole show, but I managed and here I am ten years later - still doing interviews.
You have Produced, Directed and /or Written several films, documentaries, and/or webseries. They appeared to deal with several different awareness topics: Love, Bipolar, Abuse. How did you come up with the ideas for these projects?Honestly, I am constantly telling people I am a terrible filmmaker. By this, I mean that I am great at writing concepts, creating new worlds for actors, etc. It is the technical side of things that I struggle with - because sometimes, the story a writer creates eventually gets changed by a director, an actor, etc. So, because I struggle with all of that side of movie making, nine times out of ten I write concepts that I am passionate about or feel people want to see in a cinema house. For one, I wrote a documentary about bipolar disorder because I know how misunderstood so many of us are in that arena. I wrote the film A Hundred Looks of Love because I am HUGE on showing love in a hundred ways to people in my own life since I lacked that myself. Further, a few productions were written because I admire and adore my boyfriend and his ability to act. I believe that his work is so good that it is genuinely a loss if a mass audience does not see him perform. Hence, I create products for him to be the fueling force, knowing that audiences will delight in his abilities. My films come from stories that speak to my heart.
If you don't mind disclosing, are you Bipolar or dealt with abuse? If so, is there anything that you would like to share that could help heal others reading this article?I was diagnosed bipolar around the age of seventeen, and am still to this day - as it is not curable. I have spent years in and out of therapy, on and off of medication, and have survived two attempts to take my life. I struggled through panic attacks, mood swings, self loathing, major anxiety and depression, manic episodes and loss of relationships. I have had people call me crazy, infer I have a few personalities, and sworn that I needed to be medication dependent. Now that I am going through change of life, a great deal of these symptoms have come back and are now as bad as when I was younger. I am now facing going back on medication to control a great deal of these issues. Most people that know me or meet me in the last ten years likely would not guess I am bipolar, as I have learned to control many of the mood swings, attacks, etc. I have three things that hopefully will help others. For one, and say this to yourself every day, every hour or every few minutes if you have to: YOU ARE NOT YOUR DISORDER, and never let anyone make you think otherwise. Bipolar disorder is when you have a chemical imbalance in your brain that can not be helped, and nobody asks to have this plight. Do not let yourself become a label, as you are far bigger and better than a diagnosis. Secondly, if people leave because they can not handle the symptoms or side effects - that does not make you a bad person. You will find your "tribe" and if people really love you, they will stick it out and stay. Lastly, never let yourself get to a point where you believe what your brain tells you - you are important and you do matter.
We've heard that you have a new show coming out, what is it about?Sonny and Trixie is the third production that I have written for my better half, Michael. First it was a film, then a stage show, and now a TV series. I wanted the chance to work with who I consider the "Clark Gable of the indie film world". He has such an incredible presence on stage, and of course, I then get the chance to play his wife! It is a six episode comedic TV series in all black and white. Almost all of the project was shot in the State of Wisconsin (my home state) - and almost all cast and crew are Wisconsinites. It was important for me to use this state as a backdrop because the story told on screen finds the leads having left their jobs and jewels in New York City to lead a small city life. The loss of a family member forces both to not only relocate, but begin to run a small and stuffy restaurant. Throughout these episodes, you will witness their ongoing antics and anxieties, as well as their short lived downfalls and drama. The audience is also exposed to the various eccentric and eclectic patrons and people in their lives. They survive on love and laughter, and the creator purposely attempts (in part) to parallel the comedy and characterizations created on I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners within the world set up for Sonny and Trixie. I am hoping that audiences will one day compare our comedy to the likes of Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason.
How soon can we look forwarding to watching it?As for now, I am intending to release Sonny and Trixie in July. I say this for two reasons. For one, July is my birthday month and also my anniversary with Michael, my better half. Since I wrote this series especially for him, it seemed all too fitting.
You recently featured our Editor In Chief, LaTonya MeChelle, in your magazine, ART IS ALIVE. Tell us how what the magazine is about and how you came up with the name.Yes, I recently interviewed LaTonya, and I must admit that I love doing stories on strong, successful woman who also speak their mind. She was a sensational subject, and I appreciated the opportunity to get a peek into her personal planet, so to speak. The Art is Alive Magazine is actually named after my first creation, Art is Alive Film Festival. I am all about keeping art alive in the world - helping people to learn of various art, artisans and artistical locations/events in all areas. I felt that the best way to do that is to create a publication that centers around all these types. Within the pages of my publication, you will learn about artists/authors/actors/activists, PR/media, small businesses and charities. I cover filmmakers, musicians, as well as a section for spirits and hospitality. Each issue includes printed art of all types, such as photography, painting, etc. Finally, I provide book/TV/film review.
What made you create your own magazine ?The reason for starting my magazine is three fold. For one, at some point, I think all writers/authors yearn to cover stories that need telling which others have not yet put to print. When you work for a newspaper, magazine or print mediums as a whole, editors make the call as to what gets covered. So, writers are basically at the will of their supervisor. I wanted a platform to shine a spotlight on people, places, or particular events of my choosing, popular or not. Secondly, many of my friends are publicists, and I have seen how hard it is for them to get earned media attention. Hence, I could assist them to get attention for their clients without going to extraordinary measures. Lastly, it is easier to own and operate a magazine than a full newspaper, so here we are!
Other than the magazine, what else can we look forward to seeing in the future dealing with your brandNot so long ago, I took some time to re-evaulate my future. Personally, I am at a point where I want to slow things down a bit to make time to see more people I love, travel and also try new things. I want to finally take a vacation, as well as spend more time discovering who my sweetheart is as a whole. This means scaling back a few things from a professional perspective. Hence, I am going to take a break and stop producing the magazine, and may cease doing the radio after August. I am going to release my series/films and take time doing screenings and festivals, as well as (at the bare minimum) launch my talk show on either a streaming network or else via my own television network. For over a year, I have stated I am starting CIN TV (Creatives Independent Television). This would be a network full of indie films, TV shows, talk shows, musical concerts, and a shopping network. So, I say watch my social media in June for the final selections!
What is your definition of confidence? Would you consider yourself confident? Tell us whyI understand that the true definition of confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. However, I believe that the meaning of confidence is knowing that whenever you speak to one, or a million and one others, that you are certain and can feel in your heart that you are capable. You know yourself, your audience and your intentions, and are sure they matter and are of value. As I go on to say below, I am still working on being a confident person, and likely that is due to things learned from childhood, mental illness and relationships. I will always be a work in progress.
What were you insecure about back in the day, that you can laugh about now?I have to say that back in the day, I was insecure about everything. However, I would say that I was terribly insecure that I would never get published. I went through a long period of constant rejections and ridicule relative to my writing. The one thing I knew that I needed to do with my life was create and change lives with my words. I feared this would never happen, and then finally after one year, I was published by a poetry magazine. The odd part was that prior to this, I won a writing award, yet was still insecure. Now that I look at the tons and tons of writing I do that others publish, as well as the entities I own, I chuckle to myself that no longer do I have to worry that nobody will publish me in print. In many ways, I remedied my own insecurities by creating a means to get myself seen.
When did you finally realize that you were confident?Truth be told, I am not really a confident person today. I think that every day is a new chance for me to learn to be that type of person, but I know it will be an everyday challenge. I can tell you that I am confident about the things I accomplish, i.e. my number of followers or listeners, hearing people say I inspire them or how I helped save their lives. When my children say you are a good mom, or that I am who I am because of you, that builds my confidence. My partner's approval does a great deal to build my confidence too. However, I believe that one day, I will believe in myself without needing approval from all around me.
Recommend someone that you believe that is doing the DANG THANG and deserves to be showcased (name, email, social media sites). Let us know whyThree things I can not live without: my children, my words and love. Its just that simple.
Honestly, I do think that Abigail Zealey Bess should be showcased. She is a teacher, role model, filmmaker, and theater directors whose work has crossed boundaries and platforms, and has inspired and impressed upon thousands across the country. Her social media is below:
Abigail Zealey Bess | LinkedIn
Abigail Zealey Bess - FilmFreeway
Weird Sisters Films
Karen Zealey Bess (nyu.edu)
What is your question?Why are you afraid to make the move to television?
What is your Answer?One of the few tough parts of dating a professional actor is trying to measure up to his skill set. That is not something he insists on, but something I subconsciously do at times. Secondly, despite what he says to me, I do not believe I am a good actor. The camera makes me incredibly nervous, and I feel like I look good in front of the lens. Further, I always disliked the whole two hours in the chair to do hair and makeup. For all these reasons, I am afraid to make the change. However, if you ask 90% of the folks that watch my live interviews, Q and A panels, or on-camera stories, people never fail to remind me I am a natural. Perhaps I am finally doing this to prove to myself I am wrong, and that maybe it might be a fun way to get my words out to the world.
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