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February 2012 Archives

Celeb Scoop: Titus Makin Jr.
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titus.jpgAs you may know, being part of a performing group can really change your life. Being part of a performing group on a gigantic hit TV series can change your life to the 12th degree of awesomeness. Just ask Titus Makin, Jr., a member of the fictional, but no less amazing, Warblers glee club on "Glee."

Titus plays David, and although you probably don't know this character's name, you've probably seen and heard him in every Warblers song to date. Titus has a bright future ahead of him and we think he's a performer to watch, with other roles such as NBC's "Game of Your Life" and ABC Family's "A Cinderella Story." We loved getting to know more about him!

IML: Your first starring project, "Game of Your Life," just aired recently. Tell us about that. What was the best part of it, for you?

Titus: It was awesome, because not only was it great to do something on NBC, but it was my first "ultra-leading" role, where I'm on camera ALL the time. It was a new thing for me, and I have a hard time watching myself, so that was interesting...but it was an amazing life opportunity, and I just hope that there a lot more leading roles in the future.

IML: What was it like to be able to get into a character and explore it with that much screen time?

Titus: It was great, actually. It was my first time doing so much research on a character. They flew us into Atlanta, and we had to take video game design classes. My character is extremely intelligent when it comes to video games, so I had to take classes to really learn all the terms and understand how games are made. It was cool and it really put me in the character's shoes. I completely understand where he's coming from, as far as the work, and the effort it takes.

IML: That sounds like an incredible learning experience just as an actor, to be able to get into it like that. This leads us to David, your character on "Glee." He's a bit of a mystery, and the audience doesn't really learn anything about him. Do you have a "backstory" for him that you can use yourself, as an actor? Did you have any ideas of who he os and where he's coming from?

Titus: Yeah, I actually did create a backstory! Just because sometimes Ryan (the show's producer) may ask about that, and he creates a lot from the other kids' personal lives and what they've created for themselves. So I've always assumed, and made it true, that David comes from a household where they don't know that he is going to the school and acting like this. Like he's from a different neighborhood that's not as wealthy, and he persuaded them to let him move in with his grandparents, and they sent him to the school in their division, and his parents don't know. So I just created this special twist for myself, just to have something to go off of.

IML: While we're talking about "Glee," we have to confess, we're huge fans of The Warblers. What's been your favorite Warblers song so far?

Titus: My favorite one to hear is "Hey Soul Sister." I just like that song a lot. And my favorite one to perform was probably the Gap scene, because we could run around, and flip off the tables, and really just go outside of the school for the first time, so that was awesome. We did that at the Gap at The Grove, an outdoor shopping mall outside of Los Angeles.

IML: We know you're a dancer as well as an actor. What's your favorite dance style?

Titus: Well, of course I'm gonna have to give it to hip-hop! But actually, I went to a performing arts school in New York, and they were teaching us ballroom, and I've found this love for ballroom...foxtrot and waltz and all those things. So that's sort of second place, there. Also, there's a pretty awesome "Bollywood" number in "Cinderella Story," so that's pretty cool.

IML: Growing up, you were a military kid, so you moved around a lot. We have a lot of kids who write into IML who are in the same situation, or who have parents deployed overseas. Now that you're older and can look back, how did being in a military family effect you?

Titus: I think it was beneficial. Now, when I have to leave and go someplace for my career, I'm kinda used it. I've adapted to moving fairly often, and I don't grow attached to a lot of things that would hold me back. If you were in a place for a long time, you'd be afraid to move to, Los Angeles, let's say. I just really embraced it, and I'm happy I did, because now I hear people say "Oh, I want to travel and see these places," and I'm like "Well, I already did it, and it was awesome!" So I really think it's something you can embrace, and know that wherever you go you can make friends, and just because you're leaving certain places doesn't mean you can't stay in touch with your old friends.

IML: You've probably picked up quite an amazing collection of people from your various travels.

Titus: I love that type of thing...meeting new people, and seeing new places. So that type of childhood really worked for me.

IML: What's next for you in 2012?

Titus: Well, hopefully there will be some more episodes of "Glee." But other than that, I just finished shooting a new film called "So This is Christmas," that's slated to come out in December of 2012. And that's another awesome movie with a great storyline, and a great message. I was able to play the son of Vivica Fox and the stepson of Eric Roberts.

IML: Do you have a "dream role"?

Titus: Yes. My dream role has always been to play something -- anything -- alongside Will Smith. His nephew, his son...I could be a clerk at a store that serves him coffee... I don't know! That is my dream role.

IML: Has he been a role model for you?

Titus: Yes, definitely. I love both comedy and drama, and seeing somebody like him who does it wonderfully, going back and forth between the two, is a career I aim to have...to go back and forth smoothly, and be respected for both.

IML: Well, we think you're on the right track, and we hope that something like that is in store for you! Thanks for talking to us, and good luck with everything!

Titus: Thank you so much!



Lucas Cruikshank and "Fred: The Show"
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First, there were short YouTube videos. Then there was a movie. Then there was another movie. Where does a talented teen and his strange, hyper, lovable alter ego go next? To a TV show, of course! "Fred: The Show" premieres on Nickelodeon starting Monday, February 20 at 8pm ET/PT. Each episode of this new series is 11 minutes long and builds on Fred's adventures from the films.

fred_series_17HR.jpgAs you can tell from our previous interviews with Lucas Cruikshank, we're fans of Fred. Not just because Fred is funny, but because there's more to him than meets the eye. He's one of those characters that reminds us, it's okay to be different, and that we should never give up on something we want. We can't help but root for Fred because he's the underdog. Plus, we love the fact that Lucas has had such success from something that he originally did just for fun, and that he's managed to stay totally down-to-earth and focused.

We checked in with Lucas about this next stage of Fred-dom!

IML: Where in the timeline of Fred's previous adventures does "Fred: The Show" fall?  

Lucas: Fred is now in high school.  I would say about a year has passed since when we last saw Fred in the second movie.

IML: Each episode is 11 minutes long. Is it challenging to come up with stories that can be told in that length of time?

Lucas: Coming up with ideas isn't really challenging.  In fact, it's been going really smoothly and the episodes are turning out great!

IML: Where do you get your ideas for each Fred "adventure"?

Lucas: Random things inspire me!  Sometimes, as I'm falling asleep, ideas for stories will just starting popping into my mind.

IML: How is the process of shooting and editing this series different from the previous videos you've done?

Lucas: The biggest difference between the online Fred videos and the series is that the show is a much longer process.  While making the Internet videos was a two hour process, shooting a TV episode is much more involved than that.

fred_series_18HR.JPGIML: Any hints on what we can expect from Fred -- is he going to try something different, meet someone new, or go somewhere exciting and strange?

Lucas: In the show, Fred is just experiencing high school and running into crazy situations.  There's never a dull day with Mr. Figglehorn.

IML: What's been your biggest "Fred highlight" of the last year?

Lucas: The premiere of "Fred 2"! I was so happy it did well and so thankful for everyone who watched it.

IML: What can you tell us about your next project with Nickelodeon, "Marvin, Marvin"? It sounds great!

Lucas: "Marvin, Marvin" is a TV show about an alien who comes to live with a human family.  Marvin is an odd guy trying to learn the ins and outs of our world...and he spontaneously bursts into dance every once in a while, too.

IML: Thanks, Lucas, and good luck!

Lucas:
Thanks!

You can check out our interviews with Lucas about "Fred: The Movie" and "Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred."


Advice on Valentine's Day
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Today, we're wondering: Does anyone ever actually have a good time on Valentine's Day? Maybe if you're in the lucky 1% of people who are happily, securely going out with someone, we can see you enjoying the holiday. But if you're going out with someone and things are a little weird, if you just broke up with someone, if you're not going out with anyone, if you have a crush who doesn't know you exist, if you have a crush who knows you exist but isn't sure how he/she feels about you, if you don't have a crush at all, or if you're a human being with any one of a hundred other situations that we haven't mentioned...Valentine's Day can be, well, not so much fun.

The whole thing is just a lot of pressure and a big marketing ploy to sell cards, candy, and red teddy bears, right?

heart.jpgOkay, we're not really that cynical. Valentine's Day doesn't have to be so all-or-nothing. It's one of those things that really is whatever you make of it, and a "valentine" can be so much more than an object of romance. Do you have parents, siblings, friends, or relatives who help you feel the love in your life? And how about being a valentine to yourself? Can you celebrate the things about you that you're proud of, happy with, and maybe even love? Think about how to make the holiday your own.

Once you've done that, hopefully you won't stress over dances and other V-Day events planned at school or in your community. But if you're still stressing, here are some ideas:

  • Go with friends. Even if you have a crush and are tempted to try and go with him or her, take that angst out of the equation. You'll probably have more fun with your buds anyway, and who knows...maybe something natural will happen with that crush once you're there.

  • Have fun with the outfit. Dress in whatever makes you feel good (and comfortable), rather than what you think will impress someone else. You and your friends might come up with some kind of "theme" and coordinate. If you want to make your outfit special but can't afford a whole new getup, buy (or borrow) one cool accessory like earrings or a belt.

  • Dance. That may seem like a big "duh," but sometimes it seems like that's the only thing people aren't doing at these things. Here's an opportunity to just let loose and move. Make a pact with at least one friend that you'll be the first people on the dance floor, and see how quickly others join in. Or make it your mission to get a teacher or other adult chaperone to boogie down. Try to think positively and not so much about what people might think of you; chances are, they're jealous that you're having such a good time.

  • If you can't bring yourself to dance, then do some People Watching. Not so much to gather gossip, but rather, just to learn about behavior. Pretend for a minute that you're an alien scientist come to Earth to study the strange social habits of young humans. Try it; it's pretty fun! 
Share your own advice on our How To Have Fun At A Dance You Said It page, and don't forget to send an IML Valentine E-Card to someone special!


Celeb Scoop: Reed Alexander
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reedalexander.jpgIf you watch "iCarly," then you know 17-year-old Reed Alexander as Carly's nemesis, Nevel Papperman. But did you know you can find Reed 24/7 in a virtual online kitchen he designed especially for kids and teens?

Reed's website KewlBites.com is his labor of love, filled with recipes, exercise tips, videos, and other information aimed at helping young people discover that a healthy lifestyle is actually doable...and fun. We think it's a pretty cool thing, so we wanted to find out more from Reed himself.

IML: Where did the idea for KewlBites come from?

Reed: A few years ago, I was overweight and always really tired. I didn't have much confidence or energy. I wanted to make a change. I'm a huge foodie and I love cooking shows, and cooking for others has always been a big part of my life. I couldn't really find anything out there from the kids' POV that would have been right for me. I didn't want to join a diet program or something targeted at adults, I wanted a lifestyle thing. So I set out to make my own way. I got outside and made exercise a priority, and I took those traditional kid food classics I loved but lightened them up, morphed them into something I could feel great about. I also have a family history of heart disease and diabetes so I really needed to open my eyes. I ended up losing 15 pounds and people would say, "You really made a change! What's going on?" So that continued to motivate me, and I came up with the idea for KewlBites. I wanted to spackle up the hole I'd found when I was in this position, and provide a resource and a platform for kids and families who are like me. It's been great to hear reactions from different kinds of people!

IML: It does appeal to everyone! We found stuff on there we could use! You mentioned that you've always been a foodie. How did you first get interested in cooking?

Reed: After many years of great get-togethers with my family, as I got older I wanted to have more of a role in the kitchen. Then I'd watch a food show on TV and pick up these really interesting tips. Now, when I'm on the set of "iCarly," we have a great team with a lot of great taste buds. I bring things to the set that I make and I get a lot of feedback from the cast and crew. It's a great way to connect with people. This past Thanksgiving it was so fun to have people over and make a great spread for them, and see their reactions as they grabbed their forks and dived in.

IML: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions young people have about nutrition and eating well and cooking? Why aren't more tweens excited about that?

Reed: I think there's that old idea of, "Oh, we're eating nutritiously tonight, does that means steamed chicken and broccoli?" Healthy doesn't have to be boring in any way. Sometimes it's difficult because we're all so busy that it's sometimes it seems impossible to get a hold of the information and simple knowledge. Cooking is not at all a chore, and I don't think it's something you have to have a natural knack for in order to make something delicious. It's something a lot of us can tune into and enjoy on different levels. There's this notion that in order to feel great about yourself you have to go on a "diet." But that's not true.

IML: When young people want to start making their lifestyle more healthy, it can seem overwhelming, like they have to change everything at once. What would you say is a great first step for someone?

Reed: The name of KewlBites is about that -- you go one bite at a time with this stuff, integrating easy-to-do activities. Maybe it's 20 minutes where you're outside jogging or walking the dog. Then maybe it's a trip to the supermarket; see what's in the fridge and then say, "Hey Mom, take a look at this, I really want to try this."

IML: You mentioned the importance of exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy?

Reed: I'm a huge tennis fan, I've been playing for a couple of years. But you know what I can always turn to if I wake up early and I look at my day and see that it's going to be pretty crammed? I can always get in a walk. Walking is just one of my favorite things to do. It's really cathartic. You only need sneakers! I also love to go for bike rides with my dad, and I love swimming too, especially when it's hot.

IML: What's next for you, acting-wise?

Reed: I'm happy to say that "iCarly" is coming back for a fifth season, and I can't wait to get back on the set. We'll be doing a brand new set of special episodes. I'm working on a brand new show that I'm writing as well, and I can't wait to share that.

IML: On "iCarly," your character Nevel is a little villainy. That seems so out of character since you're clearly a very a sweet guy. What would be your dream role?

Reed: Yeah, I would definitely like to branch out. I have so much fun with the comedy, I'd love to try drama or something with a totally different feel. What's been interesting in Neville's case is that at first glance he is a little bit of a looney, but some interesting sides of him have unfolded over the past few seasons. There are so many different aspects of him and I love to play that.

IML: Thanks for chatting with us, Reed! Good luck with KewlBites and "iCarly" and everything else!

Reed: Thank you!

Here at IML we have our own section on Food Smarts that's also a must-read for anyone wanting to make a change!







YSI Etiquette
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We've been having some issues on the You Said It boards lately, and we think it's time to mention a few things. These are some general notes and guidelines for new users and reminders for the folks who are YSI regulars.

Let's keep things positive. IML encourages free expression, but we also want users to feel safe and welcome.  It's okay to disagree, but please try not to start fights, or to bicker back and forth about opinions. You may not like a particular book, or type of music, but please remember that someone else isn't "stupid" or "wrong" if he or she DOES like them.

Don't take it personally. Just as you shouldn't write stuff that offends others, you should also try not to get offended if others don't think the same way you do. If someone disagrees with you, and says so in a respectful way, try not to get sensitive about it.

Be careful with religious stuff. It's great to be proud of your religion, but IML is for people of ALL beliefs. This isn't the place to convert people to your faith.

Ease up on the scary stuff too: If you're posting poems and stories to the My Writing YSI, keep away from material about murder, blood, guts, and all that. This content may not be a big deal for you 13-year-olds, but IML is for tweens as young as 8.

Don't get upset if not everything you submit gets posted. We try to post almost everything, but yes, there are some things that don't through for one reason or another. If one of your YSI responses doesn't make it, try to think of why. Did you say something mean or inappropriate?  Did you use harsh or overly sarcastic language? Did you single someone out, or try to start/continue a fight? Did you write something totally off-topic? Did you say something that's too mature for our youngest readers?

Remember that we are here to keep an eye on things and help you if you are feeling bullied or treated unfairly in any way. Don't hesitate to email us at itsmylife@pbs.org if you have any concerns, like you feel a post should be removed or edited, or you felt we should not have posted something. We'd rather you alert us to your thoughts rather than jump on another IML'er.

In short...let's play nice, guys! IML wants you all to keep coming back to the YSI boards, so we can work together to keep things fun, safe, and bully-free!  :-)