Luis Da Silva Jr. plays Stahl in the film Kickboxer: Vengeance currently streaming on Netflix.
Originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey, Luis Da Silva Jr. has taken the world by storm with his talent to entertain people with his performances in both basketball and acting. Luis grew up playing baseball and practicing Aikido, a form of martial arts, but it was not until he turned 13 that he discovered his passion for basketball.
At the age of 18, Luis’ life changed forever when he walked into an open audition for a Nike commercial. He became the only non-NBA player and youngest person to ever sign an endorsement deal with Nike when they saw his incredible talent and immediately signed him to represent their “Freestyle” ad campaign, which is one of the most widely recognized commercials to ever air on television.
A Guinness world record holder for several basketball handling categories, Luis has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine, the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has starred in platinum selling video games with MIDWAY Games.
He was very inactive and used the game of basketball to change his ways for a more healthier lifestyle and, by doing so, gained confidence.
Over the years, Luis has had the opportunity to perform alongside Alicia Keys in NYC’s Niketown and Will Smith and Sean “Puffy” Combs in two different NBA Finals half-time shows.
How did you get the role in Kickboxer: Vengeance?
I got the role through a local casting director in Louisiana. The character I played, Stahl, was “a menacing rugged street gambler” that was working with Gina Carano. With many years in the southeast market, the casting knew and believed I could deliver with this role. Plus I have a background in martial arts and aikido, so that was a plus. I was given the opportunity to read for the director who flew down from LA to meet me and the rest was history.
Do you have an onset memory you can share with us?
My favorite on-set memory is from when I was filming the movie “Dragon Eyes”. Peter Weller freaked out on management in a local hotel in Baton Rouge because he thought paparazzi were following him in the hotel. In fact, Bon Jovi had checked in to the hotel and the paparazzi were there for him, not Peter. It was by far the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed, and a humbling experience for him!
This year, you’ll be seen in Lionsgate’s “The Life And Death of John Gotti”. Why do you think people are so fascinated with the mob?
I think we have always been fascinated with mobs and violent criminals because they have been a part of our country’s history since the cowboy days, like Billy the Kid. I guess it’s intriguing at times to root for the “bad guys” for pure entertainment.
What was it like working with John Travolta?
It was a tremendous learning experience to be around and sharing the same set with one of the greatest actors to ever do it. You can learn so much from a great actor like him. He is so pleasant to each and every person and so very patient day in and day out; it was great to watch. He’s also a really great family friend and I love him dearly.
What are the Guinness world records you hold?
In 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona, I set the most consecutive ‘neck catches’ (24) in one attempt, at the NBA All-Star Game.
What is your children’s book, A Boy Named Boo, about? What inspired you to write it? Will you be writing more books in the future?
It’s loosely based on true events about a boy who had low self-esteem and was bullied.
As long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to spread a message to kids and youth about fighting bullying, self-motivation, and healthier eating habits, as those were all areas in which I was affected as a child.
I recently published my second book titled “Zoe and Toby And The Alphabet Adventures”, which was inspired by my daughter Zoe-Aiko. I wanted to deliver a children’s book that was interactive and engaging for her to learn the alphabet.
A Boy Named Boo available now on Amazon. Coming soon is my third installment, “Cool Kids Skate”, about a boy who used skateboarding to build his self-esteem.
Q&A: Natasha Wanigatunga is a Fashion Model Whose Runway is Living Positively
Winner of Miss Sri Lanka USA 2015, Natasha Wanigatunga is a fashion model that has done campaigns for brands such as Pop Sugar, Nº21, Nordstrom, and Aeropostale. On the acting side, Natasha is best known for her starring role in the indie film ‘Act Drunk’.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Natasha’s parents moved from Sri Lanka to Alaska to raise Natasha and her brother. Growing up in Alaska, made Natasha love and appreciate the beauty of nature and frequently hikes, walks, or watches the sunset during her free time. Her dream is to send a message to the world about how faith, positivity, and inner beauty are important characteristics to have and not lose.
What was your first gig as a model and as an actress?
When I was 12 years old I modeled ‘sarees’ with my mother in Sri Lanka, a dream come true.
What is the story behind you competing in the Sri Lanka USA 2015?
I’ve always wanted to compete in a pageant since my mom was Miss Sri Lanka 1981. When I saw the opportunity, I decided to make the most of the moment. I couldn’t have the full advantage as I was still in college, but it was a great learning experience overall.
How did you land the role in the film ‘Act Drunk’?
My brother, Stefan Wanigatunga, directed the film. He reached out to me and said I would fit the character best for his vision. We read over the script with the cast and it went great; this was my first lead in a short film.
Tell us about your nationality. What is your cultural background?
I am 100% Sri Lankan and born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. Two totally different climates with extraordinary beauty.
What was it like living in Alaska?
I wouldn’t change it for the world. I haven’t seen a sunset as spectacular as the ones during the winters in Alaska. Growing up around so much nature and care for the local community, is something I’ll always carry with me.
What is your favorite thing about nature and why?
It keeps me in the present moment. I take each morning of prayer and I spend time outside to embrace the nature around me. Nature is a teacher, it speaks to those who listen.
Since you live a healthy organic lifestyle, do you ever eat at fast food chains, drink sodas and/or alcoholic beverages?
Life is all about balance. To me, being healthy is to not deprive yourself. Everyone has different ways to indulge and it’s important to embrace that. I personally do not like supporting fast food restaurants that mistreat animals, so I tend to avoid them. I avoid drinking soda or alcohol because I don’t like the way it feels in my body. I do have a sweet tooth for chocolate and will always enjoy new foods from different cultures.
What is one recipe you would recommend to someone trying to eat healthier?
Smoothies! It is my favorite way to consume the vitamins and minerals from Whole Foods. It’s a great opportunity to be creative as well. My favorite smoothie is half a banana, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 3 handfuls of kale, half an avocado, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 heaping tablespoon of mesquite powder, a few drops of stevia, and ice. All organic and blended smooth, you can’t taste the kale and it’s loaded with nutrients.
How do you encourage others to stay positive? What is a motto and self-help approach routine they can or you do daily?
I live each day with prayer, gratitude, and grace. Depending on my schedule, I take 30 minutes to pray and meditate for all I’m grateful for each morning. Every day I thank Christ for this day, my family, and my health. Life is all about an attitude of gratitude. Having grace begins with forgiveness; I forgive myself and others daily. This keeps me centered and grounded to be the best version of myself.
Follow Natasha Wanigatunga on her IG as she shares her happiness with everyone while pursuing her career in acting and modeling.
Q&A with ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ Director Simon Curtis
Here is why Winnie the Pooh’s favorite friend was Christopher Robin instead of Honey. Find out how their friendship came to be in this Q&A with ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ film director Simon Curtis.
Goodbye Christopher Robin gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh.
Along with his mother Daphne (Margot Robbie), and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War.
But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?
What is the story behind you landing the job as director of Goodbye Christopher Robin?
I was sent the script and I loved it immediately as it took us inside the story of the writing of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and introduced us to the remarkable family that created it.
Were you a fan of the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ series as a child?
I cherish memories of my parents reading the stories to me and loved Tigger the best!
Why is this film a must see for everyone, not just children and parents?
It’s a timely reminder to spend time with your family when you have the chance.
Do you have a memorable scene of directing actress Margot Robbie, that she just sparkled in?
I adored working with Margot and particularly like the scene where she first gives the famous toys to Christopher Robin the joy on her face when she hands him Tigger is one of my favorite shots in the film.
What was your method of making the audience see the script as you envision it?
As a director you try to do every scene as well as possible and look forward to shaping it in the editing room.
Which scene was your favorite to direct?
I loved filming the idyllic sequence when father and son play together in the woods. It is the heart of the film and both Domnhall and Will perform it brilliantly.
Make sure you go see Goodbye Christopher Robin October 13, 2017.
Come See Why Creator Jessica Caesar is the Ruler of all ‘Meme Queens’
What happens when ‘Mean Girls’ meet ‘MEME Queens’? You’re just going to have to watch for yourself as actress/writer Jessica A. Caesar showcases her new show on Elizabeth Banks’s digital platform WhoHaha.
Jessica A. Caesar created and self-funded the comedy web-series ‘MEME QUEENS‘ presented on actress Elizabeth Banks’s co-founded digital platform ‘WhoHaha’, which provides a shining spotlight on funny women.
‘Meme Queens’ is a scripted comedy that follows two former beauty queens, who are now in their late 20s, broke and willing to do anything to become rich and internet famous. They participate in a low-budget internet reality show that captures their most UN-glamorous and meme-worthy antics which are made into the funniest internet memes.
How did you raise income for your self-funded a comedy web-series ‘MEME QUEENS’?
I took my earnings from my last few acting jobs and put it all into MEME QUEENS. I knew that I didn’t want to do a Kickstarter and trying to find investors to fund your first project can be a big obstacle. I’ve been wanting to create my own web series for years and I didn’t want anything else to hold me back. However, I didn’t have a big budget to work with. I was fortunate enough to have friends who were willing to work for me for less pay and some who were willing to work just for food lol.
What is the story behind you submitting your show on Elizabeth Banks’s digital platform WhoHaha?
I wanted my show to reach a wide audience. Elizabeth Banks co-founded WhoHaha almost a year and a half ago as a platform for female creators to distribute their content. I pitched MEME QUEENS to several different outlets and got turned down repeatedly. In a way, I’m kind of glad that happened because I then reached out to WhoHaha and THEY LOVED IT! Another reason why I’m happy that it’s on WhoHaha is that Elizabeth Banks said in an interview that “She was told growing up, ‘The world is your oyster and you can be whatever you want.’ The fact of the matter is, that is empirically untrue for most women.” I agree with her. One of the main reasons why I started developing my own content was to showcase myself as a comedic actress. A lot of times I am not given the opportunity to do comedy because people look at me and assume that pretty girls can’t be funny.
Who inspired the title and theme for your show ‘MEME QUEENS’?
You ever watch the Miss USA Pageant just for the cringe worthy moments during the question and answer portion? I do lol. There are a bunch of videos up on Youtube if you haven’t. It’s just pure comedy. The girls are beautiful and they are trying their hardest and they think they are answering the questions intellectually, but they’re not lol. I also wanted to do some kind of spoof of reality TV. I thought it was clever for the characters to do an internet reality show and be willing to do whatever it took to become rich and internet famous. I couldn’t come up with the perfect title for the longest time. I wanted to incorporate “beauty queens” “fame” and the “internet” in some way. Gilli suggested MEME QUEENS and it stuck. Then I came up with the idea to include one meme into each episode and that would also serve as the title for that episode.
Do you know Elizabeth Banks personally?
No, I wish lol. She is one of my inspirations though. She is an amazing actress, she is stunning, and also produces and directs. She does it all and I see myself doing the same in the future.
What roles did you play on the shows Atlanta, Vice Principals, Grey’s Anatomy and Grimm?
In Atlanta, I played one of the 3 girls Earn encounters in the club episode. I ended up dissing Donald Glover’s character which is pretty funny. I played a reporter on Grey’s Anatomy and a female lieutenant on Grimm. I can’t talk about my character in Vice Principals since Season 2 hasn’t premiered yet.
Why should the audience tune in to watch your webseries ‘MEME QUEENS’?
I promise you this web series will make your stomach hurt from laughing so much. The leads are female and it is also written by females and it shows that we can be funny just as much as males can. The entire cast is ethnically diverse as well. So was the crew.
Are you the only script writer for ‘MEME QUEENS’?
No. I wrote it alongside my dear friend Gilli Messer.
How did you come to partner with fellow actress/writer Gilli Messer?
Gilli and I met in an acting class years ago. We both didn’t have a scene partner one week, so we decided to work together. We did a comedy scene from this MTV pilot and had great chemistry. Shortly after that I asked her to be a part of a Funny or Die sketch I was doing. Then we started doing more sketches together and the rest is history.
How did you go about finding location and crew to shoot all 7 episodes of ‘MEME QUEENS’ in 3 days?
We actually shot everything pretty quickly. I ‘ve worked with the Director / DP Marco Infante numerous times and he moves very quickly, which I love. The apartment scenes were shot at Marco’s condo. I had worked with Ken Mader (location manager) on previous projects so all the office scenes were shot at a location he uses frequently for filming. Erik Griggs, who plays Jay Fizzy, is also a Grammy nominated and award winning songwriter and music producer. We’ve been friends for almost a decade and he let me use his recording studio. Gilli’s Mom in real life also plays her mom in the show and we were able to film at her parent’s house.
Now that you have your own show, have you given up on being a part of other networks projects and will continue to produce and star in your own series?
I was never the type to wait for the phone to ring lol. It has always been my dream to star in a sitcom or single camera comedy. As an actor there can be periods of unemployment. That’s why I am always doing both – trying to land my next network project and continuing to produce and create my own content.
You can watch the remaining 6 full episodes of ‘MEME QUEENS’ here.
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