PHOTO COURTESY: Arklin Wendel
How and when did you first get into performing?
I started at the age of 16. I had my first feature film “Different for Girls”, directed by Richard Spence, starring Richard Graves and Steven Mackintosh who I played in his school days. It was a very tough role for a 16 year old to play, where I was beaten in a shower and put through some tough scenes. One was walking through a corridor with hundreds of school kids who were abusive and throwing stones at me, which really hit me hard. I remember thinking at the time, being so sensitive to my characters struggles and challenges didn’t make me a good actor. When they were casting the hit film “Beautiful Thing” my agent told me the director thought I was not emotionally strong enough to handle the lead role. I was crushed, but I know now this sensitivity is what makes me the actor I am. As all actors know, rejection is part of the game we choose to play.
What type of training have you had, if any?
I was awarded a working scholarship at well respected drama school in London, formerly known as Corona Academy, that’s where my inspiration to act continued. Ravenscourt Theatre School has trained and turned out many inspiring performers on Stage, TV and Film.
At stage school, in the mornings we were taught all the normal academic lessons and my afternoons were taken up in the joys of training – acting/dance/mime etc and all aspects of theatre. As the school was attached to various casting agents, my week would also be spent being chaperoned to numerous castings. I learned from an early age how to present myself to agents, casting directors and how to perform in front of and behind the camera.
I was fortunate that I was selected for dozens of TV commercials, voiceovers and films which took me around the world. My first job was as a Kool-Aid Kid, I remember running in a harness hanging from the ceiling till I got dizzy to the point of fainting, but I was not wanting to disappoint the director. However, it makes me laugh to think about it now. After that, I was often cast in TV commercials, for McDonald’s, to the cool Heinz kid on the skateboard, or diving into a football sized margarine tub for St Ives Gold. I was on the set of Four Weddings and a Funeral at 14, Andie Macdowell told me I should model and gave me the confidence and encouragement to see some agents, which led to more photographic work.
I performed on stage in the theatre production of “Once upon a Mime” and took the lead as Bugsy in ‘Bugsy Malone’. At 16, I left Ravenscourt Theatre School as my interest in dancing grew. I was awarded a Scholarship at the renowned Urdang Academy of Dance. I was trained in all aspects of dance and graduated at 19. This is when I started my career on my own. I was a regular on shows like Top of the Pops which was a childhood dream of mine and CD UK. I have also appeared on stage in many UK venues such as; Royal Albert Hall playing the lead role in Adam and Eve and I toured with Girls Aloud on 3 UK tours as a backing dancer -this is where I found my lifelong friend Nadine Coyle (who I am now godfather to her beautiful baby girl Aniya) and performed with them at all the biggest venues in England, including Wembley Arena and the O2 and also touring around Europe. I also worked with Tina Turner, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls and many other great stars.
After many years working as a dancer and still hungry for my knowledge I trained at The Actors Temple in London. I rekindled my love and desire to become an actor and following further training I landed my first feature film “Wedding Most Strange” which was shown at the Montreal Film Festival.
My career took off internationally when I was offered to star in “Word on the Street” with my sister Ashlie. This was a BBC Worldwide Language Program which has been aired around the globe. It takes a fun way of combining drama with real life, helping foreign students to become more familiar with the English Language. Three series later and our fans of over 150 million viewers in 40 different countries are eagerly awaiting to see if it will continue into a fourth series. So, watch this space. Most recently “Obscene” directed by award winning Director Fred Olivieira was shot in Portugal at the end of 2015 and is an International short film which is currently picking up gold and silver awards across Europe and at the Film Craft Lusos Awards, Lisbon.
What has been your favorite role to play so far and why?
If I had to choose it would be “Word on the Street”, Sharing the screen with my sister really was fun and after shooting over five years, the whole crew and production team become a more like a family. Shooting and travelling are two of my biggest passions.
What has been one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
Firstly, to be able to do charity work, like taking terminally ill children to Lapland to meet Santa Claus, that was the most rewarding thing that I’ve been able to do. Also, “Word on the Street” has helped so many kids all over the world come to grips with the English language even if they cannot go to school, its always so lovely receiving their messages of thanks and support, knowing that there’s young people all over the world who have benefitted from watching us.
What are your plans for the future?
I am presently looking forward to seeing more of the world and taking on roles that will really challenge me. I’m working on a film called ‘Boys’ which is inspired by losing a very close friend of mine and is being made in his memory. This is a collaboration with Mark Wakeling and The Actors Temple in London.
Who would you most love to work alongside and why?
I’d love to work with the director Michael Christofer, that would be a great honor! Gia and Original Sin are two of my favorite movies. Being in American Horror Story would be a dream gig for me and getting to play different characters every season. I would love that it would be so much fun!
This journey I am on, will be taking me to LA next and It feels right. I can’t wait to meet and collaborate with several of my friends and contact I have out there.
What is your best piece of advice to aspiring artists and performers?
My advice to all aspiring performers is to work hard, listen to instructions, make friends with those you meet along the way, be respectful and look after your mind and body- as it is your instrument. You will have many setbacks, challenges and obstacles and its not uncommon to question yourself sometimes but remember, never give up on your dreams. I was dyslexic as a child and acting was something I thought I would never be able to do. Paper work and scripts used to scare me a lot, now they’re actually helping me to travel the world and fulfill my dreams.
What is Dance Jazzo? Yasha Jacob Michelson would define it as Dance biomechanics, which is basically how the body moves in all styles of dance. He may always mention that the Dance Jazzo slogan is aesthetic resistance to gravity and he would know because he developed Dance Jazzo after years of dancing and studying all styles of dance. Yasha has taken extracts, or the most common ingredients among each form of dance and combined them carefully to develop a new Dance Jazzo technique, which he calls ‘dance without technique’. He claims that he does not teach people to dance, he teaches people to listen to music with their body as well as how to paint with their body.
From this, he has developed even more refined versions of Dance Jazzo, like Jazzo in Slow Motion -meditative aerobics, Jazzo non-stop fitness & workout and also Theater Jazzo, a dance biomechanics performance ensemble. In addition to all of the above, Yasha has created a Jazzo Bodysophy, which is a simplified physical & mental health optimization scheme based on adaptation of dance biomechanics to daily lifestyle. Yasha claims that Jazzo is an open source where everybody has a personal dance style and therefore, Jazzo is actually a dance activity. He recommends when beginning to explore Dance Jazzo in slow motion -meditative aerobics which combines working out with the concept of meditating or concentrating the mind while in motion.
He caters this type of dynamic meditation to people with intense minds and intense lifestyles that are in need of relaxation without stopping or with the need to stop and continue running. His weekly event ‘Vibration of eternity’ is an open space dancing activity for all people that want to explore and enjoy their personal dance technique while engaged in workout and fitness activity. He always mentions that Dance is the only physical form of art and when people come to dance at his studio on Sundays, it is actually ‘going out and working out’ which saves a lot of time combining all of this into one activity.
Yasha is one of those rare people who has remained an artist in everything he does. He has studied photography, fine art, dance of course, wrestling (yes, I said wrestling) and filmmaking. He doesn’t succeed at everything, but he certainly tries – he triumphs in astonishing ways when he sets his mind to something. His first feature film won the Prix Regards Jeune at the Cannes Film Festival and his Dance Jazzo has an established home, the Mimoda Studio where he teaches all of his Jazzo dance techniques and where he and his students and staff rehearse, train and put on warmly received dance exhibitions for the public.
This man, Yasha Jacob Michelson, is a renaissance man, to say the least. Whatever he touches, virtually turns to gold. Whenever he begins to focus on a new concept he breaks new grounds with his discoveries that no one else has even thought of yet. His Dance Jazzo has been a wonderful gift to his students. All you have to do is look at their faces on his website to see that they are happy, healthy and ready to dance – or should we say, ready to live their life to the fullest! When Yasha developed Dance Jazzo he bought the legendary Dancers’ Studio in Los Angeles and made it into his own Mimoda Studio, where all his dancing and theater directing takes place. It didn’t take long before the studio was filled with people who loved the new methods of dancing that provided meditative focus and health optimization systems all in one process. Dance Jazzo, like Yasha Jacob Michelson is a wonder of the modern world.
CITY GALA 2016 FEATURES SEAN “DIDDY” COMBS AS HOST AND SIR RICHARD BRANSON AS KEYNOTE ON GRAMMYS NIGHT
CITY GALA 2016 FEATURES SEAN “DIDDY” COMBS AS HOST AND SIR RICHARD BRANSON AS KEYNOTE ON GRAMMYS NIGHT
— VIPs and Top Talent Participate in City Gala 2016 —
Sean “Diddy” Combs hosted the City Gala 2016 (www.CityGala.org), a fundraiser following The 58th GRAMMYs® on Monday, February 15, 2016, at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Sir Richard Branson (founder, Virgin Group) was the keynote speaker in a moderated discussion by Jane Seymour. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and American businessman and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria (co-founder, Paul Mitchell, The Patron Spirits Company) were honored at the event, with Jeff Timmons, of the Grammy-nominated pop group 98 Degrees, as the emcee for the night. Live performances included DJ Paul Oakenfold, Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & the Gang, Chanel West Coast, The Stafford Brothers and DJ Sarah Robertson. Event proceeds benefit Community Inspiring Today’s Youth (CITY), a non-profit organization that supports and mentors underserved teens and young adults in developing their own start-up businesses in Los Angeles.
Among the night’s topics, keynote speaker Sir Richard Branson talked about his dyslexia and its influence on his entrepreneurial spirit, saying, “The best way of starting a business is after frustration; feeling this can be done better.”
The City Gala 2016 benefits CITY and its non-profit programs for LA youth, as well From the Heart Productions, Fire Life Foundation, The Scheer Foundation and Supporting Our Servicemen (SOS).
The event was an exclusive invitation-only black tie fundraiser featuring an open bar, open buffet, honors
ceremonies, live musical entertainment, a charitable poker tournament, tours of the Playboy Mansion
grounds, celebrity meet and greets, and a fashion show presented by Hemp Blue. The online action will continue with an array of incredible items and experiences at www.citygalaauction.com until Tuesday, February 23rd at 2 p.m. PT. Highlight items include a Luxury Box at the 2016 American Music Awards; and a 2016 Mercedes-Benz S63 Coupe Custom Widebody. Australian artist Matteo Charles created paintings live at the Gala of Aldrin, Seymour and DeJoria, and the portraits are now available in the online auction.
The event also featured the first public exhibit endorsed by the Michael Jackson Estate of art painted by Michael Jackson. Four pieces from the collection, which is appraised at $480 million, and now owned by Michael Jackson’s friend and mentor, artist Brett Livingstone Strong, were on display.
Additional celebrities in attendance included Gene Simmons (Kiss); Carl Weathers (actor, USA’s “Colony,” “Rocky”); John “Spider” Salley (Four-time NBA Champion); Nick Lachey (98 Degrees); A.J. Mclean (Backstreet Boys); Kathy Sledge (Sister Sledge); Grammy-winning artist Mya; Barbie Blank (“WWE Raw”); Kaya Jones (Pussycat Dolls); legendary boxing announcer Michael Buffer; Bruce Buffer; celebrity fashion icon Lloyd Klein; comedian Andy Dick, Golnesa ‘GG’ Gharachedaghi, Gilles Marini (“Devious Maids”), Paul Johansson (“One Tree Hill”), Donny Most, Jose Conseco, Willie Galt, Chuck Lidell, Travis Van Winkle (“The Last Ship”) and Miss Universe 2014, Nia Sanchez, among many others.
A highlight of the night was Grammy Hall of Fame musical guest Robert ‘Kool” Bell of Kool & The Gang, along with guitarist Amir Bayyan, and a special DJ set by The Legendary Mohamed Moretta, including “Fresh,” “Get Down On It” and “Celebration” live.
Aldrin, an American engineer, former astronaut and the second person to walk on the moon, has supported charitable and philanthropic efforts through Buzz Aldrin’s Share Space Foundation. At the event, The City Gala presented Aldrin with the City Gala Lifetime Achievement Award. Entrepreneur, best-selling author and acclaimed speaker Greg Reid presented the award to Aldrin.
DeJoria, a member of The Giving Pledge, has supported charitable and philanthropic efforts through his Peace, Love and Happiness Foundation for over a decade. At the event, City Gala executive producer Ryan Long presented DeJoria the Legacy of Inspiration Award. The honor is meant to inspire other high net worth individuals to tell the story of their rise to success, their challenges, and ultimately their accomplishment of being able to give forward.
Event producer is Billie Mitchell of Billie Mitchell Events and set designer is Sandra Costa of Sandra Costa Design Group. Sponsors included Tagspire, AirVuz, JetSmarter, SeedInvest, BELLA Magazine, OK! TV, Modern Luxury Angeleno, Foreground Media, King Size LED Displays, BlairBones Media and Rolls-Royce Beverly Hills.
The first City Gala took place on Oscars night in 2014, featuring keynote speaker James Cameron and special
guests Charlize Theron, Sean Penn, Halle Berry, Tyrese Gibson, Gene Simmons and Paris Hilton, as well as live
musical entertainment provided by Ne-Yo. The event raised over $350,000 for charitable causes.
For more details and event information, please visit www.CityGala.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About CITY, City Gala 2016 Host Foundation
Founded by Chandra Stovall in 2013, Community Inspiring Today’s Youth (CITY) is a non-profit, 501(c)3
organization based in Los Angeles, California. The organization provides structured business development
programs and technical support to at-risk and underserved teens and young adults throughout Los Angeles,
resulting in the establishment of their own small businesses. CITY’s students launch fully functioning
businesses through its 46-week micro-entrepreneurship program, illustrating how CITY students graduate as
well-trained entrepreneurs with a positive mindset for business.
About From the Heart Productions, City Gala 2016 Fiscal Sponsor
From the Heart Productions, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is the fiscal sponsor for the CITY Gala 2016. Founder and president Carole Dean created the Roy W. Dean Grant in 1992. The grant awards cash, goods,
and film services to financially struggling filmmakers who need help completing unique films that make a
contribution to society. Donations to From the Heart support their initiatives to assist independent
filmmakers, which include not only the grant, but also their fiscal sponsorship program that allows donors to
films to get tax deductions, and the Intentional Filmmaking Class which teaches filmmakers the fine art of