On Monday, October 23, Raine Magazine attended “A New Line” in Washington, DC. The event, hosted by The Washington Post, brought together Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan and fashion designer Christian Siriano as part of their live interview series with fashion pioneers and industry leaders in design, art, and business. The two had a lively discussion looking back on Siriano’s rise as a designer after winning the fourth season of “Project Runway.” They also covered the changing landscape of body diversity as designers become more inclusive to women of all sizes. See below for highlights from their discussion. WATCH THE FULL VIDEO HERE: http://wapo.st/2gwFtSl
Siriano shares his lessons learned after winning the fourth season of “Project Runway.”
The designer discussing the importance of creating clothes that cater to women of more than one size.
Be sure to get a copy of Christian Siriano’s forthcoming book, “Dresses to Dream About” coming November 8, 2017. “Dresses to Dream About” takes a look back at the first ten years of his career and memorializes his most beautiful gowns in their very own book. To pre-order please visit ChristianSiriano.com and Amazon.
Society is fitness-obsessed now more than ever. Even as obesity rises, there are more and more people driven to take better care of themselves. You might say it’s the house that Arnold built, as Arnold Schwarzenneger is idolized in the bodybuilding world. However, the culture was always around, from the old Hercules movies of the 1960s, to comic book ads with brawny men kicking sand in the face of scrawny nerds. Which brings us up to the current crop of fitness models and advisors. Matt Acton is one of those guys and can boast something that no one else can: he was the first ever NPC (National Physique Committee) men’s physique pro! A seasoned competitor, sponsored athlete and published fitness model, Matt talks to us a bit about how he got started and how to begin your own path to better health.
RAINE: First question is the obvious one: you’re in amazing shape, how did you get started? Did it happen organically or was there a catalyst?
ACTON: It happened organically. I’m a lifetime athlete and was involved in basically every sport growing up. At the end of baseball in college, I took up MMA to keep myself active. Training for my first fight, I severely bruised a rib and transitioned into bodybuilding as I was already rather lean from MMA. I also had a gym class in school while studying bioscience and used that as my morning cardio which made things very manageable with my work load. For my first competition, I was onlyl 9. I’m now on my 32nd show, with 5 IFBB wins and a top 3 Mr. Olympia debut.
RAINE: You were the first ever National Physique Champion. Yet in the bodybuilding world, physique still seems to take some criticism from people who don’t consider physique competitors on the same level as bodybuilders. For example, at one show someone from the audience shouted, “the physique guys are glorified Abercrombie models.” What do you say to that?
ACTON: I have nothing bad to say about that because I know who I am and I know how I train. When I train, I beat up the weights just as hard and with as much heart and brain as any bodybuilder. I just chose this route because this is a route of overall health and fitness. Having a fine tuned aesthetic athletic body is for me! Bodybuilding is a little more of an extreme sport when it comes to dieting, putting on size and eating in the off-season. I train for athletic performance, density and detail and live a balanced healthy life all year around. My routine has few weight fluctuations and I’m perfectly fine with that.
RAINE: There’s no shortage of fitness advice and articles out there, and so much of it seems contradictory. How can people sort out the truth from the nonsense?
ACTON: I think everyone needs to approach fitness with an open mind. There’s different routes for everyone and what works for one, might not work for another. Or what is comfortable to one, might not be comfortable to the other. You can try to read and educate yourself from books and online articles. You can then see what works best for you but the most important thing to do is educate yourself before you start and try to SOAK in as much knowledge as possible.
RAINE: Raine magazine is all about creative entrepreneurs. How have you been able to successfully brand yourself in the fitness world?
ACTON: Yes and I think it’s amazing how one can do so nowadays. It’s crazy thinking of yourself as a “brand” but it’s amazing where life can take you. I still just feel like a regular kid. They call me the ninja. I have a custom dog tag from my sponsor, “NS” No Surrender, with the ninja emblem. There are four values I choose to live by which are honor, humility, bravery and courage. I also have a move on stage called the “ninja twist”. Like I said this is all funny to me!
Lisa Leyva continues to break ground as the Founder and CEO of Miglex Films. Her production company is based in Los Angeles, CA and is a vertically integrated production company or better yet, “mini-studio.” Miglex Films develops, produces, markets, sells, and distributes content across all platforms. This includes all genres, documentaries, web and television series. Her expertise lies in production and distribution, with an emphasis on marketing strategy. Lisa’s career spans across multiple industries including financial, venture capital and entertainment. Her multidisciplinary background coupled with innovative marketing know-how, gives Lisa a strategic edge and approach to all business ventures. Follow along as we glimpse why Lisa is a true inspiration for women and filmmakers alike.
RAINE: Your industry background is quite interesting. Please share some of those details with our readers.
LEYVA: I started working in the entertainment industry on the distribution side while working for an independent distribution company based in Los Angeles. Prior to working in the entertainment industry, I worked for a retail marketing firm as a consultant helping to sell the company, which has to date been acquired for a second time. Not long after that acquisition, the CEO of the marketing company I was working for brought me on board to help turn around an independent distribution company that was going through bankruptcy. We turned the company around and it was bought after a short 4 years. Since then,
I began consulting with other producers and continue to build my production company, as well.
RAINE: What are some mistakes that most new filmmakers make?
LEYVA: I’ve realized that most filmmakers don’t think about reaching the audience or distribution beyond raising the money for producing a film. As a result, they end up making mistakes such as going over budget or not having a potential audience.
RAINE: Taking a trip down memory lane, what was it like working on an Academy Award nomination for your acquired film Bernie?
LEYVA: When working on that Academy campaign, I was able to get 22 nominations. I equate that experience to running a presidential campaign. It was almost an identical campaign for Jack Black. It took several months of campaigning to Academy members and took a million dollars at minimum to launch a campaign. Everyone thought I was crazy but we were able to compete with all the other films at the time considering that the other films who won put up to about 20 million for their campaigns.
RAINE: What are you up to now?
LEYVA: I have acquired other films with A-list talent like Woody Flarrelson, Michael Shannon, Nicole Kidman and many others, but I learned early on that I couldn’t just take on projects that others brought to me already “packaged.” Therefore, I am in the process of closing a film fund with investors based out of China, which will all me to make about 3 – 5 films a year. That will also allow us to continue to work outside of the studio system and give us a lot more freedom to source and create our own material. There’s a lot of work that goes into putting together a fund of this size with investors out of China. Flowever, I am excited about the fund knowing that I am bridging two of the most prolific and growing markets for film, Flollywood and China.
RAINE: Flow has being a Latina in the entertainment industry shaped your view as a producer?
LEYVA: It has not really shaped it, as much as it has caused me to try to reshape it for producers, as a whole. I think as producers, we have an opportunity and responsibility to affect what people see on the big or small screens, across multiple platforms. My view of that is simple. Allow audiences to experience inclusion. Latinos are looking for that inclusion. I would like to see us depicted in film or on television in an accurate and authentic light. I accept that responsibility as a Latina producer and work toward creating that inclusion for us.
RAINE: What are your thoughts on women in the film industry and what efforts should be made to help bolster their influence?
LEYVA: We need to demonstrate the influence we have by creating it, living it, and dictating it. We allow the industry to tell us when we are influential or relevant. Women need to start by supporting one another more. Too often, women are critical of one another instead of coming together to help each other.
RAINE: What lessons have you learned in such a fiercely competitive industry?
LEYVA: Flaving to prove yourself causes you to question everything. The biggest lesson that I have learned, is to trust your instincts. They have served me well. It is something that cannot be learned. You either have them in this business or you don’t. I feel lucky to have that edge.
RAINE: What advice would you offer to budding entrepreneurs?
LEYVA: You have to know all aspects of your business. It is grand to think you are going to start a business and call yourself the CEO and that’s it. A real entrepreneur has performed every job or job function of everyone she/he employs. I have worked across most industries and performed a myriad of tasks in my career. I never feel that I am above getting any job done. That attitude and approach is what will make you successful and a better CEO. I actually prefer being called a “Slasher,” not as in horror films, but someone who can manage many jobs effectively. I’m a CEO/Producer/Marketer/Writer/Admin/Creative/Magician. It is necessary for today’s entrepreneur to weave in and out of all things that make a business work.
RAINE: What are 3 major goals that you would like to achieve over the next 2 years?
- Achieve success as an independent producer who brings content to broad audiences while depicting diverse characters and universal stories.
- Shatter the notion that women cannot carry films at the Box Office
- See my lifestyle brand and travel show series at Food Beer Grapes thrive.
Leading British Bridal Designer Ritva Westenius has been in the forefront of bridal couture for nearly 40 years in which time she has grown to iconic status. Ritva has become the symbol of British style by opening the way to innovative and artistic interpretation of Wedding Fashion.
Born and educated in Finland, then in Sweden, France and the UK where she graduated with BA hons degree in London University. Paris then beckoned when an opportunity arose for her to enter behind the scenes of famous Couture Flouses and experience high fashion in the making, which truly fired a smouldering interest in luxury couture.
On returning to UK Ritva Westenius launched her own luxury couture wedding gown collection in the West End of Central London in 1977,
Ritva Westenius focuses on timeless, elegant styles, which is about high quality couture Wedding Dresses in exquisite fabrics and beautiful cut. Ritva is using her own creative ideas, favouring, tasteful designs with clean lines that are understated, yet glamorous while keeping an eye on modern trends. She is known for meticulous construction, skilled craftsmanship, beautiful Italian and French fabrics and lace, and exquisite beading. Chenca Williams, her daughter joined Ritva Westenius
12 years ago and during that time has absorbed all the invaluable knowledge and skills required to become a professional Co-Designer/ Director, after a brilliant previous career as Principal Ballet Dancer in the Royal Ballet for 25 years! Chenca has brought her own creative vision and directional style to the Ritva Westenius collections and as you would expect Chenca is passionate and flamboyant and this can be seen in her designs, inspired by movement and dance. Brides looking for a red carpet moment will find purely indulgent styles with high fashion powerful dresses that whisper sophistication and glamour.
RAINE: Who is the Ritva Westenius woman?
C. WESTENIUS: Women with their own sense of worth & confidence in their ability to dress to enhance their own unique beauty.
RAINE: Chenca after a successful career as a Principal Ballet Dancer, what moved you to work with your mother at Ritva Westenius?
C. WESTENIUS: To be truthful I was at a loss what to do after having danced from the age of 2 & one forgets there is a real world out there that one has not been a part of! I couldn’t imagine myself not being 8 in a creative environment, therefore how could I not work with such a 8 talented Designer with the bonus of being my Mother?! I really am very lucky to have been given the opportunity & to have been trained by her with all her invaluable techniques & workmanship over the decades! Experience is the key to longevity!
RAINE: How would you say your sense of design differs from that of your mother?
C. WESTENIUS: I work more with the feel & movement of fabrics & how designs can change your personality & how they make you feel when wearing them- very much like when you play a character on stage your costume helps you!
RAINE: As a creative entrepreneur where do you draw your inspiration from?
C. WESTENIUS: Virtually everything surrounding one in life…it may be a picture, the sky, a tree, a flower, an idea during an appointment, history, ballet, music, art & my constant never sleeping brain which has zillions of creations ready to be created all the time!
RAINE: What are the foreseeable challenges facing your brand, and what steps are you taking now to successfully navigate those potential obstacles?
C. WESTENIUS: Counterfeits- fake websites selling your designs with your photographs using their water marks- 2nd hand websites- in fact anything that seems “to be to good to be true on line, IS!!!!!”
R. WESTENIUS: We have not released photographs online for the last 2 collections.
R. WESTENIUS: We are part of the UK Bridal Industry which is actively closing down “Fake” websites everyday
R. WESTENIUS: We also suggest reading “Brides Beware” set up on Face Book by the Industry
C. WESTENIUS: On the positive we are using other media platforms which we can control & engage with potential Brides to show our designs!
RAINE: To what do you credit your longevity and your ability to navigate the cycle of ups and downs that the industry is known for?
C. WESTENIUS: Ritva’s Finnish roots of purity of design with an eye for good clean well cut lines which never date! “Timeless”
RAINE: As an entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge and what steps did you take to successfully reach your goals?
C. WESTENIUS: I am still taking steps every day as the goal post moves forward all the time! I have many more goals yet to reach in my lifetime!!!!
RAINE: What one piece of business advice would you offer budding entrepreneurs that has helped you more than any other advice?
C. WESTENIUS: Believe in your own uniqueness. Believe in your own creativity. Believe in your Designs. Believe in truth. But most importantly be honest & treat mankind with respect.
Born in Nigeria blind in his left eye due to a condition known as congenital glaucoma, Blessing Offer immigrated to the US at the age of 6. The youngest of 6 from a tight knit family, Blessing’s parents made the difficult decision to send him to America where he could be properly educated and treated medically. While this decision caused Blessing’s parents great pain (he hasn’t seen his family his family in 21 years), the decision was made in order to secure for him a better future that would not have been possible for him in Nigeria.
In a twist of fate, while playing in his backyard at the age of ten, he was shot in the right eye at close range with a water gun, causing the retina in that eye to detach. This effectively robbed him of his remaining vision, and he has been blind ever since. On top of dealing with the travails of preadolescence, Blessing found himself having to navigate a new world without vision. Says Blessing, “While most eleven year olds were figuring out which basketball player they wanted to be when they grew up, I had to learn the true definition of who I was apart from physical things, apart from vision or no vision.” Blessing attributes this time in his life with causing in him a hyper maturity and hyper awareness of what matters most in life.
“Right around this time, we got a piano in the house, and all the energy that I had used to play basketball and run around went into music.” Music became Blessing’s outlet for more than just energy. Around this time he began singing and writing songs, taking voice lessons, and listening to the singers and songwriters that would later impact his style.
With a genuine love of people, a zeal for networking, and inexhaustible energy, Blessing embarked on the arduous journey of making his dreams come true. To date, Blessing has opened for such legendary acts as The Temptations, Tower of Power, Average White Band, and Sony recording artist and winner of NBC’s The Voice Javier Colon. He has appeared on a songwriting competition show on Bravo television called Platinum Hit. He has performed at the John F Kennedy center for the performing arts numerous times, and is the recipient of a young soloist’s award for song writing from the JFK Center of Performing Arts.
Recently, Blessing was a contestant on Season 7 of NBC’s The Voice, where he has been mentored by Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine, Taylor Swift, and Alicia Keys. He is an artist with Sojourn Records, and his debut record entitled “Roots” was released on February 10th, 2015.
Star of the ABC drama Castle, Seamus Dever is in a league of his own when it comes to acting. As Homicide Detective Kevin Ryan, he proves to be a fan favorite; always imparting his charm, wit, and wealth of obscure knowledge.
In addition to “Castle,” Dever has played authoritative figures on the likes of “Army Wives” and “General Hospital;” both of which had him starring as a doctor. Other forays into television include “Mad Men,” “Drop Dead Diva,” NCIS,” and all three “CSI” franchises. He’s also appeared in such films as “Hollywoodland” with Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck, and the independent comedy “Ready or Not.” He most recently starred in and produced the Tribeca Film Festival short, “Sequestered,” and has just launched a fundraising campaign for “The Extraordinary Farewell” for which he’ll also serve as both producer and star.
Well known to theatre audiences, Dever assumed the iconic role of Alex in A Clockwork Orange for which he received rave reviews and nominations for an Ovation, Garland, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. Another highlight amidst his over 60 plays and musicals is his notable performance in iWitness at The Mark Taper Forum. This past summer, he starred in LA Theatre Works’ “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
He and his wife reside in Los Angeles with their two rescue dogs and are active in animal rights, environmental causes, and proud vegetarians.
RAINE: What has been your favorite audition and why?
DEVER: I’ve never really thought about that. Probably my favorite wasn’t even one where I actually got the role. I remember auditioning for the remake of the “Flight of the Phoenix.” I had a wonderful breakthrough with the casting director, Deborah Aquila, where I completely let go of the formality and gave into the situation of the part. I had done a lot of theatre and really was used to being in rehearsals for weeks before I could let go like that. It was a moment that gave me a lot of confidence that I could go deeper; especially in moments of scrutiny. I didn’t get the part, but I got something out of it.
RAINE; Do you have a creative process that you undergo that helps you to develop your characters?
DEVER: I really haven’t spent much time on the technique of character development lately. There’s a process when you’re in school and you focus on so much technique. Eventually the technique becomes invisible and internal. I feel like I am a character actor but I think all characters are an extension of yourself. It starts with you and that helps you make these imaginative leaps. But in general, I’m very obsessive about my work and it never really leaves me. In the shower, right before I go to bed, sitting in traffic; I’m always thinking about my character. I’ve probably been like that since I was a teenager.
RAINE: As the producer of your upcoming film, The Extraordinary Farewell, what words of wisdom can you share with aspiring producers?
DEVER: Oh boy…hire people you trust because you can’t be everywhere and can’t do everything. I think I’ve gotten lucky because I’m working with really competent and talented people, but I always try to do too much. You’ll go nuts if you try to handle too much by yourself.
RAINE: You also star in the film, can you talk about the challenges that you faced wearing more than one hat on the same project?
DEVER: Yes, absolutely. If you are wearing your actor “hat”, you must take off your producer “watch”. By that I mean you can’t be sitting watching the clock and getting all nervous that you’re not going to make your day or you’re going to lose your light, those administrative things. It will get in your way and you will rush your work. Now if you know a way to completely forget about being a producer while you’re acting, please be sure to let me know. Easier said than done.
Actress Annie Wersching is best known for her role as FBI special agent Renee Walker on the hit television show 24 opposite Kiefer Sutherland and most recently as the female lead on Amazon’s drama series Bosch which she juggles along with her role as “Lily” on CW’s THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. Wersching has previously appeared in memorable arcs on the likes of Steven Spielberg’s EXTANT opposite Halle Berry, BODY OF PROOF, DALLAS, and CASTLE, as well as guest star roles on REVOLUTION, INTELLIGENCE, and BLUE BLOODS.
Wersching portrayed the powerful Amelia Joffe on ABC’s General Hospital. Her other television credits include Supernatural, Cold Case, Hawaii 5-0, Rizzoli & Isles, NCIS, CSI, Star Trek: Enterprise, Harry’s Law, No Ordinary Family, Frasier, and Charmed among others.
Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Wersching studied musical theatre at Millikin University. Upon graduation, she worked for such theatres as Chicago’s Victory Gardens, The Marriott Lincolnshire and the Utah Shakespearean Festival, as well as performing in two national tours.
For this mother of two, Wersching is living the creative entrepreneurs dream and proving that you can have it all. She is seasoned veteran that understand the demands of her work but finds perfect balance between career and family life.
RAINE: You were the voice and motion-capture actor in the PlayStation 3 exclusive game, The Last of Us. How different is it prepping as a motion- capture actress for a hit video game versus acting in front of a camera?
WERSCHING: “The Last of Us” was such a great adventure. I had no prior video game or mocap experience…so it was a blast learning how it all worked. Instead of being in front of “a” camera…there were about 90 cameras capturing us from all over the room! The really great thing about this game in particular, and Naughty Dog & Neil Druckman our director, was that we approached the scenes exactly as we would have in a film or in a play actually! I got my start in theatre, so this was very familiar to me…it was almost like doing theatre in the round, but we just happened to be wearing crazy tight, unattractive outfits with dots all over!
RAINE: What has been the most surprising event that has happened to you on set while filming for TV or film?
WERSCHING: I suppose that I’m not invincible! Turns out it is surprisingly hard to swim in the freezing ocean with a leather jacket & jeans on at 5am after 12-hours of shooting…I learned this on Season 7 of “24.” I was a little too eager to do everything myself! And this particular near drowning experience was rather eye-opening.
RAINE: You are very much about family. How have you managed to work around the demands of acting and raising a family?
WERSCHING: It’s certainly not easy! But I feel like my hubby and I are both on the same page in terms of what’s important to us and we make a damn good team. That’s huge. You really basically take a whole year off for a pregnancy in this profession…which is hard. But oh so worth it!! We’ve both been pretty lucky to work mostly in LA., but knew that was too good to be true. I’ve been back and forth shooting in Atlanta for the last few months which is a first. Our 1-year-old has been traveling with me and my 4-year-old has stayed in LA with Dadda. Soooo tough! But we make sure to see each other as often as possible and, of course, FaceTime is crucial. I’ve even FaceTimed for my older boy’s tee-ball practice and the baby has FaceTimed with our cat! Ha!
RAINE: What one piece of advice has served you best in your career?
WERSCHING: Of course Spencer Tracy wasn’t speaking to me directly, but I’ve always loved the advice – “Know your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.” I like to think I come to a set incredibly prepared and incredibly low maintenance. Maybe it’s the Midwesterner in me, but I believe a low- key, hard worker is something of great value in this biz!
Arguably one of the most influential women in fashion digital media, Rida Khan knows her business inside and out.
Rida Khan founded her company Zee report in 2008 which aimed to provide Fashion Industry news without any subscription costs. It grew rapidly and now provides news coverage in 15 different languages and 50 different countries and has an annual page view of over 30 million. Later in 2009, Khan launched ZeePortal.com which was not only an industry based networking portal, it also had the capability of uploading look books and portfolios and the ability to place orders online. ZeePortal.com was one of the first of its kind and still remains to be the leader in the fashion digital wholesale platform.
In 2014 Khan left her coveted position as the CEO of Fashion TV to become the President of the Style Network Channel. With a focus on high-fashion and lifestyle programming, Style Network aims to give audiences in North America an in-depth view of the fashion and beauty industry, bar none.
“Being a pioneer in the digital media industry since 2008 has given me a great lead in the fashion industry. I have stayed abreast of all new innovations and have heavy plans for the digital distribution of the channel. Most people in their 20s do not pay for cable anymore and are reliant upon digital distribution. The digital landscape is changing rapidly and we will be one of the first networks to dive deep into it.” -Rida Khan
RAINE: In 2014 you left as the CEO of Fashion TV to become the President of Style TV Channel. What circumstances led you to take on this new opportunity?
KFIAN: I felt like American audiences needed a television channel that allows them to watch fashion and beauty related programming that is more dynamic than just back to back runway shows. I wanted to take them into the industry which is quiet challenging and no one has dared to do it before. Let’s see how it pans out.
RAINE: You are known as “Acid Khan” in the industry. Flow did you get that name?
KFIAN: I hate to waste time. I feel like time is very precious – so when I am in a meeting I do like to get to the point very quickly, talk business and leave. Perhaps that is what gave me that name? I can get impatient if I am in a meeting and the other person has difficulty in getting across why we are meeting or what we can do together.
RAINE: You are one of the most influential women in fashion and beauty. What are some of the steps you have taken to secure this coveted position?
KFIAN: I don’t follow anyone – I create my own path and I learn new things quickly! I always try and innovate and stay ahead!
RAINE: What have you been most proud of throughout your career?
KFIAN: I am just happy that apart from small failures when I Initially started, it all worked out!
RAINE: As a pioneer in digital media, how have you been able to consistently maintain your lead in the industry?
KFIAN: By continuously evolving and innovating.
RAINE: What do you feel your legacy will be as a woman in business?
KFIAN: We will have to wait and see!
RAINE: Who in your life has been your biggest inspiration, and encouraged you to follow your dreams?
KFIAN: My mom and my husband.
My mother raised me with the belief that I can do anything I put my mind into, nothing is impossible and the sky is the limit. I really believed that, and I still do! I was the only girl and she always made sure that I was very confident with who I am and that I trusted my own self!
After college I got married and my husband – who is a physician and who comes from a very different childhood than myself, was my other source of encouragement. Fie was the other half that needed to push me to believe in myself again and to propel me further. Fie really believed in me, he really believed that I will do something amazing in life and in my potential. I really needed that push and belief and support system that he created!
RAINE: What are some of your other passions that you actively pursue?
KFIAN: I live my passion, work for me is not my work but my passion! I love my “Work” and I love my family/kids. When I am not working, I am enjoying life with my kids!
RAINE: If you could redo one thing in your career, what would it be and why?
KFIAN: I wouldn’t redo anything in my career. I had to make the mistakes I did to learn from them and to propel further. I am happy with the ups and downs!
RAINE: What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?
KFIAN: Give it all you’ve got! Work hard like you never have before! Believe in yourself!