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Man With No Name

© a’Ali-Salaam

a’Ali-Salaam, an actor, author, filmmaker he also coaches fellow screen and voice artist. He is truly a multi-talented dramatic production artist. An exceptionally versatile and gifted actor, a’Ali can take you from tears to laughter in a way that touches your core. The authenticity of the roles portrayed by a’Ali is riveting and rich. a’Ali and done many indie films was recently seen in the movies “My Name Is Khan”, as Judge Andrews in “Checkmate” and just returned from playing the leading role in an Australian film, “Man With No Name”. He recently founded “a’Ali’s Angels”, with a mission to stop violence against women and children.

Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D.

OpenBeast: Hello a’Ali, and welcome on OpenBeast. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello Stephen, it’s an honor to be able to speak with you. Stephen that’s my least favorite thing to do! I have a good friend who writes all my introductions or describes myself. Just could not be so presumptions as to say that I am this or that. I only know what I aspire too.

One would be Compassion; you know Stephen I am avid reader even the dictionary. So I have extensively read the Bhavagha Gita, Qur’an, the Upanishads, the Bible other scriptures if you will. These books have fascinated me since I was a boy. The lives of historical sages, some say prophets and their overwhelming compassion for humanity compels me.  Gandhi said “We must become the change we wish to see in the world” So that’s how I’m striving on this journey.

Another would be, Focused, I think to build a career in anything you have to finally settle down and focus. The challenges in entertainment media can be more so. The opportunity for success is enhanced for actors and writers if they understand the business of show business. I coach actors and provide script services for other writers. My recommendation is that each day do five things to move ones career forward. After all you’re not on the set everyday and you’re not auditioning everyday. So I must do five things, let me share several of those with you.

  • Help another person sincerely…you just can’t beat fostering good karma and it’s good for the spirit and to keep connected to the human experience outside of our own personal challenges.
  •  Write. I am passionate about acting and writing. I’ve been asked which one most and I honestly can’t say either one. I write a minimum of four hours everyday the results have been very positive. I think it helps my role portrayals tremendously.
  • Voice work. I am fortunate enough to do some voiceover work and have a creative colleague Nicole Candian who is one of the best female voiceovers in the business. She furthered my passion for voice work and its importance. My visual acuity is naturally high. My first acting teacher helped me to understand that I have a photographic memory. Screen art is visual. But what so a natural fit for me. But what happens when a viewer turns away from the screen. Can an actor’s portrayal capture attention when someone is not looking at the screen. Often times casting people reviewing audition tapes or live auditions are not looking at the actor. Your voice is the tool that will pull the interest. My early experience in radio and Nicole’s influence makes daily voice work a priority for me.

I leave the other activities flexible depending on my schedule. The bottom line is in striving for five things a day; something happens regularly to move our projects forward.

How is Hollywood treating you thus far?

Stephen, for several years I traveled back in forth from Northern California. Finally, I knew I just had to be in LA if I was serious about my career. For me it’s always a striving to get to the next level. Mark Measures of Abram’s Artist once said to me “in this town everyone’s got an opinion, you’re looking for those whose opinion agrees with yours.” So there are going to be ups and downs sort of speak. But, I have met some wonderful people who are helpful and a lot of exciting things are starting to happen. I’m a bit introverted and networking is always a challenge. It seems good karma is paying off. Sure there are inflated egos now and then but I have been fortunate to meet some very wonderful, helpful people and great mentors. I miss the charm of old world east coast and several places I lived overseas. But his is the Mecca, it’s the Super Bowl of entertainment media. My GOD’s grace I am here to play.

You are one of those unique actors who had tested Bollywood waters. How was that experience?

Phenomenal! I’d love and intend to do more. My paternal grandmother is from India so it was a personal goal. I have incorporated that in one of my film projects. Shurkh Khan is an amazing actor and one of the most popular worldwide. I really hope to work on more Bollywood projects. I also had an opportunity to be in a German TV movie, and last month played a lead role in a project in Australia. That is one of great things I like about this business; the opportunity to travel and learn from other cultures. It’s really an uplifting opportunity for personal growth.

What would your dream role be?

I don’t know if I have a dream role. I would love to do more comedy. I am working on my first comedy screenplay now. One of the wonderful things about acting is the challenge of understanding our common humanity. As an actor, reaching into emotional triggers that spur our actions is rewarding. Then portraying, revealing; the core of human possibilities in an authentic and genuine way is amazing. Sharing it with others is an amazing blessing   I have had the benefit of lead and supporting roles in independent films. Each one is living the dream with the passion I have for creative arts and film. I would love to be the lead protagonist in a blockbuster feature film. That type of success makes it a lot easier to do the type of projects that one is most passionate about. Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Bruckheimer, I welcome your call.

Could you talk about your upcoming projects?

Stephen thanks for asking. It’s a very competitive market place in this business and creative projects are protected like national security secrets. I will say that if your readers and visitors go to either www.hermonkinternationalmedia.com or www.hermonk.com they can find information on the feature films and series we have in development and are producing. Screen media is the best team sport in the world. I have the best creative partner voice and screen actress, Nicole Candian. We have developed and written over 22 screen projects for the past several years. Now we are very focused on bringing these profound films and series to a global audience. We are also partnering with Triwen productions on a wonderful feature. Triwen is headed by Charnelle Brown, who starred on the series, A Different World. Sebet Productions in Australia is another production partner. It’s led by Lisa Campos. We have two feature film projects that are in for funding with Sebet. These projects cover various genres including family, drama, and horror. Our team works daily to move them all forward. I really hope your viewers will visit our website and learn more in detail.

You are a film coach for many. Is there any advice you would like to share?

Stephen, I really appreciate you asking that question. I will say don’t do this for celebrity. To persevere in this creative industry you must have that core inspiration and drive to share your message through your talents before or behind the lens. This is a constant learning process. Some lessons harder than others. But if you love what your doing that makes it all beautiful.

For actors study with people who have that passion. I constantly train. Joe Palese, is an amazing scene study coach. He runs the The Actors Space in Los Angeles. Joe improved my sense of breaking down the scene and again my auditions and on screen portrayals got better. Recently I did an intensive with Judy Kerr. She was the dialogue coach on Seinfeld for four years. Judy guided me to really own my gifts. Shortly after that I landed the lead role in a film project in Australia.  I have a list of other mentors and teachers like Marge Huber and Martin Landau that I intend to study with. I love coaching actors and writers, and sharing the creative collaborative process.

As a writer I write everyday. Nicole and I discuss stories several times a week and constantly brainstorm out ideas and keep good records of them. We copyright everything. Be a great observer of humanity and life itself and tell the stories that you care about and inspire you.

What’s your project Kickstarter is all about?

I’m so glad you brought that up. It’s our passion project and we need a lot of support from folks like your readers.  Nicole and I developed an exciting series titled “Photographs” it is based off a poem I wrote. We invite your readers to visit: www.hermonk.com to learn more about it.. We are producing a series of twisted tales that illuminates the shadows of human experience. These stories immerse you in the dynamics of human events. People and places, birth and death; triumph, tragedy, desperation or hope. We have designed the series for the actor and the viewer. Exciting and twisted tales. Through kickstarter we are seeking minimum funds to produce the pilot episodes. Not only to maintain creative autonomy for the integrity of the series but because we are committed to help new talent get an opportunity to sink there teeth into a profound and well developed stories and characters. It would be great if your readers Stephen, visit the project site www.hermonk.com and look at the great gifts we are giving away to our supporters. This is non traditional way of launching new media projects. Just think of it as public broadcasting support via the web. More and more creative artist are utilizing this approach to launch great media projects. 91% of projects through these programs get fully funded. So we are optimistic that “Photographs” will get the funds. We have only 90 days to raise the funds needed. So, we really hope that your readers will consider supporting and check out the trailer. Some supporters will even get walk on roles in our projects.

Would you like to add something, a’Ali?

I would like to thank you Stephen for the honor of this interview. Most of all I would like to say this journey and any success is reflective of the really dear and beautiful people who support and encourage me. My children and hopes for them drive me everyday. My creative partner Nicole is a constant inspiration. Her talents and dedication keep me going on those seemingly bleak days. Any success achieved is more to do with these people and their un-daunting support more than myself.

My sisters Karen and Mariamme and so many family and friends consistently offer encouragement.  My good friends Michael K., Michael M. and Martin the Abdullah’s are always urging me on.  My professional support team Gina Stoj, my manager of the past three years is just awesome. Marcia Bell, my agent is constantly pushing to move my career to new levels. I am a fortunate soul to be pursuing a life long dream with all their support.

Thank you a’Ali.

To learn about a’Ali’s upcoming projects and initiatives visit www.alisalaam.com

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