Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jessica Sanchez: The Making of an American Singing Sensation!

Jessica Sanchez is the runner-up on American Idol 2012. But did she really lose anything? Think: diva Jennifer Hudson, Tony-nominated “Rock of Ages” star Constantine Maroulis, rock star Chris Daughtry, and the Grammy-nominated Adam Lambert, a San Diego native.

Jessica may be only 16 years old, but this little dynamo is wise beyond her years. She is poised, intelligent and she has always known it is her destiny to be right where she is today. And, it has come at tremendous cost and sacrifice.

What did it take to get Jessica through FOX’s American Idol’s competition? It took a village.

When she made it past the thousands of people trying out in San Diego, it was one sacrifice after another for her parents to keep her in the competition. For one, the parents had to purchase new outfits for each phase of the competition until the final 12. Mom and dad became a one-income family so that mom could chaperon and travel with Jessica.  The mounting expenses of fueling the car, purchasing new clothes, shoes, accessories caused a tremendous financial and personal challenges.

There were still two little boys at home who need their mom and with the father being deployed, it was the family and community of friends who came together to help them so that Jessica would not have to drop out of the competition.

After Jessica was eliminated early on and then judges utilized their only save, the community of Chula Vista and San Diego, through the leading efforts of friend Claudia Lugo, rallied together to make sure she made it to the finale.

With Jessica also being half Pinoy (Filipino), the grassroot effort from this and Latinos, made sure that their girl was never in the bottom two again.

What everyone wants to know is did she or didn’t she sign with Tommy Mottola’s Casablanca Records? I read Mottola’s wife’s  (international superstar Thalia) Twitters, and if her tweets are any indication, I’d say Ms. Sanchez has herself a record deal that mirrors that of Mariah Carey’s first recording contract..

“WOWgreat news! #TommyMottola just call me from #AmericanIdol & he is confirm to work in the first #JessicaSanchez CD!#MexicanFilipinoPower,” ThalĂ­a posted on her account.

Mottola, a veteran producer to music heavyweights such as Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and even “American Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez, is sure to help Sanchez launch a successful singing career.

About the heritage questions. Is she Mexican? Is she Pinoy? Who cares! She’s the newest and youngest American female singer to come out of Idol ever!

For the record, Jessica wants to make sure everyone knows she is proud Latina.
The vocally gifted singer, says being Mexican is a big part of who she is as a person, just as much as her Filipino background.

“I’m proud of both of my heritages,” Sanchez said to media sources. “There’s never a time when I’m more one than the other. I grew up with both [cultures.]"

Sanchez is very close to her father, who has had great influence in supporting her singing aspirations. Her father, Gilbert, is a Mexican-American Texas native and member of the U.S.Navy, and has kept one pulse on his daughter’s singing and the other on taking care of his two younger sons at home. However, this is about to change as he prepares for us upcoming military deployment to Singapore.

Mom, Edita, gave up her work to nurture Jessica’s career so the bulk of the financial crisis falling on the father. Dad is leaving, mom is with Jessica and the children will be with family... the sacrifice is tremendous.

And what could her parents do when their daughter’s only mission in life was to compete on American Idol? They nurture, support and do what ever it takes, with the help from many.

It takes a village.

The 16-year-old singer also said the late great Selena Quintanilla has always been a big inspiration in her life and her music. 

Tejano Super Star, Selena Quintanilla

"I listened a lot to Selena growing up,” said Sanchez, whose voice has been compared to vocal talents Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.

Now that Idol is over, Sanchez is very aware that she could be a one-hit-wonder and that’s the reason she has a back up plan that includes going back to school and traveling to the countries of her lineage: Mexico and Philippines.

Everyone is talking about that unbelieveable duet with Jennifer Holiday… amazing performance. “We were making the most ridiculous faces I know,” says Sanchez. “We were just really digging deep into our hearts and singing the heck out of that song.” You think?

Jessica’s great honor came when just barely two hours before she was to sing, she was told she would be paying a tribute to Whitney Houston, who according to Randy Jackson no one should ever attempt to sing her songs. “I didn’t even know I was singing it until a couple of hours before the show started. It was a shocking moment for me, but I was excited to sing it because I love the song.”

Jessica shrugs off critics who say she’s too young, too soon, for so much. “I’ve been doing this since I was 7 years old,” said Sanchez. She tells her fans they must “really work hard and stay humble… don’t let anything distract you if you really want to do this.”

Where does all this wisdom come from? Those close to her say it’s because she is home schooled and totally focused on her singing aspirations.

Jessica Sanchez is innocent, unscathed by the perils of the recording industry and as a result sings from the depths of her soul and at 16, she has yet to peak!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jessica Sanchez: The First Latina American Idol?

It’s official: For the first time in American Idol history, in it’s 11th season, a Latina Jessica Sanchez (Mexican-Philippine) makes it into the finale. The 16-year old, San Diego native will be the youngest Idol if she wins, and the first Latina. It’s looking good! Joshua Ledet was eliminated leaving 21-year old Phillip Phillips to compete against Sanchez. Music producer Jimmy Lovine, the contestants’ mentor throughout the series says, “She’s got it,”
and predicts she will sing on the Grammys one day.

After weeks of performing on the American Idol stage, the two remaining finalists will perform live Tuesday in front of a theater audience of more than 7000, as well as millions of viewers watching at home. Then on Wednesday night, at the end of a two-hour music celebration, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will announce the next American Idol. Global superstar “Rihanna” will perform at the finale as well as many other surprise performances, duets, etc.

Jessica Sanchez has been a favorite since her first audition, so it came as no surprise that the judges used their only “save” when she was shockingly eliminated several weeks ago. The elimination was a wake-up call for her fans who rallied behind her and pumped up their voting campaign.  San Diego is still sore over Adam Lambert not winning, so this wake up call really got the community united to vote.

When Seacrest announced the first finalist and said “Jessica Sanchez” the cameras moved to judge Jennifer Lopez --  the superstar was jubilant unable to hide her pleasure and relief.

Sanchez won the full support of judge Steven Tyler after she sang a flawless Mariah Carey hit My All, and Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. Her incredible voice has caught the attention of Tommy Mottola who has publicly complimented her. Guess Ms. Sanchez reminds him and others of a young Mariah and Celine Dion… that’s how good she is!

The diminutive Sanchez was the first to make it through to next week’s finale. She has been consistent every week, delivering impeccable, superb and amazing performances that have left the judges and America bowled over, bringing everyone to their feet. America has voted and she is now on her way to the final stage of the competition.

Sanchez is the daughter of Gilbert and Editha Sanchez and has lived in Chula Vista, California all of her life. Her father, a Mexican-American is a U.S. Navy veteran who fought in the Iraq War, and served in Afghanistan. Her mother is Filipino American. A deeply spiritual young lady, Sanchez carries a rosary everywhere and quietly prays before every performance.

Audiences have overwhelmingly lent their support by cheering Sanchez on and voting. The Latino community especially has been actively participating in making sure she makes it to the finals.  However, Sanchez not only has the support here in the U.S., she also seems to have the whole country of the Philippines behind her.  They all have collectively rallied behind this Latina sensation and tuned-in to vote her every week.  With this kind of support she just might  have an edge over Phillip Phillips.

Will she become the next American Idol?! Will she become the first Latina to win American Idol?! Will she be the “last one standing” like American Idol judge Steven Tyler commented on Wednesday night?!   

Tune in next week.

FOX will host the series' two-night grand finale from the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE Tuesday, May 22 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) and Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-10:07 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed). 

Please follow these links for additional information and to download photos, performance videos: www.foxflash.com , www.AmericanIdol.com, and http://www.americanidol.com/videos/season_11/performances/

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yvette Yates on Being Latina and “El Gringo”

The action-packed film El Gringo opens up Friday, May 11, 2012 and walking down the red carpet is leading lady,Yvette Yates in all her beauty, grace and glory. It is her first leading role where she kicks a little ass and does it with style — and falls in love with a tough and mysterious new guy in town!

Yvette Yates stars opposite Scott Adkins, a spectacular martial arts English actor and Christian Slater in El Gringo, a film directed by acclaimed Venezuelan director Eduardo Rodriguez.
El Gringo marks Yvette’s first leading role in a feature film written by Jonathan W. Stokes withJoel Silver as executive producer for After Dark Films.
In our interview, the El Paso, Texas-born, American Latina actress opens up on her experience working on her first leading role film and working with a few Hollywood “gringos”.
Latin Heat: What was your friends and family’s reaction on you being cast in your first lead in a feature film?
Yvette Yates: My family had just arrived into town for my premiere last year of Without Men at LALIFF at the Egyptian Theatre. I remember I was still getting ready when my manager called me with the news, and they were there in person to share it with which made it that much more special. They were elated! And of course to be the lead in an action-packed film was a fascinating change of pace, being my first.
LH: Tell us how you prepared for the role of Anna?
YY: I read the script and I fell in love with the character. I feel there are times, as an actor, you get certain roles that you just mold into their skin without resistance. It was such a natural process, and I believe it had a lot to do with understanding of the border town environment, and understanding what it meant to uphold something that had been diminished. I’m from a border town myself, El Paso, TX/ Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, and all one sees now is the violence. I say where I’m from, and people know right away and the usual question is ‘Is it safe?,’ ‘You still go down there?’, and I’ve seen the economical effects of that especially in Cd. Juarez. So in some way, I felt an internal responsibility to represent the heart and strength of the people, and that was exactly the role of Anna– a woman who is strong, fierce, and resilient, all or nothing in fighting for the hope of what her town could be. My influences for the role were an essence ofSalma Hayek in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado and Sophia Loren in Arthur Hiller’s Man of La Mancha, who served as a force and an inspiration.
LH: Any sexy or nude scenes?
YY: There is a sexy scene in this film, but you’re going to have to watch to see what leads Anna to allow for this intimate exchange.
LH: How did you prepare to stay in physical shape for this action/adventure?
YY: I’ve always maintained a healthy diet and have always exercised five-six days/week. Once I knew of the role, I just kept a more intense workout, more disciplined diet like cutting out the sweets, and lots of water. I also incorporated hiking in addition to my gym regiment. I’m a morning person so the earlier the better.
LH: Did you have any scary stunts or did they use a stunt woman?
YY: I was the only one without a stunt person. There are definitely a few scenes where I get pushed around, hair pulled, and I’m dealing with knives. I loved every second.
LH: How much time did you get to spend getting to know your love interest, the gorgeous and hunky Scott Adkins?
YY: Scott was a lot of fun to work with, very shy actually, except when it comes to his hard-hitting action sequences, he just owns it. We had a few days of rehearsal before shooting, not much, but we clicked right away and had great chemistry on set.
LH: Any war stories in making this film? I mean, did you all get along most of the time?
YY: Nothing worse than having to kiss someone you can’t stand! Honestly I feel fortunate to have worked on a set where everyone got along from the cast and crew in Louisiana to Bulgaria where we were the majority of the time which included a 10 hour difference time adjustment. With all the action scenes especially, all the actors watched out for one another, and we all knew we were in safe hands. There has to be a level of trust and understanding for it to work. The one that had a hard time I’d say was the dog who was supposed to be “the best trained dog in Bulgaria.” He just needed to lay there for one scene, and in another I just needed to pet him but instead would just take off at any moment, it was pretty funny, and of course, I’m allergic, but it all worked out.
LH: What’s your favorite scene?

YY: Most favorite was a hand-to hand combat scene between the leader (played by Israel Islas) of the local gang of “El Fronteras” and Scott Adkins. I had never had to be so intensely physical and emotional with all my dialogue, and to keep the severity of the scene take after take in the middle of the night. It was the most rewarding.
LH: How was it taking direction for the fabulous Eduardo Rodriguez?
YY: I was ecstatic to find out we had a Latino director because I knew he’d naturally be more invested in making sure the two cultures were given an equal footing, and it felt that way. For example, I had a conversation with Eduardo about Anna and the accent. Now, I’ve done roles with accents which are necessary for certain stories, but it was really important to me to show a different perspective of Latinas and not be defined by the accent. I’m from a border town and don’t speak with an accent, and Eduardo respected my viewpoint and gave me the go-ahead. I wanted to portray a strong, independent Latina who masters both languages just the same because that’s the way we exist as well.
LH: Does it bother you that a gringo wrote El Gringo, a story that takes place in afictional “El Fronteras”… a town name that only a gringo could come up with!
YY: I think it’s funny that the town’s name is literally the geographical term, and that’s all it is. It seemed like such a small detail that it didn’t bother me for even one second. The more important aspect was that Jonathan [Stoakes] had written such a force to be reckoned with in Anna… a witty and resolute Mexican woman, and not as a victim or a damsel in distress. He created her as the most important ally to “El Gringo”, and that is what deserves recognition.
LH: What are you working on now or next

Greg Holt & Yates on the set of Free Ride
YY: I have four additional films to El Gringobeing released this year. You will be seeing me as Amy, an Assistant D.A. in the film noir based on the acclaimed play, Water & Power directed by Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya; in the true story, Free Ride, working opposite Academy Award winner,Anna Paquin along with Drea de Matteo,and Cam Gigandet as an undercover narcotics agent, Gia, and directed byShana SosinSorority Party Massacre a fun slasher film in which I play a sexy and sultry sorority sister, Sloan, who also happens to be a dominatrix and fixes up cars.  That is directed by Chris W. Freeman and Justin Jones; and lastly,The Red House, a suspense thriller where I star as a high maintenance girl, Carissa, who’s about to embark on a deadly trip with her friends directed by Gregory Avellone.
In television, I shot an episode in Comedy Central’s improv show, The Nick Show Kroll which is slated for summer.
LH: What actor (male or female) do you most admire? What director do you really, really dream of working with one day?
YY: I’m a fan of less is more, mannerisms, details. I want the audience to invest and to discover along with the character on whatever the journey is. There are many actors that come to mind, but one of the greatest is Meryl Streep. Not only because she has persevered and challenged herself in a range of roles, but she had me when I saw her performance in Nora Ephron’sHeartburn opposite Jack Nicholson. There’s a scene where Meryl Streep’s character comes to a realization that she is being cheated on and you see her exquisite performance serving a range of emotions which tells everything without any words ever said. That is a powerful ability.
Directors… I truly respect Pedro Almodovar, with my first experience being Talk To Her and love his latest film The Skin I Live In. I love how he ignites a passion in his characters and they are solidified in the paths they lead.
Another director whose work I adore is Guillermo del Toro. Every time I see his films, I am in awe of his storytelling and creations of his fantastical worlds. I became a fan when I first sawThe Devil’s Backbone.  To be a part of that imagination would be unbelievable, he always manages to walk a fine line between fear and vulnerability.
LH:  Any last words?
YY: Now that I’ve had a taste of action in El Gringo, I’d love to do more. What’s great about working on these types of physical roles are the opportunities of picking up new skills and to push yourself to try things you might have never done otherwise. You just never know what new hobby you may start.”
Thank you, Yvette for your insight and your passion for your art is to be admired and we know El Gringo is the first of many films you will be headlining.
El Gringo opens in Los Angeles on May 11, 2012 at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatres located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Audiences are encouraged to catch first show on Friday, May 11th at 5:10 PM (there will be surprise cast members in attendance), or catch it over the weekend. For show times, call (323) 464-8111.
After Los Angeles, El Gringo will be in wide release in all major U.S. markets.
Facebook FanPage: www.facebook.com/pages/Actress-Yvette-Yates/484274130603
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/YvetteYates     @YvetteYates
FOR MORE INFORMATION www.imdb.me/yvetteyates
El Gringo Playing in Theatres & Video On Demand (V.O.D.) beginning on May 11, 2011
Link to Theatres: http://www.afterdarkaction.com/theaters.html
Facebook FanPage: http://www.facebook.com/AfterDarkAction