Interview with Wanda Sykes

Wanda_Sykes

The following interview originally appeared in the Examiner in June 2012.

As an actress, writer, voice-over artist, and comedian, Sykes is well known for her movie roles in Monster-in-Law, Over the Hedge, and Ice Age 4.

No stranger to television, Sykes remembers her great chemistry with the cast of The New Adventures of Old Christine. Although a writer herself, Sykes said that she did not contribute to the writing on that show but the writers were great. This show can still be seen on demand where available.

A mother to twin 3 year-olds, a boy and a girl, Sykes has a plethora of new material due to her busy household. Juggling work schedules with her wife, Sykes is able to enjoy the flexibility that her career sometimes demands and can still travel to Los Angeles when needed. Her children are already seasoned travelers. Having children at the toddler stage, Sykes says that there is nothing that is off-limits and that they are at an age where anything they can get into they consider their property. Sykes says her little girl is always chattering away and is a handful. Sykes laughs as she says they are “paying off” as they provide her with new material to work with.

Sykes attended college and graduated with a degree in Marketing. While working for the National Security Agency, she decided that it wasn’t something she could see herself doing long-term. Taking the initiative, Sykes decided to write some jokes and try stand-up one night. Once she got some laughs she knew that was the new path she wanted to take.

Going back to stand-up is like going home, Sykes says. It’s where it all started for her. When asked if she had any advice for those who want to be in entertainment or try a new career, Sykes said that as for her, she just had to try. She just wrote some material and gave it a shot, and added, not every night was great but when you stick with it you will get better and better.

For more information on Wanda and her current tour schedule go to the Wanda Sykes web site. Check out the Borgata web site for more events.




Getting personal with Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply

Congratulations to Graham and Russell on making beautiful music together for 40 years!

The following interview originally appeared in IMPress magazine in April 2012.

Given the unpredictability of everything that is involved for a touring rock band, such as tight schedules, crossing time zones, plane changes, and lost luggage, what are the chances of obtaining a quick interview on the rare occasion one legendary singer is at home? Well, if you are part of the machine that is Air Supply, the chances of this happening are very good. Russell Hitchcock joined me for a phone call to answer questions about international audiences, social media, and what’s on his bucket list.

Just back from a whirlwind tour of South America, Hitchcock commented that audiences varied from country to country. He said that all audiences are not created equal. He noted, “All over Latin America they are probably more emotional than anywhere else in the world. They are lot more vocal about singing along and getting into it, and kind of wearing their hearts on their sleeves a bit more.”

For musicians who are on the road for the best part of the year, it may seem inconsequential where their family is based as they are always traveling anyway. As for Hitchcock, he still makes time for his family. When asked if he still had relatives in Australia, Hitchcock replied, “I do, I have my sister and her husband live there, I have two nephews there, and my son lives there as well.” Russell had a chance to visit them for Christmas year before last when they played some shows in Australia.” He added, “I am celebrating my Birthday in June and my sister and her husband are coming to Hawaii to vacation with us for a few days.”

When asked if fans would ever hear a remixed dance version of any of their ballads, a question Hitchcock’s own daughter also posed, he stated that it just wasn’t in the current plan. Aside from touring and having just released some new singles, they are also working on putting out a DVD of their Jerusalem show.

Although the Internet can be a little invasive for entertainers who already share so much of themselves, Air Supply has over half a million fans relying on social media to keep up and interact with their British and Australian imports. Hitchcock regularly uses his iPhone to take personal photos and upload them to the band’s Facebook page.

For someone who has been all over the world, one thing still remains on Hitchcock’s bucket list, he stated “Going to and performing in Russia. I’d love to get my picture taken in Red Square.”

For a career that spans 37 years, one would wonder how an artist could maintain such a signature voice after all this time. Hitchcock says, “I try to rest my voice in between shows. I try to get as much sleep as I can. It’s really important these days, for both Graham and myself, because we have been around a long time. You just got to take care of yourself as best as you can. We try to eat as well as we can on the road. I think it is a big help that I’ve never smoked.” Hitchcock says that it is their responsibility to be the best they can be on stage as people spend good money to attend shows.

One of Air Supply’s staple venues includes casinos throughout the world. Given their heavy tour schedule, it would seem that performing at the same place where they can also sleep and eat can at least provide temporary respite from a lot of extra shuttling back and forth.

Many of the venues where their concerts are held are vacation destinations in and of themselves. Out of town fans can attend a concert while having the option to stay at the same place the concert is held. Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, which has a roaring 20’s vibe, is a shore destination on the Atlantic Ocean, where they will be returning this summer. More recently, on a summer-like day in Canada, Air Supply played the beautiful Avalon Theater at the new Fallsview Casino Resort, which overlooks Niagara Falls. For those fans in the United States, traveling to another country for a show can be as easy as grabbing your passport and hopping on a train.

On the rare occasion when Air Supply is not touring and Russell has time for a home-cooked meal, he enjoys an Italian dish that his girlfriend prepares for him, or some New Zealand white wine that he is currently into.

Visit the Air Supply web site for more information.