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Bruins in Hollywood: Beyond Film

Photo credit: Ava Johnson

By Jackson Wooton

May 30, 2024 8:44 a.m.

There’s a lot more to Hollywood than acting. In the third episode of this four-part miniseries, actors and UCLA students Niyah Coleman and Addison Chandler discuss their interests in modeling, fashion and the business of entertainment with Podcasts contributor Jackson Wooton.

Jackson Wooton: Have you ever wondered what it’s like being a student living and working in the heart of Hollywood? Well, welcome to Bruins in Hollywood! A Daily Bruin Podcast miniseries where we sit down with different UCLA students working in the entertainment industry. They’ll share their experiences working in LA and advice that they have for fellow students.

My name is Jackson Wooton and I’m a podcast contributor for the Daily Bruin. On this episode, we’ll be joined by Niyah Coleman, a working model currently exploring acting jobs and studying at UCLA’s acting school. We’re also joined by Addison Chandler, a child voice actor now exploring fashion and business in entertainment. We’re super excited to hear about different entertainment opportunities that UCLA students can explore!

All right, let’s get right into it.

Niyah Coleman: So we do it.

JW: So could you tell us a little bit about what each of you do in entertainment and kind of a little bit about you. We can start with Addie.

Addie Chandler: Yeah, for sure. So I’ve been a voice actor since I was like in fifth grade. I want to say I was doing that pretty consistently until I was like 17 and I landed a pretty, you know, sizable role. I did some stuff like with Nickelodeon, some stuff for Cartoon Network. I did a couple on camera things here and there but it was never really my thing. But now, I’m really trying to do the music thing and also design clothes.

JW: Sweet.

NC: Hi everyone. My name is Niyah Coleman. I am a model and actress or whatever you wanna call me. I do a lot of things. I started out just by modeling. I got randomly discovered and then from there, that’s how I kinda started acting and then I also do a lot of art stuff. I love painting, sewing, and designing. I’m also super into costume design, and writing.

JW: The whole thing.

NC: Yeah. You know what multifaceted guys we all are.

JW: Do you have a favorite project so far that we’ve kind of worked on?

NC: One of my favorite projects. I actually got to work with my dad, which was super awesome. It was for a commercial for Universal Studios and I actually got to work with the Weeknd who’s one of my favorite artists and the combo, the combo between my dad and the Weeknd, it was super comfortable. It was great. I was star-struck and I just have fond memories when looking back on that.

AC: What were you doing?

NC: It was, it was a whole bunch of things. It started off, I got booked for a commercial and then it turned into a short film that they were playing in the parks. And then from there, it was like a behind-the-scenes Peacock series on all of the Halloween Horror Nights as a whole.

AC: Sick, but like, what was the activity?

NC: Well, actually, if you really wanna know, I, my character’s name was Lindsay and I was supposed to be just the quintessential, like obnoxious influencer. And I kind of stumbled into a bad situation and the Weeknd killed me.

JW: Oh wow, so that’s a little interesting

NC: It was fun. It was fun for sure.

JW: All right. Well, what about your future plans? I know Addie, you kind of have something going on with your clothing, I can see your outfits really giving today.

AC: So, I don’t know. Yeah, I’ve been working on that for probably like… OK, so I started actually pressing things this year like with the start of the school year. But I like, I’ve been, drawing this stuff that like I’m trying to make now since I was like, I think 18, when I, when I turned 18 was when I decided that I wanted to do it and I started like, seeking out opportunities to really make that happen. So, random question, sorry to go off on a tangent. Tell me if this is like, going deep or whatever. But question – so, you said, like, you played kind of like the quintessential, like an influencer girl kind of obnoxious. I’m just curious because I just in my time that I’ve been sort of doing the acting thing so far, like I’ve, man, I’ve really not enjoyed being typecast, just like jumping, jumping into something that, you know, like it doesn’t feel like me, but it feels like what someone else thinks is right, you know, fit for me. And I don’t know, it’s just been getting in my head recently, It’s kind of why I jumped out of that, but I’m just kind of curious, do you feel like that discourages you ever, does it get inside your head?

NC: Yeah. I this is something I actually really relate to because I feel like 75 percent to 80 percent of all the roles that I’m sent out for are like influencer mean girl, popular girl. And I feel like I’m just put into such a small category and when you know me, Jackson knows me outside of this, when you know me, that’s not me at all. Like, I don’t know, I feel like I just gonna do my own thing kind of weird at times, but I do think that’s very discouraging and I feel like I don’t get challenged as much because I’ve got so stuck and I know how to play that role, but I’d like to kind of venture into other things.

JW: This is kind of leads me to a good question, what has kind of been your experience in the industry or breaking into it?

NC: I guess I started when I was very young because I’m very lucky my father is a television director. So I’ve always kind of had that guide in my life. So I think I started when I was about four and when I was younger, I loved it. Like I was a little diva in my tutu’s and my crown. So I love being on camera, I would just run around with a bunch of energy. But then when I started getting older, I it kind of became harder for me and I struggled with, I guess with appearance and different pressures that were being put on me and the balance between school and having fun between work. And so now I’m 19 years old, I’m an adult if you wanna call me that. And I feel like I’m kinda getting more into a groove. I have my routine. I have a good balance between school and my work life and I’ve definitely faced a lot of challenges along the road but right now it’s looking up,

AC: you ever run into any weird parents?

NC: So guys, there’s so many weird parents. Like my, my dad is a very chill, very eccentric, creative dude, and he really lets me do my own thing. But a lot of parents I’ve experienced along the way have to be there like they can’t eat sugar, I’ve been on a set where the kid can’t talk to me because I’m their competition. There’s so much crazy stuff going on and yeah, definitely seen a lot of that.

AC: Nice, Max told me that there was this there was this parent that he like he saw the parent was apparently in like another like entire state and they were like in the kid’s AirPod like giving them acting directions, like while they were shooting, it was ridiculous.

NC: That, that is crazy. I feel so bad for those kids. I don’t know how they function. God bless.

JW: Do you think that a lot of these issues are a little bit related just to film or have you seen it in like your other avenues?

NC: I think that there are crazy parents everywhere. Like I also played sports growing up and I guess that’s where I experienced a lot of crazy as well. I feel like there’s a fine line between supporting your kid and really helping them on their journey and what they wanna pursue. And then there’s the other side where you’re just too involved, you’re living through them. So, I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of aspects that crazy parents crossover in that aren’t just films.

AC: Yeah, I, I’ve just been kind of noticing this in like the music scene in the last, you know, however long, like people that our age or, you know, maybe a little bit older that have spent a little bit more time in the scene, it feels like, a lot of the time like they’re, typecasting themselves a little bit, they’re like, OK, I’m gonna do this thing and then, you know, before you know it, like they’ve like, boxed themselves in or maybe not. What are your guys takes on things Like, I don’t wanna say like this is one for sure, but ice spice, I feel like she’s kind of boxed herself in a little bit. Maybe it’s like this is her stepping stone to get to a point where she can be artistic. But like, I mean, what do you think?

NC: I’m a munchkin.

AC: You saw her at Coachella?

NC: Yes. Yeah, I just got back from Coachella, but I can agree with that. I think that, you know, everyone knows, Ice Spice, everyone knows her songs and kind of that classic beat and everything that she goes for.

AC: But I feel like a lot of people have already written her off.

NC: Yeah, that I, I totally agree with that and I think you see that with a lot of things in this industry where you get so down one path that it’s so hard to come back from like Miley Cyrus. Like she was the quintessential, the Disney girl, everyone was in love with her. Hannah Montana was my life and then she literally had to do some psycho stuff to break away from that too, to break herself away from that.

AC: Yo, Jojo Siwa!

NC: I was gonna say this but I didn’t want anyone to judge me. Let’s talk about karma.

JW: Do you think that Jojo Siwa? Yeah, boxed herself in like down a path like the whole bows…

NC: Jojo with the Bobo. What you know about dance moms, Jackson?

JW: Love Dance Moms actually. So how has that experience kind of changed since coming to LA? Is it kind of amplified?

NC: Honestly, I for those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Portland, Oregon, but for the most part, I was always working down here because my dad works here. So I was in LA a whole bunch. And so I feel like not much has changed on the industry side, but more like as far as personal growth, I’ve kind of broken out of that and I feel comfortable not just staying in one bubble. And I’m really, like I said, I’m so ready to get out of this and just explore new things because I know, I know that would be an exciting thing for me to do.

JW: You say you grew up in Portland? Like, were you doing the acting thing from Portland?

NC: Yeah. So luckily now we live in a world where a lot of things are self tapes initially before you get to call backs and so I do my little self tapes. Occasionally, I’d come down to LA to do an in person audition and obviously I was here when I was working. But yeah, I was doing my little thing in my room myself.

JW: So Addie, did you start your clothing line here in LA?

AC: At UCLA actually, dude, I started making this stuff in the freaking maker space at Centennial and Olympic and like, dude, like it’s insane. Have you been in there?

JW: No, I actually have not.

AC: It’s actually like, this is a bad comparison. I say this a lot but like, you know, the aesthetic of like those lo-fi videos like the lo-fi hip hop.

NC: I know exactly what you’re talking about.

AC: Like the live stream of the girl like doing her work that vibe of looking out the window and like seeing some beautiful, like a town at dusk like that. That, that’s what that is like going in the Makerspace. You like, you look out the windows and it’s just beautiful and then you look up at the ceiling and there’s like this insane honeycomb pattern and I’m like, oh my God, like who even designed that? And then I’m like, I get to make stuff here it’s just an amazing overall beautiful experience UCLA 10 out of 10.

JW: Do you all think UCLA has a lot of resources then for students trying to explore these different industries?

AC: Yeah, there’s a reason we are number one, baby.

NC: Yes.

AC: Have you guys ever been in the TV production place? Like near the theater, film and television?

NC: I actually live there. I am a theater major film minor, so I actually haven’t explored a lot of the resources outside of that building, but there is so much stuff in there. There’s sewing machines, recording studios.

AC: There are sewing machines?

NC: Yeah, I’ll show you because I’m in costume design as well. And so I’m there for four hours, like three times a week.

AC: So you like sewing like that? Have you made pants before?

NC: I have, I’ll show you. I make costumes for the show, so I just had to make like a million guy trousers.

AC: Oh my God, I didn’t think I would be getting excited right now but like, yo, can we maybe like cross over outside of the day, and let’s talk about it.

NC: This is not just a podcast, this is friendship building.

JW: Yeah.

AC: So I’m gonna be like, 100% honest, these pants that I’m wearing I got these from Urban Outfitters at the Grove and I just, I put my design all over them and same for the tees I got these are blanks. I’ve been essentially working with blanks and putting my design on them. But like, I need to make new shapes. I’m trying to cut things and make them happen. Yeah, I feel like this is the beginning of a very great friendship.

NC: Not to quote “Casablanca” there, but we have it on record.

NC: Yeah, guys, see I don’t know how to do any of the printing stuff. My grandma taught me how to sew when I was young and I’ve always had a sewing machine in my room. For the longest time I used to tell my dad, I’m not going into this industry, I wanna do fashion so we can meet each other halfway here.

JW: I have a question for you. You are in TFT, correct?

NC: Yes.

JW Ok. A lot of people think that you have to be in TFT to be an actor or work in the industry. What are your opinions on that?

AC: Wait before you go into that. What is TFT – theater, film and television?

NC: You absolutely do not have to be in TFT to go into that. I’d say if you’re looking to start acting, you can always sign up on a virtual casting network. So, casting networks.Casting frontier actors, access breakdown services. All of those, you can literally sign yourself up, make a profile and you automatically start seeing things that you can audition for.But I will say being in TFT definitely enhances that because I’ve been able to take so many different classes and really learn a lot about different aspects of the industry. Like I’ve taken lighting design, sound design, costume design, poetry, animation, a bunch of stuff like that. But you do not have to be enrolled at school to be doing this. I will say that.

JW: All right. What is your major Addie?

AC: I’m undeclared. I have no idea what I’m doing. I was thinking about going into this, like, whole experience through the music program, I auditioned to a lot of schools with jazz. I play upright bass thats my main sort of like thing outside. I didn’t do it because of like a myriad of reasons, but like the main thing is I wanna do like other stuff too and I also don’t really know yet, but there’s only one other freshman bassist, like at the school, like jazz bassist. So I probably could have done it but I don’t know, maybe later.

NC: Can I have a super stalker moment? I actually was at one of your performances at, do you know Stellen?

AC: Yeah.

NC: My roommate, Bella, was singing with him when he was doing the recital or whatever with the piano. And I remember you having to hop in for a couple of performances because they’re like, guys, we don’t have another, what is it upright basis?

JW: I mean, speaking of you’re in a band, correct? The 529?

AC: Yes. The 529s.

JW: Well, what is your experience with that then?

AC: Oh, it’s been horrible. I hate those people. I’m just joking.

NC: You almost had me! I was like, I see Instagram. I thought you guys were friends.

AC: No, no, no, they’re the best. Very, very, very cool. Yeah, it’s been freaking awesome dude. Like I ever since I feel like I needed to have that as a freshman because like obviously next year I’m, I’m really gonna be focusing on my own music, you know, like I’m, I’m worried about right now. It’s like we just played this insane gig at what is it?

JW: Sigma Phi.

AC: Yeah, Sigma Phi I and it was insane. It was like something out of a movie. We were back there and there were balconies with people and stuff and It was such a good time but like halfway through the set. I had this moment where I was like, oh, I’m worried about how much longer I can stick around those guys. You know, if I’m trying to manage school clothing and putting together a band for my music, you know, like all that stuff.

JW: But I guess that actually brings up a really good point. How do y’all balance your schoolwork, extracurriculars and your work in the industry?

NC: I guess one, if anyone from my high school can tell you that I was just simply not there and now where I’m at college, I actually have to be in classes and attendance is a super big part of my grade. And so it’s definitely been a struggle for me trying to figure out how to miss class, what excuses to make up and how to balance everything outside of that because UCLA is so fun. There’s so much going on. So I really do not have an answer.I’m constantly like, hanging on by a thread, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, bro.

AC: Do you ever feel stressed for like no reason? Like, even when you don’t have anything coming up, you’re like just stressed?

JW: Oh God, today.

AC: Oh, what about this?

JW: No, no, no. Just like you said about everything.

AC: Oh, yeah. I’d be like laying in the grass and then I just like, sit up all of a sudden and I just feel so stressed but like, I think it’s just because this is an interesting, l think it like poses an interesting question. Like, do you guys feel pressure at all because you go here? Do you feel like a pressure to fit a certain image or do you feel like it’s totally OK to just be yourself?

NC: Yeah, I, I understand, I feel like I feel a little bit half and half when I’m in the TFT space again, theater, film and television, everyone is so it’s such an eclectic bunch that I feel like there’s really a place for everyone, but I’ve recently started adventuring into science classes and English. And sometimes I feel like I’m lacking, like I’m a little behind and some people think I’m probably crazy and a little bit loud. So I don’t know, I just feel like it depends on where you are and again, like, just find the space for you and there’s so many different things going on here that you can easily kinda find your place and your people.

JW: So how has your job affected your social scenes here at UCLA?

NC: You take this one?

AC: OK. Like my occupation, as in my occupation title, like my, my job?

JW: I guess your work in the film industry or now your work in clothing and fashion as well?

AC: Honestly, I it’s like doing things, you know, just like, just, just doing things like being an actor and doing auditions or, or making music or doing performances, you know, playing gigs and perform, like making clothes, you know, like when you do things and you’re in college, especially a place like UCLA, like, dude I’d be meeting people all the time, like, literally right now who like, who make things and, and are, and are interested, you know, we’re all young happening people and like, I just to be honest, I’ve just felt really uplifted. I felt like, like the people that I’ve met here, you know, by doing things and, and having things that I can talk about people, people tend to want to like, lift that up and, and, and it, it, it, it goes both ways, like, because I do things like, I, I feel like, like now at this point, like going into college, I’ve ha I have a little bit of perspective and, and experience and it allows me to just like, help other people and, you know, like it, that’s what really makes college so special, you know, my limited experience so far it’s just that like, every everyone is kind of like figuring it out at the same time and that, that like allows for a lot of really exciting connections to happen.

NC: Yeah. Here at UCLA we definitely work hard, play hard because I feel so I feel so don’t laugh at me, don’t laugh at me. Look away right now. I feel so lucky to be here.It’s just such a talented place and you kind of know that everyone who’s here and is enrolled, there’s something special. Stop laughing at me. I’m gonna scoot over there.

AC: Here at UCLA, we definitely work hard and play hard.

NC: Do you know how many advertising auditions I have to do. OK? this is where it’s coming from. Yeah, but everyone has a certain level of excellence and that definitely really pushes you and people are really good at stuff here to be simple.But I love going out and I love hanging out with my friends and I love doing a whole lot of nothing when I’m not working.But the duality of UCLA students is crazy. So you just gotta, you just gotta learn that, work hard, play hard balance.

JW: How do you have any tips for students to stay motivated, working in the industry? Because it can, it can beat you down sometimes.

NC: Oh my God, I get rejected so often and especially when I was younger, it really used to, it used to affect me a whole bunch because you, you kinda have these feelings of self doubt and you think, why didn’t they want me? Why didn’t they choose me? But my dad always says rejection is redirection. So this industry is hard and a lot of people are going for the same jobs. A lot of people wanna be in this but you just gotta keep going and, you know, people will slowly start to filter out along the way. So if you’re the last one standing, you’re booked, baby, you’re booked and busy out last. That’s what I gotta say.

AC: Yeah, I honestly, it’s just, you know, if, if, if you’re looking at getting into the, the acting scene, get ready to like, get told no, like a lot over and over again and to be honest, like more than getting told no, like you’re probably just not even gonna hear anything. You’re just gonna send it off and put your heart and soul into it and nothing’s gonna come back. But as long as you keep doing that and you keep coming back, people will see you and people will start to talk about you and that, that can lead places, you know, you just gotta keep showing up, but also getting close, like getting to be that last person standing like with one other person and then not making it, you like you.

NC: I don’t know, like, the more, the more you audition, the more you go out for all these things people will slowly start kind of remembering you remembering your name. I see so many of the same casting directors all the time because LA might be big but this industry is so small. So don’t, don’t burn any bridges, focus on yourself. Just keep doing you because slowly if you keep working, people will notice, people will notice. Thank you, thank you for that. People will notice your work effort. Keep on keeping on. That’s all I gotta say.

JW: Do you have any advice for people who are looking to expand beyond film into other industries in entertainment?

NC: Circling back to the typecast thing, like even in your real life, I don’t think you should just put yourself into one box because there’s so many, there’s so many other avenues. And I know a lot of people have a lot of different interests and ultimately the more interest and the more hobbies and the more things you try make you such a more well rounded person. And I see that with me all of a sudden, like I grew up playing tennis, I still play tennis and then a tennis w will come out and I, I can compete for that because I’m a pretty good tennis player and so I don’t know, just be multifaceted, do everything you can try new things, it will help you in the long run. Just the more experiences you have, the more successful you’re gonna be.

AC: That was mad smart. That was super wise.

NC: Thank you. I don’t sound like this in class.

AC: yeah, I mean just, you know, going through this like music thing so far. You know, every piece that I’ve made has been a product of like a an accumulation of experiences like it’s been it’s been like this and that and this other thing and this song and then that moment that I had with my brother or, or that thing that went into the decision, you know, the decision to make that or the decision to do that. But yeah, so like, I guess this is advice for people who are trying to maybe, you know, get into the entertainment industry. just keep moving, keep moving through life, keep greeting opportunities with preparedness. And, and yeah, keep being creative, you know, take those experiences and like spin them around, you know, turn them around and do new and different things with them and, and always be a sponge, you know, just grab just, yeah, that doesn’t go much further than that.

JW: Well, to be honest, that was a great conversation. I think y’all had some great advice for others and I had a great time. So, thank y’all both for coming on the podcast today.

NC: Thank you, Jackson.

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