Interview: Sonya Cassidy on AMC’s ‘Lodge 49’, ‘Humans’ & ‘The Woman In White’

Sonya Cassidy Photoshoot 2018

SONYA CASSIDY is landing roles in some of the most intriguing and unique TV shows of the year.

Sonya recently completely filming ‘Lodge 49′ – a major new AMC drama series in which she has a lead role. Set in Long Beach, California, the series centers on a young male ex-surfer (Wyatt Russell), who joins a fraternal lodge after his father’s death.

Sonya is currently starring in BBC One’s adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ classic gothic novel ‘The Woman In White’ alongside Jessie Buckley, Olivia Vinnal and Dougray Scott.

But Sonya is undoubtedly best known for her role in AMC’s sci-fi BAFTA-nominated series ‘Humans’. We had a quick conversation with Sonya Cassidy about all of her projects.

AC: You most recently starred in ‘The Woman In White’ – how did you land that role?

SONYA: I’d worked with Carl (Tibbetts) on ‘Humans’ the year before and he called me in to audition.

Did you read the novel after being cast?

I did and enjoyed it very much. I think we captured the suspense of the novel well, coupled with the beauty that people long for in a period drama. Northern Ireland provides that in abundance. I loved filming there.

Are you a fan of mystery novels?

I confess it’s not an avenue of literature I know. Until I read Woman in White for this job the mystery genre was very much that for me. I’ll happily delve into more though. Perhaps once I’ve gone through the pile of books I have at home.

Tell us about the character you play and how they fit into the story.

Madam Fosco is married to the charismatic, manipulative Count Fosco. On the run from his native Italy, the Fosco’s come to England to stay with their friend, Sir Percival, who’s in the cunning process of marrying a young woman solely for her fortune. I wanted to show Madam Fosco’s quiet, determination. Her agency, despite the era. Rather than reclining upon a chaise longue, quivering beneath her corset and swooning! at her husband’s goings on, she embraces the role of elusive partner in crime in a formidable way. Mainly in the preparation of toxic tea. Beware the sound of a cup and saucer if Madam is around.

Sonya Cassidy Photoshoot 2018

Your role in ‘Humans’ couldn’t be any more different. Do you have an opinion on AI and robots?

I do. Though I hold my hands up, I don’t have much tech in my life (that I’ve direct control of). In fact by modern standards I’m practically Victorian. My phone use is minimal, I’m not on FB, rarely tweet, I don’t own a laptop and I now write letters to friends and family when I’m away. Instead of email. And postcards. Of course. Who doesn’t love one of those?

AI is an incredible accomplishment of our time and I am in awe of those working for us and our planet within that realm. But there’s difference between the AI we interact with on a regular basis- lets say ‘Daily Tech’- and innovation in areas like science, medicine, the environment- ‘Big Picture Tech’. They have different motivations and to be aware of that is important I think. Cathy O’Neil’s book ‘Weapons of Math Destruction’ was a revelation to me and I highly recommend it. Her focus is algorithms, how they’re crafted and used. That’s something that should be grabbing our attention. It’s a far more pressing worry than sci-fi inspired, sentient robots. AI has become so woven into our lives, with things like social media, we can’t imagine a world without it. Already. I’m of a generation (born in 1887) that remembers not having a mobile phone, facebook etc. When I want to, I disconnect. I can find fulfilment in things totally unrelated. My concern is for those growing up knowing no different, who can’t disconnect. Those studying for work that may not even be available when they leave school. Balance is important. I think a lessening of Daily Tech would be no bad thing. The world will not implode. We also need better education as to AI’s impact on our lives and how to incorporate healthy habits alongside it. Not be so frequently dazzled with exciting sounding gadgets and apps from a small number at the helm, reluctant to divulge info about these things we “must have”, while they’re probably profiting. Transparency and accountability is vital for the future of our relationship with AI and each other. In the meantime, it’s totally fine not to be connected to everything. all. the. time. Again, the world will not implode.

Everyone seems to have an app idea at the moment – what would yours be?

[Laughs] Okay. At risk of sounding like a hypocrite based on my previous answer – I’d create an app that shares cultural habits and unique ways of life from countries all around the world. Each day/week you’d get sent info about a different nation to your own. It could be the holidays they celebrate and why, their cuisine, their music, cherished customs. You’d learn about somewhere new. See a place from a different perspective. Perhaps consider going there? When we travel we bring something back with us. Hopefully. This could provide a small window into those places which feel far off, but need not be unknown.

Sonya Cassidy Photoshoot 2018

You’ve also just been cast in a leading role in AMC’s ‘Lodge 49’ – have you worked on an American production before?

I’ve been in shows that have aired in the States, but this is my first US production.

You play the role of Liz Dudley, she is described as smart, fiercely independent and deeply cynical. Can you tell us a little bit about her?

What struck me with Liz is a character who I really liked from the get-go and who isn’t ticking any convenient boxes for a Female Character. Liz, like the show, defies easy categorization. Yes she’s smart, but still makes stupid decisions. She’s independent, but become lonely with it. She’s cynical and, I think, a refreshing realist. She works hard waiting tables but won’t/cannot focus that energy into her long term prospects. She’s not manicured for entertainment. There’s a ‘dirt’ under her finger nails and that’s part of what drew me to her and the project. I also think the more women we see on screen with that the better. We all have it. You want to hang out with the characters in ‘Lodge 49’ because they’re imperfect, but trying really hard. That proves hilarious and heart wrenching in equal measure.

Sonya Cassidy Photoshoot 2018

With the series being set in California – from your time there, what are some of the best places to visit?

The show is set in Long Beach which I really enjoyed spending time in. The view as you drive over the Vincent Thomas Bridge at sunset, looking out over sprawling yet perfectly ordered docks with beaches beyond- it never got old for me. Griffith Park and Observatory for views of LA and the universe. Runyon Canyon seems to be the go-to for an inner city view but Baldwin Heights gets my vote. Museum of Jurassic Technology- don’t google it, just go. Topanga makes you feel like you’re in a different time, gone by. It’s beautiful. As a Brit I happily indulged in the World Series last year. Catching a game at Dodger Stadium is good fun. The Getty museums… So much! Being a Londoner I’m used to walking everywhere, so I found LA quite overwhelming to begin with. It’s vast and seemingly unknowable. To counter this I did in a car what I’d do on foot. I just drove around and explored different neighbourhoods. Some are even walkable! Worry not, Europeans venturing to the West Coast! I’m aware this method of exploration will sound absurd to an Angeleno, but I recommend it. It helped get LA under my skin and appreciate how much it has to offer beyond what people know it for.

PHOTOGRAPHY: JOSEPH SINCLAIR

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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Interview: Aaron Pierre on ‘Krypton’, ‘Britannia’ & ‘Othello’

Aaron Pierre Photoshoot 2018

AARON PIERRE is making waves on both sides on the Atlantic.

He is currently starring in ‘Krypton’ which has become a huge hit in America since it launched earlier this year. The series tells the untold story of Superman’s grandfather as he fights for justice on his home planet of Krypton.

Back in his home country of England – Aaron can currently be seen starring in the epic fantasy drama series ‘Britannia’.

We had a quick catchup with Aaron in between his tight rehearsal schedule for ‘Othello’ at Shakespeare’s The Globe Theatre.

AC: ‘Britannia’ and ‘Krypton’ couldn’t be any more different – what are some of the differences in working on an American and a British show?

AARON: Both experiences are wonderful! Everyone involved, cast, crew and production are so fiercely passionate about these projects and the story they are telling. This makes for a perfect creative environment.

What was it like filming in Serbia for Krypton?

We were in Serbia October 2016 to film the pilot. I remember us all being very focused. We were all so determined to make something we would be proud of! We had a brilliant time. Fond memories!

Are you big on travelling?

I love travelling – I have constant wanderlust! I hope to travel the world.

Were you a superman fan growing up?

Yes, I have been a fan of Superman and comics for a long time. I have always enjoyed immersing myself in the stories and investing in the characters, their beliefs, their inhabitance. I love this genre of storytelling. I believe it presents us with an opportunity to reflect on our own society.

Aaron Pierre Photoshoot 2018

Can you tell us abit about your role in ‘Krypton’ so far?

I play the character Dev-Em. Dev is a commander in the military guild. We first meet him in the context of his occupation. Regimented; an unwavering determination to accomplish and get the job done. However, as the series progresses we discover who Dev is outside the context of his duties. There we meet the real Dev. A meticulous over-thinker who is constantly wrestling with their moral compass.

‘Krypton’ has already aired in America. How do you think it will translate to British audiences? Does it feel like an international show?

It absolutely does feel like an international show. We feel very lucky to be working alongside such a talented and culturally aware writing team. Due to the writers room being so in touch with what is presently happening in our society and around the world the show deals with some prevalent themes. We hope irrespective of where you may be watching from, it feels inclusive!

Aaron Pierre Photoshoot 2018

Who have you particularly enjoyed working with on-set?

Everyone! The whole team are a dream to work with!

How did you first get into acting?

Firstly, my parents. They have always encouraged me to pursue my passions. My dad is also an actor. Seeing his work has greatly inspired me. My mum is not an actress but has also greatly inspired me. Her outlook on life is beautiful. They’re the best!

Aaron Pierre Photoshoot 2018

QUICK QUESTIONS WITH AARON PIERRE

What’s the strangest food combo you’ve ever had?

I used to love watching Scooby-Doo as a kid! One day I decided to make my idea of a Scooby snack. I used four slices of bread and filled each layer with peanut butter, jam, crisps and hot pepper sauce…loved it! [laughs]

Is there a superpower you wish you could have?

Teleportation

What’s on your music playlist at the moment?

Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, J. Cole, Wretch 32…to name a few.

A sport you wish you could play?

Tennis

Do you have a philosophy?

I don’t think I have a philosophy as such. I just believe we need far more love and understanding.

One thing in particular that you’re really excited about for the future?

Visiting Curaçao – it’s on my bucket list!

Othello runs at Shakespeare’s Globe until Oct 13. For tickets, visit shakespearesglobe.com
Krypton will premiere on E4 later this summer. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: BARTEK SZMIGULSKI

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

STYLING: ITUNU OKE

HAIR & MAKE-UP: DAISY HOLUBOWICZ

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Interview: Chelsea Frei on YouTube’s ‘Sideswiped’ and Dating App Ideas

Chelsea Frei Photoshoot 2018

CHELSEA FREI has spent the past few years getting her funny on. Creating and producing her own comedy content for big brands like ‘Funny Or Die’ and ‘WhoHaHa’.

Chelsea’s role in ‘Sideswiped’ – a YouTube Red Original Series – came just after graduating New York University’s prestigious Tisch School.

We caught up with the hilarious Chelsea as she talks all-things comedy and dating apps!

AC: ‘Sideswiped’ has a great cast! How would you describe the premise and your role in it?

CHELSEA: Sideswiped is a new original comedy series about dating in today’s digital society – it touches on both romantic and familial relationships. In the show, Olivia – played by the immensely talented Carly Craig – is frustrated with her single life on her 30th birthday and decides to get on Tinder. I play Olivia’s younger sister, Jayne, who is experiencing the seven-year-itch in her marriage and is very encouraging of Olivia joining Tinder. Mary – played by the amazing Rosanna Arquette – plays our Mom who is recently widowed and also online dating. The dates they both go on are charming, awkward, and at times romantic. I think it’s super relatable!

If you had to add a feature to a dating app, what would it be?

Two Questions Everyone Needs to Answer:

1). What their Drag name would be and why.

2). If they’ve ever ghosted someone to get out of breaking up with them.

I think you can basically figure out everything you need to know about a person from those two questions.

Everyone seems to have an app idea at the moment, can you think of one?

An app the tells you when you should REALLY leave for the airport. I am always either eight hours early or twenty minutes late.

This is one of YouTube Red’s most high-profile shows. Are you watching any on the platform at the moment? (or is there anything you’re trying to get round to watching?

I recently started ‘Cobra Kai’ and LOVE it! It’s so fun and thrilling. I’m so excited to watch the rest of the season!

Do you have some go-to YouTube Channels that you like to watch in your spare time?

TINY KITCHEN! Tiny Kitchen is basically a home cooking network – but in a literal tiny kitchen. Everything is tiny and all you see are a few fingers from whoever is cooking. I cannot get enough. My sister and I send the videos back and forth to each other constantly.

Chelsea Frei Photoshoot 2018

What do you think the recipe is for great comedy?

More cowbell! Ugh I’m the worst. Comedy that comes from truth. Everything I write either comes from a true story, something that happened to me, or a truthful feeling I’ve experienced.

How did you get involved in ‘Funny Or Die’?

I wrote a sketch called ‘Fuckboy Mountain’, which was about a bunch of fuckboys being told by their girlfriends’ Dads to “take a hike”. So they take a hike on a literal mountain. I produced and shot it with my creative partner, Noam Tomaschoff, and we posted it on ‘Funny Or Die’. We got an email that it was going to be featured on the community page and screamed. Since then, they have been so helpful in promoting our videos. The great thing about ‘Funny Or Die’ is it gives performers a place to post videos and make you feel like you’re really apart of the community. It’s such a great platform for content creators and comedians who are trying to get their work out there.

Are you working on any sketches at the moment?

I’m working on a new digital series about networking/the horrors of “coffee shop meetings” and “informationals”, and that will be essentially a series of sketches. What I’m focused on right now is a dark comedic short I wrote and produced called ‘Listless’, which is based off a crazy true story about a realtor in Boston (where I’m from). We shot it a few weeks ago and are now beginning post-production. I’m really excited about it.

With a lot of your work being internet-based, how important is social media to you on a personal level?

Social media has been a great tool in getting my material/comedy out into the world quickly. I used to be so obsessed with how many shares and likes we got on a sketch, and how quickly we could make something go “viral”. Now, a few years in, I’ve realized that likes/shares are much less fulfilling than creating content you want to watch like, a year later. Honestly even a month later. So I try to be cautious of doing things just for the gimmick and the fast reward. That being said, I have this Instagram video series I do about Boston moms (loosely based on a few Moms I know from back home) that is truly one of my favorite things to do. I love getting messages from moms/anyone from Boston who have seen it and find it relatable, it makes my day!

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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Interview: Joanne Froggatt on the challenge of her lead role in ‘Liar’

Joanne Froggatt Photoshoot 2017Off the back of her three Emmy nominations and Golden Globe win for her role in the acclaimed historical drama ‘Downton Abbey’, JOANNE FROGGATT returns to center stage in ‘Liar’— a six-part miniseries in which she takes plays a victim of sexual abuse searching for the truth.

With the intense subject matter of the series, I was interested to know what her dynamic with Ioan Gruffudd — who plays her suspected rapist — was like on-set. “Luckily Ioan and I got on brilliantly, as did the rest of the cast and crew. It felt like a really tight knit, supportive set. I think we needed it to be, because of the intense nature of the scenes”.

Joanne was clear that she took on the role, she wanted to prepare for the tough role as best she could.

“I did quite a lot of research. I watched a lot of documentaries and spoke to a counselor. With any character, you have to make sense of their behaviour and emotions in your own head, and why they may act in a certain way”.

AC: Initially, how many scripts were you given to read?

JOANNE: I initially only read the first episode, before accepting the role, but I did know where the storyline was going. That was the first question I asked! By the time we started filming, we had the first three-episodes with the final three following shortly afterwards. As I say, we all knew how the story was going to unfold but there were still so many surprises in Jack and Harry’s scripts.

Joanne Froggatt

AC: You’ve now played two characters who have been subject to sexual violence, if the opportunity to play third came about, would you take it?

JF: At the moment, I would be hesitant because as an actor you want to constantly show your versatility, that’s what keeps work interesting and challenging. However, it would totally depend on the project, the timing and the circumstances.

Joanne Froggatt

AC: Harry and Jack Williams’ ‘Rellik’ has been airing at the same time as ‘Liar’ on a different channel, have you been watching any of ‘Rellik’?

JOANNE: I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but I have it all recorded on my Sky Planner, so I’m going to binge watch it one weekend.

Joanne Froggatt

AC: It’s been announced that there will be a second season of ‘Liar’. Is there anyone that you’d like to see join the cast?

JF: Yes, it’s been confirmed that we will be doing a second season of Liar. I’m so thrilled that it has been so well received. I’m not sure who I’d like to see join the cast. I think we have a fantastic cast and a fantastic range of characters who have a lot more to reveal, but who knows, I’m certain Jack and Harry will surprise us all.

AC: What are your ambitions as an actor?

JF: To keep doing work that I’m proud of and that I enjoy, and to produce some of my own projects.

PHOTOGRAPHER: JOSEPH SINCLAIR

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

STYLING: ANGIE SMITH

MAKE-UP: JUSTINE JENKINS

HAIR: NARAD KUTOWAROO using UNITE Hair

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Interview: Vick Hope on making documentaries and TV presenting

Vick Hope Photoshoot 2018
VICK HOPE has been making waves in journalism, radio and television.

Vick’s career began in Buenos Aires, where she covered Latin American current affairs and culture for the Argentina Independent as their youngest ever journalist at 19. After writing for multiple papers in the city, she was quickly snapped up by MTV – which queued the beginning of her presenting career on entertainment shows for their MTV’s international channels.

Now several years later, Vick Hope hosts the Capital FM Breakfast Show and is also the official backstage presenter on popular talent-contest ‘The Voice’. Vick has also just began hosting a action-packed ‘Mad-Max-style’ gameshow on Sky One called ‘Carnage’ – alongside ex-cricketer Freddie Flintoff and grime artist Lethal Bizzle.

 

We talk to Vick Hope about her career so far and her plans for the near future.

 

You started work as a Journalist for the Argentina Independent in Buenos Aires, did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a Presenter?

 

I always knew I wanted to tell people’s stories, to communicate, so pursued print journalism as writing seemed the most natural and accessible way of expressing myself. Specifically, I wanted to be a foreign correspondent and love languages, so studied French, Spanish and Portuguese at uni, and spent my third year in Argentina doing an internship with the Argentina Independent, writing about Latin American cultural affairs, social and cultural phenomena. It was while in Buenos Aires that I met some guys from MTV who needed a presenter for a pilot they were making out there. I screen tested and got the gig, and that was the first time I really realised that broadcasting and talking on screen was an actual option. I guess that was when my thirst for it began, and although I still write as much as possible for various magazines and work as a producer and reporter on projects for companies like ITN, it’s grafting at those presenting gigs that’s become the central line of my career my path now.

 

Vick Hope Photoshoot 2018
What did working at the paper teach you about the industry?

 

It’s a word I hate, but working at the paper taught me the importance of networking. This industry is all about relationships and reputation, and although nepotism is a problem in my eyes, that’s not to say I’m against cultivating good relationships and helping out people you know are sick at their jobs, and hoping they’ll help you out too. The media circles in Buenos Aires were a lot more fluid than they are here in the UK, and I was able to make contacts in TV just by asking around, making calls, and even meeting people at my part-time jobs in a cocktail bar and a night club; whereas in London I hit stumbling blocks over and over when it came to the fact that my family don’t have any ties to anyone in the industry, I’m not from a showbiz background or have contacts, or even simply because of how expensive it was and I had nowhere to live when I moved down from Newcastle to pursue running jobs. Getting in is the hardest part, especially because a lot of the entry level roles go to people who are well connected, but once you’re in, I’ve learned it’s so important to stay in contact with colleagues; these jobs are mostly freelance so you’ll never know where they’ll be next. Never burn your bridges, and it sounds so simple but be nice to everyone you meet, if you don’t, word gets around very quickly!

 

 

Then you were snapped up by MTV, how did that happen?

 

After presenting the US pilot for MTV out in Buenos Aires, I had to come back to the UK to finish my degree, but now had a little black book of a few names to hit up in London, so I ended up spending my uni holidays coming down to the capital to help out the MTV UK team doing work experience, which turned into running jobs around the office, which turned into covering an interview with Vanessa Hudgens, which went well and turned into being offered an internship with them. Even though I’d started setting my sights on presenting (and was hosting shows online and making my own YouTube documentaries at the time as well), there wasn’t a place for me as a presenter there, however the opportunity they gave me is one I am eternally grateful for: their news production internship was brilliant! I was trained to shoot, edit, script, set-up studios, cover red carpets,…everything! Following that, I was offered a researcher role at MTV, where I worked across their European Music Awards output, before moving on to various other research and production roles at different channels, while all the time taking every presenting gig I could and making my own content, gathering it all together in a showreel, and sending it out to production companies and broadcasters until I got my first proper TV presenting/reporting role on the 4Music Breakfast Fix.

 

Vick Hope Photoshoot 2018

 

What are some of the struggles that only a breakfast presenter can relate to?

 

I am so tired all the time! Probably my biggest struggle though – and I know it sounds ridiculous – is that I have really shit vocal chords. Singing along at gigs, shouting over the music at events, overworking, under-sleeping – everything makes me lose my voice, which is obviously fundamentally problematic for someone whose voice is their currency and their tool. I have an Inhaler, which is my lifesaver.

 

 

For our own curiosity, what’s your time schedule on a weekday morning?

 

I get up at 4.30 and need to be at Capital by 5.30 for our production meeting about content for the day’s show. We have a brilliant team of on air and social producers who we work with to come up with ideas, before going on air 6-10am. After the show, we stick around for more meetings with the execs about the next day’s show, a look-ahead to what we’ll do over the coming week, and that’s also when we tend to have pre-recs of interviews with artists. I then go on to my TV, voiceover or brand jobs.

 

Vick Hope Photoshoot 2018

 

Your new show ‘Carnage’ looks so awesome – what’s it like hosting alongside Freddie Flintoff and Lethal Bizzle as a trio?

 

It’s such a crazy trio, we all come from such different worlds, and I found that so stimulating and refreshing. I’m so used to working with other presenters, my peers, so it was a brilliant experience to be surrounded by these guys with so many stories to tell outside of that discipline. I mean, spending every day with a former England cricket captain and a pioneering grime MC, that’s insane right! I learned a lot from them, I was always curious to find out more about their lives and hear their perspectives on things, and most importantly we got on really well; they’re both very funny. The turning point I think was working out how to push each other’s buttons and realising we could take the piss out of each other: that was when we found a really great dynamic which I hope translates well on screen.

 

Do you wish you could have a go at competing?

 

I am a terrible driver! I failed my test twice for fully misunderstanding how you should read the road, and crashed my first car into the side of my own house, so I’d probably do very badly. But I maintain that the problem is more my relationship with other drivers and the rules of the road than the actual driving itself, so Carnage -in the desert, where anything goes- is perhaps the ideal arena for me and my dubious automotive skills. Perhaps. But honestly, seriously, the drivers we have on the show (who are from all sorts of backgrounds, from banger racers, to ex-military, to an 18-year-old who’s only just got her licence but her dad’s instilled next-level menace into her road rage) are sensational, it’s really something to behold, you’ll love it.
Vick Hope Photoshoot 2018
Alongside this, you’ve been making documentaries, do you think your early days as a journalist helped shape the kind of topics you were interested in covering?
Of course. And it still does. I am in talks with BBC Three and Channel Four to make more docs on the subjects I am passionate about: for example the refugee crisis, institutionalised prejudices, societal expectations of women, attitudes towards sex, a ton of cultural phenomena. This is why I do this, to tell these stories and to learn. I love entertainment television, and I am grateful for a steady radio job, but my heart and driving force will always lie in journalistic pursuits or storytelling. It’s just that it takes time and is often very difficult to get documentaries off the ground, but you have to be reactive, topical and keep plugging away at the issues you want to cover. I intend to do so for a long old time.

 

With the research, how long can the process of making a documentary take?

 

It really varies. I made a documentary for Channel Five not long ago about the rise of online horror and digital folklore, which took me all over the country and all the way to Poland and back in search of this creepy masked guy on the internet who we eventually found in a derelict Nazi sanatorium in the forest outside of Warsaw; we basically shot that in one insanely intense week. But then there are projects I’ve been researching and developing for years, and it may be many years more before we shoot them, then more time again before they hit screens. It depends on how relevant the topic is, how reactive it is to current affairs, whether there’s a demand among the viewership to see it explored and how long you need to follow a subject to understand it and have a tale to tell.

 

Vick Hope Photoshoot 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY: HANNA HILLIER

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

MAKEUP: SCARLETT BURTON

HAIR: MATT CAHILL

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