Reese Witherspoon Reveals She Was Sexually Assaulted By A Director At 16

 

Last night was Elle’s Women in Hollywood event, where Reese Witherspoon introduced her Big Little Lies costar Laura Dern to the stage. Before she did, though, Witherspoon opened up about her own experiences with sexual harassment and assault from film directors in the wake of the explosive allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

She began by recounting the beginning of her career in film, and her feelings of “True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t.”

Witherspoon went on to give a hopeful note to the terrible news that has emerged from actresses all over the world in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. After hearing so many brave people come forward with their stories of abuse, Witherspoon stated, “It’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.”

She concluded with a call to arms of sorts, asking people to do their part to bring a new normal to the industry in terms of its attitude toward sexual harrassment.

Read the full speech below.

“I didn’t sleep at all last night. This is going to be a real emotional rollercoaster because, before we get started honoring one of my very favorite people in the whole world, I just want to say, this has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world, for men in a lot of situations and a lot of industries that are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths.

“I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate. A lot of the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action. True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.

“And I’ve just spoken to so many actresses and writers, and particularly women who’ve had similar experiences, and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories. And that truth is very encouraging to me and to everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth. Very smart, wise women have told me that in the past three days, and I feel very encouraged by this group of people tonight who have created a community of people who are champions now of a new attitude toward harassment in our industry and every industry that’s going to address the abuse of power in this business and every business and I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal.

“For the young women sitting in this room, life is going to be different for you because we have you, we have your back. And that makes me feel better because, gosh, it’s about time. I just also want to say as a course of action because sometimes people, they talk about things but I was really thinking last night, what can we do, what can we do? And I just want to say, there’s a lot of people here who negotiate quite frequently with different companies and heads of companies, and I think maybe during your next negotiation, this is a really prudent time to ask important questions like, who are your top female executives? Do those women have green-light power? How many women are on the board of your company? How many women are in a key position of decision-making at your company? Asking questions like that, I found, it seems so obvious, but people don’t ask those questions.

“If we can raise consciousness and really help create change, that’s what’s going to change this industry and change society. So I’m so sad that I have to talk about these issues, but it would be, I would be remiss not to.”

13 Steamiest Golden Globe Nominees

Photo: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

Award show season has (unofficially) begun! Call your stylist and snag a Valentino fresh off the runway to ensure you’ll look your best on the step and repeat. For this set of 2014 Golden Globe nominees, looking their hottest wont take much. Keira Knightly could show up in a maternity dress and still be the hottest dime on the red carpet.

1. Jennifer Aniston, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for CakeThe Cinema Society & InStyle host a screening of CakePhoto: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

2. Julianne Moore, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for Still Alice L'ORÉAL PARIS 2014 Women of Worth Celebration ArrivalsPhoto: Ryan Kobane/BFAnyc.com

3. Benedict Cumberbatch, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for The Imitation Game David-X-PruttingPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

4. Reese Witherspoon, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for Wild John-SalangsangPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

5. Jake Gyllenhaal, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for NightcrawlerCarly-OtnessPhoto: Carly Otness/BFAnyc.com

6. Eddie Redmayne, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for The Theory of Everything 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards - Press RoomPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

7. Amy Adams, nominated for Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy for Big Eyes LACMA 2014 Art+Film Gala sponsored by GUCCIPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

8. Emily Blunt, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical for Into The Woods Los Angeles Premiere of Cinedigmís ARTHUR NEWMANPhoto: Aleks Kocev/BFAnyc.com

9. Jessica Chastain, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for A Most Violent Year GIORGIO ARMANI hosts the official premiere & after party of A MOST VIOLENT YEAR with OSCAR ISAAC and JESSICA CHASTAINPhoto: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

10. Keira Knightley, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in The Imitation Game David-XPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

11. Emma Stone, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Birdman Julian-MacklerPhoto: Juliane Mackler/BFAnyc.com

12. Ethan Hawke, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Boyhood Matteo-Prandoni-2Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

13. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Foxcatcher Ben-RosserPhoto: Ben Rosser/BFAnyc.com

Celebrity Couples That We Wish Would Rekindle the Flame

Photo: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com 

It isn’t you, its me. Surely the couples in this category got their agents to whip up something a little more endearing to say. The truth is, breakups happen, but it so happens that these particular ones shouldn’t have.

1. Heidi Klum and Seal Mark-WoodworthPhoto: Mark Woodworth/BFAnyc.com 

These two were together and married ages ago (The ’90s) and we wish we could #ThrowbackThursday their relationship solely for that fact that she has the body of an angel and he has the voice of an one. It also wouldn’t hurt if they could make some more beautiful babies.

2. Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron Screen-Shot-2014-10-15-at-10.32.18-PMPhotos: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com & Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

Zac and Vanessa’s on-screen romance played out before our eyes in the wildly popular Disney movie series “High School Musical.” Hoping for these two to get back together is like hoping for Hilary Duff and Aaron Carter to get back together and that (thankfully) is not going to happen. But Zanessa will forever hold a place in our nostalgic hearts of couples that failed.

3. Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Benefit celebrating ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: Savage Beauty Exhibition - InsidePhoto: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com

Miranda Kerr is a supermodel and Orlando Bloom is a movie star, these two were destined to find their way together at some point, and when they did the goddesses above were cheering. Unfortunately, these two are no longer. Yes, a hard pill to swallow. Orlando, stop throwing punches at Justin Bieber and start sending love letters to your ex!

4. Jennifer Lopez and P. Diddy Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.32.52 PMPhotos: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com & Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com 

Jenny from the block has been around the block a couple times. Jennifer Lopez has had more men than she can count on her freshly manicured hand. One man that stood out (and stood taller than Marc Anthony) was none other than hip hop royal P. Diddy. Puffy is more of man than any Casper Smart could be, and will protect his girl ’til the end. It’s time for J. Lo to change “I luh ya papi” to “I luh ya Puffy.”

5. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.34.25 PMPhotos: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com & Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com 

We selfishly want to see these two get back together solely for that fact that we want to rewrite the ending of “Cruel Intentions” in real life. It would go a little something along the lines of Reese and Ryan marrying, having kids, and residing in a fabulous apartment on the Upper East Side.

Jeff Nichols Explores the Cycle of First Love and Masculinity in His New Film ‘Mud’

When it comes to experiences that bind us together, there are few things more universal than heartbreak. Everyone remembers the first time it happened—the earth-shattering sadness and the way that painful fire burnt inside you for the very first time. You look back on that initial taste of love and remember the sweetness, the overwhelming, almost suffocating sensation that came from finally understanding what it truly means to need another human being. But in the natural progression of life, eventually that love ends or fades, and although it hurts like hell, you survive. Wounds mend, you meet someone else, and, in time, you’re able to start the cycle all over again. With his third film, writer and director Jeff Nichols explores this "cycle of first love," told through a fourteen-year-old boy experiencing his first heartbreak, inside the larger tale of a man stuck in first love’s loop—never having been able to move beyond his first love. "It’s kind of like Lolita in a less gross way," says Nichols, whose new film Mud may look one way on the surface, but is moved along by a powerful and emotional undercurrent.

As the follow-up to 2011’s psychological drama Take Shelter, Nichols’ Mud explores a similar rural American landscape, filled with ordinary people dealing with extreme circumstances, living normal lives until something creeps its way in and shatters their foundations. Written in the summer of 2008, Nichols finished the script for Mud alongside Take Shelter, but says he had been thinking of the former since college. "I always had Mud on my mind," says Nichols. "I was building towards Mud."
 
You can see what he means. Since his first feature, Shotgun Stories, Nichols has been slowly evolving on a larger scale. Mud feels like his most ambitious and fully-realized work yet, packing not only a wonderfully-crafted narrative but the emotion and heart that separates it from stereotypical southern tropes. When asked if his Arkansas upbringing made a large impact on him as a filmmaker, Nichols claims that "It defines who I am."  Setting his films in the worlds he grew up in, the worlds that his memories are steeped in, is just another way the talented director has differentiated his work.
 
"It was just real comfortable and really easy to close my eyes and write in that voice and in those places," he explains. "I didn’t have to do copious amounts of research, I could just imagine it." With that sense of imagination, Nichols tells the thrilling, adventurous, and emotional tale of a 14-year-old boy, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his best friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) who happen upon a fugitive hiding out an an island in the middle of the Mississippi river near their home in Arkansas.
 
The boys meet the mysterious man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) after finding out that he’s been living in an abandoned boat in a tree that they’ve claimed as their own. The boys agree to help out Mud and bring him food while he’s on the lam, hiding from both the police and the shady men who are after him for a crime he’s committed. But all the while, he’s waiting to be reunited and run away with the woman he’s been in love with since he was a child, the woman with nightingales tattooed on her hands, Juniper ( Reese Witherspoon). It’s that romantic sentiment and commitment to his woman that Ellis connects with and admires in Mud as his own mother and father contemplate divorce and the future of their family, creating a bond between the young boy and the outlaw. Living across the river from Ellis is the old and wise Tom Blankenship, played by the wonderful Sam Shepard in one of his best roles in recent memory.
 
After discovering a book of black-and-white photos of people living and working on the Arkansas river,  Nichols says he realized that there was "a world in my backyard that I don’t know about." This idea sparked his vision of a guy hanging out on an island in the middle of Mississippi. "Little Rock is split in two by the river," he explains. "Whenever you drive over the bridge you see this little island in the middle of the river, and I always fantasized about playing out on that island." Nichols ruminated on the topic for a while, before deciding that the story was simply too good not to pursue. "When I said it out loud—a guy hanging out on an island in the middle of the river–it just felt like a good idea, like a big classic American movie idea." 
 
But not wanting to make a simple getaway film about a man on the run, Nichols thought about young boys finding Mud, and who those boys were. "A girl had broken up with me and I was feeling defeated and pained," he admits. "I started thinking, yeah, what if this kid’s going to get his heart broken and there’s this guy who always gets his heart broken, but for some reason always keeps coming back. All the sudden I had what ended up being the core of the story." And that core being love–first, unmerciful love. "A lot of the time we look down on that young love we had and think, oh wasn’t that cute or puppy love and all, but its kind of the fiercest love there is," he says. "You don’t have your hands up yet, which makes the fall so hard because you’re fully committed to it, you’re all in. And oh man, it hurts."
 
Having written the character of Mud for Matthew McConaughey without ever having met him, the challenge was finding the right actor for the role of Ellis. " I went in to meet him and he was just the physical manifestation of my character," says Nichols of Tye Sheridan, who, in his role, gives one of the most endearing and fearless performances of the year so far. "He looked like him, he sounded like him, he was from east Texas, he hunted and fished, did everything that I needed this kid to do." Sheridan had recently played the youngest son in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which turned out to be just the proper training for the young actor, who Nichols found out about through Jessica Chastain and his producer Sarah Green. "He’d been through this amazing experience of being on a Malick film," says Nichols. He’d had the experience of working with celebrities and getting to understand the mechanism of filmmaking and cameras. "He had just gone through this amazing improvisational bootcamp and came to me fully formed as a talent," he adds. "All I had to do was give him the script and get out of the way."
 
There’s a particular moment in the film in which Sheridan explodes on Mud. He runs into the scene bursting with emotion and delivers an incredibly well-acted and authentic moment that hits you straight in the gut—which elicited an audible gasp from the audience at Sunday’s premiere at MoMA. Nichols recalls showing up that day on set and asking Sheridan if he needed to talk about the upcoming scene. Sheridan replied "Give me a few minutes," and sat on a log for two to three. Then: "Bam!" Nichols snaps his fingers in repetition."Two, three takes, just like that. I was like, holy crap. McConaughey and I just looked at each other and were like, we’re gonna make it." 
 
But what rings true with all the male characters in the film is inverting standard ideas of masculinity. Nichols takes the southern male mentality and exposes its "endearing" weakness. "I wanted to make a romantic film about the male point of view of love, and I don’t think that happens a lot," he says. He takes these hard men, whether it’s Mud, an outlaw, or Blankenship, a reclusive older man, and shows their vulnerability and their devotion to love. "They might be men who don’t feel comfortable sharing their feelings but they have all those thoughts, they have all those feelings, and we treat them like humans, like the real people that they are, and we don’t need to fit them into a stereotype of masculinity."
 
The dynamic between men and women in the film feels akin to that of the works of Shepard himself—an almost antiquated and structured view of how one should be, with the intellect and insight to understand the confounding nature of love’s instability. As a huge admirer of Shepard himself, Nichols admits, "there were definitely days on set where I was like, I’m not worthy of being here." He also recalled "the greatest day ever" when he was sitting on the beach and Shepard, who had the day off, came over "just wanted to hang out." The two sat together on the beach eating lunch, talking about music and films and books. "I was like, this is the coolest thing that I’ve ever done in my life."
 
With its release this weekend, Nichols is finally able to sit back and reflect on the film that’s been living inside him for years. "Now that I’ve made Mud, I feel like I’m ready to move on to a second chapter," says Nichols. For the 34-year-old director, it may be the beginning of a long and exciting career. "I’ve had Mud with me so long as an idea, it feels like it’s the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. I just feel it."

See Jewel as June Carter Cash in Lifetime’s ‘Ring of Fire’

I know we haven’t seen much of Reese Witherspoon lately, and Jewel is counting that you’re remember her more than you will Witherspoon’s Oscar-winning performance in Walk the Line. Jewel, who has reinvented herself from folky poet to a poor (white) man’s Shakira to straight-forward country star, is starring in a Lifetime original movie (they’re all the rage these days, you know) about June Carter Cash, the singer-songwriter and wife to Johnny Cash, in the upcoming Ring of Fire. I know, I know; you’re gonna get this one confused with Walk the Line. Similar stories, and both are named after famous Johnny Cash songs. Of course, June Carter Cash co-wrote "Ring of Fire" herself, you see. That’s what makes it different. Also, it’s a TV movie starring less-famous people. 

Check out a clip from the movie, which premieres on Lifetime May 27:

[via Indiewire]

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

‘Legally Blonde’ High School Production Gets Teacher Fired

Today in Overreactions we have an Ohio drama teacher who has been fired from her school for staging Legally Blonde: The Musical with her students, which is "inappropriate."

Sonja Hansen, formerly of Loveland High School, is out of a job this holiday season after her attempt to stage the 2007 Broadway musical with her students.

The Reese Witherspoon-starring film the show is based on was rated PG-13 and the Broadway performance is all ages; Hansen assured the Los Angeles Times the music has no "bad words." But still administrators said no way, declining to give a reason for Hansen’s dismissal in the middle of rehearsals.

It was "bend and snap," wasn’t it?

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

There Are Other Movies Happening At Sundance Not Involving James Franco

Yesterday, the Sundance Film Festival announced its out-of-competition lineup, which included a lot of hype, a lot of all-star actors and a whole lot of James Franco. In his never-ending, Zelda-esque quest to become Supreme Lord of the Film Festival, James Franco is actually involved in two out-of-competition and rather NSFW films at the festival. One of the “Park City at Midnight” films is kink, a documentary about the employees of the adult website Kink.com, for which Franco worked with regular collaborator Christina Voros (Voros makes her directorial debut; Franco is signed on as a producer).

For the experimental “New Frontier” section of the festival, Franco has offered Interior. Leather Bar., which he both appears in and co-directs with Travis Mathews, who also wrote the film. In it, the directors attempt to recreate the lost gay S&M footage taken out of the 1980 film Cruising, removed to keep the film from garnering an “X” rating. I mean, it’s really only a matter of time before James Franco tries to curate his own festival of all movies involving James Franco as the star or director or EP or maybe he tries to write the soundtrack did you know he plays music now that’s a thing? Maybe he’ll come to the premieres in character. Maybe he’ll start his own filmmaking academy. Maybe eventually our national obsession with James Franco being involved in so many activities will finally come to rest, and we can all be at peace with our accomplishments. That would be nice.

But this isn’t an all-James Franco festival, because that would be boring. There are actually a lot of other talented people who have movies not in the competition. There are other documentaries, even! Including Sarah Polley’s festival-favorite Super 8-laced family tale Stories We Tell and Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers, a rather-relevant profile of members of the Israeli secret service. There’s S-VHS, the sequel to the acclaimed found-footage horror flick V/H/S, which will likely get a lot of play. There’s No, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s look at the later years of Augusto Pinochet, a Cannes favorite featuring Gael García Bernal; Jeff Nichols’ Mud, your classic man-on-the-run-gets-help-from-teenagers story featuring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. The multimedia art installations from the likes of lyrical Twitterati Yung Jake and interactive light-and-sound master Rafael Lozano-Hemmer also sound pretty intriguing. Let’s see you try to do something like that, Franco.

But perhaps the most exciting batch of films are in the “Park City at Midnight” section, which includes S-VHS and kink, as well as a film involving a recently-released prisoner on the road back to family and to his new life that is even called The Rambler, a road-trip horror film, a movie about a cannibal family and Virtually Heroes, which sounds like an alternate-universe Wreck-It Ralph in which “two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence.” Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s demon-house comedy Hell Baby, featuring a whole lot of funny people (Keegan-Michael Key, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Leslie Bibb, Rob Corddry) and road-trip comedy Ass Backwards, co-starring and co-authored by June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson (and featuring Alicia Silverstone!), round out the lineup. 

Artist Brian Batt Talks ‘Gossip Girl’

If you haven’t yet heard of artist Brian Batt, you’ll be getting a glimpse soon, especially if you tune into Gossip Girl. We know that not everyone’s smitten for Upper East Side scheming, but this impressive painter makes a cameo in tonight’s episode, “Portrait of a Lady Alexander.” Indeed, the 33-year-old acting neophyte even delivers some lines, in the presence of Chuck and Blair, no less. Guilty pleasure, meet aesthetic skill.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Batt made his way to Manhattan roughly five years ago. At the time, he was working for a Long Island-based band merchandising company, designing t-shirts and other fan-focused products. But, much as he loved it, in 2008 Batt threw in towel, determined to work for himself and bent on painting fulltime.

And now, that’s just what he does. Day in and day out, he collides with the canvas in his Lower East Side two-bedroom walk-up, though soon he’ll be relocating to Dumbo. We can appreciate his need for more space. With two pit bulls, Lily and Zoe, bounding about (not to mention fixating on our feet) and countless large-scale works scattered throughout the apartment, perched precariously against walls and otherwise making it a little difficult to walk without worry, he’s due for—and deserving of—a real estate upgrade.

Batt’s style has certainly evolved over the years, and currently it’s all about gridding and dots. Some depictions we encountered during our visit were of Russell Simmons, Frida Kahlo, and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Just blocks and dots of color making for a magnificent and entirely fresh perspective. No Lichtenstein or Seurat to be seen here.

Our personal favorite Batt original would have to be Venus, which features a gorgeous girl (who looks a lot like Lana Del Rey). She sports a letterman jacket and oversized sunglasses, her long locks billowing in the wind before a body of water. The closer you stand, the more out of focus it is. But back up a bit and the beauty comes together, well, beautifully. We really dig the illusion, not to mention the evident meticulousness. And we aren’t alone. Batt counts among his collectors the likes of Reese Witherspoon and John Krasinski, amid myriad more. Though he can command up to $25,000 per piece, prints are available on his site, signed and embossed, for only $90.

Jolly and totally down to talk shop, Batt opened up to us about his craft, breaking into television (if only once…so far), and his relationship with L.A. Spoiler alert: New York City wins.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Have you always been into art, even as a kid?
I was always drawing. And, I went to college for illustration at Hartford Art School in Connecticut. Also, my dad was an artist, too.

That’s awesome. Who is your favorite artist, apart from pops of course?
My primary influence is Chuck Close. Chuck Close is the man.

I can see that, for sure. You have a couple reminiscent, albeit distinct, aesthetics. What would you call them?
Pixilated paintings and dot style[, respectively]. [The former] is influenced by the digital era. The reference is like a bitmap. [The latter is] like look[ing] at a newspaper [if] you zoom way in; it’s all dots. It’s influenced by print.

What does this endeavor mean to you?
I’m just so motivated to be painting every day, as much as possible. Definitely more motivated now than ever before. I spend a lot of time; I’m working at least twelve hours a day, seven days a week. There’s so much I want to do, so much I’m set up to do right now. Commissions and pieces I’m compelled to do. I’m the only one here to do it, too. I don’t have assistants or anything, so I just have to be as productive as I can. I work really hard.

It shows. How do you create these pieces? Like, where do you source the initial images?
This [Russell Simmons image] is taken from a photo on the internet, which is something I’m trying to avoid. I want them to be original. Like, with Gossip Girl, I couldn’t show this because I didn’t take this photo, you know?

It’s tricky. So, how did you initially get involved with Gossip Girl?
The head writer bought two of my paintings at a show I had in L.A. They wanted [to feature] a New York artist and were trying to write me into the script. They wanted me to play myself for authenticity. When they first told me, I really [didn’t] expect it to happen. [After some back and forth,] they invite[d] me to do a cameo on the show.

Were you stoked?
I was very interested.

Then what?
They explained what the scene was going to be; Chuck and Blair come to my studio to talk about a painting. They wanted me to read in front of the camera. That was the final test. I was super nervous, because I’d never done that sort of thing. They just wanted me to be myself.

Did Gossip Girl film here?
They wanted to. Because of the walk-up, it was an issue. So, they came, picked up, like, 18 of my paintings, and recreated my studio out on Long Island. It was cool to see it all recreated.

I bet. So, what was the end result?
It was amazing. The experience was great. They made me feel really comfortable and were really enthusiastic about the work. It was so surreal. It should be great exposure.

Beyond the head writer of Gossip Girl, who else invests in your work?
Probably the most famous person who’s bought work from me is Reese Witherspoon. I did one for John Krasinski a couple years ago, too. It was commissioned by a friend of his. He loves JFK…

Are you bent on depicting famous faces or are you also into lesser-known subjects?
It’s both. I don’t feel as comfortable submitting pieces where I didn’t take the photograph.

And that largely ties back to portraying folks you know or have easier access to than the celebrity (or deceased) set. Tell me about your Frida Kahlo painting.
I think it’s important [to represent] the power of women. There’s not as many female artists. There’s not as much of a presence of female artists. That’s what inspired me. I like subjects who are game changers, who overcome adversity, who stand up for something. To me, Frida totally represents that.

Absolutely.
It’s also about doing more obscure icons. People I think are amazing but don’t necessarily get the recognition of, like, Bob Marley, who’s on posters everywhere. [For example,] this is Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love Karen O.

Does anyone ever sit for a portrait?
Used to. But now I take a photograph because I don’t want to make someone wait so long.

Speaking of waiting, what’s your waiting list like?
A year. Some are priority. Some people are anxious to get something; others are, like, Whenever. I’m happy to have a bunch of commissions lined up.

It must be awesome to be an artist who isn’t starving.
It’s the best. I’m starting to pick up some momentum now.

Yes, you may even make it to Art Basel this year. Tell me more about the piece you anticipate showcasing there?
I’ve probably put in 1,000 hours so far. It’s tedious. I really hope they take it.

For sure. So, does New York inform your art? This area?
It’s always inspiring to walk around the neighborhood. I’m lucky I have dogs. Gets me out of the apartment.

But soon you’ll be abandoning the Lower East Side for Dumbo. Are you ready to say goodbye to Manhattan?
I’m freaking out. I’m majorly freaking out.

I would be, too. Lastly, your manager’s based in L.A. Can you describe your relationship with the West Coast?
There’s so many opportunities for artists out there now. It’s really refreshing to have New York artists [going] to L.A. The general population in Los Angeles is all about it. There’s so much to take advantage of. It’s really positive and beneficial to be involved in some way. It’s also nice to recharge a little bit, too. I love going back and forth, absorbing what both places have to offer. I don’t think I could live there full-time, though. New York is just so amazing.

Your Daily Guide to Trending Topics

Every day there are some topics that are trending. Since many of them don’t make sense, we provide easy contextualization. Also, this way, you won’t actually have to know anything about anything.

Miley Cyrus Engaged

Google users probably aren’t looking for the registry for Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemswoth, but they’re still searching for news about the couple’s engagement above all else. That’s right, former child star Miley Cyrus who, despite brushes with legal intoxicants and Annie Leibovitz, seems to have grown up pretty well adjusted considering her game, is getting married. The 19-year-old pop star met Hunger Games actor Hemsworth, 22, on a movie set and the two have been dating for three years. "Thank you for all the love today. I’m happy to share this news with you all. I feel like all my dreams are coming true,” Cyrus tweeted, forgetting to CC the genie who granted her original wishes for fame and fortune. 

Wade Davis

Retired NFL played Wade Davis has come out as a gay man, making him the second most popular term to search on Google this morning. His trending status on Grindr is not known. Davis, who used to play football for the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins.“You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family,” Davis said to OutSports.com. “Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family.” 

Jewel

No, your eyes don’t deceive you. Jewel, the singer-songwriter is indeed trending today—at least over at Bing. It’s because the “You Were Meant For Me” singer tweeted a photo of herself in costume as country music legend June Carter Cash for the upcoming Lifetime movie Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash. "Here I am as June in my trailer with her blue eyes and perfect teeth," she wrote only moments before Reese Witherspoon, who played Cash in the 2006 feature film Walk The Line, presumably showed up and slapped her. 

Kris Humphries

Yahoo! is feeling a bit retro this morning, as users are spending their valuable time searching for information about Kris Humphries, last summer’s most famous groom and more recently just that guy who was married to Kim Kardashian for a few days. They’re all curious about Fatmire Sinanaj, the 25-year-old hotel employee that Humphries is rumored to be dating. Though he denied it, nefarious sources close to the dashing basketball player say that he and Sinanaj, who indeed rocks a look not dissimilar to that of his ex, are hot and heavy. Really weight stuff here, Yahoo! users. Wow.

#WhatUniversityHasToughtMe

Maybe it’s that we do this post in the morning, and news hasn’t been reported or serious thinking hasn’t been done yet. Either way, the things that trend on Twitter are normally pretty dopey. Today’s entry in that category: things that people learned while attending college. Don’t get too worried, but we bet most of them aren’t about book smarts.

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