Blue Marble Cocktails Offer Spirits With An Ecologically Friendly Squeeze

Blue Marble Cocktails Offer Spirits With An Ecologically Friendly Squeeze

Whether you’re excited for awards season, the Super Bowl, or any other winter/spring occasion, Blue Marble Cocktails wants you to know that they are more than worthy for your consideration at your next gathering! Sure, boxed wine may be the latest trend, but Blue Marble makes all-natural, pre-mixed, ready-to-drink premium cocktails perfect for any occasion, or whenever you want to enjoy a quick, easy way to sip your favorite mixed drink. And we’re happy to say that you’ll never complain about a lack of alcohol, because these canned cocktails pack a punch!
Offering nine different mixed drinks, including classics like the Mojito, Moscow Mule and Greyhound, Blue Marble’s cocktails use ultra-premium distilled spirits, all-natural juices and handmade syrups. For a light refreshment, Blue Marble offers premium spiked seltzers, using vodka instead of beer malt, for a delicious beverage that has only 95 calories! Loved by consumers and drink conniesours alike, these cocktails are making a splash in the food & beverage world. Last year, the World Premix Awards recognized Blue Marble’s Bloody Mary drink as the best ready-to-drink cocktail in the world!

When you drink Blue Marble, you’re also giving back to the Earth! Drawing its name from the iconic photo taken in 1972 by NASA’s Apollo 17 crew, Blue Marble is committed to ensuring their products are both high quality and earth-friendly. Created by co-founders Danyelle Rabine and Alan Miller, Blue Marble honors their ethos by using recyclable packaging and working with organizations dedicated to ocean conservation. Read on for a quick Q&A session, with answers provided by Alan Miller, about Blue Marble’s beginnings, name, and the process to decide new flavors and creating cocktails.

Q.: How did you get started?

A.: Danyelle and I wanted a better cocktail experience.  We wanted a cocktail that could be served on a moment’s notice but it had to be premium and all-natural.  After exhausting our efforts to find something for our family and friends, we set out to make something spectacular for the world.  Honestly we were so frustrated with what was in the market we said to each other – let’s do it. We changed people’s perception on how good a cocktail out of can could be. It took years to develop the brand, formulate and build our own state-of-the-art factory.  Working with your spouse can be challenging.  Long days and nights with lots of stress could take a toll on most couples but it fortified our love for each other and the business.  We both share a passion of creating smiles and that’s what our spirits, seltzers and cocktails do, they make people smile.

Q.: Why did you choose the name “Blue Marble”?

A.: We wanted our company name to represent who we are!  The NASA astronauts coined the term Blue Marble when they looked back at from outer space but to us we wanted the name of the company to resonate all-natural and bring awareness to the single-use plastic problem and the destruction we are doing to our oceans, reefs and beaches. Blue Marble was a natural fit!

Q.: How did you decide on flavors and ingredients?

A.: Easy we wanted to give people popular drinks that can be difficult to make themselves.  The ingredients were more complex as we wanted to use only the best ingredients from around the world.  The best ingredients make the best beverages.  We haven’t cut cost by using cheap artificial flavors, substitutes or dyes.  All of our products are gluten free and you will know you are drinking premium from your first sip. We made our new seltzers with vodka – not with beer malt like a lot of the popular brands use.  We want only the best for our customers.

Q. What is the process for creating new seltzers, spirits or cocktails?

A.: Extremely difficult!  When you are mixing 20,000 gallons a day of product, consistency is everything. We had to build our own manufacturing facility to ensure quality, and now we are producing products for some of the biggest companies in the world.  Years of work go into each flavor and our mixing teams are some of the best out there.  Lots of things go into our beverages; needs assessment, route to market, development timeline, branding, and success plan and a lot of love. I guess the one big benefit creating new cocktails, spirits and seltzers, is lots of taste testing!

02-15-2020 Catalina Island Museum : Project Azorian

02-15-2020 Catalina Island Museum : Project Azorian

Catalina Island Museum presents Project Azorian: The CIA’s Greatest Covert Operation, a lecture detailing the story of the highly secret and elaborate 6-year effort to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean floor through mission artifacts and a slideshow on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Ackerman Family Amphitheater.

In 1968 at the height of the Cold War, K-129, a Russian submarine on patrol in the North Pacific was lost. The Russians searched for the sub but could find no trace of it. The U.S. located the submarine on the ocean floor 16,800 feet below water.

The CIA was desperate to recover the submarine and especially its contents to determine if the submarine carried nuclear weapons and what krypto equipment was recoverable. But the Russians were watching closely. Using Howard Hughes mining the ocean floor as a cover, the CIA built a 650-foot ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer with the goal of secretly raising the submarine from the ocean floor – some 3 miles deep – without the Soviets knowing. The mission, codenamed Project Azorian, was one of the most complex, expensive and secretive intelligence operations of the Cold War.

Local Catalina Island resident, Charlie Canby, a naval architect and marine engineer, worked on the design of the ship and sailed on the Hughes Glomar Explorer in the capacities of an ordinary seaman and welder. Canby served as the Resident Naval Architect on the actual recovery mission in 1974. During the lecture, Canby will take attendees on a journey telling the story of this 6-year mission through artifacts and a slideshow lecture including the conceptual design of the ship, the cover story and the recovery mission itself. He will also detail the mysteries of why the Hughes Glomar Explorer anchored four times at the Isthmus (Two Harbors) at Catalina Island.

Saturday, February 15 | 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)

Ackerman Family Amphitheater
Catalina Island Museum, 217 Metropole Avenue, Avalon, CA 90704

Members: $10
Non-Members: $17
Children (ages 3-15): Free with paid adult admission
About Catalina Island Museum
The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from all over the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film. Open seven days a week, the new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Avenue. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website:
The Art of Wood

The Art of Wood

The art of making furniture is universal—it is a craft, an ancient craft that requires patience and a profound knowledge of wood. Japan is nearly 70% forest, which has provided an ample supply—dating back 1,300 years. Perched in the retail epicenter of Hollywood and Highland is Japan House, an oasis of creativity and calm.  It is there that we found this current exhibit with a display of beautiful woodwork seen here for the first time.

JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is proud to announce the exhibition “HIDA | A Woodwork Tradition in the Making,” which brings Japanese woodcraft from its spiritual homeland of the Hida region of Japan to Los Angeles for the first time. On display from January 16 through April 12, the exhibition invites visitors to discover the legendary craftsmen of Hida and their design legacy today, embodied in the work of century-old furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd. Select items on display include a chair designed by the late Sori Yanagi utilizing wood-bending techniques native to Hida and part of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and a branch spoon created by Ibuki Kaiyama utilizing a traditional chiseling technique.

Located in the center of the country in Gifu Prefecture, the Hida region became known for its woodworking traditions and skilled artisans 1,300 years ago. This fame continues today through innovative design and sustainable use of the region’s forests, particularly the iconic cedar tree, in everything from contemporary furniture to fragrant aroma oils.

The furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd was founded in the region in 1920, and for nearly a hundred years has prioritized four core principles: Forest, Human, Time and Craft. Engaging all five senses, the exhibition guides visitors to experience these themes for themselves: coexistence with the forest (Forest), consideration of inherent human needs (Human), a legacy cultivated through time (Time), and a continuous refinement of craft (Craft). Displays will highlight regional specialties such as Hida-shunkei lacquerware, Ichii wood carving (Ichii itto bori — Japanese yew carving), and mageki (wood bending), as well as materials, prototypes, and products developed by Hida Sangyo and its frequent collaborations with some of the world’s top contemporary designers, such as Enzo Mari and Sori Yanagi.

The exhibition will also spotlight where tradition meets technology and innovation, such as Hida Sangyo’s revolutionary wood compression techniques with cedar. This sustainable domestic wood is typically too soft for long-lasting furniture, but in the Hida Sangyo factory, cedar is compressed and strengthened for use in durable chairs, tables and flooring imbued with cedar’s subtle scent. As a business leader, Hida Sangyo’s success has also influenced a community of other manufacturers to stay in, or migrate to, the Hida area, furthering the time-honored mastery of the region’s woodcraft.

Exhibition Credits:
Presented by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
Exhibition contents provided by Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Exhibition and Graphic Design | Daigo Daikoku
Planning and Production Assistance | Intertrend Communications, Inc.
Content Contribution | Historical Archive Office, Takayama City Board of Education

For more information on all programs, please visit

Photography by Takaya Sakano

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Offers Exclusive Award Night Celebration

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Offers Exclusive Award Night Celebration

With award season in full swing, there will be parties and celebrations of all kinds. However, who can say that they’ve attended the most coveted party of all — and how would they describe the most over-the-top way to celebrate and watch the Oscars? It’s likely that not many can attest to the experience being offered by Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills.

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is providing a (nearly) front row seat to the hottest award show this season! For those wishing to view the star-studded Academy Awards ceremony in style in the heart of Beverly Hills, Viceroy L’Ermitage is offering an exclusive private viewing party package for up to 15 people. This glamourous $15,000 package is complete with a multi-screen broadcast for the most ideal viewing experience outside of a seat at the show itself. Guests receive exclusive access to the famed Pavillion, a private wing of the building originally built as Michael Jackson’s personal suite. Celebrate your favorite winners with free-flowing Dom Perignon and Regiis Ova Caviar for the duration of the ceremony as well as a selection of special menu items, made specifically for the evening, courtesy of the hotel’s French bistro, Avec Nous.

This offer will surely be swept up quickly, so it’s recommended that those interested move with haste.

To learn more about this package, please call 310-860-8660.
Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is located at 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

About Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

“Since opening in 1975, Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills has been the epitome of Hollywood glamour. It all starts with the uncompromising privacy of our location on a tree-lined residential street that’s less than a mile from the bustle of Rodeo Drive. Take in our breathtaking address. You’ll soon discover that the peaceful surroundings are just a prelude to the understated elegance and unrequited privacy you’ll enjoy inside.

That’s because this is more than a hotel. It’s an institution that has stood the test of time and long attracted Hollywood’s brightest stars. Since 2000, we’ve earned the Forbes Five-Star designation and were named #1 Hotel in Los Angeles by Travel + Leisure 2018 World’s Best Awards. The industry, as well as anyone seeking the star treatment, still considers us ‘the place’ for modern luxury and it only takes one visit here to feel the vibe and see why.”


Art Comes to LA!

Art Comes to LA!

Superfine! Art Fair is returning to the Magic Box @ The Reef in DTLA for its second LA edition, February 6 – 9, 2020. Throughout the four-day fair, visitors will have the unique opportunity to meet and connect directly with 60+ top local and international artists, collectives, and galleries.

In true Superfine! fashion, visitors will be greeted by a welcoming environment, affordable price points (works starting as low as $100!), and the crème de la crème of emerging contemporary artists. Be ahead of the curve and not only discover, but take home tomorrow’s top artists today.

In addition to thousands of affordable, original works of art starting at just $100, explore the LA fair program and experience experimental performance art, cutting-edge art films, and innovative installation art.

for tickets and event information:

7 Steps to Hosting an Oscar-Worthy Dinner Party

7 Steps to Hosting an Oscar-Worthy Dinner Party

Here in Los Angeles, we’re pretty chill. Laid back is our Motto. Except when it comes to Award Season. Am I right? Everyone wants in on the fun. While it may not take our fellow female artists seriously, Oscar season is part of our pop-culture, and we all pay attention. From who’s dating who, wearing who, and what everyone is eating, we want to know.

You know why I know this? The Golden Globe awards created a Buzz Worthy Plant Based Menu that received just as much buzz as Michelle Williams’ “Get out and Vote in 2020” speech. Food matters. Table settings matter. Champagne matters, anyone else notice the Moet Chandon placement in front of every celebrity shot?

So, from casual to chic we know that, what you wear, to what you eat, creates a memorable vibe when entertaining.

But it’s more than just golden star party streamers and fake Oscar statue party favors…or is it?

Well, one thing for certain is hosting a dinner party shouldn’t be stressful. It’s the exact opposite of the end goal. What’s the end goal?

A good time! Of course, duh.

Part of that good time includes a relaxed vibe from the host and in ambiance.

Yes, the food has to be great. But it doesn’t have to be fancy. Yes, there should be free flowing libations. Alcoholic or not. And yes, and, this is mui importante amigos, it has to feature something unique to you, your personality, your style. So, yes, there has to be an element of entertainment or the unexpected to it, but it can be as simple as vintage dishes from Grandma Lily or disposable bamboo plates and platters you ordered off Amazon. Boom.

Let’s begin:

  1. Theme: Oscar Party, of course, it’s just around the corner, after all. An Oscar bash can range from an intimate gathering of your friends in your cool WeHo pad, overlooking Sunset Plaza, or a full on Hollywood Hills, dress as your favorite Marx Brother, after party….there are no rules…just make it doable.

Theme’s are also fun! Italian al Fresco or Tastes of the South Pacific. Or even, a Sushi station. The trick is to keep a theme dinner party, like a Make-your-own-sushi station, tight. Meaning 4-6 additional guests. If it gets too big, you lose the intimacy of it and of course, space. You want your guests to feel comfortable and not fighting for space at the table. Holiday gatherings? Totally different story.

  1. Ambiance: We eat first with our eyes. Actually, all or senses, taste, touch, smell, sound; but the very first thing is, what we see. What’s our first impression? What does the room look like when you open the door to welcome your guests? Are candles lit? Is the light dimmed or is it bright? Is there music in the background? Do you have flirty cocktail napkins out with your cheese board? Is there a cheese board? These are the things you want to think about when welcoming company. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just inviting.
  2. Drinks: Offering your guest a glass of wine, or non-alcoholic libation when they’ve settled, jackets off, or bags placed in a designated room, should be the very next thing they receive. Having a special cocktail or fizzy flavored drink ready as a welcome, sets the mood immediately and it’s totally easy peasy. For the rest of the party a pre-set help yourself drink station for your guests, invites them to collaborate, sets the mood and it’s one less thing you have to worry about. Guests love to help! Let them.  When serving wine, have a few bottles open. 1 red, 1 white and/or Rose. Make sure there’s a bucket of ice to keep the white and rose CHILLED….so important. Nothing is worse than warm Rose. Offer Sparkling Water and Flat. Have a different tub of ice out for the drinks. Make sure there’s plenty to drink, especially on a warm day. If you’re guests brought a bottle of wine, offer to open it. It’s so important to make sure they feel appreciated for their effort and their gift. Even if you hate the wine. Doesn’t matter. You’re always a gracious and generous host. Remember
  3. Hors D’oeuvres: Keep this simple. Sometimes, and I do this all the time, you’ve made such a gorgeous and bountiful amuse buche people are stuffed before dinner. But, then again, also if you’re like me, you worry it’s not bountiful enough. To keep it simple, create a cheese board of 3 cheeses, some crackers, preserves, nuts, crackers and slices of baguette. And some grapes. That’s really all you need. If dinner is going to be awhile, by all means, go ahead and add savory puff pastry bites, or the something like that. They are so readily found in the freezer section of your groovy neighborhood store, now, it shouldn’t be a hassle. Or make your own!
  4. Music: Gotta have the tunes playing. Whatever is your jam, have it playing in the background, but, remember, it’s ambient sound, we’re not hosting a rock concert. You don’t want your guests shouting over each other to be heard.
  5. Conversation: This can be a toughy. As the host, you want to make sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome. Hopefully, your guests are all on the same page and feel the same way. Sometimes there’s a stray, one who can’t remember how to reel it back before the conversation escalates, or worse, becomes inappropriate. Politics, Religion, we’ve been told, are off the table when entertaining. How is that even possible, in the world we live in? If it gets too heated, in any manner, gently distract guests with a “Who’s ready for dessert?” or “another drink or a cup of Joe?” The amazing dessert you made (err, bought.  Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me) will simmer down our much loved, but sometimes salty guest. You’re in charge. It’s your party and you must always set the tone; with your overflowing graciousness and hospitality, of course. Always. There’s no room for koo koo at your dinner table. Am I right?
  6. Holiday Dinner Parties: Can, often be challenging. Let’s take Thanksgiving, for example. The most important thing to decide is this: Is it pot-luck or are you doing it all? Pot-luck? Great. Suzy, wants to bring her famous casserole, that everyone loves? Yes. Please! Aunt Lulu wants to bring her Ambrosia, that no one loves? Yes, please! See, wasn’t that easy. Because, in the end, it doesn’t matter. You want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable. If, however, you want to make everything, you know exactly what you want to serve, and you don’t want no one messing with your vision, (believe me, I get  it), then the best answer for the guest who asks: What can I bring? Is the thing you don’t want or have the time to get. Ice? Wine? Kids drinks? Dinner Rolls? Challah? Be specific! If you only want an Italian Rose and not French, then say so, and tell them exactly where they can buy it, cuz’ honey, you and me both know where it’s at and who’s got the best deal. My point is, own who you are, without apology and without hesitancy. Your guests will appreciate you in any of these scenarios, because you were clear, open and gracious.

Are you getting the operative word here is Gracious? Good!

Bonus: Dear Guests, this is for you. Please remember to bring a little token as a host(ess) gift. It can be something like a bottle of wine, flowers, a potted plant or a fanciful little dish. Really, it doesn’t matter. It truly is the thought and the gesture that warms your host’s heart. I once brought this enormous bouquet of organic purple broccoli to my friend’s dinner party, and she loved it! Get creative. You can do this!

Pick up the Damn Phone: Furthermore, my dear guests, the day after you’ve been invited to someone’s home for a dinner party or any gathering for that matter; call your host to say thank you.

Yes, I didn’t mistype. I mean call. It’s old fashioned. It takes time, 2 minutes; but, it continues this thread of graciousness and hospitality and it’ll make your host feel awesome.

Bonus: You’ll be invited back!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. Please email me with any comments or additions, you think I may have missed.

Till the next time…Bon Appetite!

~ Chef Leza


A native cali girl, chef, writer, connoisseur of art, culture, food, wine and so much more. I’ve been private chef and caterer for the past 10 years, with over 30 years in the food industry.


Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Welcomes Celebrity Hairstylist Claude Baruk

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Welcomes Celebrity Hairstylist Claude Baruk

Just in time for holiday and awards season pampering, internationally renowned celebrity hairstylist Claude Baruk is bringing his 20+ years of experience to Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills to help glam up Angelenos and visitors alike through the rest of this week — ending on January 17th. He and his team of five hairstylists and two makeup artists are taking over the hotel’s Garden Suite One providing every service imaginable from cut, color, hair extensions and blow outs to full face makeup complete with complimentary champagne to transcend the traditional salon experience.

Recognized as the Celebrity Hairstylist of the Year at the 2018 Hollywood Beauty Awards, Baruk has styled dozens of A-list names, including Beyonce, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Naomi Campbell and Steven Tyler. Baruk, who began his career in St. Tropez before bringing his talents to London, Paris, New York, and Vegas, is now in Beverly Hills for a limited time run.

Baruk and his team will be providing their luxury hair styling, coloring and rejuvenating treatment services to Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, daily, with appointments for hotel guests and visitors from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling the hotel at 310-278-3344 and asking for the concierge.

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Teams Up with Steep LA for Chinese New Year

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Teams Up with Steep LA for Chinese New Year

In celebration of Chinese New Year, five-star property Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is teaming up with the modern traditional Chinese teamakers Steep LA (located in Chinatown) for a special tea offering on Saturday, January 25th.
Steep LA founders Samuel Wang and Lydia Lin will be on property to meet with guests and visitors during two different complimentary tea ceremonies (at 3:00 and 5:00) located by the fireplace in the Avec Nous lounge. Wang and Lin will share the tea drinking experience and showcase their specialty artisanal premium black and oolong tea and cold brew tea paired with a Wu Xiang (five spice) cookie by Chef Nicholas Loncar.
In-room turndown service on Chinese New Year will also include loose leaf black tea bags by Steep LA along with the cookie offering as well. With winter’s cool grip on Southern California, it’s a great way to warm your spirit — and an even better way to ring in the Lunar New Year!
Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is located at 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
AllBright West Hollywood Kicks Off 2020 with New Seasonal Offerings

AllBright West Hollywood Kicks Off 2020 with New Seasonal Offerings

If you’re a fan of international flavors, the latest seasonal offerings from AllBright West Hollywood‘s restaurant will have you swooning. Having just opened this past September and situated in the heart of Melrose Place, the women’s social club adds an elegant dining experience to Los Angeles. AllBright’s Executive Chef, Sabrina Gidda’s award-winning culinary expertise is appraised internationally including BBC’s Great British Menu. Encompassing the mission to champion women, AllBright’s restaurant spotlights local female-led farms, businesses, and fantastic artisanal producers who create incredible ingredients, ensuring all of our dishes are as vibrant and effortlessly delicious as possible.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, AllBright’s latest fare features dishes including, Baja Fish Tacos, Caulifower and Kale Orzo, Korean Spiced Salmon and Burrata and Pumpkin. Not to mention, AllBright is one of two restaurants in LA where you can find OMISO by I Fujimoto (her delicious miso sauce sells out in the first hour every Sunday at Hollywood’s Farmers Market!). Working with female supplies from farms, artisanal producers, and female businesses at the farmers market Gidda has created an impeccable menu and dining experience.
In addition, AllBright features a phenomenal beverage menu curated by their in-house mixologist featuring a seasonal selection of crafted cocktails, each inspired by powerful women. AllBright’s signature cocktails, “Paloma Del Carmen” named after Carmen Villareal of Los Vecinos Mezcal — the first female-ran mezcal distillery in Oaxaca, Mexico — and the “Lovelace Gin & Tonic” featuring Ada Lovelace gin, inspired by the first female computer programmer. In addition, if you’re participating in Dry January, AllBright is also offering mock-tails!

About AllBright West Hollywood

Here in our kitchen at AllBright West Hollywood, we have sourced the best ingredients for the menus we create. Wherever possible, we have chosen to champion female led farms, businesses, or fantastic artisanal producers who create incredible ingredients, ensuring all of our dishes are as vibrant and e ortlessly delicious as possible. We use cage free eggs, grass fed beef, wild caught seafood and free range poultry and meat. Our produce is sourced daily from local Southern California farmers markets. In living by these guidelines, we’ve managed to create a rotating menu highlighting the incredible Mediterranean microclimates, and the fruits and vegetables that represent the richness of the state of California. We welcome you to visit the list bellow to better familiarize yourself with the incredibly hard working people who have made this meal possible.

Zak Barnett Studios Launches VIP Membership Program Featuring Panels with Award-Winning Writers, Creators, Producers and Show-Runners

Zak Barnett Studios Launches VIP Membership Program Featuring Panels with Award-Winning Writers, Creators, Producers and Show-Runners

With the new decade upon us, famed actor and acting coach, Zak Barnett, is using his talents to provide one of the best resources to the emerging acting and film industry hopefuls of L.A. The Zak Barnett Studio is officially open, giving young talent the opportunity to get a VIP learning experience from some of the industry’s top professionals. Check out our Q&A with Zak below on everything the membership has to offer.

Q: What first brought you to Hollywood / SoCal?

A: I came to L.A. in my late twenties. I had spent the decade previous teaching acting, as well as serving as the Artistic Director of a theater company where I wrote and directed plays.  I had the opportunity to Co-direct and star in a feature film “Less” that was making the festival circuit–it seemed like it was time to make the move.


Q: How did you become an acting coach in Los Angeles and tell us about what your studio offers in terms of classes and coaching style?

A: How did I become an acting coach in LA?

I’ve been an actor, writer, director since I was a kid.  I remember the first thing I ever said I wanted to be when I was a kid was a great poet.  Never a fireman, or police officer– always a great poet. Although I’ve worked in many different art forms since I was a kid, including being a teacher, coach and business owner, being a poet has always been the throughline.  To me, that means looking below the surface, and looking for the beauty, connection and meaning in all things.

When I was 17, I went to NYU, Tisch School of the Arts for Dramatic Writing.  In my third semester, I suffered a traumatic incident, where I lost my proprioception-my mind’s ability to know where my body was in space.  No one could explain to me what was happening, or how to fix it–I was deemed psychotic by a psychiatrist who never looked up from his prescription pad, and walked out into the world for the first time, without any roadmap, or path to healing.

Refusing the doctors diagnosis, I dropped out of school and moved to Japan in search of answers.  At this point, the expression “wherever you go, there you are” comes to mind. Realizing I needed to find my own way through this, and running to some foreign land was not the answer, I moved to San Francisco and set up shop.

The only way I really had of putting the world together was acting, writing and directing, so I started a theater company with my late partner/creative genius, Dwayne Calizo, and attempted to put my mind, body and spirit, literally, back together again.  Acting and creating new work, became a path to healing for me. The themes of spirituality and activism were steeped in my work and process, as they served as binding elements to my disassociated mind and body, and my creative and spiritual practices became my means of healing.

We performed one of our new works, at this radical college, New College of California, and the President and Dean of the school were so interested in the work we were doing, they asked us to create a BA, MA and MFA Performing Arts Program for them.  I spent seven years Co-Chairing that program which was the first BA, MA and MFA program in the country that focussed on the themes of experimentation, activism and spirituality.

I then Co-directed and starred in a film called “Less”, which was about a man who gave up all of his worldly possessions, and “chose to be homeless” in search of meaning after losing his family in a rafting accident.  The film brought me to LA.

While auditioning and getting to know the LA Market, I taught at one of the big acting studios in town.  I worked there for nearly a decade with actors of all ages–taught 6 or 7 classes a week, coached literally thousands of actors, and got to know intimately the needs of auditioning and working in LA.  It was a great Hollywood apprenticeship and I literally put in my second round of 10,000 hours.

In creating ZBS, I wanted to put together the focus on artistic process, healing, spirituality and activism from my healing and professor days, with the rigor and specificity of my Hollywood coaching days.  The ZBS curriculum and culture focuses foremost on the art and craft of acting, while integrating deep personal development work drawing on the themes of activism and spirituality. We look at acting more as a martial art–a self study and application that is done in service to one’s spiritual balance as well as to the healing of the audience and society at large.  This results in actors that are extremely connected themselves, know who they are, and how they want to influence the world. This kind of work breeds charisma, and a heightened presence, or as we say in Hollywood, “star quality”.

Q: What makes Southern California a unique place to pursue your acting career ? Are there any places that you recommend for students for motivation or inspiration (parks, museums, special resources.) 

A: That’s such a cool question.  The first answer is that LA is the entertainment capital of the world.  It’s always been a huge part of my dream, and I think it is of many artists, to work with the most skilled, creative and accomplished artists there are.  LA is the olympics. The place is overflowing with creativity and ambition, and that’s exhilerating. You can stay in a smaller market. You can be a big fish in a small pond, whether it’s Atlanta, or Chicago, or the small town you grew up in–OR, you can test your metal, and see how far you can go when you’re challenged far beyond what you think you’re capable of. Working as an actor in LA is a spiritual test.  It forces you to let go, because the odds are just not rational, and you are forced to lead with your heart, your guts, and your faith in a destiny that you can only sense, and sometimes you can’t even do that.

In terms of sources of inspiration, they abound culturally and naturally.  I’m someone that thrives in nature. At least once a week, I’m either wandering around Venice beach, on a hike in Malibu, or writing my book up in Ojai.  I love that I am surrounded by all of these natural wonders. If it wasn’t for them, I’m not sure I could navigate the pressure and rigor of my career.

Q: Tell us about the new Membership Program and why it sets Zak Barnett Studios apart from other acting schools.  What are the steps for joining?

A: Membership.

I should start by saying that we will continue to offer classes, private coaching etc in the a la carte way we always have.  Membership is simply a more economical way for committed actors to develop over a longer period of time.

Membership has been something we’ve wanted to do from the very beginning.  As “A Whole Self Conservatory for the Working Actor”, we bring together many of the services and training an actor needs to be successful, with the practices that help an actor stay sane, grounded and connected to what makes them most unique and magnetic.

We offer two distinctive versions: one designed for actors that live in or around L.A., called the “L.A. Membership”, and one designed for actors that live outside of L.A., called the “Jetsetter Membership”.

Our “L.A. Membership” emphasizes weekly class as the primary component, accented with audition coaching, role prep, intensives, community events and mentorship.  Our “Jetsetter Membership” is designed for actors that live outside of LA, that are either trying to transition into the LA Market, or have no intention of leaving where they are, but want quality, ongoing training.  It’s primary component is Skype coaching, and it’s accented with our weeklong intensives, mentorship, classes and community/industry events when the student is in town.

We believe our membership programs are the answer to several ongoing struggles actors find themselves in:

1.  It’s difficult for working actors to commit to a long term course of study, because of the unpredictability of bookings.  We have created the memberships to have maximum flexibility for an actor’s busy life.

2.  Aspiring and professional actors living outside of L.A. don’t have access to the quality of training they actually need to be competitive in the L.A. market.  With our emphasis on individually tailored coaching and classes through SKype, as well as weeklong intensives thoughout the year, we bring LA training to the rest of the world.

3.  L.A. can be a lonely place–add the extreme ups and downs of being an actor to the mix, and for many actors, it can just be too heavy of a burden to shoulder alone.  In an industry that is so rife with ups and downs, knowing that you have a creative community where you can hang your hat, and will at the same time, challenge you to reach your greatest creative potential, is invaluable.

Q: What Sets ZBS Apart?

A: The ZBS curriculum focuses foremost on the art, craft and profession of acting, while integrating deep personal developmental work drawing on the themes of activism and spirituality.  We look at acting more as a martial art–a self study and application that is done in service to one’s personal well being, as well as to the healing of the audience and society at large.  This results in actors that are extremely connected themselves, know who they are, and how they want to influence the world. This kind of work breeds charisma, and a heightened presence, or as we say in Hollywood, “star quality”.

There are eleven teachers currently at the studio that come from very diverse backgrounds.  Many acting studios are structured with one master teacher and then a series of “mini-me’s”.  I was very clear in starting the studio that if this is my life’s purpose, which I believe it is, I want to be surrounded by the absolute best teachers I could find.   All of us have at least twenty years of experience studying the craft of acting—many of us, including myself, have over twenty years teaching it. That said, the thing that unites us is the organizing principle of the studio, “The more connected you are to yourself, the more connected you are to any character”.  There is a defined curriculum, with each class meeting an industry need, as well as a more artistic and personal development need.

I had a teacher once say, “If you know three things, you will see three things in a script.  If you know a million, you will see a million, because essentially you are seeing yourself.” Our goal is to expand the student’s awareness in their life, so the characters they create are as complex, rich and layered as they are.

I think many acting studios may keep some of these elements as their goal, but none I’ve encountered give you the path to getting there.  For instance, an actor may hear, “Just be yourself”. Problem is, telling someone to “be themselves” is like telling someone to “Just let go” when they’re stressed out.  There is a “how” to learning to “just be yourself” and our curriculum, structures that out.

Q: How does someone enroll?

A: Most people come to us through industry referral.  I’d say 80% come from agents and managers, which creates a natural vetting process.  That said, it’s not a necessity. When someone calls, we’ll have a conversation about their experience, we’ll look at resumes, reels and recent self-tapes, etc. and find the right fit. If they are less experienced, they may need to start with private coaching before entering a class–it just depends.  Ultimately, membership does get granted through industry referral, audition (via self tape or reel), or invitation.

Q. How did you select the panelists for the upcoming launch event and what can members look forward to for 2020?

A: We wanted to focus on tv writers, producers and showrunners from a variety of genres, with diverse backgrounds that work on diverse networks.  We really wanted to look at a wide swath of the voices that comprise television today, in order to discuss its collective cultural and artistic impact, and discuss them in the context of the studios three themes: spirituality, entertainment and activism.  We pulled from our colleagues and friends to bring together this incredible group.

Q: What advice do you have for actors going into pilot season which begins early 2020?

A: Be ready.  Frankly, be in class and/or working on your craft every day.  Do your own self-tapes. Have an accountability buddy, and send each other self tapes.  Some pilot seasons people will have fifty auditions, sometimes one, sometimes none. The idea is that as soon as you get called into the game, you’re warmed up and ready to go.  

The biggest issue for actors is navigating stress and fear.  Someone could have all the talent in the world, but if fear has the better of them, that talent will go unseen.  Typically, the more talent someone has, the more fear and stress they also experience. By walking towards that fear and learning to take it in hand on a daily basis, you learned how to harness its energy and it  becomes the force behind your talent. On the other hand, if you’re out of practice, your fear becomes the force that obstructs your talent.

So my advice is stay ready.  It is not yours to know what opportunities will come your way, and whether those opportunities are meant for you in the end–that is the workings of some larger plan.  Your responsibility is to be ready.

Q. How can students who don’t live in SoCal be involved with you or the studio? Are there online courses or ways to connect in other cities? 

A: Our “Jetsetter Membership” is designed for actors from out of town.  It combines private coaching via Skype, which can be used for auditions, or ongoing weekly classes personalized to your needs, with weeklong intensives, such as our upcoming “pilot season intensive”, and a class pass while you’re in town, with ongoing mentorship/student assessments, etc.  It’s a fantastic way for actors living in other markets to get the highest quality training LA has to offer from wherever they are in the world. All of those services (skype coaching, intensives, class packages, etc) are also offered on an a la carte basis for actors as well.

Q: You started as an actor. If you could tell your younger self 3 tips you’ve learned from now coaching all these years, what would those tips be?

  1. You must be willing to know yourself, and heal the parts of yourself that are broken–these parts of you are not a distraction, or an obstacle.  They are the key to your talent.

  2. Find a community. You cannot do this alone. As Kermit the frog says, “Life is better shared”.

  3. Think of your art and your career like surfing–you are in SoCal after all! You are learning to join your will with the momentum of something much larger and stronger than you.  Whether that something is the entertainment industry, your destiny, or the mysterious craft of becoming another person, you must be willing to move with what is given on any given day, and in any given moment.  Be humble and know that if you’re doing it right, you won’t know where it’s taking you, but you will simultaneously, experience indescribable freedom.


Q: Where can we catch some of your students on the big screen? Or you on the screen next?

A: Frankly, my students are everywhere.  Last year alone we had 78 students working as series regulars. Some of our coaching clients have won both Oscars and Emmys. I can’t mention some of the most well known actors, but I will say some recent breakouts include longtime students Danielle Macdonald (Unbelievable, Birdbox, Dumplin) and Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale), as well as former students Storm Reid (Wrinkle in Time, Euphoria, When They See Us), Austin Abrams (Euphoria, Less Than Zero, Brad’s Status), and Rosa Salazar (Undone, Alita: Battle Angel, Maze Runner)—all of which are making huge strides in their careers right now.  I also work with production companies and networks—sometimes coaching the lead in the show, other times working with the directors to get the most out of their actors (which I do privately with directors as well). Most recently, I was brought on by the production company to prepare the lead in Kenny Ortega’s new show, “Julie and the Phantoms”, set to premiere on Netflix.

Portfolio: Don Saban

Portfolio: Don Saban

Don Saban knows LA; he’s photographed it for a long time yielding images that are difficult to pin down in time. In fact, his eye for details found in Los Angeles create a visual proposition that they could be places found in Europe. His works has range—deep, black and white, to the new mundanity of color found in Uber scooters in a line. What is always apparent is his unfailing eye for the art of photography—his images rise above the ubiquituous cell phone portrayals and lead us in and back into a time when photography had meaning.

At what age and was there anything in particular that compelled you to pick up a camera and make it a career?
I was in grade school, and I can’t remember exactly what age I was, but very young… always the family photographer, so I guess that’s where it all started. I never really quit making photographs, and continued on with my first class in photography my junior year in high school, where I got very serious about it and made the decision that this is what I would do in life, and as time went on, nothing else captured my imagination or interest…so it was decided!
 It’s 2020—what is the state of photography in a digital world?
It just keeps getting better and better, and the printers as well. It has allowed me to do things I could only dream of back in the old film and darkroom days. That all seems so antiquated now, which in a certain sense, it is. With the advent of digital technology, it has inspired me immensely, and now allows me to do things I could never do before, so in a sense, the technology has finally caught up with my vision.
… on that note, what is your best method of advertising your work—instagram, twitter, etc?
I’m very active on Facebook and Instagram. I was posting a lot of my work on Flickr until it changed and is no longer unlimited for free accounts. I hit the limit for that a very long time ago, so I don’t really post there anymore. I also have websites of all the different bodies of work, which includes my video work, and can be seen here at the master site:
The Los Angeles project, how long have you been working on these images?
I think at least going on 20 years.


What photographers do you admire, living or dead that inspire you?
George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, George Hurrell, and Vivian Maier to name a few…oh, there are so many, and I like them all for different reasons. I’m so glad you didn’t asked which is my favorite. How could I ever decide!
Is there a photographer that you mentor, and feel they are going places?
As you know, I’ve photographed a lot of jazz musicians over the years, and was introduced to a young lady who is just starting out by a mutual friend. I’ve sort have taken her under my wing and I’m passing along my knowledge of performance photography. She has a great eye, so I’m mostly helping with all the technical aspect of low light photography, and editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. She’s a very quick study, which makes it enjoyable to share what I know.


Don Saban, a native of Phoenix Arizona, received his formal training at the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, and simultaneously was a private student and studied art and photography as protege of professor William A. Rohrback, University of California Santa Barbara, who was a student of Minor White at Berkeley in the early 50’s. Saban stayed on in Santa Barbara after finishing his studies and was a member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Photography Committee. During his tenure in Santa Barbara, he was one of the first photographers to be in Art Life magazine and was the first photographer to be on the cover.

After coming to Los Angeles, he taught at Otis/Parsons and continued his photographic work which was published in numerous magazines. After 10 years in Los Angeles, Saban accepted the position of Principal Photographer at the University of California Santa Barbara. During that period, he was commissioned by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to go to Budapest and do the photographs for the book, Standing in the Tempest: Painters of the Hungarian Avant-Garde. Saban then returned to Los Angeles once again, and in 1999 was brought on board as photography consultant to work on the Tokyo DisneySea project. Saban found a new home with the Walt Disney Imagineers, and 21 years later, is still providing photographic expertise and working closely with the team on all their projects. Saban continues to exhibit his work, and has had many one man and group shows, has appeared in books, magazines and various publications, and is in private and public art collections both nationally and worldwide.