GH’S ex-emily

Natalia Liv­ingston dishes her new­est roles: film pro­ducer and new mother.

Soap Opera Digest - - CONTENTS - By Tom Stacy

Soap Opera Di­gest: How did you and Ch­eryl meet?

Natalia Liv­ingston: Ch­eryl was ac­tu­ally dat­ing my TV boyfriend. GH fans will get a kick out of this. She was dat­ing Chad Bran­non [ex-zan­der]. Emily and Zan­der were to­gether at that time and Chad was com­ing home from work and telling Ch­eryl about me, to the point where she was say­ing, “Who is this per­son? I need to check her out and see what’s go­ing on here.” So, Ch­eryl called me up and in­vited me to din­ner and the rest is his­tory. We’ve been best friends for ... how long Ch­eryl?

Ch­eryl Buchanan: That was 2002.

Di­gest: Where did you get the idea for this film, In Their Shoes?

Buchanan: My back­ground is in law. The non­profit mis­sion is the fu­sion of art and ad­vo­cacy, and what we do is cre­ative writ­ing work­shops in home­less shel­ters and al­ter­na­tive youth ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams called Writ­ers With­out Mar­gins. The fo­cus of the doc­u­men­tary is a pris­oner re-en­try and ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery fa­cil­ity, and it high­lights the story of the men’s ex­pe­ri­ence in that pro­gram.

Di­gest: How did you two end up as pro­duc­ing part­ners?

Buchanan: I looked at what Natty was do­ing with Ac­tor’s Bou­tique and the work she was do­ing with ac­tors and pro­duc­ers of short films, which is re­ally im­pres­sive. We talked and she of­fered to do a short, pro­mo­tional video for the non­profit. Then, when we looked at the po­ten­tial of shed­ding some light on the un­heard sto­ries of ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery and re-en­try, we rec­og­nized it was not go­ing to be pos­si­ble in a short piece, so it grew into a doc­u­men­tary.

Di­gest: Natty, this is not your first doc­u­men­tary. What struck a chord with you?

Liv­ingston: When I heard about her work, I was so in­spired by the strug­gles and the tri­umphs of the peo­ple who go through her pro­gram, and I wanted to help.

Di­gest: How long has this been in the works?

Buchanan: It was spring of 2017 when we started the con­ver­sa­tion and we went through a lot of hurdles. We kept chang­ing and mod­i­fy­ing our pro­pos­als be­cause there is no me­dia al­lowed at the re-en­try cen­ter. We kept stress­ing that we were do­ing a pos­i­tive story about the pro­found im­pact that we saw with the guys and their writ­ing and re­claim­ing their lives, and we kept be­ing told no. That’s when we fo­cused more on

the in­di­vid­u­als. It was a com­pli­cated process. Natty’s per­spec­tive was crit­i­cal in pre­sent­ing them as mul­ti­di­men­sional hu­man be­ings and not just felons or crim­i­nals. There’s so much more to them, and we’re ask­ing peo­ple to take a closer look. Liv­ingston: We’ve had great sup­port so far, es­pe­cially from peo­ple with friends and fam­ily who’ve strug­gled with ad­dic­tion or ended up in prison be­cause of it. They reached out to us and said, “Thank you for mak­ing this film.” We’re just urg­ing peo­ple to take a mo­ment and try walk­ing in their shoes, and try to un­der­stand ad­dic­tion and how fierce of a force it is and how hard it is to over­come. That’s our hope, that peo­ple will un­der­stand. Di­gest: What do you plan to do with this film?

Liv­ingston: To get it into film fes­ti­vals, but more im­por­tantly, get it into schools across the coun­try. Our cast is very ex­cited about the prospect of be­ing guest speak­ers at these schools and help­ing oth­ers, and that is so mean­ing­ful.

Buchanan: And, we’d also like to thank the other mem­bers of our team: Stephen Kennedy Smith, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and mem­ber of the Kennedy fam­ily, Larry Schiller, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and multi-emmy Award-win­ning direc­tor and pro­ducer, and Tay­lor Kat­sa­nis,

our tal­ented direc­tor.

Di­gest: Natalia, you’ve also been busy with Ac­tor’s Bou­tique, which helps as­pir­ing per­form­ers break into show busi­ness.

Natalia Liv­ingston: It’s an act­ing stu­dio that I opened about four years ago in At­lanta, and we have a great group of men­tors who are all work­ing pro­fes­sion­als. We added Rick Hearst [ex-ric, GH et al], so he is one of our men­tors now. He’s do­ing great. And, we brought on Drew Wa­ters [ex-wade] from FRI­DAY NIGHT LIGHTS and NCIS: LOS AN­GE­LES and Erin Bethea from Fire­proof and a bunch of other films. At­lanta has be­come such a great hub for film and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion now, and it just keeps grow­ing. There’s a lot of tal­ent here, so it’s been very re­ward­ing to help fos­ter that.

Di­gest: You haven’t given up act­ing, have you? Liv­ingston: Oh, no. That’s al­ways been a pas­sion. I may be spend­ing more time be­hind the cam­era now, but I still love act­ing. In fact, Rick and I just did a film to­gether called Full Count, which is in post-pro­duc­tion, so yes, I’ve got a lot go­ing on — but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Di­gest: Who have you kept in touch with from your GH days?

Liv­ingston: Tamara [Braun, Kim, GH et al], Cyndy [Pre­ston, ex-faith, GH], Ali­cia [Lee Wil­lis, ex-court­ney, GH] and Paula, Mau­rice’s [Be­nard, Sonny, GH] wife. They’re my girls!

Di­gest: Con­grats on the birth of your daugh­ter! Give us all the baby de­tails. Liv­ingston: I’m a mom! Can you be­lieve it? We are over the moon with joy! She’s so pre­cious. We’re so blessed. Matt’s such a great dad. He re­ally took care of me, of both of us, dur­ing the preg­nancy, and now we’re ex­cited for the next chap­ter as par­ents. Baby Co­lette is do­ing great! I’m in pure heaven with her. I ab­so­lutely love be­ing a mom. She is start­ing to smile now. She wrin­kles her lit­tle nose when she smiles, just like her mom. It makes me laugh. We’ve been singing “It’s a Won­der­ful World” by Louis Arm­strong to­day. She loves it.

The Pro­duc­ers: Liv­ingston and pro­duc­ing part­ner Ch­eryl Buchanan were filmed dis­cussing their new doc­u­men­tary. Cast Of Char­ac­ters: The pro­duc­ers pose with Direc­tor Tay­lor Kat­sa­nis and the men whose sto­ries com­prise In Their Shoes.

Guest Speaker: Liv­ingston, Buchanan and Kat­san­sis (r.) in­ter­viewed Con­gress­man Joe Kennedy III as part of the film. Sugar And Spice: Liv­ingston wel­comed daugh­ter Co­lette in Septem­ber.

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