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Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we chatted with actress Meghan Grady. By Alejandro Salinas

As we told you in last month’s issue of the magazine, Washington, known mostly as a government and politics kind of town, has steadily become a mecca for young, talented performers. These actors, musicians, and dancers are not only making their mark but also changing—enriching—the region’s cultural landscapes. For Richmond-born actress Meghan Grady, the theater scene in particular has benefited from this talent boom: “DC theatre is thriving,” she says. ”There is theater for everybody!”

Grady would know. Since moving to the area three years ago, she’s been involved in a number of productions—starting with her debut in Synetic Theatre’s The Dybbuk to the role of Karen in Theatre J’s Speed-the-Plow (her favorite bit of acting yet) to the upcoming Round House Theatre production of Alice, an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Grady will play the title role.

Grady, who when not rehearsing for a show or audition can be found working out at the gym or working part time as a staff member for Synetic Theatre, took some time to answer our questions.

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Posted at 01:41 PM/ET, 11/06/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we chatted with local author and "nonsense provocateur" Eric Nuzum. By Alejandro Salinas

Eric Nuzum doesn’t find himself in unsettling situations—like spending a night locked in a hotel suite with a ghost or trying to meet up with a self-declared vampire at a deserted park in the middle of the night—by chance. It’s his choice. He actively engages in questionable behavior, full throttle, never stopping to second-guess himself—and his stories (if not always he himself) are all the better for it.

For his latest book, The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires From Nosferatu to Count Chocula, Nuzum sought to experience vampirism to its fullest extent—even if it meant drinking his own blood (and then vomiting all over his kitchen). His quest also led him to work at a haunted house and, later, take a Dracula-themed tour of Transylvania. At his bravest, Nuzum decided to plow through the entire Anne Rice vampire collection. Talk about a lapse in judgment.

When not putting his life, sanity, and physical health in jeopardy, Nuzum works as director of programming and acquisitions at NPR. He also guest-writes for the local blog Prince of Petworth. Nuzum is already working on his next book, a memoir about how his phobia for ghosts developed, but he’ll be reading from The Dead Travel Fast at the Barnes & Noble in Georgetown tonight at 7:30. Make sure to check the event out—free vampire-protection kits will be handed out—and read our interview with the local author below.

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Posted at 01:08 PM/ET, 10/30/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we catch up with photographer Hatnim Lee. By Alejandro Salinas

Photograph by Lauren Duque.
Browsing through Hatnim Lee’s blog, you’re as likely to find photographs of a famous filmmaker or athlete—there’s the portrait of David Lynch and the image of an airborne Roger Federer slamming a return at the US Open—as you are candid snapshots of a wedding, hip-looking Brooklynites, and Lee’s friends and relatives. Both portfolio and journal, the blog documents Lee’s journey as a photographer, one that began in earnest for the McLean native about a year-and-a-half ago when she decided to pack her bags, move to New York City, and take up freelance photography full-time.

Lee graduated from the Corcoran College of Art and Design three years ago, interned for the acclaimed photographer David LaChapelle (read on for an interesting anecdote involving Paris Hilton), and has worked with a number of publications and the National Geographic Channel.

“I loved working with the National Geographic Channel,” she says. “There is so much to learn on set when doing documentary stills. It’s a very fruitful experience.”

Lee has also shot a fashion spread for local alternative Web site, BrightestYoungThings—whose editor, Svetlana Legetic, has been a previous interviewee— and just this past March, her work was shown at the Transformer Gallery. She recently released a book, Hatnim Lee Photographs: September 2006-December 2007.

These days, between signing a contract with Getty Images, flying to London and Berlin to meet clients, and heading to New Orleans with human-rights activists to document the conditions of the city post-Katrina, Lee’s got quite a busy schedule. She does, however, try to visit her hometown at least twice a month. We caught up with Lee and asked about her first camera, the photographers whose work she most admires, and where she stands on the digital-versus-film debate.

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Posted at 10:07 AM/ET, 10/23/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Help us find the 2008 Washingtonians of the Year!

UPDATE: Nominations for Washingtonians of the Year are closed as of October 20, 2008.  

Who: For more than 30 years, the Washingtonians of the Year awards have been the highest honor our community bestows on the people who make this a better place.

What: The Washingtonian is seeking nominations for the 2008 Washingtonians of the Year.  If you know someone who is helping to build a better city and region, help us recognize his or her contribution.

Please include any information you think might be helpful, and include your name and phone number or e-mail address.

Winners will be featured in the January 2009 issue of The Washingtonian and honored at a luncheon at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.

Where: Send or e-mail letters of nomination by September 30 to:

Washingtonians of the Year
The Washingtonian
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC  20036
or woy@washingtonian.com

>>See previous Washingtonians of the Year 

Posted at 12:47 PM/ET, 10/20/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we catch up with local musician (and Facebook addict) Olivia Mancini. By Alejandro Salinas
Photograph by Chris Leaman.

You don’t have to spend every weekend at local music venues such as the Black Cat or the Rock and Roll Hotel for the name Olivia Mancini to sound familiar. Like the now-defunct Georgie James (RIP), Mancini has become an indelible part of the local music scene, first as the bassist for Washington Social Club and then as frontwoman of the Housemates—made up of Kristin Forbes, Randy Scope, Dan Swenson, and Ed Donohue.

Swenson and Donohue now reside in Boston and New York, respectively, but Mancini continues to make music—whether it’s with Scope and Forbes as Olivia and the Terrible Two (a name they use half seriously to refer to themselves), or through entirely different projects such as Donny Hue and the Colors. As Mancini explains, part of the fun of being involved in more than one band is the opportunity to adopt different styles and explore various sides of her personality onstage—not that she’s looking to join more bands right now or thinking of pulling a Beyoncé, for that matter.

Mancini, who lives near DC’s U Street, chatted with us about her many projects, the musicians and albums she relies on for inspiration, and just how good fellow bandmate Randy Scope’s scrambled eggs really are.

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Posted at 11:23 AM/ET, 10/16/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we chatted with James Kotecki, Politico.com video blogger (and second funniest celebrity in Washington). By Alejandro Salinas

Photograph courtesy of James Kotecki.
Back in January of last year, James Kotecki was a senior at Georgetown University majoring in international security studies, who would post web videos critiquing the 2008 presidential campaign candidates in his spare time. Today, Kotecki is still doing just that—except now, he’s doing it professionally, as writer, producer and host of KoteckiTV, an online video series for the Politico.

Kotecki’s video blogs are witty, slightly cynical and sprinkled with pop culture references—not to mention the occasional musical performance from Kotecki himself, who raps and plays the guitar. Can you say triple threat? We spoke with Kotecki about Sarah Palin, which political party knows how to, well, party, and who’d make the ideal John Mccain impersonator.

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Posted at 08:08 AM/ET, 10/09/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we catch up with Laura Waters Hinson, local filmmaker.

Photograph courtesy of Laura Waters Hinson.

During a 2005 trip to Rwanda with her church congregation, local filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson heard stories of reconciliation between survivors of the 1994 genocide and its perpetrators. She was so struck by the idea of people forgiving the murderers of family and friends that, once back home, she began recruiting a team and raising funds for a documentary on the subject.

Three years after her first trip to Rwanda, Hinson’s film, As We Forgive, nabbed a Student Academy Award for best documentary. The film will be shown this Sunday as part of the National Geographic All Roads Film Festival. We talked to Hinson about her film, what she loves about Washington, and what subject she might tackle next.

Name: Laura Waters Hinson
Age: 29
Occupation: Filmmaker, winner of a Student Academy Award for the documentary As We Forgive.
Hometown: Destin, Florida

Must-have item at all times:
The iPhone. It’s a beautiful thing.

Signature drink:
Cabernet Sauvignon.

Finish this sentence: When not working, you can find me ...

... thinking about working or hanging out with my incredible husband.

Washingtonians you admire?
All the young people who move to DC with hopes of changing the world for the better. This is the most idealistic city in the world.

Favorite neighborhood in the city?
Capitol Hill—you’ve got parking, families, lovely parks, colorful houses, my best friends, and Eastern Market!

Washington insider tip?
Go to Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar on Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast. Everyone knows this place for its food and ambience, but I love that you can get a wonderful bottle of house red for just $18.

Finish this sentence: “Thinking about the Metro makes me . . .

. . . fantasize about free parking and city roads where traffic lights are always green.

Favorite museum:
Well, how about traveling exhibits? ‘Body Worlds’ is one of the most incredible exhibitions I’ve ever seen in my life.

What would you change about DC?
The crime. I’ve had five or six friends held up at gunpoint and robbed in the past two years. I love DC, but I wish we could walk in our neighborhoods at night without fear.

As you answer these questions, what Web sites are open in your browser?
Oh, my. Drudge Report, Google Calendar, MapQuest, Kayak, the Washington Post, the Birchmere, of course Asweforgivemovie.com, and about 20 others. I’m bad with screen management.

What’s your daily routine like?
I have the best job in the world because I’m self-employed and work from home. I set my own schedule, and every day is different from the next, which I love. When people hear that I’m a filmmaker, they often say, ‘Oh, what an exciting job you have!’ If they only knew how much e-mailing, calling, begging, searching for funding, and long periods without pay is entailed! But those moments of presenting my work to a live audience make all the trials and tribulations worth it. To engage viewers in conversations about the themes expressed in my film is a true joy, and thankfully, I’ll be doing a lot of that this fall.

How did the idea for your documentary, As We Forgive, come about?
On a trip to Rwanda in 2005, I heard a story that astonished me even more than the nation’s devastating genocide. Beginning in 2003, the Rwandan government began releasing from prison tens of thousands of genocide murderers who had confessed to their crimes. Daunted by an overwhelming backlog of court cases, Rwanda’s leaders saw little choice for full justice and turned their sights to reconciliation. When I heard this, I wondered, “Can this even be true? Is it possible for survivors of genocide to forgive the killers?” This question haunted me so much that I decided to spend the next year raising funds for a documentary that would explore the lives of ordinary Rwandans who were on a journey to forgive the neighbors who’d slaughtered their families.

What were some of the challenges you faced while making the film?
Shooting in Rwanda was really an incredible process. I expected everything to go wrong, but instead, it seemed that each part fell into place, like this film was meant to be made. The biggest challenge definitely came when I returned home with 55 hours of footage, most of it in an African language that very few people on the planet speak, and trying to edit it in my bedroom at night. Those were some dark days!

Are you mostly interested in documentaries, or do you see yourself going into other movie genres?
I love documentaries because I love stories of people overcoming extraordinary odds. However, I am also compelled by fiction films that tell tales of redemption and hope. I am exploring options of working in development on feature dramatic films, but I am definitely keeping my eye out for another documentary to direct. Documentaries can easily take over your life for a number of years, so it has to be the right idea.

You’ve won a Student Academy Award for As We Forgive. What are you going to do next?
No pressure, right? Honestly, I think the success of As We Forgive is based largely on the transcendence of Rwanda’s story of reconciliation. It simply blows people away that some Rwandans are choosing to forgive after genocide. My dream is to continue making movies, either documentary or fiction, that transform hearts and speak universally to audiences about hope, faith, and love.

Other Washingtonian Favorites:

David Malitz
Curtis Sittenfeld
Katherine Kennedy
Barton Seaver
Lindsay Czarniak

Want more Washingtonian Favorites? Check out last week's interview with Post Rock music critic David Malitz. Also, don't forget to check back in next Thursday for our interview with Politico's hysterical video blogger James Kotecki. He'll share his thoughts on Sarah Palin's special talents, who should play John McCain in a film, and more. Read more about Kotecki, and check out his videos here.

Want to recommend someone you know for a Washingtonian Favorites? Send your suggestions to asalinas@washingtonian.com 

More>> Capital Comment Blog | News & Politics | Society Photos

Posted at 11:14 AM/ET, 10/02/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we catch up with David Malitz, washingtonpost.com music producer and blogger. By Alejandro Salinas
Photograph courtesy of David Malitz.

Name: David Malitz

Age: 28

Occupation: Washingtonpost.com music producer and Post Rock blogger.

Hometown: North Potomac.

Must-have items at all times:
I literally do a pat-down every morning before I leave my apartment—wallet, keys, sunglasses, BlackBerry. My equilibrium is seriously thrown off if I’m missing any of those.

Signature drink:
Iced grande mocha from Starbucks. I can’t front.

Finish this sentence: “When not working, you can find me . . .
. . . at a show or on my couch checking box scores and watching sports.

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Posted at 07:10 AM/ET, 09/25/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we catch up with Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife, a fictional account of a First Lady loosely based on Laura Bush. By Alejandro Salinas

Photograph courtesy of Curtis Sittenfeld.

Name: Curtis Sittenfeld

Age: 33

Occupation: Novelist and former Washingtonian; author most recently of American Wife, about a First Lady loosely based on Laura Bush.

Hometown: Cincinnati

Must-have item at all times: Chapstick. 

Signature drink: Water (yes, I’m boring). 

Finish this sentence: When not working, you can find me...

...Reading.

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Posted at 10:36 AM/ET, 09/18/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every Thursday, we bring you interviews with noteworthy Washingtonians. This week, we catch up with Jon Gann, filmmaker and organizer of the DC Shorts Film Festival. By Alejandro Salinas

Photograph courtesy of Jon Gann.

Name: Jon Gann

Age: 42

Occupation:Filmmaker, Festival Organizer, Graphic Designer, Bon Vivant

Hometown: Washington DC

Must have item at all times: Sad, but my iPod.

Signature drink: Makers Mark on the rocks.

Finish the sentence: When not working, you can find me...
...Out with friends or my dog, Pilot.

Washingtonian(s) you admire?
Anyone who runs a non-profit. What work!
 

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Posted at 09:58 AM/ET, 09/04/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()