SUNDAY NIGHT FEVER: An Evening With Katrina Durden And Zara Phythian

Insert your favorite deep quote about friendship *HERE*
I have to say, this past weekend has been the most exciting past few days of 2016 so far. My own journey as a writer currently goes only so far as the folks I'm able to meet when people are in town and have the convenience of some free time to spare for a guy like myself, and I don't get to meet everyone who arrives in New York City. That said, it was exactly one month ago today when actress Katrina Durden mentioned coming here on work-cation, and I couldn't pass it up, challenges be damned.

Fast forward to the last several days upon her arrival in town with a bunch of other cast and crew folk who were recently working on a certain superhero movie coming out later this year. Syncing our schedules didn't turn out to be as easy as earlier expected as she was working on Saturday night and wouldn't likely be done until the wee hours of the morning - I learned this as I arrived at the Mandarin Oriental near Colombus Circle and left roughly an hour later, but a brisk walk around the neighborhood kept my sprits up for the evening; I grabbed a lamb gyro and decided to trek uptown for a bit to my old high school stomping grounds by Lincoln Center, and even took some photos for the heck of it.

So, that was my Saturday evening. Then, Sunday came and I managed to stay in touch with Durden to see what we could do to convene with each other. It was her last day in New York City while not being able to see as many of the sites as she wanted, and she insisted on seeing me despite feeling a little under the weather earlier in the day, and gladly she improved as the day progressed. We then tried negotiating how to meet up in my neck of the woods over in Queens, but that effort would have complicated things no matter how many directions I gave her. Alas, I made the call to head back via subway into Manhattan after my workday ended, and I eagerly headed straight to her hotel for a second time.

I initially met Katrina Durden on social media in the course of building my friendship with filmmaker Joey Ansah since before linking with him in 2014 during his FUNimation tour with fellow cast members of Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist. In the course of finding herself, Durden had taken up boxing at the age of eight and became a budding martial artist throughout her life with an interest in varying styles, including TaeKwonDo once upon a time. By then, Durden was teaching martial arts as well as working in journalism for a time, and little did she know that her path would eventually cross with Ansah's upon a chance meeting one day at a gym.

She expressed an interest in training and advancing her skillset under his wing, and from then on, assured herself to earn the opportunities she sought after with Ansah as her mentor. It was a friendship that eventually led to a growing and trusting business partnership, specifically in the wake of Ansah's vision as proven in his earlier Street Fighter Leagcy treatment in 2010 and subsequent Assassin's Fist series with co-creator and actor Christian Howard. Moreover, it became a defining moment in Durden's own life and career with Ansah seeing fit to cast his apprentice in her debut role for Machinima's latest miniseries, Street Fighter: Resurrection, taking center stage opposite Howard and Assassin's Fist vet Mike Moh, actor Alain Moussi and actress Natascha Hopkins.

Having buzzed about the series for nearly four weeks now, I was purely excited to meet the actress behind the deadly screen persona and Street Fighter villainess, Decapre. Durden exited out of the hotel lobby and my knees instantly transmuted into a gelatinous composition while I shamelessly endured the world's most cheesiest smile. Good grief, you would think I was twelve.

We took off and got settled at a nearby Starbucks where we would momentarily be joined by UK actress and martial artist Zara Phythian who can now be seen next to actor Mads Mikkelsen in several set photos circulating online from the most recent filming of Doctor Strange. I can't really say how long our evening lasted - I didn't look at my phone a whole lot to check the time, save for clearing the usual load of notifications and tweets and such.

Really, I basked in the moment as much as I could and took the opportunity to share and discuss their careers, and especially with Phythian who I've written about many times on my site with projects including The Fight Room, He Who Dares, Ross Boyask's Warrioress with Cecily Fay and director Guy Bleyart's upcoming thriller, Transit 17. Funny enough, Durden and Phythian turned the tables on me for a short period of time earlier in our conversation and made me their interview subject, which I thought was hilarious and delightful. It was a real treat to be able to talk to Phythian briefly about her involvement in martial arts and film, and life on both sides of the camera among other topics before she herself headed back to their hotel to get some much needed sleep after a hectic filming day, and I can't thank her enough for taking the time out to meet me since they were both staying in the same hotel.

From then on, Durden and I chatted the rest of our night away, discussing extensively on her years growing up through martial arts and what makes her tick as an actress and athlete, as well as a fight choreographer in the making having already assisted in filmmaker Beau Fowler's multi-awarded 2015 action short, Chameleon. We didn't discuss too solidly about Street Fighter: Resurrection, but she did sample me a few behind-the-scenes photos from she hadn't shared on social media yet, and she did mention how much she loved working with Hopkins. In any case, I will be engaging Durden for an interview before long to discuss a bit more about Machinima's newest series, as well as more on what will hopefully be the start of a flourishing career in film and acting.

Meeting up this weekend was not an easy feat to achieve. It was a Sunday night and I, like her, had but only a few hours before an early wake-up call the following morning, and so we could have easily postponed. That said, doing what I do for Film Combat Syndicate always brings an air of uncertainty as I'll never know who I'll meet and become friends with next. The last two years have drawn some joyful and jubilant memories saw some incredible moments and the same goes for my fortuitous Sunday night when I made a choice after battling a bad cold in the last few weeks, and in the face of daytime fatigue and spending more than I could afford in homebound cabfare for two nights in a row just to get home quicker than a bus could take me.

For all this, to meet someone who I have been friends with online for more than a year and who continues to show nothing but support for my journey as a film writer and action genre fan - To that end, not only as someone whose own career as of late is taking shape in a very interesting and serendipitous way, but as someone whose adherance to things like kindness, humility, loyalty and family run instinctively deep and genuine...

...To meet people like Katrina Durden, it was totally worth losing sleep over this weekend. I set out to meet one amazing person and I met two, and above all else, managed to share a comprehensive and vivacious dialogue on some of the most relatable of things among friends and condifants. It's the kind of levity I look for everytime I go out, and I only hope one day that I can attain a living enough to venture a flight and meet some of these people face-to-face, and continue to make the friends I've been making.

Durden was absolutely divine this weekend in person as much as she is on screen, and I can't wait to write more about her. I got home at 2:00am EST on Monday morning, and for the next two hours thereafter, I slept like a baby. A twelve-year-old baby. In his thirties. Picture that.

Follow Katrina Durden and Zara Phythian on Facebook, and stay tuned an interview with Durden and for more on Street Fighter: Resurrection and Marvel's Doctor Strange!


Popular posts from this blog

FANTASIA 2018: Second Wave Reveals Zombies, Bigfoot, Witches, Superheroes, Cynthia Rothrock And Much More!

MADE IN CHINATOWN Casts Newcomer Jay Kwon To Star

Scott Adkins Wants UNDISPUTED 5! There's Only One Problem...