Not-so-small fish testing new waters

Not-so-small fish testing new waters

In a chilly warehouse off Market Street, dozens of extras dressed in black — some accented with orange CAUTION tape — are filming a music video.

It's for Centennial alumna and actress Lexi Atkins, who has written her first album with 10 songs, and therefore 10 music videos shot in different places from Los Angeles to Kentucky.

"It's very autobiographical," she says. "I'd written some poems before, and I did this album with two producers who did the beats."

Atkins gets on her knees on the cold cement floor to wrap the tape on all the female students.

The costume color scheme for the teens is pretty simple: black — T-shirts and jeans for males, T-shirts and shorts for females.

They were advised to wear little makeup, since that would be done on set, and Atkins is part of that process, too.

There's another shoot later with glitter kids to contrast with the lack of brightness in this shoot.

It takes about a half-hour to put on the caution tape, which constricts the movement of the girls.

The 40 or so extras are then lined up in black raincoats behind Atkins, and cinema fog begins to fill the clean, empty space.

There's another short delay. Somehow, the warehouse is colder than outside on this early December evening.

"Baby, it's cold outside," jokes Marian Wyatt, who taught Atkins at Centennial.

Soon, the fog thickens.

"The fog smells like Froot Loops," says Limeasha Wiley, a Jefferson Middle School seventh-grader who has already had some video experience, auditioning for ABCkidTV and posting it on YouTube.

After some work on "Altered Carbon," Netflix's biggest production so far, Atkins is back home to tape the music video for her new album, "L.A.," a semi-autobiographical story of her move from Champaign to Hollywood.

She's the composer of all the songs. She's also an actress, known for "The Boy Next Door" (2015), "Ted 2" (2015) and "Zombeavers" (2014), as well as many TV appearances.

So she knows the behind-the-scenes stuff pretty well. Besides her own vision, there's an experienced director, Damien Sandoval.

Based in Hollywood, he has done cinematography, editing and directing for several projects, including music videos for acts like The-Dream.

The song tonight is "Polka Dots," and it's about conformity.

"Lyrics are really, really important to me," Atkins says.

Long story short, she says, "the concept behind my song/music video 'Polka Dots' is that I think the world is one big ocean. I think we're born being our own unique beings in the water."

Then humans start to hit our use-by date.

"The older we grow, the more we lose our individuality," she says, her metaphor being that as we swim, "we start joining the same school of fish."

It's not a happy thought for an older reporter.

"As children, we have such a unique sparkle in our eyes, but the older we get, the more our light dims, the darker our world becomes," continues the 24-year-old.

So for the video, she has another group of young dancers, ages 8-12, and she covers each one in different colored glitter, "representing their individuality, innocence and glow that we are all born with."

Besides the caution tape, the older students each hold "a bowl with a real goldfish in it. The goldfish represent themselves, stuck in a glass bowl. Trapped and cloned like the others without even knowing," she explains.

For Centennial senior Kayla Eichhorn, it's just a blast being in the video.

"It's really exciting, and I'm going to be here for hours," she says.

Give her credit

Lexi Atkins is set to appear in the Netflix series "Altered Carbon" next year. She's got 15 other acting credits on her IMDB page. A few notable ones:

2017 — Episode of CBS series "Hawaii Five-0"

2016 — Movie "Accidentally Engaged"

2015 — Movie "Ted 2"

2015 — Movie "The Boy Next Door"

2014 — Movie "Anatomy of Deception"

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A Very Busy Mom wrote on December 10, 2017 at 10:12 am

When you have money in this town - you get a big article about yourself.   There are many, many succesful young people in our town who made it professionally in all kinds of careers without family money.   But family money will get you a big article in the local paper.

Let's hear about the underdogs who have made it professionally

capt80 wrote on December 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

Who??

logicalpositivist wrote on December 10, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Agreed, Busy Mom.

When you've got a trust fund it's easy to move to LA, get some plastic surgery, find some small bit parts and call it "accomplished" artistic ability. I'm sure she wasn't slumming it and working as a waitress.

Some movie called "Zombeavers" isn't exactly Mamet off-Broadway-level acting chops. 

Why doesn't the N-G do an article on how Marci Dodds is doing? Maybe get her input on the impending teardown of the Burnham Mansion since she is a descendant of that family? There isn't enough coverage of the local gentry.

However, I'd rather read this type of article than read another angry, know-it-all, holier-than-thou (in a secular, pro-Roe v. Wade manner, of course)  SJW screed from Lizzie Hess. If given the choice between nails on a chalkboard and getting them pulled out with pliers...I'm choosing the chalkboard.

Objective Reporter wrote on December 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm

So bitter

bones1 wrote on December 13, 2017 at 7:12 am

Wow Busy Mom and Logical Positivist, what upbeat, positive, supporting, thoughtful folks you are.  Or maybe you are even the same person.  This is a young person trying to make a name for herself in a big & talented entertainment pool.  So, your choice is to belittle her and her family, using all your powers of negativity, and make assumptions about why there is a story about her in the first place.  I don't know her or her family at all but I am sure they all enjoyed reading your jealous posting. I wonder if you have a kid that is trying to get some publicity but didn't get any attention?  

And trying Elizabeth Hess (screed?) to this is a real testament to your inability to stay on topic.  It's weird and unfocused.