Interviews and writing by { Marie Look

Photography by { John Russo

Styling by { Adam Ballheim, The Only Agency

Grooming by { Michelle Harvey, Opus Beauty, Using Oribe and Drunk Elephant

Shot on location at { Chequered Flag International

Rome Flynn

501 jeans by Levi’s; white t-shirt by Calvin Klein; jean jacket by Levi’s; brown jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna

Native Illinoian Rome Flynn (@romeflynn) is on top of the world. At 27 years old, the multitalent already has a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series for his work on CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful, and he holds his own in scenes with Academy Award winner Viola Davis in the ABC drama How to Get Away With Murder (returning for its sixth and final season). As a frequent collaborator of Tyler Perry, he appeared in the filmmaker’s box office hit A Madea Family Funeral and his own crime drama The Haves and the Have Nots. Next, Flynn shows off his musical chops as one-half of a singing duo in Hallmark Channel’s A Christmas Duet, airing in November.

How did it feel to win an Emmy?

Initially, I was in total shock. There was 1 percent of me that believed I would win. But then this overwhelming feeling of validation kind of settled in, because I wrote the scenes that I was nominated and ultimately won for. 

Were you nervous before filming your first scene with Viola Davis?

I have said I am lucky and humbled to work with Viola Davis about a million times and here is a million and one! I love every choice she makes onscreen. I’ve become more grounded and present since working with Viola.  

Was it always a goal of yours to work with Tyler Perry?

Working with Tyler Perry was a dream. I have so much admiration and appreciation for him, and not just for our personal friendship, but what he’s done to further the diversity in film for people of color. To me, Tyler is the epitome of living the American dream. He built himself up from being homeless to being one of the most influential people in show business and in life. Nothing but love for my brother.

Did you enjoy singing, as well as acting, in A Christmas Duet?

I’m excited for my family to watch something PG with me in it that doesn’t involve murder in some way! It was such a pleasure working on Hallmark for the musical aspect, because I’m working on music of my own right now. You also don’t see many black leads in romantic comedies on film and TV, so I am excited to be a part of shifting that so it won’t be an anomaly to see black, brown and Asian leads in the genre.

Do you have a dream project or collaboration?

I have many! I am obsessed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and would love to somehow be a part of it, maybe as Johnny Storm. I think Kevin Feige and everyone involved with the creative direction of the MCU has done an amazing job with keeping great acting and storytelling at the forefront of the projects they’ve released. 

What is your personal philosophy on fitness and health?

I work out four to five times a week. I also play basketball three to four times a week. I have a great personal trainer, Amoila Cesar. I live by the philosophy that fitness and mental health are connected—not to become the most fit person in the world, but for self-confidence.

Kellan Lutz

Black jeans and white t-shirt by All Saints; bomber jacket by Polo Ralph Lauren; brown boots by Frye

Kellan Lutz (@kellanlutz) captured many a moviegoer’s attention in an early role as brawny vampire Emmett Cullen in the five-film Twilight franchise, which was based on Stephanie Meyer’s book series and became a global phenom. In the decade since then, the actor, model, activist and outdoor enthusiast has further cemented his identity as a leading man who brings both charisma and kinetic energy to every project—action sets in particular. Cases in point: Lutz has worked opposite Bruce Willis in Extraction, alongside John Travolta in Speed Kills, and with Taraji P. Henson in What Men Want, among other memorable films. The 34-year-old, who married TV host and model Brittany Gonzales in 2017, next inhabits the character of Ken Crosby in the Dick Wolf-produced CBS series FBI: Most Wanted, the first spin-off in a predicted FBI franchise.

What training/research did you do for FBI: Most Wanted?

I have been lucky enough to have played military roles before in several films and HBO’s Generation Kill. For those roles, I did serious, intense training, and it really aided the backstory of my FBI: Most Wanted character. And, luckily, they wrote him as just that—ex-military. He’s also great with techy stuff, which I love in my own life. I love the role, because not only is it a brand-new character, but there are elements that already feel comfortable and familiar about him. I’m excited to continue to build him as the series unfolds. 

We understand there’s a story behind your character’s name…

Yes, the producers were really cool with letting me choose my character’s first name—Kenneth, and Ken for short, in honor of my grandfather, Kenneth Theesfeld.

What is it about being outdoors that you love most?

I love being active, and being out in nature is the absolute best. I make-believe for a living, so even if the project is based on real events, there’s still an element of “pretend” in it, and when I’m out in nature, it just feels so pure and real. And it’s just my personality to be adventurous. It’s like oxygen to me. I love going to new places, doing new things, experiencing new experiences. Travel is a big passion of mine—road trips, etc. 

Any destinations that top your list?

I just want to see as much of the world as I can. I moved around a lot as a kid, so I never got too comfortable in one place. It shaped who I am today. My wife, Brittany, and I stayed at the Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali, which was breathtaking, and the Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland was maybe my favorite of all time!

What are a few causes you’re passionate about?

I’m a natural fighter against injustice. I guess that’s why I like playing the hero role so much. I have a big heart for children and animals. So I’m very passionate with helping and working with the children’s hospitals, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Saving Innocence, Soi Dog Foundation, Compassion International, CRE Outreach.

What was it like working with your wife on Divertimento?

It was great! It was so fun having her on set with me. We did have a few scenes together, but she played the wife of the antagonist, so she wasn’t on my side. She looks so amazing on camera. I kind of tricked her into doing this project with me, and I hope she continues to do more—she’s so freakin’ talented. 

What’s been your favorite project to date?

Generation Kill will always be stamped in my mind for many amazing memories. I never had any frat years in college, and this was it for me. A bunch of us from that amazing HBO show are still very close to this day. Thirty guys plus myself living and working in Southern Africa, playing pretend Marines—shooting guns, driving Humvees—what more could a 21-year-old, newly turned actor ask for?

James Maslow

Jeans by Elderwood; white t-shirt by Calvin Klein; jean jacket by Levi’s

James Maslow’s (@jamesmaslow) alter ego on Nickelodeon’s hit show, Big Time Rush, grew up in Duluth, Minn. In real life, the 29-year-old actor and singer hails from La Jolla, Calif., which is much closer to the setting of the series that chronicled the misadventures of four hockey players-turned-boy band stars—and, in the process, rocketed Maslow to fame. Although the show concluded in 2013, Maslow has proved he’s no one-hit wonder, releasing his debut solo LP, How I Like It, and many an infectious pop single. He is the current host of The CW’s global talent show, The Big Stage, and appears in My Boyfriend’s Meds, a comedy starring Jason Alexander and Brooke Shields, due for a February 2020 release.

Where are you more in your element—in the studio or on a stage?

On a stage, hands down. There’s nothing like watching fans sing back the lyrics to a song that I wrote. 

Did you feel any pressure to make your solo music sound similar or different to Big Time Rush?

I’m not sure that it was a pressure necessarily, but I was definitely excited to create music that was more personal. Different than BTR. The freedom of getting to write about whatever I wanted was and still is exciting.

What are your music goals for the next year?

I’ll be launching a new music project from Brazil in September and plan on taking that, as well as my solo stuff, on tour much more consistently next year.

Do you have a favorite type of project?

If I had to pick a genre to do for the rest of my life, it would probably be comedy, as it’s simply the best quality of life. Less taxing than drama and action, both physically and mentally. But I doubt I would be as fulfilled as an actor if I didn’t get to do it all. No actor wants to play the same character forever. 

What attracted you to your hosting role on The Big Stage?

Honestly, I wanted to challenge myself to do something new. I’ve always had a bit of a knack for public speaking and thought that hosting would be a proper fit. It’s a ton of fun.

How do you unwind when you’re not working?

Well, I just got back in from surfing. When I’m home in SoCal, I try and get to the beach as often as possible. It’s always been one of the best ways for me to unwind and re-center.

Any guilty pleasures when you have time for retail therapy?

I’m definitely a car guy and am slowly building my watch collection. My favorite car is my ’72 Ford Bronco that I’ve rebuilt from a rust bucket to the 500-horsepower, fuel-injected badass she is today. And I currently have two solid timepieces (a Breitling and a Panerai) and have my eyes on a third that I may snag by the end of the year. If money were no object, I’d be designing my beach house in La Jolla right now! But no worries, I fully plan on earning that one day.

Chris Wood

Black jeans by Rag & Bone; white t-shirt by Lacoste; black leather jacket by All Saints 

Actor Chris Wood’s (@christophrwood) onscreen time has ranged from PBS’ period drama Mercy Street to HBO’s Emmy Award-winning series Girls to The CW’s Containment and The Vampire Diaries. Fans of Supergirl, also on The CW, recognize him as Mon-El, who had a twisty-turny relationship with the titular heroine, played by Melissa Benoist (Wood’s real-life fiancée). After closing out Supergirl’s third season, the 31-year-old actor, who studied musical theater in North Carolina before moving westward, took some time to pursue other interests, including writing and directing a short film, The Stew; cheering on his beloved Yankees; and founding a mental health awareness nonprofit that, in only two years, has donated $350,000 from the sale of branded merch to mental health organizations. 

What have you been working on since leaving Supergirl?

Since leaving Supergirl, I’ve devoted all my time to writing and working on my nonprofit, IDONTMIND. I needed a break from acting, and I’m excited to get back in the saddle now that I’ve taken some time off. I’m really working to keep myself in a selective mindset so I don’t end up feeling stuck again. I’m in development on a feature I wrote—which is incredibly exciting, but I’m not able to talk about it yet—and have been writing other projects.

Why did you want to make your short film, The Stew?

So, The Stew came about in a moment of trying to take that creative power back. I had to do something that felt good to make, and give myself permission to take risks and to tell stories the way I wanted to tell them, regardless of what other people thought. I made something really quirky and unique, which I’m proud of in spite of any flaws. 

Does being an actor influence your writing and directing?

I grew up writing and making short films, and by college my focus had shifted almost entirely to acting. Not consciously, it’s just what happened. I never stopped writing, but I was really only doing it for myself. As an actor, I had been very fortunate to have had so many opportunities, and I had been working more or less nonstop for a solid few years, but I wasn’t getting the same rush out of acting that I used to, and my need to write and create content was only growing stronger.

Why is mental health so important to you?

A while back, I had an impossibly tough year that left me juggling grief and depression. My coping mechanism was to shut it down and not talk about it. When people would ask how I was, I just ended the conversation and said I was fine. For a couple of years, that was how I operated. And it was terrible. I didn’t really start to heal until the first time I decided to actually be honest about what I was feeling and what I had been through. Instead of shutting people down when they asked how I was, I heard myself starting to respond with, “Oh, I don’t mind, I can talk about it.” Just that tiny switch in my response to people changed everything. I hadn’t been admitting there was a problem, so how could I get help? Only when I admitted that I wasn’t okay could I even start to look for ways to get better.

Why did you start your own organization, IDONTMIND?

Fast-forward a few years into my healing. I was starting to work with mental health organizations so I could give back, and I just kept thinking: Every approach I’m seeing caters to the insiders, to people who already know mental health is a problem and needs attention. It occurred to me that maybe we needed to try something different in order to reach more people. … If it’s true that 1 in 4 people in the world will experience mental illness in their life, then we’ve all been close to someone who has suffered. And that means we can all relate and we should all be able to talk about it. So  I founded IDONTMIND in 2017. It’s a mental health awareness campaign working to defeat stigma by inspiring conversations. The idea is that the more we talk about mental health, the more we normalize it, so we do everything in our power to get people talking. 

How is your organization different from other nonprofits focused on mental health?

I landed on this idea, that people talk more about what they’re wearing than how they’re feeling. And I thought, “Oh, I can just try and use that as an asset.” It has everything to do with style and message. Too much, and it’s in your face and people will feel too scared of it. Too little, and it lacks punch and meaning. So we chose a name that makes you ask what it means, which starts a conversation. We chose a style [of t-shirt, sweatshirt, cap and other items emblazoned with “IDONTMIND”] that’s minimal and can easily fit into your everyday wardrobe. It’s not clearly about mental health. We want to appeal to people’s curiosity. We hope to make it interesting for people to buy, wear, share, talk about, post about and generate a dialogue. 

Brett Dier

Jeans by Mother; belt by Rag and Bone; tank top by Calvin Klein; brown blazer by Joseph Abbud; black Chelsea boots by Giuseppe Zanotti

Canadian Brett Dier (@brettdier) made TV audiences swoon on The CW’s romantic dramedy Jane the Virgin as detective Michael Cordero Jr., the on-again, off-again love interest of Gina Rodriguez’s titular character, right up until the show concluded its five-season run in July 2019. This fall, the 29-year-old actor—who is also a musician, collector of vintage Pokémon trading cards and devoted fiance to fellow thespian Haley Lu Richardson—will show off his comedic skills in Season 2 of ABC’s Schooled, the 1990s-set spinoff of the hit series The Goldbergs. Dier plays Charlie “C.B.” Brown, a high school teacher looking to connect with his students—and maybe also another teacher, Lainey Lewis, played by A.J. Michalka.

When did you move to Los Angeles?

In 2014. And I actually moved here to be with the love of my life, Haley Lu Richardson. I moved here with no job lined up, I just took the risk, packed everything and followed my heart. A month later, I got Jane the Virgin.

 What’s it been like to switch gears from Jane the Virgin to Schooled?

Well, when I signed up for Jane the Virgin, I was the romantic, supporting, loving police officer. … Justin Baldoni (who played Rafael) and I were more of the serious characters, and our job was to provide a lot of the drama for the show. Which, honestly, was very difficult for me, because I love comedy so much, and all I wanted to do was bounce off the walls and do handstands. … C.B. is a lot closer to the handstand guy I’m talking about. And the tone of The Goldbergs and Schooled is a lot more animated. This role just came at the exact time that I wanted/needed it to. I’m learning how to just let loose and let go onscreen. … I’m going from having [had] to reel it in for three and a half years to letting it all go and seeing how far I can take it but still remain grounded. 

How else would you describe C.B.?

C.B. is a passionate, quirky, goofy child-man. All he wants to do is inspire students to be the best that they can be. To conquer their insecurities and to bring everybody together. 

Are you two similar in any way?

There are a lot of similarities to C.B. and me. First off, I love Pokémon, I collect action figures, and I watch cartoons. C.B. is on the same level as me with those things. His passion to bring people together and to be a light for people in some way is something I really resonated with and related to. C.B. feels like a piece of my heart turned into a character in an exaggerated world.

What do acting and making music have in common?

I think both require a good ear. … A lot of acting is listening, remaining present, and it requires a certain focus. I think music requires that same type of focus. I also believe, since I started piano at such a young age, it naturally helped me get in tune with myself.

If money were no object, name your next total splurge.

You’re going to think I’m joking when I say this, but I can assure you this is no joke. I would buy every single first-edition, sealed Pokémon booster box on eBay and buy out everybody’s collection.