Change Promotions is glad to present to you this exclusive interview with the winner of the 2006 Hang Time slam dunk competition..
After Winning the Rizing Starz Talent Show, Umberto Celisano is ready for the next opportunity for him to capitalize off whether it is comedy or acting. He has had previous experience in entertainment doing stand up at Yuk Yuk’s, as well as acting in independent films and the list is growing. Change Promotions asked Umberto him some personal questions about his upbringing and his views on life.
Change Promotions: Well first I would like to say congratulations on your winning the Rizing Starz talent show. You gave the crowd a good performance. Before you got up on stage what was going through your mind?
Umberto: Well, I remember I was at home. I woke up that day and I just thought you know what I’ve been here before; i’ve been in this position before. I’ve done plays before, for school and i’ve been on stage and I know what that feeling is like; although something was a little bit different about that day because, I knew it was really public this time, there was going to be a hundreds of people in that audience that just didn’t know who I was, and they were going to watch this guy who will either be funny or not be funny; and that probably is the most difficult situation to be put in; when people are thinking that’s a comedian, or oh he’s suppose to be funny, he’s going to have to go on stage today and he’s going to have to make us laugh. Never mind if he puts on a skit or if he’s a good actor or he can sing, because most people that can sing, will sing. But not everyone that is funny is going to be funny on any given night. You can be prepared but it’s all about reading an audience, but yeah the fact that no one knew who I was made a big impression on me, and I just had to deal with it.
CP: That’s Great man. At the auditions there were a couple other comedians that auditioned as well, the judges found none of them to be funny but when you came in you blew them away… describe your style?
Umberto: My style as in how I perform?
CP: Yeah like what’s your motive. Did you rehearse specific jokes to win them over, or do you think you’re just naturally funny?
Umberto: OH…that’s a really good question because you want to believe that your naturally funny, you always want to believe that, but im not going to lie, there’s many time I tell people, im not that funny.and it happens that they just end up laughing after I tell them. But I think my style is just going out there and um.I like to imitate. I’ve been doing imitations since I was like 10 years old. The second I dropped one I think it was Ace Ventura, which was a hit, [laughs] and it was a hit for years after that. You know what I mean. People love it that much, and you know, you use that confidence from previous days, its almost like having experience, its not experience because you haven’t been there yet, but it is because of what you know other people around you have heard and said, “this guy is funny”. It is like when I seen Phil Nkrumah and I didn’t even know about the event. He told me about it and said “you know what you got to do this, because I know who you are and I know what you’re capable of doing.” That alone brought some confidence in me, definitely. At first I wasn’t taking it seriously. I didn’t even know what Change Promotions was at the time, but he told me I had to do it, and I said why not. I still had a passion for wanting to make it, and that was the ultimate drive for me to go towards doing it.
CP: Going into the audition, did you know that you were going to make it, or you were skeptical?
Umberto: I hoped to God, I just hoped to God I was, because like I said, no matter people tell you.you have an experience or confidence that people say, “yeah he’s funny he’s going to make it”, but when you think about it, its only you verses you at that moment. I was thinking, am I going to make it or not? Am I going to be good enough to impress people? To make people laugh? At a public level? Where hundreds of people at going to watch. a sold out crowd? I don’t know. Im going to be in audition and the people don’t know me there either? I have to go from what other people have said about me, word of mouth.Umberto this, Umberto that, you got to listen to him; watch him do 50 cent and your going to like him, and thankfully they did.
CP: You said you’re good with impressions, who are the top five people that you like to impersonate?
Umberto: To take away from anyone that I know personally, I better not just even mention them, so I’ll go straight off from people that are publicly known. I’m going to go with Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Nicolas cage, I got to say I love doing 50 cent now, because just from the reaction I seen from the people at the show.and you know the thing about 50 was that I didn’t know that this was going to happen, im in a club one time with my friends and 50 Cent comes on, and I just did the face and my friends started dying. That’s the great thing about imitations that people don’t even realize, people learn through repetition and research and that’s how imitations are usually done, but when you learn through sound and sight, just by listening to another person that’s the most beautiful thing about imitations; when you can just hear it, see it, and do it. That’s what I love to do, hear it, see it, and do it, not just research it, or repeat it all the time. Honestly to me I think that repetition is useless, you can repeat it, and it would sound awful. Every time you repeat it, its like [laughing] you got to stop doing that imitation. Im not saying that im perfect, I don’t just do an imitation and boom it’s a hit, after about 3 times I get it, and im like ‘ I got to show people this’ that’s what I did with 50. So yeah 50 cent and the 5th person. Ill probably say um.you can put Robert Deniro in there you can put Joe Peci, I love doing big people that everyone knows.
CP: It’s obvious that you have a unique personality, where would you say that unique personality was created?
Umberto: Um…I owe a lot of it to my friends, I really do. I grew up in Malton, and I went to a catholic school where I had a lot of friends there that I considered close, but just like anytime and point in life, you leave people, for what ever reason and there not the same people that you knew or there not the same people that your going to hang around with, and I noticed at a young age growing up that if your outgoing, people are going to pick things out of you.good things, and bad things of course, and after moving from Malton and leaving that group of friends for a new group of friends, being in a new location, i’ve noticed that I was more appreciated moving from Malton to Brampton. People in Brampton just seen me and said this guy is new. and that’s the thing when your new everyone knows each other but they don’t know you, and when you first arrive everyone is either going to know you as the new kid that’s a loser, or the new kid that’s funny, or the new kid that’s cool, I want to hang around with that guy. And it happened out to be a fear of not being accepted, I think it brings out a better side to you, but yeah my friends had a major impact on my life.
CP: Growing up the majority of the youth seem to not know what to do with there life, or what to become. When was the time in point that you decided what you wanted to become.
Umberto: Um, I think when I was 16, it wasn’t too early, I was rolling in my teens, and I was 16. A lot of people recognized what I could do, not that I think im the best, I don’t have that kind of ego, but at 16 I was doing stuff in school. It was a really big year for me. I was in grade 10. Believe it or not I was a shy person throughout grade 9, but in grade 10 I really opened up, I did a talent show and I ended up winning, and that was big for me. Because I seen that I can make a lot of people laugh, I was doing imitations of my teachers and people loved it.
CP: And people loved you at the Rizing Starz Talent show as Well, so let me ask you this question, you won the show.and you seen the support that you’ve gotten from out community, so where does Umberto go from here?
Umberto: Well you kind of go, um…well after the show I was kind of hungry so I went for a slice of pizza [laughs]…That’s where I went from there to be honest.but um yeah it was good man.that pizza looked good [laughs]…but I don’t know as far as future goals, I want to be known.a lot of people talk money, money, money. That’s the main goal. You want to make money in this industry or any industry for that matter, but you know what, why I want to be taken seriously is because I love it. If someone gave me an opportunity to capitalize, I would make sure that I take that opportunity and capitalize to the point where who ever gave me that opportunity would be not be second guessing me, saying “we didn’t know if this is the right guy”. Instead I want them saying “that was a guaranteed success right when we chose him”. I want people to think, ‘how did this guy go unnoticed?” I guess you can blame a bit of it on me because I haven’t been working as much as I wanted to towards it, but the reason for that is that is because there’s so many things that happen in life. You can be thinking about school, you could be thinking about a part time job, and the thing is just like anyone else growing up or just like any one else who has even made it famous, you got to take a stand at one point. When it comes to friends, when it comes to just being tired or lazy. You as an individual has to say.look; I got to take initiative on my future. The worse thing in the world is wasted talent. That’s the worse thing in the world; it’s the most depressing fact, people with wasted talent. They just go out, they know they can do it, they work there mouth for years and what happens.
CP: You just said you know you can do it, where do you see yourself in 5 years. What do you want to do with your talent? Umberto: I want to expose it! I want to expose it to everyone in the industry…
CP: Doing What?
Umberto: I want to do anything because to me, doing anything is learning a new thing, and I know I can be funny, and not only stand up comedy, like in a movie or in a skit I think I can do that, and I can do very well at it if I was given the right role. I also like to act, I’ve had a huge passion since I was 16, and I think that’s the thing that I would like to offer to people in the show business. I want them to know, ok this guy is funny, he can do a lot of imitations and he can also express a wide range of emotions as an actor. I pride my self, I pride my confidence in anything that I do, I would not shy down any opportunity or to be in any sort of role, I think that’s an expression of art, especially if it’s what you do. For example it’s like a hockey player saying that he loves the game and everything about hockey, but he would never take a slap shot.then why are you playing hockey then? [Laughs) you know.
CP: That’s a very good point and I hope a lot of people take that one in.What motivates you to do what you’re doing? You can take so much paths in life, you can get a job to work and make money, you could just stay in school, you can just listen to your parents, stay home and do what they say, what’s motivating you to pursue the future that you see yourself going in?
Umberto: I said it earlier I think which is friends, friends are such an impact, also other people that know you, teachers, and just people that you see in everyday life. When you see them they ask questions “are you still acting? When’s your next gig?” that is so motivating to me because I know that there is a lot of people that believe in me. I can’t even put it into words how much that means to me. And also besides that, is just watching T.V. I see some people on TV and im thinking, how did this person make it on television? Did they work hard enough? Do they know someone? Because really, not to knock the industry down or anything, but when I see that im thinking, if they are there.then where should I be? If they are making one million dollars then I should be making ten million.
CP: You made a good point about friends, a lot of people have negative friends whom peer-pressure them to do bad things. What advice would you give to someone who has friends that are leading him/her in a wrong direction and how to choose or be around good people?
Umberto: You know, it’s too bad it’s such a problem in society today, where people are getting in all kinds of trouble and I think it’s just a failure not to recognize the talent that people have or if they don’t have a specific talent, there is just so much to accomplish in life. We can blame the parents all we want and say you came up from a bad upbringing, but in actually that is an excuse, eventually someone is going to put you in that light and say “what did you do with your life.” You cant respond by saying “my parents did this, my parents did that, my life is tuff”, life is tuff all year around everyday and you got to take a stand which is what it comes down to, and say to yourself “you know what, I got to do something with my life.” This is a personal issue, you have to look and see the big picture, and the second you see the big picture, you can paint it. And that’s what it comes down to…
CP: The youth tend be put in a society where they have friends that they listen to. if a friend says, lets go rob this guy, or lets steal from this store, they know they shouldn’t be doing it but they still do it because they are influenced, what advice would you give someone who is in this situation, and put them around people that are positive and to make them have a better future?
Umberto: When you have friends like that, you know as a friend, that you can take a stand. You can tell these people, to there face, what are you doing? What are you thinking? You’re better then that, why take that risk? What possesses you do to want to do this? You got to make light out of there problems and open there eyes. Then they will realize that my friends thinks im dumb, and that’s what they need sometimes, you need to have that impact on them, and eventually it will get to a point where it hurts them, and the reason why it hurts them is because they see that you are trying to benefit them. And like I said before about people saying growing up was tuff. They are still growing up, going to have kids going to get married, what are you going to do then? Going to rob banks still, your going to shoot someone who’s making you upset? You just got to grow up!
CP: The one thing that I’ve noticed is; although you won the talent show for being a comedian. Throughout this interview you have been serious; I see that you take it as profession. What are you doing at this point in time to further your self in what you’re trying to pursue?
Umberto: In the summer I actually did a horror film. It was an independent horror film called Woodrow. It should be going to the world festival next year, and I was the main character in that. So I would love to get that film out to as many people to watch it and notice that I can take on other roles, in oppose to just being funny. I take a lot of pride in that, I had a friend who told me about the film and brought me to the director and I was able to impress him which was the main thing. I was put in the film with them having no knowledge of my capabilities and for that reason I put my everything in. the movie wasn’t a blockbuster movie, but it definetaly was a stepping stone. Im going to look back on that and im going to have the opportunity to show people that, so they can see it and say ‘yeah this guy is good’. That’s, I guess my main goal now, which is to get people to see how serious I am, how good it can get for me, and what I can exactly do out there. I plan to do more basically, currently im working with Youth for Humans Rights, they seen me at the Rizing Starz talent show and they really liked me. They told me that they were really interested and im glad I got in contact with them, besides that im just going to school, educating myself, and trying to get some money, that’s the most important thing because um.I got to pay for gas [laughs]
CP: Alright Umberto we really appreciate that you took the time out for this interview. Hopefully a lot of people will get to know more about you, which is our main focus, which is to get to know more about you as an individual so good luck and thanks. Do you have last thing that you would like to say?
Umberto: G-UNIT [laughs] just kidding.Hopefully that everyone gets to start seeing what im doing, I think that’s the most important thing. More public attention, I hope more people get to look at me and say that this guy has something to offer. That’s huge for me. But besides that I just want everyone to keep doing what there doing and pay attention because you never know when you can blow, that’s my advice for everyone out there that is rapping, singing, dancing etc., if you want to go somewhere you can do it, it is possible, but you got to really work, because nothing comes easy, keep aiming for you goal, and capitalize of every chance you get. Wasted talent, it’s the worse thing. ¢