Some people focus very narrowly when it comes to their careers. Actor, auctioneer, comedy improviser, and business owner Fred Northup Jr. has had a more diverse path. This diversity, however has led him to a very rich and successful life.
Fred studied film and video production at New York University's famed film school. There, he began doing improv comedy, and spent 10 years as a member of Seattle's "Unexpected Productions," the improv troupe best known for their show, "TheatreSports." The company's alumni includes a who's-who of Seattle comedic talent, including former Seattleite Joel McHale.
Comedy improv and video production have dovetailed nicely in Fred's professional life. He owns and runs Southdown Creative, a production company that creates commercial-quality videos for companies like Xbox, Starbucks, and Major League Soccer. Fred also tours the country performing comedy improv for large corporate meetings.
Improv has also played an important role in Fred's growing business as an auctioneer. He cites his improvisational background as a key differentiator between him and other auctioneers. Not only does it keep his audience engaged, it keeps him spontaneous and able to read people well, a key skill in the trade.
Fred's father was an Episcopal minister. "He's a Southern storyteller", Fred notes, "who now runs his own charity called Athletes for a Better World." Like his father, Fred works to engage with his audience. "Engagement is critical at fundraising events", explains Fred. "At a benefit, you'll always have people who are new to the organization. I work hard to keep them entertained and engaged, which allows me and other speakers to have the crowd's attention and trust when it's time to educate them about the organization and its mission."
As an auctioneer, Fred works to ensure that the client usually a charity organization remains the star of the show. His work or "performance" is not a canned routine. It evolves out of the night's event. Fred shared, "I spend a lot of time getting to know an organization, so that I can be authentic when I'm on stage speaking about it. If people are having a great time and are laughing with me, all-the-while becoming increasingly passionate about the mission of the organization, it creates an environment that is really conducive to raising a lot of money."
Whether the auction is trying to raise $50,000 or one million dollars, Fred approaches each event the same he brings a sense of fun and uses that to become a part of the community. Fred relayed, "One of my shining moments as an auctioneer was at an educational fundraiser. One of the patrons asked me 'When did you graduate from our school?' It was such an honor to be asked that, because although I hadn't attended the school, I represented them in such a way that the audience saw me as a part of the organization. They saw how passionate I was for their school. I knew I'd done my job."
Fred delights in the diverse range of organizations he gets to work with, including Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, The Museum of Flight, Seattle Theater Group, St. Thomas School, Seattle Children's, and countless others. And as his auction clientele grows, Fred loves seeing the same donors across multiple events. "It's very cool when I see parents at a middle school fundraiser one year and a high school fundraiser the next. I get to grow up with them."
When not on stage, Fred and his wife Ashley are very involved in the community as volunteers and donors to a wide variety of local organizations. Fred was named the "Seattle Works Volunteer of the Year" and also won the Seattle Police Department's "Outstanding Citizen" award for his volunteer work against domestic violence. He and Ashley live in Seattle with their two young children.
Kaci Aitchison Creating Her Own Path02.26.13
You may already be familiar with Kaci Aitchison as the vivacious co-host of Q13 Fox News This Morning, or perhaps from her previous fox show, "Mornings with Kaci". But looking at the confident and accomplished Kaci today, you wouldn't necessarily know the strength and fortitude it took along the way.
A lifelong Seattleite, Kaci attended the University of Washington where she studied communications and political science. As she approached graduation, she began to share her desire to move into broadcasting but it was met with resistance. Friends and colleagues discouraged her ambitions, telling her that unless she went to a school that had a broadcasting program, or started in a small market, she wouldn't make it in broadcasting. Undaunted, Kaci kept her sights focused and after graduating, went to work as an on-air personality at a local CBS news affiliate.
Doors began to open and she pushed, forging her own path much of the way. She worked at Seattle Top 40 station KISS-FM, first as an intern and later as a full-time on-air personality, where she handled traffic and news reporting. She later moved to sister station KZOK and became the co-host and news director of the Bob Rivers Show.
In addition to her on-air work, Kaci kept busy performing and instructing at Wing-It Productions and Jet City Improv. "What I love most is telling stories, making people smile, and being in front of people", Kaci shared. "I never do something just because it's the easiest thing to do."
After ten years in radio at CBS, she decided it was time to move on. She left her position at KZOK despite not having another job waiting. Kaci was passionate about TV news and pursued it with her usual vigor. However, her audition tapes were met with a slew of "no's" by stations across the country. Without a TV background, they said, she couldn't get a job in television. Undaunted, Kaci pushed forward with assurance.
In August 2009, Kaci went to work at KCPQ-13. She began as a part-time features reporter producing live segments and packages, and within one year of working in television was promoted to an anchor role. She's doing what she loves best telling stories, making people smile, and being in front of people.
Kaci attributes her stubborn determination and her supportive family to her success as well as colleagues and mentors who were instrumental in helping her get a foot in a few doors. "You have to open yourself to accepting that things don't always look the way you think they will", Kaci shared. "I have an open-minded approach to things, which has really helped me out. I'd say that's something I've done really well staying open to opportunities no matter what they look like."
We think she's done pretty well, too.
TAG's Jen Taylor as Halo's Beloved Cortana01.02.13
Jen Taylor began her voiceover career in 1997 with the role of Sunny Day in the children's video game Backyard Baseball. She has voiced a variety game projects including the character Zoey in "Left 4 Dead" and "Left 4 Dead 2", Cate Archer in "No One Lives Forever 2" and appeared in the Xbox game "1 vs. 100". In the game world, however, Jen is best known for her performances as Cortana in the epic science fiction franchise, "Halo". She appeared in the first game of the series, "Halo Combat Evolved", as well as its sequels, "Halo 2", "Halo 3", and "Halo 4" and prequel "Halo Reach". Jen also played the voice of Cortana in the action sci-fi thriller "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn" TV series, and has appeared in several "Halo" books and comics.
Cortana, classified as a 'smart' AI (artificially intelligent) character, appears in the game as a holograph. She provides information to to gamers during game play and provides a critical role in helping to prevent destructive Halo installations within the game. The Cortana character has been widely used in game advertising for the "Halo" brand.
While she has spent nearly eleven years voicing for the "Halo" franchise, Jen has received notable praise as of late. In the fall of 2012, Jen won NBC News's pick for 'Best Actor in a Video Game' for her role as Cortana in "Halo 4". The news outlet stated that her performance is "responsible for one of the most popular video game characters in history." Also in 2012, Jen received a coveted Video Game Awards (VGA) nomination for 'Best Performance by a Human Female' for her role as Cortana in "Halo 4". She was recently interviewed by NBC News and was referred to as 'The Heart of "Halo"', and a November 2012 New York Post article deemed Jen as having "one of the most recognizable voices on the planet". With the record-smashing "Halo" game series having sold over 50 million copies worldwide, those statements may very well be true.
The Actors Group would like to congratulate Jen on her outstanding success and well-deserved recognition for her portrayal of "Halo"'s Cortana. Bravo, Jen!
Is 'Almost Live' coming back to Seattle? Almost.10.11.12
There's been a lot of speculation lately about whether the popular Seattle-based comedy show "Almost Live" is returning to the TV airwaves. While the original show is not slated for a comeback, some of the best parts of the show members of the original cast and crew are working on a new project aptly called "The (206)" (Seattle's area code).
"The (206)" team has been filming over the summer in and around Seattle. Teaser trailers for the new program have been streaming on their YouTube channel since July, and have received over 17,000 views.
"The (206)" made it's official debut September 18th at The Triple Door with a sold-out event, "Night of The (206)". The evening featured live comedy by John Keister, and The Actors Group clients Pat Cashman and Chris Cashman. The show also offered filmed segments.
We aren't sure yet when or where the show will air, but we'll keep you updated when we know more.
Congratulations to Chris Cashman on his recent Telly win08.12.12
The Actors Group would like to applaud Chris Cashman for his recent Telly award win for MSN Entertainment's "News on Main". As the host of the show, Chris helps the small business community by sharing success stories from entrepreneurs. And speaking of success, "News on Main" has just been renewed for it's third season! Congratulations, Chris!
Congratulations to The Actors Group Auction Team07.04.12
Now that summer is (nearly) here, we'd like to take a moment to congratulate The Actors Group auction team for a super successful spring 2012 season. Our fantastic auctioneers have helped raise money for 30 organizations! We represent the most dynamic team in the Northwest -- talented performers who have risen to the absolute top of the market.
Here is a list of the groups we have been able to help support:
Bainbridge Performing Arts Boston Workman's Circle Ryther Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool CACO The Film School Cascade Academy Seattle Arts & Lectures Salish Sea Expeditions Susan G. Komen New Discovery School St. Francis Cabrini Gatewood Elementary Port Angeles Symphony Explorer West Middle School University Prep Coalition Humane Richard Hugo House Little Bit Camp 10 Trees Make Some Noise Stevens Elementary The Madhouse Seattle Theater Group Book-it Rep Saint Luke's Historic Flight Museum Medevial Women's Chorus Seattle Chamber Music Arts West
The Actors Group's Boston Rob and Amber welcome daughter Isabetta Rose06.14.12
We couldn't be happier for Actors Group clients "Boston Rob" and Amber Mariano. The couple welcomed their third daughter, Isabetta Rose on May 5th of this year. Big sisters Lucia Rose, 2-1/2 and Carina Rose, 18 months are very excited about the littlest Mariano, and of course, proud parents Rob and Amber thrilled to have three beautiful girls.
From all of us at The Actors Group, best wishes to the Mariano family!
Congrats to Dennis Bateman on his recent games work06.13.12
The Actors Group would like to congratulate Dennis Bateman on the success of two recent games projects. In his role as the dystopian voice in Nekki's "Vector" Facebook parkour game, Dennis' portrays a "Big brother"-styled dictator. Click here to see an intro.
Dennis also returns as "The Spy" in Valve's 'Team Fortress 2'. His character is the master of disguise in a group of special-skills assassins known as 'Team Fortress'. In addition, Dennis also plays the androgynous and unintelligible offensive classman, "The Pyro". Click here to check out a clip of the game.
Dennis' impressive roster of game projects includes titles such as Tron, Halo 3, The Matrix, F.E.A.R II, Spy Fox, and Left-4-Dead.
Again, congratulations to Dennis on the success of his recent work!
One week till the NW Emmy awards05.24.12
The countdown is on - just one week till the NW Emmy awards. This year's show will be produced & hosted by The Actors Group's own Chris Cashman. The event will be held at the Snoqualmie Casino and will also be streaming at natas.org.
Congrats to Conner Marx on his four upcoming SIFF films05.22.12
The Actors Group would like to congratulate our client Conner Marx for his success in this year's Seattle International Film Festival. Connor will appear in four (FOUR!) 2012 SIFF films.
SIFF is the largest and most higly attended film festival in the US, spanning 25 days. The festival shows over 450 features, short films and documentaries and in 2011 drew over 150,000 attendees.
Conner's films include 'Things Left Behind' and 'All My Presidents' which show May 28th at 1:00 p.m. at SIFF Uptown and 'The Return' and 'C.B' which show June 6th at 9:00 p.m. at the Harvard Exit.
Once again, our sincere congratulations to Conner on his success at SIFF 2012!
Chris Cashman to host the Northwest Chapter's 25th Anniversary Emmy® Awards Nominations 04.13.12
The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts an Sciences will hold the 25th Anniversary Emmy® Nomination party in Seattle a week from today, and our own Chris Cashman will be the evening's host.
The party - which features a battle of the bands - starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 20th at Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe.
The Actors Group would like to welcome new client Shellie Hart!
Shellie is a host, voice and talent. She joins us after spending 20+ years as the "voice behind the mic" -- midday air personality on Seattle's rhythmic Top 40 radio, KUBE 93. The top-rated show features "OLDSKOOL LUNCH" which ranks as one of the longest running and most successful in pop culture radio.
Shellie is also the on-court Emcee for the Seattle's WNBA team the STORM, a platform to engage & entertain fans in front of a live audience of over 8,000 for every home game.
If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing her in action, check out Shellie's demo reel here.
Again, welcome to The Actors Group, Shellie. We're glad to have you!
David Silverman and Fred Northup help raise nearly $1MM for Komen Puget Sound03.07.12
The Actors Group is proud to congratulate David Silverman and Fred Northup for helping to raise nearly one million dollars for Susan G. Komen Puget Sound. The duo played a key role in the organization's premiere fundraiser on March 3rd. The money raised will be used to further breast cancer education and awareness, and to aid in finding a cure.
John Patrick Lowrie: Actor, Author, Award Winner02.15.12
The Actors Group would like to congratulate John Patrick Lowrie on the success of his book 'Dancing With Eternity'. His freshman writing effort recently won the inaugural ForeWord Firsts Debut Fiction award and has been hailed as a "Stellar debut one of the top 10 novels of 2011" by Fantasy Book Critic.
Besides being a rising star in the literary world, John is also a stage and voiceover actor. His talent is unmistakable, from portraying the voice of Sword Control in the epic video game 'Halo: Reach' to voicing the lead in 'The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' radio series.
The Seattle audio community has some mighty big shoes to fill now that iconic engineer Ella Brackett has taken her leave. After a long and illustrious career in audio, Ella is transitioning to a new role as personal cruise consultant at Holland America Line. Her acoustic journey has taken her to some of Seattle's top studios including APS (Now Victory Studios), Bad Animals, and, most recently at Flying Spot.
From all of us at The Actors Group, wish you the very best in your new career, Ella. Thank you for making us sound so good for so many years.
Kira Lauren voices video for Google Science Fair01.13.12
The Actors Group's Kira Lauren just voiced a cool project for the Google Science Fair. Click here to check out the video. Congrats, Kira. We don't remember science fairs being quite this cool - or easy to enter.
Chris Cashman Completes Media Tour01.09.12
The Actors Group's Chris Cashman just wrapped a media tour that offers consumers money-saving tips on home electronics and media. Chris provides an array of savings options on everything from HD Television to movies and even electric bills. Click here to watch now.
Congrats to Ellen McLain on her Spike VGA award12.18.11
The Actors Group would like to congratulate Ellen McLean for winning "Best Performance by a Human Female" at the 2011 Spike VGA awards. The award was for her voice work in 'Portal 2' -- a popular video game produced by Valve. Ellen received the prize for her portrayal of the character GLaDOS -- an acronym for 'Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System'.
To view video of Ellen receiving her award click here (segment begins at around 2:10).
Congratulations again to Ellen for her VGA win!
Pat Cashman hosts a tribute to J.P. Patches12.15.11
Pat Cashman and Julius Pierpont (J.P.) Patches
Wednesday, December 14th was a night for celebration in Seattle. Northwest television legend J.P. Patches was honored during a 2-hour KCTS special hosted by Pat Cashman. J.P. and Pat also helped to raise funds for the public television station.
The show featured clips from the J.P. Patches television program, and marked the very last J.P. Patches television appearance. J.P. - also known as Chris Wedes - has been battling cancer and officially retired in the summer of 2011. His career has been marked by an epic 23-year run on KIRO TV and a 50-year history of entertaining.
On behalf of all the Patches Pals at the Actors Group, we salute you, J.P. and extend our thanks for the many years of enjoyment you have brought to us all.
Congrats to Mike Madeoy on his new role with Car Toys12.07.11
The Actors Group would like to congratulate Mike Madeoy on his new role as national announcer for Car Toys TV and radio. Mike is a diverse voice actor who has recorded numerous local, regional and national projects for TV, radio and corporate projects. We congratulate him on his new opportunity with Car Toys.
Congras to Jeff Hoyt on his new role with Alltel Wireless11.30.11
The Actors Group would like to congratulate Jeff Hoyt on his new role as announcer for Alltel Wireless. Jeff is a long time Actors Group client and we wish him a hearty congratulations on his new opportunity. For more information on Jeff Hoyt visit his page on The Actors Group website.
Cynthia Lair and Chris Cashman get two-pilot deal11.13.11
Chris Cashman and Cynthia Lair
The Actors Group would like to congratulate Cynthia Lair and Chris Cashman on their two-pilot deal with Full Circle Organic Produce. Lair and Cashman will produce two online cooking demos that will live on the Full Circle website. The videos will provide Full Circle subscribers with healthful, easy-to-execute recipes that utilize ingredients from FC's weekly subscription box. The videos will be online just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Chris Cashman and Pat Cashman wrap production on Biz Kid$11.13.11
Chris Cashman and Pat Cashman
Chris Cashman and Pat Cashman -- or should we say "George" and "Abe" -- of the Actors Group as they wrap production on 'Biz Kid$'. The Emmy award-winning show features kids teaching other kids about business and money. Biz Kid$ airs on PBS. Check your local listings for dates and times.
Tom Douglas, Elysian Brewery create 'Saison of the Witch'11.06.11
The Actors Group's Tom Douglas has partnered with the Elysian Brewery to create 'Saison of the Witch' - a rustic pumpkin beer just in time for fall.
Congratulations - and thank you to Tom Douglas for creating another great offering!
The Actors Group welcomes Conner Marx!11.04.11
Since moving to Seattle, Conner has worked almost exclusively in film, television, and commercials, gathering over twenty screen credits in his two years in the Northwest. Most recently, he starred in the suspense thriller, "Shadowed," and played Cole in "Jenny" with Gary Busey. Conner has also started to receive a lot of attention from geek culture for his lead role in the upcoming gamer web series, "Glitch." Of all his passions as an actor, perhaps the greatest is his love of a good, well-timed pie-to-the-face.