Friday, January 3

Interview with Derek Houck

Derek Houck is one of the stars of a web series entitled "Progress," which was nominated for two International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) Awards, specifically, Paul Lada for “Best Visual Effects (Digital)” and David King, Shannon Arrant, and Andrea Garduno for “Best Design (Art Direction/Production)” in 2013; the ceremony is to be held at 6:00 p.m., January 7, 2014, at the Rio Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and streamed online for those unable to atttend.  Several episodes of “Progress” are available on YouTube, at:

Nicole Wright, whom LA Libertad previously interviewed for its March 1st, 2013 issue, is the web series producer and director.  She says, “Our nomination confirms a small, independent production company that creates quality programming can compete with extremely well-funded projects like ‘Battlestar Gallactica’ and ‘Continuum.’  It’s an honor just to be nominated among some of the giants in the business, validating our high production values.”

The visual effects were created by British animator-editor Paul Lada whose credits as an animator include “Prometheus,” “Harry Potter,” “Tomb Raider” and “Charlotte's Web.”  Art Design was a collaborative effort of David King (set and props design), Shannon Arrant (costumes) and Andrea Garduno (art and illustrations).

“Progress” stars Ben Whalen (“Midnights with Adam,” “To Be King”) as the Sherlockian hacker Oscar Lerwill, Rebecca Lynch (“Holiday High School Reunion,” “Game Night”) as the alluring cam-harlot Lila DeClide, Derek Houck (“Community,” “United States of Tara”) as the mischievous troll Adam Rhett, Andy Pandini (“Between Jupiter and Mars,” “Harold’s Going Stiff”) as the right-wing pundit Mr. Humbbaugh, Kai Cofer (“Deadwood,” “Smiley Face”) as the constable Alben Scot, and Anna Mountford (“Glee,” “Murphy’s Law”) as the voice of Oscar’s computer.

“Progress” was written by Armando Saldanamora, whom LA Libertad also interviewed for its March 1st, 2013 issue.  The series is produced by Flawless Victory Media.

Other nominations in the “Best Visual Effects (Digital)” include “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome,” “State of Syn,” “Continuum,” and “Super Knocked Up.” In the “Best Design (Art Direction/Production)” category, other nominees include “Continuum,” “Red Scare,” “Destroy the Alpha Gammas” and “Inferno.”

“Progress” is a ten-episode web series.  Victorian England has a steam-powered Internet and Jack the Ripper is posting his crimes on the web.  The series has been featured in numerous publications, including’s GeekMom blog and The Steampunk Tribune.  To learn more about the series, visit:

WMV:  You refer to “Progress” as a “steampunk web series.”  What does “steampunk” mean?

Derek:  The world of steampunk revolves around the idea of a society powered by steam instead of electricity.  In "Progress," this has given rise to a steam-powered Internet.  For Adam Rhett and Oscar Lewill, the Internet literally is a series of tubes.

WMV:  Are you the star of “the cooking show parody ‘Napoleon Bon Appetit’"?
Derek:  Yes, I play Napoleon on the show.  I created "Napoleon Bon Appétit" alongside Katherine Browning, who plays Napoleon's Kitchen Wench.  It started off as a pun, but the concept of a French-speaking, diminutive tyrant trying to host an American cooking show created a wonderful opportunity for Chaplinesque, physical comedy.

WMV:  Are you “[our] friendly neighborhood office geek”?

Derek:  Most of the time.  Occasionally, I'm a superhero.
WMV:  Your demo reel includes footage of you playing the role of Napoleon Bonaparte.  What do you think of the French in general, and Napoleon in particular?
Derek:  I have a great respect for the French and Napoleon, although my horrendous attempts at the French language in the first season of "Napoleon Bon Appétit" don't show it.  Since creating the show, I've spent a lot of time researching both the language as well as the history of Napoleon and his family.  Even though "Napoleon Bon Appétit" is a parody, I want to bring in elements of Napoleon's life that serve as the basis for the comedy.  I'm sure many of our viewers don't care if I get the names of his mistresses and siblings correct, but it makes the show more authentic to me.
WMV:  Where do you live?
Still from the series Progress
Derek:  I live in North Hollywood, and have for most of the time that I've been in LA.  I came from the suburbs of the Midwest, and the North Hollywood/Burbank area is the closest thing I've found to that in Los Angeles.
WMV: indicates that you attended a “meet and tweet” October 9, 2013.  What is a “meet and tweet”?
Derek:  A "meet and tweet" is the season premiere party brought into the 21st century.  Most TV viewers will never get the chance to attend a premiere party in person, but through the use of Twitter and other social media, they get the chance to feel like they're in attendance with the stars of the shows they love.
WMV: indicates that the October 9th “meet and tweet” was in regard to “Love That Girl!”  What girl?
Derek:  I believe "that girl" has actually changed as "Love That Girl!" has progressed.  While Tyana Jones (Tatyana Ali) was the focus of the first three seasons, season four of "Love That Girl!" brings Imunique (Bresha Webb) to the forefront.  Regardless, of who "that girl" refers to, there's plenty to love.
WMV: indicates that you worked “three years as the digital media coordinator for The Walt Disney Company’s Corporate Responsibility department.”  Why did you leave Disney?
Derek:  I've held many jobs to pay the rent while I build my acting career.  I greatly enjoyed my time at Disney as an outside contractor, and only left because my contract expired.

WMV: also indicates that you were coding Web sites at the age of twelve, [were] one of the... first bloggers and [have] been at the forefront of the Twitter movement since the very beginning.”  Should Kathleen Sebelius have hired you to build
Derek:  I'm focused on my acting career, and would not have the time required to build a government website.

WMV: also indicates that “[a]s a volunteer, [you have] built playgrounds for children.”  Are you a very “hands on” sort of guy, who doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty?
Derek:  I enjoy doing what I can to give children in public schools opportunities to find happiness, whether it's sharing a book through SAG Foundation's BookPALS that they would never have otherwise read, encouraging donations through, or building a school playground through the KaBOOM! program.
Still from Napoleon Bon Appétit
WMV:  What web links would you like to share?
Derek: ( is the place to go for news about any projects I'm in and to connect with me.  You can watch all three episodes of "Progress" at ( and both seasons of "Napoleon Bon Appétit" at (
WMV:  Your Facebook indicates that your IMDb address is:  How did you get that address?
Derek:  This one's gonna get a little techie.  It's a sub-domain of that redirects to my IMDb page. Rather than have to give someone a long profile URL like, I can simply tell them it's It's a lot easier to remember, and easier to put on a business card.  You can do this with any service that gives you a long profile URL, such as Facebook or Google+.

WMV:  You apparently consider Kansas City your hometown.  Are you from the Missouri or the Kansas side of town?
Derek:  Missouri...  The REAL Kansas City...  Everyone on the Kansas side knows it's true.

WMV:  How will/did you celebrate New Year’s Eve this winter?
Derek:  I spent Christmas with my family in Seattle, so I spent New Year's Eve traveling.  It's a good day to fly; not a lot of people in the airport.
WMV:  What are your New Year’s Resolutions?
Derek:  Well, I've got several things I want to accomplish in 2014.  We've got a third season of "Napoleon Bon Appétit" that's been on the back-burner for a while now, and I'm aiming to make 2014 the year it gets done.  I've also got an episode of "Community" coming up on January 23rd, which was a lot of fun to work on.  So, one of my resolutions for 2014 is to work on more TV shows I love.
WMV:  Good luck at the IAWTV Awards Ceremony.  Do you intend to attend, or merely watch it via the Internet?
Derek:  Myself and several members of the "Progress" cast and crew will all be driving down to Las Vegas to attend the awards ceremony.  We should be pretty easy to pick out, as we'll be the ones in top hats and corsets.  (I will not be wearing a corset.)
WMV:  Do you have an acceptance speech prepared yet?
Derek:  Thankfully, it's our visual effects artist, Paul Lada, and our art design team of David King, Shannon Arrant, and Andrea Garduno who have to worry about the speeches.  Though I've had an Oscar speech prepared for years, just in case.

WMV:  What advice, if any, would you give others who are also trying to “make it” in the entertainment industry?
Derek:  Focus on building a career, not on landing a particular job.  Help others out when you can, and they'll do the same for you.  The only reason I knew about "Progress" is because I did a children's show with the producer, Nicole Wright, years earlier.  I plan to be acting when I'm seventy, and I want to be able to turn to my co-star and say, "Remember that student film we did together back in '07?  Before the clone wars and drone pizza delivery?  Ah, those were the days."

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