Saturday, September 26, 2015

Exclusive DB Congress Interview: Behind the Scenes with "The Mom" in Dierks Bentley's "Riser" Music Video

Single mom, Nicole Staggs, became inspired for her leading role in Dierks Bentley's "Riser" music video after meeting real-life riser mom Amy Thomas on location. "I gave her a hug and told her what an inspiration she was. Especially being a single mother, as well. I was very grateful I could spend that time with her and really get a sense of who she was."

The Travis Meadows/Steve Moakler penned song, portrayed in video form, takes a hard (black and white) look at a very real situation and how to be a fighter, get out aliver, a riser--survivor.

We asked Nicole to share with us some behind the scenes stories, how she landed the role of "the mom," and what being a Riser means to her.

DB CONGRESS: Back in 2007, you won big on the TV game show, “Don’t Forget The Lyrics.” Did you ever imagine you’d be acting in a music video eight years later?

Nicole Staggs: Omg...I sure did! That was so fun! I have been in a handful of videos since then. The year after I did "Don't forget the lyrics," I shot "Waiting on a Woman" by Brad Paisley. That was another video I was very honored to be a part of, playing the late, great, Andy Griffith’s wife. He passed that next year, so the video was even more special to me.

DBC: You’re also a model. Tell us about some of your work. What other acting roles have you played or any upcoming?

NS: I have been modeling since I was 20 years old and that lead to acting. I've done lots of runway (Dillard's, Belks, Victoria Secret Regional, etc.) and print (Zappos, Swisher Sweets, Dillard's, etc.). I have also done commercials (TN Lottery, Buffalo Trace, Walmart, Ford, Cool Springs Galleria, etc.) and have been featured in some TV Shows (Nashville, Boston Public, The George Barris Show, It’s a Miracle, etc.).

DBC: Nashville! Love that show--what episode/role did you play?

NS:  I was initially brought in for the pilot, to audition for the host of the Blue Bird, which was an ongoing, speaking role.  I made it down to the final audition and it was between myself and another girl. She got the part.  Then I was called in for "Sophia Roxanne"...a backup singer. This was potentially an ongoing role, but my part was cut short and I didn't shoot anymore for that.  I was called in once again for the Mayor's mistress, but I didn't book that either!  So, I'm hoping to change the rules and 4th time be a charm?!!  Lol! I think it was season 2?!  

DBC: Can you talk about landing the role in the Riser video and a bit about the interview process? Did you do anything unique to show you would be perfect for the role of the mom?

NS: My agent called me for this audition. I listened to the song before I went, but I had no idea what the video was going to be about until I showed up at the actual audition, so I wasn't really prepared. Wes [Edwards], the director, asked me what one of the hardest things I've ever gone through was, and I talked about my son, his diagnosis of autism, and getting to where he is today. I know my passion and emotion were very apparent when talking about my amazing son. He inspires me every day...both my babies do!

DBC: What were some of the challenges in filming? Any behind-the-scenes stories you can share?

NS: Having to change clothes for every scene! Because we were mostly shooting in parking lots and in the car, changing was a little bit of a challenge! Luckily I grew up playing soccer and am pretty good at changing tops without exposing myself. The crew had a pop up/portable changing room and they would throw that up in parking lots, as well! That was pretty comical!

DBC: Two weeks ago we interviewed Emma Vance, who played the role of your daughter in the video. What was it like working with her and the little boy? Are you a single mom?

NS: Emma was great to work with. She was very sweet and very grown up for her age! Bentley (little boy) was so precious! He was such a little trooper. Because we had to drive around for two full days to many different locations, I was responsible for both of the kids while they were away from their parents and that made nurturing them very easy. Real emotions came out...especially with Bentley getting hungry, tired, or antsy, and my motherly instincts kicked in. I am a single mother of a little boy and girl, so it was easy to pretend Emma and Bentley were mine. Emma was also such a big help with Bentley! It really seemed like she was his big sister!

Nicole and her real-life kids

DBC: How perfect that the little boy’s name just happened to be Bentley! What a coincidence!

DBC: Were you a Dierks fan before this? What’s your favorite lyric in the song “Riser” and why?

NS: I’ve always loved Dierks' music, but this one is definitely my favorite! "When I don't know what I'm doin’ I can fake it...I'll pray ‘til Jesus rolls away the stone" is my favorite verse in the song. That resonates so much with me, because I was there. I never wanted my kids to see me worried, sad or upset, so I always faked it around them when I felt that way....and I prayed a lot! Still do!

DBC: What scene in the video took the longest to make—how many takes? Did you capture any scenes in just one take?

NS: Honestly, none of the scenes took too long to shoot. Wes had cameras rolling on us 3 a lot, even when we weren't shooting specific scenes, so he could capture as much raw emotion as possible.

DBC: Did you meet the real life single mom Amy and her kids? What was your first impression?

NS: I did meet Amy and her kids on the first day of shooting at Safe Haven! When we were introduced, I gave her a hug and told her what an inspiration she was. Especially being a single mother, as well. I was very grateful I could spend that time with her and really get a sense of who she was.

DBC: One of your friends said “she really poured out her soul in this representation of a single mom” and we agree! You clearly displayed just about every emotion without saying a word—from worry to fear to determination to joy. From where did you draw your inspiration?

NS: Thank you! Being a single mother of two children, it was not too difficult for me to imagine being in Amy's shoes. While I was fortunate enough to have a home and a job after my divorce, there were still definite struggles that I faced, starting my life over. Thinking about those struggles, while not having a place to live or money to provide for my kids, really put things into perspective for me and allowed my real emotions to take over. I know how incredibly fortunate I was to have what I did. Amy was certainly my inspiration for this role and is truly the epitome of a riser!

DBC: Another friend gave “Kudos to Dierks for the song and kudos to you for bringing it alive and helping to make it real.” Did you get to meet and talk to Dierks? If so, can you tell us about that conversation?

NS: Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Dierks. He shot his part on a different day.

DBC: The song and video are serious in nature, but were there any funny moments you can tell us about?

NS: We definitely laughed a lot about how freaked out I was, shooting at the motel. I am super ocd when it comes to germs and this motel room was probably the filthiest room I've ever seen. I had my hand-sanitizer out and rubbing it all over myself and the kids! We also put one of the crews blanket down on the bed, before Emma sat down on it! Luckily it was the last shot of the day, so we all went straight home and showered! Lol!

DBC: Where were you when you saw the finished video? What surprised you the most?

NS: A director friend of mine saw it on The Guardian website and texted me about how great it was. I was at home and watched it on my iPhone! I think what surprised me the most was this being the first time ever that I watched myself on TV and didn't pick myself apart. This was the least glamorous role I've ever done (absolutely no makeup, no hair, no sleep, etc), yet I loved every single bit of it. It was so raw and real and I'm incredibly proud to have been a part!

DBC: Favorite scene and why?

NS: The same scene as Emma...when we were parked in the church parking lot and I look up to the cross…such a powerful message of faith and how God gets us through everything.

DBC: What does being a Riser mean to you?

NS:  A "Riser" to me, is someone courageous, strong, brave, determined and selfless. It's someone who does whatever it takes to get through the hard times and never gives up.

Director Wes Edwards said he "really wanted to do something that felt genuine and honest and a real story of a real riser."  You did it, Wes!  Nicole, Emma and Bentley were very convincing!

Watch the behind the scenes video here.

Riser, the single, is inching up the charts.  Please continue to request your local country radio plays this important, inspirational song!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Exclusive DB Congress Interview: Behind the Scenes With "The Daughter" in Dierks Bentley's Riser Music Video

After three consecutive number one singles at country radio (I Hold On, Drunk on a Plane, Say You Dofrom the 2014 "Riser" album, Dierks Bentley finally released the inspirational title track as a single in late June--his goal all along.

A few weeks later his ACM Awards Live performance of "Riser" was released as the video, and while it was a beautiful production, many wondered if and when there might be a "story" video.

No more waiting! The Guardian launched the true story music video September 3, which follows the struggles of a formerly homeless mother of two--Amy Thomas--as she rebuilds her life.
"I really wanted this video to reflect the 'risers' among us. So, when it came to casting, it was important to me that the storyline follow something real - no acting. The first thing I thought when I met Amy was you would have never known that she had been living out of her car with two kids and nowhere to go. Hearing her story is such a solid example that there are people we pass all around us every day who are going through tough times. It's dedicated to all the 'Risers.'" ~Dierks Bentley

Excerpt from The Guardian article: "The song, which was written by Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler, struck a chord with Bentley, whose father died in 2012. He says finding time to grieve while trying to be a good husband and dad (Bentley and his wife had two children at the time, three now) wasn’t an easy task, but it had to be done. “People are counting on you to get your shit together,” he says. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics of Riser’s chorus resonated: “Hey, I’m a fighter/When darkness comes to town, I’m a lighter/A get out aliver of the fire/Survivor.”"

Twelve-year-old, 7th grader, Emma Vance from Nashville, was cast as Amy's 'daughter' in the video. With the help of her dad, Todd, who contacted us on Twitter, Emma graciously agreed to answer our questions about her experience.

DB Congress:  We see you’ve already been featured in other music videos and commercials, some with your dad.  Tell us about those! 

Emma Vance All of my acting experiences have been fun. especially the ones with my dad. I think my favorite thing to shoot, not including the Dierks video, was a music video for Casting Crowns - Broken Together.

DBC:  How were you chosen to be in Dierks Bentley’s Riser video? How did that come about?

EV: My agent sent me the audition notice and  I wasn't sure how I did until about two weeks later when my dad got the email.

DBC:  In the video, you portray the daughter, but you still go to school and can be seen studying Biology.  What is your favorite subject in school?

EV: My favorite subject in school is probably Language Arts because I enjoy writing.

DBC:  How did the Riser video experience compare to your other videos and commercials?

EV:  The riser video experience was the biggest thing I've done so far and it took the longest to shoot so it was much different from what I've already acted in before.

DBC:  You were a brave “big sister” to the little boy and for your “mom” in the video.  How did you get yourself  ready for the emotions you displayed throughout the video?

EV:  I met the actual girl I was playing, so I just tried to put myself in the place and mindset that she could've been in.

DBC:  How much did you know of Dierks and/or his music before getting the job?  Did you know the song (Riser) prior to being in the video? Have you been to a Dierks concert?

EV:  I've loved a bunch of his songs, though I hadn't listened to "Riser" before I found out about the audition. I have never been to a Dierks Bentley concert, but I would imagine that it would be super fun!

DBC:  Do you think the video is uplifting or sad?

EV:  I think the video was definitely emotional, but I see it from an uplifting point of view.

DBC:  What was your favorite scene in the video and why?

EV:  My favorite scene in the video would have to be when the kids are going to sleep in the car and the mom looks at the cross at the church because I saw it from the perspective of never giving up hope in the Lord.

DBC:  That was an inspirational scene! For us, when the cop (Kevin Grace), knocked on the window of the car and that tear dropped out of the little boy's eye, that's when the water works started!

DBC:  What was it like to work with Dierks? Can you share some of your conversations?

EV:  I actually never got to meet Dierks because the parts of the video he shot were separate.

DBC:  How long did it take to film the entire video? Did you have to miss and make up any school work?

EV: It was 10 am to 10 pm for 2 days, but because it was in the summer I didn't have to make up any school work.

DBC:  Tell us about working with and being directed by Wes Edwards.  The shot of you laying your head on the mom’s shoulder at the end was perfect and ties nicely with the lyric: “lay your pretty head down on my shoulder.” You made it look so natural!

EV:  I really liked working with him. He communicated what he wanted us to do really well and made it super easy. I would love to work with him again someday.

Emma standing in front of Director, Wes Edwards

DBC:  What was your favorite memory of the day?  

EV:  My favorite memory would probably be when we went to the lake and before we started filming, we fed the geese.

DBC:  What does being a “Riser” mean to you? 

EV:  To me, being a Riser means staying strong in a tough situation and having hope that you get through it. 

In the closing scene, Dierks has just finished singing the last of three "I'm a riser" lyrics, and you can see he is visibly moved with the seriously emotional look on his face and the way he swallows hard.  A true testament to how real this experience was for him--a real-life fighter, riser--survivor.

With the help of Nashville non-profit Safe Haven Family Shelter, Amy was able to receive critical education, support and guidance that helped her make a successful return into her own home. Amy shares her story in more depth in this behind-the-scenes footage from the video shoot. To watch, click here.

DBC Chair (FL)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dierks Bentley Nominated for CMA Male Vocalist of the Year 2015

Dear members of the Country Music Association.  Thank you for nominating our DB Congress president, Dierks Bentley, for Male Vocalist of the Year 2015!

Can you do us one more favor? Vote Dierks! Please and thank you! We really want to see him receive the award on air and give his speech November 4th!

We know we are not the only ones who think he is the most deserving in the category and is long overdue!  This is his year!  He is, afterall, a RISER!


DB Congress Reps worldwide

CarryAnn Needs A Kidney--Please Share

We see it all the time, but it's different when it's one of your own.  As the wife of Dierks Bentley's drummer Steve Misamore, we consider CarryAnn Misamore a member of the DB Congress family--and she needs our help.

CarryAnn has Polycystic Kidney Disease.  There is no vaccine, no prevention, no treatment and no cure.  She has cysts on her kidney in the hundreds. Her kidney is failing and she needs a kidney in order to live.  She needs a donor with O Positive blood.

"I just want to keep being a sister and a wife and a daughter and keep living...I realize this is a lot to ask, so if this is not for you, I ask for your prayers."

CarryAnn - The Best Is Yet to Come 2015 from carryann misamore on Vimeo.

"You might be my family, a friend, an acquaintance, a client, a business friend, a friend of a friend, heck you might be the person that checked my groceries or a person that received flowers from us~whoever you are if you have come in contact with me in any way you have been what has helped me to see hope and have supported my faith in God. Faith in that the burdens of life can be heavy but no matter what this life brings each day can be better than the last. My life has been blessed beyond measure for sure and I cannot be more thankful. Today I am taking down a scary wall, I am putting my heart out on the table, I am asking for help and I am steppin out on faith that Gods got this.
Today is the day….no matter what - The Best is yet to come always!
Please Share. Many Smiles, CarryAnn Misamore*****Blood 0+ or 0- and A2 are compatible options for me**  For more info or to help please contact Vanderbilt Transplant (615) 936-0695, Nashville, Tn, or follow this link:

Please spread the word.  Share this everywhere and with everyone you know.  You never know who might be the match who could save her life--one of our own.

Your DB Congress Family