John Goodman (left) plays the patriarch of a wealthy televangelist family on HBO’s new series, “The Righteous Gemstones.” Adam Devine (center) plays Goodman’s younger son and Danny McBride, executive producer of the show and UNCSA alum, portrays his elder son.

In its first week on YouTube, “The Super Pops,” a kid-friendly comedy series produced by and co-starring Laura Elizabeth Hall, a Winston-Salem native and alumna of the UNC School of the Arts, has gotten more than one million views.

The series, which follows a group of high school students who moonlight as singing superheroines with colorful costumes and wigs, is part of the YouTube channel Totally TV, which has more than 3.4 million subscribers.

“As writer and a member of the production staff, I’ve been given great freedom in developing the series, creating each character, and casting the characters as well, but always with the valuable input of our very creative staff,” she said.

Hall plays Chloe, a gleeful student who is secretly Cosmic Pop, with superpowers including telepathy, telekinesis and the ability to throw pink bubbles at her foes. The bumbling villains they face include Miss Fortune, Dr. Kitten and Disruptor, who carry out nefarious schemes and bicker over what to call their secret lair.

“How DARE they be both pop stars AND superheroes?” Dr. Kitten cries when rallying his troops of ne’er-do-wells. “We need to figure out their secret identities so we can expose them once and for all!”

Hall said that she thinks “kids of all ages” will enjoy the show’s mix of superheroics, music and comedy. “One of our goals for this series is to produce fun episodes in which kids might identify with one or more of the characters,” she said, “imagining themselves with similar positive qualities that the Super Pops exemplify, such as honesty, fairness, bravery and most of all being a good friend.”

The channel, which is free and ad-supported, can be found at youtube.com/totallytv.

Hall became interested in acting in middle school, when her best friend got involved with High Point Community Theatre and invited her to a theater day camp.

“It was so interesting and fun for me!” she said. “I pretty much fell in love with acting that week.” She went on to act in roles with that theater and in high school at Wesleyan Christian Academy. During her junior year, she found out that the school curriculum was changing and drama would no longer be offered, so she applied at UNCSA.

“I knew I had to take that shot, so I applied and auditioned for the school,” she said. Hall graduated from the high school program at UNCSA in 2008 and got her bachelor’s degree from UNCSA’s School of Drama in 2012.

From there, she went on to study with improv comedy group The Groundlings and appear in commercials, short films, and a 2017 holiday-themed ION Network TV movie, “A Christmas Cruise,” which starred Vivica A. Fox, Kristoff St. John and Corin Nemec.

In 2018, she joined Totally TV, a YouTube channel with a wide assortment of video shorts aimed at kids, including playful spoofs of Disney princesses (Hall currently plays Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” in those programs), art challenges, sketch comedy, dance-offs, and more.

Hall, who now lives in Los Angeles, recently married musician Adam Ilami, who works on “Super Pops” and other Totally TV projects as a music creator and director, and also plays various minor characters in episodes. They plan to release songs from the show on iTunes and Google Play in the near future, and are active on Instagram at @laurahallyall and @adamirocks.

She said that Super Pops and Totally TV strive “to create a welcoming, personal atmosphere where the cast often responds to hundreds of comments by fans, answering questions and even discussing fans’ ideas for future episodes. We would like for our audience to know that they matter and that we care about their thoughts, ideas, and dreams.

“We’d like to send the message that we each should strive to be the best person that we can be, and in many situations, teamwork is one of the greatest ways to be the ‘best you’.


A band with local ties has a role in “The Righteous Gemstones,” a bawdy HBO comedy series that makes its debut Aug. 18. The Alternative Champs, a rock band from Charlotte, appears as “Tears of David,” the Gemstone church house band in the series. Rick Randall, a singer and guitarist in the band, is from Winston-Salem. They also wrote songs for the series.

The series, about a South Carolina megachurch, is produced by alumni of UNCSA, including Danny McBride, who plays evangelist Jesse Gemstone; Jody Hill, who plays part of his entourage; and David Gordon Green, who directs some episodes.

They are holding a premiere viewing party starting Sunday night at Monstercade, 204 W. Acadia Ave., starting at 7:30 p.m. with DJ Mapache. The TV episode airs at 10. There is no cover charge.

“You’ll hear a song I co-wrote in this pilot episode and see a few of my bandmates up close and personal, but I’m sorta in the background playing keys on the first episode,” Randall said on Facebook. “You might see my goofy mug in later episodes, though.”

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Tim Clodfelter writes about television for the Winston-Salem Journal. Contact him at 336-727-7371 or tclodfelter@wsjournal.com.

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