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From Disney Star To Oscar Contender, The Unexpected Comeback Of Zac Efron

The Unexpected Comeback Of Zac Efron

“What happened to Zac Efron’s face?” Over the past two months, that question has been repeated frequently in the international press. As was previously the case with stars such as Demi Moore, Renée Zellweger and Meg Ryan, the 36-year-old California native, who rose to popularity for his starring role in High School Musical, is facing public scrutiny and speculation about whether he’s had cosmetic work done. In his case, his “unrecognizable” appearance is attributed to somewhat swollen cheekbones and a visibly different jawline, although the actor has explained for years that his physical change is due to a serious domestic accident that forced him to undergo a complete facial reconstruction. The debate about his face was so widespread that the man who was once described as “Disney’s boy wonder” admitted that even his mother had called him to ask if he had cosmetic touch-ups done without her knowledge. That speculation is now resurfacing with the release of Efron’s celebrated latest film, The Iron Claw, based on the true story of the Von Erichs, a family of wrestlers scarred by tragedy. The film has put the performer in the Oscar conversation for the first time, after years of ingloriously wandering around the industry. Will he finally win the ultimate prize?

The first sign that 2024 may become the year of Zac Efron’s rebirth dates back to December 11, when he unveiled his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony served as recognition of the 18 years that have passed since he brought Troy Bolton to life in High School Musical and as a reminder of his status in the industry, which will serve the honoree well, said actor Jeremy Allen-White. “It’s like Zac Efron doesn’t even know he’s a big movie star. So, just so he’s never forgotten again, we’re all here today to remind him by putting a star in the ground with his name on it,” said the star of The Bear series and Efron’s co-star in The Iron Claw.

On social media, this indie melodrama has already sparked a passionate campaign in support of Zac Efron with hundreds of comments clamoring for a nomination. There are the past examples of Brendan Fraser, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey… The public’s vindication and legitimization of a familiar Hollywood face who has never been appreciated by critics before is a powerful tradition each awards season, and this year Efron represents the perfect vessel for such yearnings. “It’s crazy. I don’t even want to think about it. I just got a star, so I need to slow down a little bit. I’m content with what I have,” he responded when questioned about the Oscar buzz he was generating.

Members of the Academy would do well to pay attention to the actor’s profile, since, despite his youth, his career ticks every box of the stereotypical redemption that Hollywood loves so much. After establishing himself as the millennial generation’s teen heartthrob, as an adult Efron was unable to find a niche in the film industry and has produced a series of resounding failures with critics and audiences alike, such as Dirty Grandpa and an adaptation of Baywatch. In turn, his career was weighed down by an addiction to alcohol and drugs that led him to enter a rehabilitation clinic in 2013; he referred to those substances as the “social lubricant” he needed to withstand the media pressure that had surrounded him at the start of his career. Shortly thereafter, Efron made headlines for his fight with a homeless man in Los Angeles.

Zac Efron was no longer Troy Bolton. He wasn’t the king of the prom, or the captain of the basketball team, or the one calling the shots in the high school musical. His future in the entertainment industry hung in the balance. “I’m a human being and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve learned from every one of them,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. Perhaps because of the scrutiny he was under, or because he was trying to expand his Peter Pan-like charm past the age of 30, Efron decided to transform his body in the gym and show off a sculpted physique that he eventually came to regret. “It wasn’t a realistic image,” he said on the Ellen DeGeneres show, “I don’t want anyone to think that’s the healthiest image you can project. It’s not glamorous… settle for being happy in your size.”

Facing his inability to make it to Hollywood’s next level, Efron’s decision to move to the idyllic Australian shores of Byron Bay—the same town where Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky live—at the beginning of this century seemed like a definitive capitulation on his part. He sold his mansion in Los Angeles for over five million dollars, fell in love with Vanessa Valladares, a waitress at a local restaurant, and moved away from acting to star in a Netflix docuseries about the environment and sustainability, Down to Earth with Zac Efron. But his romantic relationship lasted barely a year, and the streaming platform canceled the series this summer, just after it released the second season, once again leaving the actor with the need to reinvent himself. Luckily for him, and for the fans who have been waiting for nearly two decades for him to finally get his chance to shine, the starring role in The Iron Claw was just months away. Because in Hollywood there is no one better than Zac Efron to step into the ring to play an antihero marked by precocious success, low blows and a physique as hypertrophied as the intensity of the spotlight shining on him. We’ll see if the Academy recognizes this.


Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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