Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.
I’m a filmmaker and an actor specializing in dark, twisted comedies, and dramas that make you laugh. My stories revolve around the conundrum of breaking out of cultural shackles: how to escape abusive power structures; how to free our minds from toxic societal conditioning; how to get free and have a blast while doing it!
I make films and tell stories because it’s what I do best. When I was little, I wanted to be a magician. I think acting and filmmaking are the closest thing to making real magic I could find.
What qualities makes you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
My parents were international journalists, so when I was a kid I was always moving to different countries. I felt like a constant newcomer, always learning the rules of engagement for a new social sphere. I’m also a recovering WASP, and had to navigate and break free from lots of the pretentions and elitism that come with growing up amongst rich white people.
I’m also a jack-of-all-trades, for better or for worse. I started as a painter, then went to school for acting, then film school for directing, and have filled multiple roles professionally, in front of and behind the camera. I speak a few languages, and am incredibly people-oriented. I love working in an ensemble and devising material that springs from our deepest collective genius. And when I build a film, it’s really an exercise in world-building. When I direct, I think like a painter. When I act, I think like a director. And so on. All my disciplines inform each other in a symbiotic, quirky way, and I love it.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?
I was interning at a downtown theater when I was in my late teens. One night I took a ton of acid with some friends and we sat down to watch David Lynch’s “Inland Empire”. As the movie played, I felt like I was cracking the code on the entire human race. I did nothing but watch that film for the next week. It was this moment where I connected on such a visceral level to what an artist was doing in the world — like, somebody else thinks like me!
Since then I’ve gotten sober and also moved on from my David Lynch fangirl days, but that was a pivotal moment for me in a big way.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
In my young adulthood I became an active addict, and lost my identity to a very intense and superficial nightlife scene. I tested HIV-positive, experienced bouts of housing instability, and generally lost my way. That time was incredibly humbling, and knocked me out of my self-absorbed bubble. I started to learn that helping others means helping myself, and vice versa.
If you had to pick the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could take your career (or business) to the next level…who would those 3 people be?