We had the good fortune of connecting with Marissa Labog and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marissa, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I am driven by curiosity. There is a great big world out there and I want to live every aspect of it whether it be through story or personal experience. I live for learning new things, pushing my own boundaries, and taking risks. I think I came out of the womb with an insatiable appetite for movement, which has not gone away to this day. (It probably doesn’t help that I always wanted to be a superhero and gain the physical agility and strength of my heroes). From ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, breaking, to tricking, gymnastics, parkour, taekwondo, karate, and capoeira — I am constantly learning and mastering new movement languages. Each genre and acquired skill not only expands my physical capabilities, but also exercises my mind in new ways and introduces me to new possibilities. I am obsessed with remaining versatile and constantly striving for more — more information, more connections, unfamiliar stories, and deeper collaborations. I am an actress, dancer, stuntwoman, filmmaker, writer, and producer, and with each opportunity, I give 110% to investigating the story or concept at play. I push myself to expand the depth of my expression on each project. My success is a direct result of my nonstop mission to discover something grander, deeper, and fuller than the project before.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Obviously, with the world being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, all of our plans working on specific films and television shows have come to a halt. However, the silver lining of what has been put in its place is the beautiful demonstration of the inherent innovation and resilience of artists who have reminded of me of my own intentions as a creative. My art is storytelling. Actress, Stuntwoman, Dancer, Writer, Filmmaker — at their core, all of these roles are outlets for sharing narratives. I believe storytelling is one of the most powerful tools available to transform the world and bring people closer together, and we – as creatives – have a responsibility to do just that. I’m lucky and honored that I can migrate between all my passions to contribute the best way I can. As a dancer I’ve had a whirlwind career performing and touring nationally and internationally with seven Los Angeles dance companies, with artists such as Christina Aguilera and Tina Turner, films such as “LA LA LAND,” and recently on the creative team for Kanye West’s “Sunday Service” at the Hollywood Bowl. As a stunt women, I added “Birds Of Prey,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Shameless,” “NOS4A2,” and “Logan” (which earned me a SAG and Taurus Award nomination as the X-23 stunt double!) to my credits list. As an actress, I received the “Best Actress Award” for my role as Mackenzie in “When Kids Grow Up” and recently wrapped on the film “Chick Fight” starring Alec Baldwin and Malin Akerman. In addition, my recent film “Cleaning House” is migrating the virtual film festival circuit, winning awards such as “Best Action Sequence.”
However, alongside these successes, I experienced my fair share of challenges. Standing at a mighty 4’11” — a height completely outside of the “normal” industry demographic — I am constantly forced to address my worth and value. My complex career — including all the rejections, stereotyping, and challenges along the way — have fueled my vision for my company UP Productionz. An acronym for “undeniably powerful,” “unapologetically present,” and “universal play,” my goal for UP Productionz is to reinvest meaning and truth into storytelling by celebrating difference and reveling in the purity of the moment. (Which I believe is more pressing today than ever before.) This production company gives me the incredible opportunity to weave all my passions and skills together, while simultaneously continuing to learn from collaborators I admire. This is my journey in the future of my professional life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The beauty of Los Angeles is that there’s so much variety available to us. The ocean, mountains, and desert areas are so close you can essentially hit all three landscapes if you wanted to in one day. As a melting pot, Los Angeles has a wide variety of food, art, and cultural influences sprinkled throughout the city. If you head to Santa Monica, you can have an amazing breakfast at “Blue Daisy Café,” then take a bike ride down to the Santa Monica pier, check out the boardwalk, go on rollercoasters, take a trapeze lesson at “TSNY Trapeze School,” then continue your ride down the bike path to Venice Beach to shops and street vendors, Muscle Beach, and the skate park. You can then bike along the Venice Canals, head back to Santa Monica to 3rd Street Promenade to enjoy street shows and a variety of restaurants. If you want a glimpse of city life, you can go to Downtown LA and check out one of my favorite places, “The Last Bookstore,” with tunnels made of books and an incredible selection of rare books to bestsellers. Then you can head over to Olvera Street, one of the oldest parts of downtown, and check out shops, restaurants, and shows performed in the courtyard or theater, honoring our Mexican heritage. You can also check out two remarkable museums, MOCA and The Broad. In the evening you can grab a concert at the famed Disney Concert Hall or a more intimate show at the Redcat Theater housed in the same building. Another great museum you can’t miss would be the Getty Museum. It stands tall on a hilltop in Brentwood. It is stunning in its architecture, garden, sculptures, and views, in addition to its wide range of art and photography exhibits. If you want to feel the vastness of our deserts, I suggest taking a trip up to Joshua Tree or the Mojave Preserve to go camping. And of course, you can’t come to Los Angeles without the Hollywood experience. I suggest a beautiful hike up to the Hollywood sign, take a short drive to Griffith Park for horseback riding or a stroll to the zoo. You can also make a trip up to the Griffith Observatory and take in views of the stars and all of Los Angeles. For shopping you can take a stroll down Melrose and see a huge variety of stores of various styles and art. The food is remarkable on Melrose as well. The “Village Idiot” is one of my favorite places to go. The Mann’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame are always favorites if you want to go the tourist route. But one of my all-time favorite places to go to is the Hollywood Bowl. This outdoor venue is iconic. Bring your own picnic or get food from the venue, snuggle up, and watch an amazing show under the stars.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are countless people who have contributed to my success over the years. Mark Musashi, a remarkable stunt performer and coordinator, taught me the fundamentals of fighting and reactions. My “shorty” gang of badass stunt women (aka fellow 4-footers like myself!) — Jade Quon, Kelli Barksdale, Kara Petersen, Julianna Potter — always have my back and keep me on my toes. We laugh until our bellies ache (at work!), and I am constantly pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming. Emmanuel Manzanares, an amazing filmmaker, action designer, and stunt performer, is constantly teaching me new things about action filmmaking, both in front of and behind the camera. But I think the individual who has supported, mentored, and encouraged me the most is the person who helped me get UP Productionz (https://www.upproductionz.com/) off the ground, Emily Wanserski. She not only set up the required infrastructure for a new production company, but also helped me shape the creative mission, which sparked the creation of multiple award-winning films. Now a self-employed consultant and producer, Emily continues to help companies and creative entrepreneurs bring light to immediate action items that get them closer to their vision.
Website: www.marissalabog.com and www.upproductionz.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marissalabog/ and https://www.instagram.com/upproductionz/
Jesse Korman (Chick Fight), Jerry Sandoval, Jennifer Hook, Kristina Moto