We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Klein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I used to think work-life balance was something that had to be given to me. I viewed myself this octopod- person, and at the end of each hand I held a different plate. And in order to be the perfect artist, all those plates needed to have equal weight, and each plate had to be held at the exact same height, and nothing was allowed to fall over. Are you tired by this metaphor? Me too. It just isn’t sustainable for me as an artist and in general as a person living in the world. But I think it’s an expectation many women and AFAB hold themselves to, no matter what field they’re in, until something clicks. The plates don’t matter, YOU matter. For me, I had to face the fact that I was exhausted all the time and not happy doing my craft. So I told myself I needed to make a shift.
I’m working on viewing work-life balance as something that’s ever-changing, sometimes moment by moment, depending on how my day is playing out. The most important adjustments I’m implementing have been:
1. Giving myself the compassion to recognize that some plates do carry more weight, and that’s okay, and
2. Knowing when I need to put one down, and maybe I’ll pick it back up, and maybe I won’t, and that’s okay too. As long as I value my time and make choices that align with my values.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an actor, writer, singer, model, director, and I also do voice over. Any way to express myself as an individual or on a team has been very therapeutic to me, and I jump at the chance to learn a new skill to enhance my storytelling (stage combat and stunts are next on my list). I’m very interested in exploring and writing for grounded characters in everyday situations, but whose emotions and approach are dynamic and maybe a little left of center. It’s easy for me to find the humor in different points of view, especially when I think of my family or people who are closest to me. And I typically like to add in song wherever I go because that’s how I was raised. In our house, you sing when you’re happy, you sing when you’re sad, you sing when you feel like the world’s against you, and you sing to prove ‘em wrong.
I knew from the beginning, the road I chose wasn’t going to be easy. Anyone who had their two cents was very willing to remind me, but no one could ever really tell me why it would be difficult. I came to realize that’s because everyone’s journey is just so different; there’s no one way to be an artist or apply a Theatre degree, so it’s hard to provide a path. That meant I’d have to dig deep and find it for myself.
Currently, I’m very passionate about pursuing a career as a drama therapist. I’m not sure what that means yet in terms of also pursuing a professional acting career. I have some people in one ear telling me it can’t be done, and I know there’s logic to that. However, I pride myself on being a bit delusional. Right now, I’m focused and simply excited to apply my art with the capacity to heal, enhance interpersonal relationships through storytelling, expression, catharsis, and to be a tool for social justice. After I become licensed, I hope to be of service to people with PTSD and communities struggling with social stigmatization in community center settings, after school programs, programs for older adults, and, of course, theaters.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting Los Angeles, they’d definitely need to stay for at least a week. There are so many niche communities that have been established here about that I’m continually blown away. My itinerary would include pre-COVID things to do. I know a lot of places have closed down due to economic hardship, and that breaks my heart. So this list may not be the most up to date, but they’re places I’ve come to love as a Chicago transplant. Obviously this is all arbitrary because if you do your research before a visit, you might find comedians are in town or shows are up, and you should absolutely forget about the itinerary and grab tickets. Some of the best shows I’ve seen have been at The Virgil, The Comedy Store, and at 99 seat theatres on Theatre Row (Santa Monica Blvd). Also as much as you can, take the Metro. Anyway, here are my top stops:
Sunday: First thing after I pick them up from the airport, we’re going to Pann’s Diner- so kitschy, so special, so LA. Then we’d hike up to Griffith Observatory to see the sunset over the whole city and look at the stars. Last stop is some late night Thai from Ruen Pair and a drink at Tabula Rasa.
Monday: Beach day baby! Head to Will Rogers Historic State Park and take an easy hike up to Inspiration Point (the most beautiful view of LA, IMHO, and you can see out to the ocean forever).
Tuesday: LACMA by day, because we have to get those photo ops. Spend the evening in Culver City. Burgers at Father’s Office, and drinks at the Seventy7Lounge speakeasy.
Wednesday: Day 1 out of 2 in Downtown LA: Considering I could spend all day at the Grand Central Market, I don’t think 2 days for DTLA is obscene. If we can, go to the Flower Market first thing in the morning just to see it, it’s incredible. Check out Santee Alley in the Fashion district and the ROW DTLA- there’s just always something cool happening over there. We went to a Dumpling “Museum” they had once. It was super rad and I learned a lot! Check out the Last Bookstore because I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life, then the Grand Central Market again because we probably want to try more food!
Thursday: Day 2 out of 2 in DTLA: Start off at The Broad, then walk the length of Grand Park, take a walk up to Olvera Street for Mexican food, then check out Union Station (I love trains and the history of communities built around transportation). Head up to Chinatown and good luck picking where to eat because there’s so. much. good. food. It’s just the best to walk around. If the Dodgers are playing, catch a game (especially if the Cubs are in town). Get to Angel City Brewery for a drink after, then Salt n’ Straw for some ice cream.
Friday: Spend the day time in Koreatown, again, you can’t go wrong with picking places to eat here for lunch! At night, see a show at The Groundlings! Preferably, get tickets to their sketch show, then the Completely Different Late Show right after.
Saturday: Descanso Gardens during the day for a truly delightful botanical experience, then rest up because we’re going to Tramp Stamp Granny’s in Hollywood at night. I love a good piano bar, and they can *play.* Everyone’s there for a good time, and the vibe is effervescent.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people, books, and groups that’ve gotten me to the place I am today, and I wish I could name them all here. For now, I’d really like to shout out Open Path Psychotherapy Collective. A good friend recommended this nonprofit to me in 2018 when I wasn’t in a good place, lacking adequate health insurance, and definitely couldn’t afford $200 for therapy sessions. But I knew I needed help starting my mental health journey. Through Open Path, I found my current therapist who I’ve been seeing since I started, which is rare, and I’m so grateful for them. Open Path also has online wellness courses. I’ve since made significant strides, and am now on my way to getting training in drama therapy to become a registered drama therapist. I’m at a place now where I feel truly aligned and joyful. So, I will sing my praises for Open Path to anyone who is looking for counseling.
Other: TikTok- https://www.tiktok.com/@itsalyssamarieklein
Jill Petracek, Chris Bush, Julia Henning