We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashna Sharan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashna, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When you’re acting, people will ask you to take a risk. In that case, they typically mean either make a bold choice or be vulnerable, go to a place you typically wouldn’t in real life. I think for me…that was never an issue. True acting comes from honest feelings within and it’s very cathartic. So I guess I have been taking risks, but I don’t necessarily see it that way. I just go with what I am feeling in the present. Sometimes a line in a script can make me really angry, other times, the same line could make me very sad.
However, when I started writing my own films, that’s when I actually would question myself…should I take the risk? Do I want to go there? What will people think? What type of message are you trying to convey? I think it’s because when YOU are the one putting words to paper, there is a level of accountability and ownership you need to have. That’s been a bit scary for me. I think with each script, I explore and try to push the boundaries more.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I never thought of myself as a storyteller until this pandemic. I realized that even with no budget and being stuck in the house, you could find ways to be creative. The idea behind me writing these quarantine films in May 2020 was to keep myself busy and creative while staying in the confines of my own home. I realized that most artists I knew were feeling like they wished they could act, edit, or compose during lockdown.
So I wrote multi-character stories where actors had to film themselves in their own homes and we would remotely coordinate everything from pre-production to post-production. I wanted to bring people together without risking anyone’s health because of COVID-19. I never guessed that it would become as big of a community as it has, it’s gone global! People I’ve never worked with or met have become a part of this huge remote collaboration called That Quarantine Life on Youtube.
I am extremely proud of what it has become and some of the important social justice messages we raised awareness of in the process. I am a socially conscious storyteller, that’s the kind of filmmaker I am and I am proud of that. We made 9 short films in 2020. Our tenth film just came out and we are in pre-production for three more episodes.
It’s been a difficult year in terms of the amount of time and work it took to pull this off 100% remotely, but it was worth it. As I wrap up these quarantine films, I’ve written a screenplay that I am looking to make by the end of the year on location!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am still new to Los Angeles, so there are a lot of places I haven’t been yet, but below is my running list!
Places to Eat:
– Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pancakes at Hugo’s
– Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins at Your Good Neighbor Restaurant
– French Toast at Blu Jam Cafe
– Beef Kafta at Joe’s Falafal
– Veggie Burger at Fratelli Cafe
– Butter Chicken at Anarbagh
– Pescado Sandwich at El Huarique
– Ice Cream Sandwich at Cream
– Baked Goods at Nata’s Pastries
– Pizza at Baldoria
– Suehiro Cafe (honestly, order anything)
– Gracias Madre (honestly, order anything)
– Tea at High Tea Cottage
– Tapas and Drinks at Black Market Liquor Bar
Fun things to do:
– Go on a Gondola Ride in Oxnard
– Spend a day at Universal Studios and watch an IMAX movie at Universal Studios City Walk
– Enjoy a Musical at Hollywood Pantages
– Attend a Groundlings show
– Tour The Getty
– Hike in Griffith Park and Malibu
– Spend a day in Temecula exploring different wineries
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s not necessarily one person who I would dedicate this to because my family and friends all played a part in encouraging me, but I will pick a few organizations that have been awesome places of support.
The Village in Burbank helped me believe in myself as an actor and be more confident in the room.
The Actors Workout Studio was where I met some of my closest friends since moving to Los Angeles. Many of those friends, like Joey Jupiter-Levin, have always pushed me to write my own content.
The Voices on Paper virtual group has made me a stronger writer by organizing awesome table reads and giving strong, critical feedback.
I put the names of the photographers in the file name. One is by Kevin Mapp (white top, braid). One is by Nikayla Scott (the black and white mirror one). The other photos are by Suzanne Fladung. Logo Design for my company is by Liz Merchant.