We had the good fortune of connecting with Catherine Dao and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Catherine, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Ever since I can remember, I knew I was different from the other kids. Born and lived my elementary school years in Taiwan with very strict rules of behavior, I never felt I belonged. It was something I embraced but my teachers found annoying.

For various reasons, our family of three immigrated to the United States when I was 12. Landing in Los Angeles, California, I immediately felt right at home. This is not normal. Many blessings and tragedies in my life gave me peace and sadness, often at the same time. I felt that the world needed help though there is much beauty, there is much turmoil.

After finishing college and years of graduate school, I earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry. I also started acting during these years. I was able to do my studies at USC in the daytime and being paid to do it, using computers to collect data, and nighttime, to do plays. I knew at some point that this was the answer.

I experienced the power of good films, and the need to grow as humans on this planet, to help each other. I never understood why there was so much hate. As I thought more about my purpose, it became clear that I want to bring love and joy to our species using films that are fun to watch without being preachy but can inspire people to go beyond themselves. It has already happened. Ellen DeGeneres did it for 19 years with a talk show that makes us cry, laugh, feel joy, and helped so many. But it’s never enough because people have short term memories.

The more people that are out there to remind us of the beauty of humans, the more chance we’ll have to still have an earth around for our future progeny to enjoy. As a mother, this is something I feel strongly about. That is why I have started my company, Symphoria Films, to make films that help bring us humans together in a supportive way. Symphoria is also my first feature film, which had won awards online during the pandemic. Recently, it landed at Amazon Prime, free with Prime. Symphoria is in fact a chemistry term. This thriller was intended to be my jump start, but I managed to squeeze some science learning into it. It’s all part of a long-term plan. With pandemic, it will take longer, but better than never!

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 a filmmaker. Started with an acting career, then realized that they don’t write parts for me, Catherine Dao. Since you already know my purpose for my art, you can see how being a filmmaker, one can have a lot more control in creating a safe environment for everyone on the set. For example, as a director on set, it would be MY responsibility to provide a place of artistic creation to be “Me, Never”! Don’t get me wrong, I will support the “Me TOO” movement always. Would it not be wonderful if we can avoid it all together. To support and cultivate professional behavior in all people involved, without unwanted and inappropriate advances and treatments. Thus working toward a future that is “Me NEVER,” including teaching our young kids just what is the loving and better options. All of these can also be reinforced by inspiring films that show how this is possible. It has already begun, and I want to be part of it, and I believe I have unique viewpoints to contribute, due to my bi-cultural influences.

Instead of being proud, I am grateful for the life I’ve had. I knew I wanted to make films for decades now. Though I’ve not reached my every goal, I’ve also NOT given up. To me, it means, I can’t fail if I’m still trying. It’s a waste to worry about easy or hard, not helpful to me either way. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, this I do know. But the Chinese culture, for the most part, embraces older generations as we realize the value of age, it comes with wisdom, experience and acceptance.

I learned that I need to learn patience. I’m always in a hurry, but if I focus on the timeline instead of the quality of work and cultivating either the writing or storyline shifts as I go is much more fruitful in the end.

For the world, my brand of media will be how to find and hold on to the love you have in your heart. IF I can convince one person that love is the answer to “save our world” with my films or series, it is worthy of my time. Of course, I prefer to reach more people. And, my films will also be diverse with unique stories that is also universal. These will be what my audience can expect. That said, my first feature, Symphoria, may or may not display these “brand” clearly. But they are in there. I design it to be a thriller, as people love thrillers, I had planned to use Symphoria as a stepping stone for funding future films, but the pandemic had slowed my timeline. But I just have to be patient.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the beach. It’s also free. Malibu Farm Restaurant on the Malibu Pier is delicious, healthy and reasonable prices. Also, Karma Bakery in Thousand Oaks has all healthy sweets. My body does NOT like gluten, diary, egg yoke anymore. And I really missed them until I found Karma Bakery. It is not just healthy, but also better tasting than the unhealthy counterparts from what I remember. Also, there’s a Chinese fusion restaurant in Agoura, Mandarin Lotus, owned and run by a couple who are full of heart and the dishes are soooooooooo delicious. They even have Mock meat dishes that are all vegetarian. They also can be gluten-free. The chef, Dan is from China, but studied in Italy as well, thus the fusion Chinese. If it seems like I love to eat, it’s because I do.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother and father, in heaven, who celebrated my uniqueness, while in a culture that preferred living with specific sets of rules.

My husband, who supported whatever crazy idea I have and not judge me.

And God, whose presence I felt since I was 4 years old when I lived among Buddhists including my parents. The same God who saved me from cancer and death, and gave me the idea of LOVE first, and the most important thing to live by.

Website: https://www.symphoriamovie.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/symphoriathemoviecat

Twitter: https://twitter.com/symphoriamovie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/symphoriathemovie

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYrOnPujBkFHQJiFp5fjfYg/featured

Other: https://www.amazon.com/Symphoria-Catherine-Dao/dp/B09MHTQ2Q8/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pl_foot_top?ie=UTF8 https://pro.imdb.com/name/nm0200789/ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1739305/

Image Credits
A Martinez Catherine Dao Edwin Kim Umbe Adan Catherine Dao Dalia Ayoub Ivy Lindsey Umbe Adan Eileen Davidson Catherine Dao Tyler Wolfe A Martinez A Martinez Erik McGregor Sebastian Bueno

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.