We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Garofalo Bonifacio (CGB) and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christina, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I try to find the opportunity in risky situations. When Hollywood shut down for the pandemic, I created the series LOVE IN 2020 to capture the time and, working with a knowledgeable COVID-19 safety officer, set protocols to film the series safely. As public attention to HIV waned, I wrote the book WHEN DOGS HEAL to memorialize the community’s setbacks and victories for a new audience, and remind the world that many still deal with the twin struggles of the virus itself and the associated stigma. In fact, my creative career was born from taking a risk: As my peers in the magazine world took promotions, I quit my job to write my way across Asia—a decision which led to travel writing and ultimately, becoming a professional storyteller.

But for creative writers, risk isn’t confined to the big, career-defining leaps—hopefully with big payoffs. In an occupation for which there is no proven method or map to success, risk is intrinsic to my daily work.

I choose to make a home there, to find comfort in change and to treat each new risk as a chance to stretch and grow. If we view our lives as our greatest works, risk provides the stakes that make our stories worth telling.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an entrepreneur—an author, screenwriter, script consultant, and editor. My recent work includes the book When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them (Lerner Books, 2021) and Love in 2020, a six-episode Rom-Com set during the pandemic.

I love design and style: I’ve done some photography as a travel writer, I have a background in fashion (I worked at WWD, Robb Report, and Gilt.com), and did the set decoration and costumes for Love in 2020.

When I was 25, I quit my job in fashion to backpack through India and Southeast Asia for three months. I learned a lot about myself as a woman and as an artist, and this planted the seeds for my creative career. I learned to welcome risk and challenges with open arms.

A year later, ShermansTravel made me their editor. I had to explain the dreaded “gap” on my resume, but I stepped into my power. I managed 20 writers and revamped the website, raising editorial and photo standards, setting a style guide, and refining the editorial voice. To this day, I freelance for them. I appreciate that they trust my instinct and perspective.

I’ve been my own boss since 2017 and can effectively run a business and embrace the ever-shifting routine of being an entrepreneur.

I wrote the book When Dogs Heal (Lerner Books). The project started as a gallery exhibition in 2015 in Chicago and New York. I did grunt work, (packing and shipping prints) and managed social media/promotion as a part of my work for Fred Says, which supports HIV+ youth. I edited the stories and wrote the book proposal that landed us a deal with Lerner in 2019. Zach, the original writer, was tied up on another project come book-time, and recommended me to shepherd the rest of the project. I admittedly doubted myself. Not my ability to interview 23 people, and to make their stories sing (I knew I could do that), but because I felt like an imposter.

Then I was challenged halfway into the project. The publisher bumped *up* my deadlines, because they were happy with the stories, when I learned my name wasn’t going to be on the book (due to the original proposal). I felt immense pressure to not let my uncle (whose charity, Fred Says, inspired the project) down, and I didn’t want to give up what I’d started. I was really proud of the stories I was writing, and I knew that if I’d agreed to finish the book without credit, I would have been resentful of the project.

I succeeded by standing firm on my worth. I didn’t strain relationships; if anything, I made them stronger, because I earned respect. Sometimes advocating for yourself as a young woman can make you feel small. There were many times I wasn’t taken seriously in professional settings, so this was a turning point in my personal and professional growth.

When Los Angeles went on its first pandemic lockdown, I teamed up with my friends to revive an old Rom-Com we wrote about dating in Los Angeles. We recruited a team of actors and local businesses and set our shoot date for the first week of August 2020. I hosted the shoot in my apartment. A few days before the shoot, SAG-AFTRA pumped the brakes on our approval: there hadn’t been any standards set for safety while shooting during the pandemic. We found a COVID safety officer, who helped us build a safe set, and pulled it off. The end product is Love in 2020, a six-episode series that follows a woman as she endures FaceTime dates, job-related struggles, and the isolation of lockdown as a single person. We turned a period of unemployment and chaos into an opportunity to create something about what we were going through.

I am inspired by, and want to work with, like minded people who use their superpowers to help people and inspire goodness in the world.

I want to show people they aren’t alone. That drives everything I do, whether I’m connecting cultures, elevating stories about HIV, or showing audiences that you can find love when you love yourself. I want to help people open up and understand each other—whatever one of us is feeling or going through, someone else is too. I see you.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Concert at Hollywood Bowl Outdoor movie at Cinespia
Cafes and lunch in Little Tokyo
Walk around Silver Lake Reservoir and sit at the Meadow / hike in the hills to my favorite lookouts
Hike in Angeles National Forest and Griffith Park
Dinner and drinks at Botanica, El Condor, and Izakaya Osen in Silver Lake
Brunch at Valerie in Echo Park
Tacos at El Russo in Silver Lake
Walk the strand in South Bay from Manhattan to Redondo Beach, and from Santa Monica to Venice
DIY architecture tour of DTLA, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park
El Matador beach in Malibu

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?
– Fred Says, a nonprofit organization that support HIV+ youth. – My husband, friends, and family.
– The cast and crew of LOVE IN 2020—I couldn’t have pulled off such a high-quality piece of art in a pandemic without these rockstars. Specifically Kristin Mendez, our DP, and Anna Jaller and James Tang, our romantic leads.

Website: https://www.cgbonifac.io

Instagram: @christingarofalo / @whendogsheal / @lovein2020tv

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinagarofalo/

Twitter: @TheNotoriousCGB

Other: Visit lovein2020tv.com to watch all episodes of LOVE IN 2020, which follows a young woman through FaceTime dates, job struggles, and the isolation of lockdown as a single person.

Image credit:
Lisa Crnic / @LisaShotMe

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