We had the good fortune of connecting with Claudia Iao and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claudia, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Ooo, this is such a spicy question because I’m all about small victories and bold power moves, but failure is when I realize which habits effectively get me back up. This is also a spicy question because I did a deep dive of my day-to-day actions and wow! I circle around my apartment a lot! Does that count? The answer is yes; Yes, it counts.
Because after a few laps, I realized I consciously choose to do the following: trust my intuition, find humor in life, support others, and be an empathetic person. I know I sound like a walking acting class, so let me specify: journaling, taking (varying levels of) risks, and connecting with people.
So, the key to my success: circling my apartment.
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.
My art will always be on the sillier side, since life is so inherently dramatic; finding joy in unexpected moments always excites me. Honestly, anywhere I can be dumb with my friends makes me happy. From performing in improv shows, acting in student and independent films, to writing/performing sketch shows, I’ve learned to embrace my own narrative as an Asian American woman and also just be okay with how weird I am sometimes. Am I proud that I created a Facebook event called “hot dog day” where I dressed up as a hot dog to get my free hot dog because it’s the 10th hot dog from my punch card? Yes. Am I proud that I ran the Chicago marathon in a hot dog suit to raise money? Yes. Am I proud that at one point in my adult life, I chose to have 3 hot dog suits: fancy, regular, and gross? Yes, yes, and yes.
However, getting to where I am now was a challenge. When I had previously first moved to Chicago (about 6 years ago), my performance skills were very obviously not up to par. And I think that’s what drew me to improv initially: I just needed to get up there and do it. If I felt terrible afterwards, I had the next show to look forward to changing that. If I felt great, then I was looking forward to doing it again. Getting on stage was 88% of my internal battle, so I’m proud that I was able to push myself in that way. Now that I’m in LA, I’m excited to further pursue comedy, film/TV, and all creative endeavors in-between.
In addition to moving to LA, I’m thrilled that I live in a period where access to different, interesting, and important stories are readily available. I often think about how my art can contribute to the ongoing movement of showcasing a different narrative – specifically from marginalized voices. How can I support, lift up another person, or have one of us get a permanent seat at the table? Or is the solution building our own table? This is definitely something I’m still figuring out, but if I circle around my apartment enough, I’ll eventually figure it out.
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?
Ooo, I’m still relatively new to LA, so…sorry in advance, best friend! We’d probably hike to the Hollywood sign (yes – it’s basic, I know), eat at In-N-Out (yes, also basic – I know!) and walk down Hollywood boulevard (YES, EVEN MORE BASIC – I KNOW!). Traffic is definitely “so LA” but since we’re out of lockdown and it’s coming back, luckily my best friend will get the most absolutely genuine LA experience. Hopefully in a few months, my answers will be very, very, different.
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?
Before moving to LA to further pursue acting and comedy, I spent about 6 years in Chicago performing and writing. So, If I were to personify the entire Chicago comedy community into one image, it would be a well-loved bentwood chair (one leg has been smashed into oblivion but hastily taped with crusty duct tape), one wretched claw clinging onto a Malört and the other claw is just…gone. There are so many layers and nuances to this monster of a community, but it unapologetically put me through the ringer. It helped me hone my creative voice, push myself to create new material, and provide me opportunities to perform multiple nights a week. Oh yes, and fail (so much crashing and burning) – but my friends were genuinely there to support me and vice versa. So yes: I have the deepest of gratitude, a tinge of plotting revenge, and the most thank you’s to the Chicago comedy community.
And of course to Anthony Cotoia – thank you for referring me! What a welcoming, insightful, and overall kind person to meet as an LA newbie! Thank you, Anthony!