We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth Jaeleigh, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease seven months into the pandemic. Mid-march 2020, Los Angeles locked down, and like so many others, I said goodbye to my office co-workers, on-set film work, active social life, and community. What remained was a virtual 9-5 job, tethering me from my cramped bedroom-turned-office to the one remaining vestige of a life I once loved living. With increasingly long hours and dehumanization behind a screen (not to mention the societal devastation and perpetual bad news), the months wore on and my identity and self-worth became increasingly damaged.
Until I got so sick I could hardly walk down the street without collapsing. My body gave me a wake-up call. It is my belief that the health of the emotional/mental body is intertwined with that of the physical – this diagnosis at the peak of the most turbulent and devastating time in my life is no accident. Wake-up, work, burnout, repeat, was literally killing me. I always appreciated the pleasure of friends, creative expression, and community, but failed to recognize its absolute necessity until I was without. While my career ambitions are essential to my fulfillment, I am allowing myself space to heal, cultivate, nurture, and better understand myself, productivity guilt-free. Be kind to yourself and do what makes you happy. Otherwise, what are you doing it for?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a film and TV director, producer, and writer. I just directed a comedy TV pilot (working title “Imposters”) that I executive produced alongside Sandie Cheng (creator/EP) and Daniel Jossman (EP). Set at an elite university, the show follows a diverse group of students navigating a campus scandal that thrusts them into the national/social media spotlight. “Imposters” is a labor of love that survived pandemic delays and years in development, and it was a beautiful experience bringing together our world-class cast and crew to tell this story. Our team has so many new and unique voices, and I’m stoked for them to be heard.
I am drawn to stories that explore female sexuality, power dynamics, and identity. As a mixed Chinese-American woman and pop culture enthusiast, I consider identity through the lens of representation and how, through the act of filmmaking itself, we can subvert outdated notions of ethnicity and gender. I seek to use the tools of cinema to tell compelling stories that enthrall and enlighten audiences, while being a terrifically good time.
While “Imposters” is in post-production, you can catch my other TV pilot “Drama High” and short narrative film “Beware of the Leopard” at the Mixed Asian Media Festival Sept 15th – 19th (https://events.bizzabo.com/
Drama High is a romantic comedy series and love letter to Asian dramas that follows an anti-heroine who capitalizes on her knowledge of Asian drama tropes to raise her social status. The series explores AAPI issues and class conflict through the microcosm of high school.
In Beware of the Leopard, LA partygoers discover a sexual predator in their midst who is protected by his celebrity status. The film explores sexual power imbalance in the world of entertainment and features an LGBTQA-inclusive and WOC cast, including a 100% female-led team.
“Drama High” will also be showcased at the First Glance Film Festival Oct 15th – 17th (https://firstglancefilms.com/
I’m so excited to share these stories with the world.
Please read more about my filmmaking journey here: http://voyagela.com/interview/
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ride bikes along the beach bike path from Santa Monica down to Venice during sunset. Taking in the views of the Santa Monica Pier and Venice boardwalk. Spend an afternoon at the Getty Villa enjoying the art, history, and garden.
Have a picnic at Malibu Wines, ordering a bottle or two.
Frolic El Matador State Beach.
Get drinks at Perch in DTLA, taking in the skyline.
Navigate the winding roads of Mulholland Drive at night, stopping to view the lights of the city.
Dance Yourself Clean at The Satellite.
Check out a new musical artist at the Echo or Echoplex.
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?
Dedicated to Sandie Cheng, my childhood best friend and producing partner, who nurtured me during a difficult time on my healing journey and helped pull me back into the creative work that makes me happy. I am thrilled to report that despite a long postponement due to the pandemic, we just wrapped production on our long-awaited TV pilot with the best cast and crew we could ever dream of. Can’t wait to bring “Imposters” to the world!
Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis, Derek James Robinson, Will Loo