We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Soto Lara and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Growing up risk was something I was afraid of. I really enjoyed living in my comfort zone and risk sounded unnecessary. I always knew I wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old. The idea was always in my mind but as a distant, almost impossible dream to achieve. I have always been a daydreamer but not much of a planner or doer. When I finished my Bachelor’s Degree and faced real life, I focused on being productive and paying the bills, and I was reaching balance, financially-wise but I had no purpose anymore. I was more of a robot following a daily, empty routine. A couple of years later, I decided to apply for a scholarship to do a Master’s Degree in Filmmaking; to be honest, I never thought I’d get it but once I did, I learned the true meaning of risk. Even with the scholarship, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, moving into another country, sharing a room for the first time in my life. That was the moment I learned the meaning of leaving your comfort zone and jumping into the void, hoping to survive. Since then, the fear to take risks I used to have turned into an impulse, into an opportunity. I can’t imagine my life without risks and now I’m not afraid to leave my comfort zone, on the contrary, I’m afraid to somehow end up trapped in it again.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started writing fantasy tales when I was 8 years old and since then I knew I wanted to create art, to tell stories, to be a writer. Growing up in Mexico, a country where art it’s seen just as a hobby and not like a “real job”, I convinced myself I need to fit in and do something productive to earn money. After living an empty routine for years, I took the risk and moved to Los Angeles. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. L.A. expanded my perspective and connected me with beautiful people who are passionate about making art just like me. Here I wasn’t a misfit anymore, and that was refreshing. In my second year living in L.A. I was hired to write my first feature film and I was invited to be the 1st Assistant Director when we filmed in Costa Rica. It was one of the most amazing and rewarding projects of my career. The movie called ‘Un Regalo Essential’ (An Essential Gift) is on Amazon Prime now. This was the kind of dream I used to fantasize about when I was a kid. Now, I’m in my fourth year in L.A. My second feature, ‘Open Up Your Heart’, as a screenwriter is in development, and scheduled to be shot next year in India, and I’m currently working on my third feature film, ‘Pessundate’, that I’m to direct as well in NYC next October 2021. Has it been easy? Not at all. I have worked a lot and sacrificed too much to be where I am today but I won’t regret a thing. I’m proud of my failures because they turned me into the person I’m today, and I’m also proud of my success because it’s the reward of years of work, sacrifice, perseverance, and uncertainty. I would have never been able to keep going without my family and close friend’s support. I have wanted to give up and go back to Mexico a thousand times but they were always there to remind me why I chose this path in the first place.
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 balance between city vibe and contact with nature, and I’m a fan of hikes. It really depends on the friend but I’d like to go on a hike; Griffith trails, Hollywood Sign and Malibu’s hiking trails are my favorites. Navigating into the concrete jungle, I’d take my friend to the touristic areas such as Hollywood Walk of Fame and the surroundings, Downtown L.A. is a must to understand the heart of this city. I’m also an art lover, so I would take my friend to my fave museums: LACMA, Griffith Observatory, The Broad, The Getty, Museum of Tolerance, and some Art Installations that are taking place at the moment. And, last but not least, I would like to go to the beach; Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu are on the list for sure.
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?
First, I need to give credit to my parents. They raised me to never give up, to never let fear win over me, and to fight for what I want. Even though they don’t understand the filmmaking world completely, they never stopped supporting me. They’ve been and they will always be my superheroes! Growing up I was a loner, I still am but not as I used to be, so books were my best friends. The ones who saved me from reality, the ones that made me feel less lonely, and the ones that made me understand the world and how people work. From tales like Alice in Wonderland, and The Little Prince to Classic and contemporary poetry and a pinch to realism from Charles Bukowski, I think I’ve been influenced by each book I ever read. I firmly believe we’re influenced one way or another by the people we chose to spend our time with. I’ve never been a person who has tons of friends but those who I can call friends have helped me a lot. I used to be a pessimist and I hardly gave myself credit for the goals I accomplished; I used to say ‘I got lucky’. But luck, God, the universe, fate, karma, whatever you call it means nothing without persistence, hard work, and sacrifice; we need to combine both. When I wasn’t able to think outside my head and see the big picture, my friends were there for me to remind me things aren’t just black and white, so I wouldn’t be where I am today without their words and constant support.
Photos: -Lara Arsinian -Pablo Chacón -Natalia Fuentealba -New York Film Academy -Fareed Yates Stills: -Manuel Velázquez -Vicken Joulfayan -Lena Baéz