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

Hi Ell, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work-life balance is definitely a challenge! I don’t think I’ve ever been at a point where my personal life has taken precedence over my work, but it is a bit of a pendulum swing depending on what I have going on. Right now my balance is decidedly off — I’ve been very busy with work. It’s difficult to navigate since at this point in my career it’s hard for me to justify turning down opportunities. Everyone is different of course, so a healthy work-life balance will be different for everyone, but I do strongly believe that at the very least people should get regular, healthy sleep. If you don’t have that, it’s very easy for everything else to get out of whack. I’m very, very introverted, so I feel totally fine spending less time socializing than most people — and my pets are great! — but I do have to be deliberate about making time for myself. I try to designate one day a week as a “day off” when I don’t do any work-related things unless absolutely necessary. Recently I’ve had so many deadlines that I’ve had difficulty even adhering to that, but I do think it’s an important practice for myself. Ideally I’d also take a week “vacation” every few months, but we’ll see.

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 non-binary, biracial actor, musician, and model. I also started an action figure unboxing channel during the pandemic! I’m pretty nerdy and quirky and find myself best suited to sci-fi and fantasy material (most of the roles I’ve played since living in Los Angeles have been non-human!). It’s been a winding and sometimes bumpy road getting to where I am today. It’s not a very linear career path. It may sound cliché, but one of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way is to be myself. I’m very introverted and can be socially awkward, so the whole business side of show business can be intimidating for me to navigate. The idea of “networking” can be overwhelming, and the idea of “selling myself” can feel gross. But I’ve found that it’s best for me to engage with people from an authentic and honest place, even if that means I might come across as a bit odd or don’t appear as flashy as some other people might. It’s still hard though. Some lessons I’m still learning are to be grateful for all the “little things,” to not compare myself to others and to not be afraid to ask for help or favors. Which are also hard!

Although this past year was difficult, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished despite the pandemic. In January I shot a role on a Showtime show, so I’m excited for that to come out. Last month I was involved in an indie AAPI film called red wine and rain and I have high hopes for that as well. And I’m super excited for my new operatic Ennio Morricone-inspired single with Respectful Lust Records to finally come out sometime this year. Since it’s safe for us to shoot again, I should be able to shoot the music video for it soon!

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?
Where to start! There are good places to eat in pretty much every neighborhood in LA. Maccheroni Republic in downtown LA is a personal favorite of mine. They have excellent handmade pasta and are very reasonably priced. Also one thing I’ve found even a lot of LA locals don’t know is that if you want good Chinese food, go to the San Gabriel Valley. There are a lot of great craft breweries around. Downtown in the Arts District you can just walk around and probably run into a good spot. The Arts District is great for food and drink in general. If you like art, there are a lot of great museums: the Getty Center and Getty Villa, LACMA, the Broad, MOCA… The Griffith Park Observatory is definitely worth visiting. And if you’re in LA, you’ve got to see the ocean, right? My favorite is Point Dume at Zuma Beach in Malibu. The Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite movies (the scene with the Statue of Liberty was shot there), but besides that, it’s cleaner and less crowded than say, Santa Monica. LA also frequently has great shows going on (pandemic excepted). LA Opera and the LA Phil are wonderful of course. A lot of fun shows happen at the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Ampitheatre. And if you’re here during the summer, there’s the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival! And that’s really just scratching the surface.

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?
Gotta give a shoutout to my creative groups: TR4K Alliance (instagram.com/tr4k_alliance) and Respectful Lust Records (respectfullustrecords.com)! Also my acting teachers Holly Gagnier and Susan Han at Playhouse West, who have been invaluable in my career over the past few years.

Website: justell.org

Instagram: instagram.com/iamelllee

Twitter: twitter.com/iamelllee

Facebook: Facebook.com/iamelllee

Youtube: YouTube.com/tr4kalliance

Other: instagram.com/intelligentsielf_tr4k imdb.me/ell YouTube.com/lirachele

Image Credits
Steven A. Soria, Reynaldo Macias, John Travis, Ethan Ingram, Second Mirror

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