We had the good fortune of connecting with Georgia Van Cuylenburg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Georgia, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe anything worth doing has an element of risk involved! I think we often see risk as just being a physical thing but every day we are always taking emotional risks; hard conversations, doing something you don’t know the result of, asking for something you want… it is all risk. Truthfully I think I’ve always kind of sought out the risk as part of the fun, the excitement and an indication that i’m doing something right. I used to say that if I haven’t felt scared at least once in the day I’m doing something wrong. As I’ve got older and more experienced though I’ve been able to see the value in having moments where the adrenalin isn’t pumping. I think ultimately you need that balance to feel safe, supported and sure in yourself and strong enough to take clear, calculated and powerful risks at the right moment. I do believe that the majority of the big wins I’ve had in my life and career have come as a result of the biggest risk I think a human can take. Jumping out of planes or singing karaoke in front of 100s of strangers is fun and all but I don’t think there is ultimately anything scarier than asking for what your heart wants. That level of vulnerability, fear of rejection, fear of being all we know we are capable of – that’s terrifying!! Those are the risks I’m determined to take more of – and encourage all the young people in my world to take more of as well! It’s going out on that limb and saying I want this, deserve this and believe I’m good enough for this – that is the only way you can get the life you know deep in your heart you could have. And that is scary!! I grew up in a culture in Australia where you could never do that without being chastised for being ‘up yourself’ I spend every day trying to unlearn that belief system. It helps if I remind myself that im not doing it for me I’m doing it for kids…that is when I can get the guts up to make that call or write that email or simply walk into the room with that scary level of confidence. SO perhaps that is the key – when the WHY is so much bigger than you then you can take the risk to do the how.
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.
Ive found myself in many different forms of art over time – ironically the most visable ‘art’ out there would be the 73 murals I’ve been part of creating across LA but truthfully that is not the art I hang my heart on. That happened almost by mistake when I was looking for ways to make sure young people would be reminded of their magic when I wasn’t around them telling them they were magic. The art that fuels me every day, that drives me to keep going and take those big risks, is acting, singing and hosting in front of the camera or on stage and creating content for young people. All of it ultimately (sorry to repeat myself) is about the kids in the end. What can I create, make or do that will make kids laugh, feel heard, loved or help them to be 100% them. And I guess the truth is we are all kids so this extends to grown ups who have their little kid inside of them needing some extra love. For that reason I guess my journey is a bit unique as I have never sought fame or success for its own sake or for an indication of my worth etc but because the more that kids know about me or the more they see me on their screens etc the more chance I have of reaching them in a moment when they need it most. I think truthfully the work I am most proud of is the work I am doing right now. I love all the fun voice over work I’ve got to do and the fun characters Ive been able to play but nothing lights me up like this show Thoughts and Feels – it is for young people to have a safe place to be them to talk about their worries and concerns but also to laugh and play – we are calling it Fred Rogers, meets Oprah meets Lucille Ball – I cannot wait to get this thing started and in to the lives of kids everywhere. I guess I love this more than anything because this is an extension of everything I believe and everything that is ME. And for that reason it is the one thing I have to take the risks for and it is also the one thing that is scarier and more emotional than anything I’ve ever done before. And thank you for asking me this question because it is making me realize it is time to take some bigger risks with it 😉
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 would want them to see all the things that most people don’t get to see when they come here – the good and the bad. There would be lots of hiking specially Griffith park and I guess we’d have to ‘do’ Runyon for the scene of it but then also out to the Santa Monica mountains! There would be a visit to castle park to hit baseballs but I would really want them to come spend time on my farm at the LA mission on skid row and meet some of my friends living down there. Similarly i’d take them to spend time with our kids and families in South LA and paint with us in those communities.
I’m sure we would end up at a comedy club one of the nights and going a bit more main stream i’d love them to experience our art museums like the Getty, LACMA and The Broad – i’m so proud of our art scene and I think more folks should celebrate it.
I think LA is one of the few cities where you can have a completely different experience by driving 30 mins in either direction and I’d love them to get that experience – I love that about LA!!
Eating and drinking wise – well I’ve never drunk and don’t really know the bar scene so I’d bring in a local guide for that part but I know we would have to have a meal at Canters, and get some cookies from Diamond Bakery. I’d want to show them the real tacos of LA maybe take them to Sonora Town – I absolutely love getting take out in Santa Monica or further up the coast and catching the sunset on the beach so we’d have to do Neptune’s nest or even a bit of Moon shadows if we were getting fancier. And then I would make sure we visited one of my families to share some authentic pozole. There is nothing better than sharing home cooked food with them and the laughter and magical moments that happen on these nights!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The children in my world are the reason I’m here. It is the resilience, grit, joy, faith, love and innocence (and so much more) of the tens of thousands of young people I have met along my journey that has kept me going. I honestly feel that if grownups are having a bad day, are questioning the why of life all they need to do is spend a moment connecting with a young person. The simple and yet profound way they see the world and their place in it is so incredible and reminds us how small and yet big we all really are. If I think of every challenging moment in my life – whether it is my hair falling out, reliving my traumas or even just good old grown up heart break – it was a young person’s perspective on life that brought me back down to earth and connected to what really matters. And on a basic level, everything I do is to ensure that young people get to live a happy, peaceful and meaningful life so no matter how hard a work task or how big a risk is, when I remind myself of those kids and their journey it all feels possible.