We had the good fortune of connecting with Geri Courtney-Austein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Geri, how do you think about risk?
Truthfully, I’ve come to loathe and love risk! It’s the foundation of every decision I’ve ever made. Embarking on a career in the arts inherently comes with risks, “I don’t knows” and lots and lots of faith. BUT I’ve found that everything wonderful in my life came with extraordinary risks. Deciding almost 9 years ago to move to LA with nothing more than a naïve love of all things film, comedy and storytelling, risking my heart and leaping into love with my current partner, creating my own comedy series and sketch show, pivoting to a raw, vulnerable and boundary pushing podcast. Oh my, the list goes on and on. So many failures, so many successes, so many bruises (literally and figuratively)! As I get older, I realize the greatest reward really does come from the greatest risk and I am incredibly grateful for every moment of this wild ride we call life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The first thing I would love to share is that starting October 15th only in theaters, you can see me alongside Sophia Bush, Michael Dorman and so many other amazing performers in the feature, Hard Luck Love Song. It’s a fantastic, gritty, romantic drama and I can’t wait for you all to experience it!
I have always had a deep love for storytelling and comedy. I grew up idolizing Lucille Ball, Kathryn Hepburn, Cary Grant, Julia Roberts and so many other hysterical and moving shows and artists. I performed from the earliest age – elaborate dance numbers in my living room, I wrote and performed short plays in school, sang at the top of my lungs whenever anyone would let me. I performed in every high school play I could and immersed myself in as much theater as possible.
After being in LA for a couple of years, I became incredibly passionate about creating my own work so I started by producing, directing and co-writing a live monthly sketch comedy show called the Unsupervised Sketch Show that ran for a year. I also started a comedy duo called James Blondes with Melanie Leeann Miller – a riotous digital action comedy series about the twin daughters of James Bond. We created over twenty-five sketches and shorts featuring amazing actors like Robert Carradine (Lizzie McGuire), Julie Lake (Orange is the New Black), Whitney Rice (The Last Tycoon) and so many more! I have to say working on James Blondes was some of the most exhilarating and incredible moments of my career thus far. I learned so incredibly much and loved the journey of creating something from beginning to end. No stunt was too big, no idea too grand!
After James Blondes, I was called to work on something more grounded and focused on telling other’s stories. After a very intense and destabilizing break up, I got very curious about how others dated, loved, connected and shared intimacy. So I did the natural LA thing and started a podcast called Finding My Yum with my talented friend Will Lentz! Working on this podcast has truly changed my life. We bring on guests from all different backgrounds to celebrate what they’re into and talk honestly and openly about their journeys. I am a huge advocate for equality, sexual liberation and talking honestly and openly about desires, preferences and lifestyles. It has become a platform to talk about current social issues and chat with professionals about body autonomy, sexual health, policy change and so much more! It is always evolving and I am SO grateful to be on the ride.
Along with producing my own content, I have had the privilege to work on some amazing shows and features! I’ve had the privilege of working on Scream Queens (FOX), Atypical (Netflix), This Close (Sundance Now), and most recently the award winning show Better Call Saul (AMC) to name a few. I also just finished working on an incredibly exciting animated feature that I can’t wait to share more details about soon!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh my gosh, I love this game! I am a planner to the core soooo here we go. There are so many fun experiences to be had in LA! On the top of my list would be one of the amazing hikes in and around the city – my favorite is Angeles National Forest, Chantry Flats. It’s actually my LA happy spot. You are transported to another world of lush green canopies, a babbling brook, and several beautiful waterfalls. Griffith Park is a must to take that Hollywood sign selfie and a stop at the observatory to see the stars and planets. On Sundays, the Melrose Trading Post is a blast and supports Fairfax high school and the Vine street farmer’s market has the best baba ghanoush in the city! I would highly recommend Korea Town for all the meat eaters out there, get yourself some Korean BBQ as soon as possible (all you can eat is where it’s at). Get yourself some bougie LA coffee and pastries at Urth Caffe and make sure to get the boba, I am obsessed. The Getty is an amazing (and free!) way to see some beautiful art and walk through immaculate gardens.
If you like theme parks go to all of them. Just all of them, I mean why not. I am a tried and true Disney fan but I also love a good heart stopping roller coaster and some Universal movie fun. Pro-tip, Halloween is my favorite holiday and Horror Nights is the best thing since sliced bread (is that still a phrase?!).
El Matador is the most gorgeous beach in Malibu – during low tide you can crawl through caves and explore. There is so much more but that feels like an excellent start to me!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think one of the most beautiful lessons I’ve learned as a creator and artist in this business is that I absolutely cannot do it alone. And that asking for help and leaning on others is a sign of strength and not weakness. One of my favorite people in the whole wide world is my cousin and best friend Jillian Courtney. I don’t know where I would be without her unconditional love, unwavering support, and incredible wisdom and hilarity. I’ve had wonderful teachers and mentors along the way, from high school at Catalina Foothills in Tucson, AZ to the University of Arizona to Anthony Meindl Actor workshop here in Los Angeles. I am indebted to all of the beautiful artists and funny humans who were a part of my Unsupervised sketch show and to my previous comedy partner, Melanie Leanne Miller, for creating the most elaborate and hysterical digital series with me. And I am so grateful to all of the guests who have been willing to come on my podcast and bare their souls. What a treasure it has been to share their stories and to learn from their experiences.
I have so many supportive friends who have seen me through rejection, heartbreak, thrilling success and all that’s in between. They all constantly inspire me with their creativity, passion and drive. And finally, I am so unbelievably grateful for my partner, Aleks Aouad. He is my calm amongst the chaos, my safe space and the most unconditionally loving, supportive human I have ever met. I love you so much.
I am deeply grateful for each of these people and for the time I get to spend with them on this wild ride of life.
Gregory Kasunich, Albert Ortega