We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayley Vangäart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My whole life has been just a culmination of risks leading to successes and failures. For example when I was 20, I dropped out of college and vagabonded around the country for a year; trudging around in San Francisco, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, and Seattle. Example #2: I started my first business (asset liquidation) in New York City at 21, with about $60 in my bank account and one solid pitch to an investor in a coffee shop. I learned more than I probably ever would’ve had I stayed in college. But again I risked that lack of “status” a degree gives you in todays standards (also a mountain of student loan debt); trading it in for networking skills and mentors teaching me first hand about things in that field. I learned how to truly be broke, counting dimes to get my train fair, but putting the money I did get for investing in books to teach me financial literacy or learning different film techniques.
Risks have been my downfall and my fruition. It was a risk me moving here from New York, ending solid relationships and income. It was a risk for me to join the entertainment industry with no experience in 2017. It was a giant risk for me to start a production company during a global pandemic. Everyday you go out into the world, you have an opportunity to take risks. Granted not all risks are worth it (masks save lives in 2021). So weighing those options are important. Pay your due diligence and understand all the possible outcomes.
Don’t ever be afraid of taking the necessary risk because you feel like you don’t have the knowledge yet, or maybe even the self worth to do the thing you want to do. Those things can be learned, nourished and developed (yes, even self-worth). What’s devastating is when opportunity is missed. Approach it with honesty and a conscious understanding that progress does not mean you have to be perfect. Our minds are powerful places, designed to protect us. Unfortunately sometimes that means to remain inside our comfort zone where everything will remain the same. Pushing through that barrier just elevates everything you and your mind are capable of. Its a full-blown LEVEL-UP moment.
(Im about to get so cliche on you) But I think when we’ve all reached the end of the road, its the risks we didn’t take that will eat us up the most.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Im 26 currently, but Ive lived many lives. Maybe that was always meant to be my path, maybe I subconsciously go searching for it, or maybe its just ADHD. The laundry list of dilemmas, triumphs, shenanigans or hells-capes I’ve survived has allowed me to bring all those different colors into my filmmaking when Im directing; or when Im bringing a character to life in a role; or when Im writing a script. It hasn’t been the easiest path to say the least. Ive had to transform into many different versions of myself depending on the situation or place in my life. But with each new transformation, its allowed me to find more of myself. Therefore any pain or heartache was worth it for me, in the long run.
One of the most important lessons Ive learned along the way was that artists should always pay attention to that voice or vision they have within themselves. I almost feel like ideas choose people. Maybe you’re the person that’s supposed to put that art into the world because you’re the right person for the job. It’d be a tragedy if you ignored it and simply went on your way without bringing it to life.
With my art, I just want to move people. Make them feel things when they watch a film Ive written, or acted in, or directed. Maybe hit different themes on the nose; ones I felt needed more attention or different perspectives. That’s the main thing I feel like Im here to do in this life.
Thats how I feel about this next project thats been in development since last year. I typically work with live action but in todays difficult times, I made the leap of developing an animated TV show (mostly because it was much easier recording with fewer people on set vs a full crew). I actually wrote the first version of this show in a Greenwich Village cafe back in 2016 when I was still living in New York City. I put it on the back-burner until I knew what to do with it. Now in 2021…let’s just say I know what to do with it. Gratefully along with my current network and resources, who know eons more than me. I cant wait for this idea that was once just a thought scribbled in a notebook to be out in the world, whether its through a major network or my production company alone.
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.
Echo park is an absolute MUST. One of my favorite spots in town to stroll. You can ride on these Swan boats if you’re looking for some novelty in your life. Local artist sometimes set up tables along the paths there. There’s a cute flea market around the corner that happens on weekends. The coffee shops nearby are worth it, especially Tierra Mia. If you were a fan of the TNT show Charmed as a kid like I was, the neighborhood where their victorian red house is actually located is not too far away! Don’t bother too much with the thrift stores in that area though. For that, you wanna go to West Hollywood or Los Feliz. If you’re going to be in Los Feliz, you’re gonna want to hit up House of Pies ( cool retro diner). If memory serves me, that creepy Black Dahlia house is in Los Feliz too. If a diner or a notorious murder house isn’t your thing you should hit up any of the cafes on that nearby strip on N. Vermont Ave. If you’re looking for trendy stuff, West Hollywood, specifically Melrose is the place. Hiking trails snake through out the hills, so highly recommend if you’re looking to sweat moderately with a view.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be anywhere in my career without the training and community Ive received from Playhouse West. It’s where I began my acting training with Wolf Bodison and Holly Gagnier. Its where I had my first film school with Chris Liebe. Where I found my screenwriting mentors in Doug Van Bebber and Kathleen Randazzo. It was a life changing decision to go there and study. To this day I still pull from the pool of knowledge they’ve given and continue to give regarding acting and the film industry. Not to mention Ive met some of the best friends Ive ever had there.
My assistant director Aaron Harper and my good friend Joe who’s also been an exceptional writing partner. There’s so many of you, but all the incredible cast and crew that have ever worked on any of Cosmic Demand’s sets. Without you, the show cant go on.
I wouldn’t end this without mentioning my roots. My family has shaped me into the person I am today in one way or another. Thank you to my siblings: Max, Allie and Patrick. Without our full-contact lightsaber duels in the backyard as kids (among other things), there’s no way I’d have been tough enough to survive Hollywood. My grandmother Kay for always feeding us til we popped and making sure we knew what the weather was doing. My mom: Kelsey, and dad: Patrick- the traits Ive inherited from you are evident, the lessons you’ve taught me are priceless. Thanks for letting me be your wild child. My Aunt Bon and Uncle Danny who’ve gladly loved me for everything I was and wasn’t. Our adventures will always live in my heart. My cousin Leah for always flaming my wanderlust flame. Lastly my cat, Banksy (yup, my cat). I adopted him after the worst break-up/relationship of my life and he’s been my main source of love, sass, entertainment, and affection during this pandemic.
Instagram: @lefthanderzrule @herebycosmicdemand