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

Hi Jennifer, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
This is something that I think about a lot. In making content as an artist and filmmaker, I try to balance my own expression of something with the goal of bringing new insight and inspiration to a concept or subject that maybe wasn’t seen there before. I’ve always been an observer, avid reader, deep thinker, and old soul at heart. I like to push myself through situations where I can learn the most and practice growth towards becoming who I am meant to be. This is the ultimate story, in my opinion, Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”. And just like he had stated, it is one that we must all take for ourselves within our own lives. A deeply personal journey, yet interconnected between and within one another. A journey that can lead you towards your own unique bliss. I would love my legacy to be about uncovering deep hidden truths about human nature and the human experience. Helping to inspire “Hero’s Journey’s” within others so that we can grow towards a more unified connected self, collective consciousness, and as a global unit. For me, this is what it’s all about. Achieving peace and alignment within ones self, and in turn, within the greater human race as well. I believe this is possible by bravely diving into questions like, who are we? Why are we here? What gives us meaning in life? How can we spend the short amount of time that we have here? How can we consciously choose to make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of others? Being born in Connecticut as a first generation from both Romanian parents who had both separately managed to escape communist Romania led by the dictator Ceausescu, my parents had both a certain level of intensity about them as well as a great appreciation for the life. Growing up with the feeling of ultimate gratitude and celebration made each day feel full and like we somehow “had” to live it to the fullest because they were coming from a place where many basic freedoms and choices had been brutally taken away. So even the act of picking me up from the bus stop at 9 years old was a grand event. We were in America! We were free. And yet, I could still sense underlying pains and fears about the world. A world that, in a way, no longer existed and was not the same world I was born into and grew up in. This made me deeply sensitive to and aware of the plethora of many different worlds that people live in all within this one space. Worlds that, really, all come from within and are projected outwards, interpreted and expressed through a forced smile, a fearful word, or even genuine laughter. So many indications for what’s really happening on the inside. For what you really think. For what world you live in. I think one aspect of being a storyteller means bravely exploring these different worlds of human nature, with an almost anthropological mindset. With curiosity and openness. A willingness to be wrong (oh! scary), a hunger to learn, a freedom to explore, and an intuition to express what you’ve come to find. I would love for my legacy to be both about my filmmaking process that embodies these core beliefs, as well as the content and pieces themselves. Hopefully inspiring people to look deeply within themselves to discover that everything they have ever needed is already within, and it’s about embarking on your own “Hero’s Journey” to discover who you are, and what you would like to do with your time here.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a dancer, writer, director based in Los Angeles. I went to film school in London, at Central Film School and lived and worked there for 3 years. I started out as a freelance filmmaker, writing and directing short animation pieces for different companies. I later went on to direct music videos and work with other artists. Today and sort of from the year 2020 onwards, I’m planning to focus more on my own writings and ideas that I would love to bring to life. Starting my work collaborating with different companies ranging from health, tech, fitness, and more has helped to give me both industry experience and foundational knowledge about the art of filmmaking. I’ve definitely learned a lot about the film industry and some of the “shortcomings” within the space when it comes to being a female director and filmmaker. Luckily, I’m managing to create and attract more aligned collaborators to work with on projects that I love and really care about. I’m most excited about bringing these things to life with a team of unique, talented, and trusted filmmakers and collaborators. Working together to make something greater than yourself is one of the best feelings, along with connected with a viewer or audience on a finished piece that you’ve made and are proud of. Hoping to do a lot more of that in the years to come! 🙂

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.
One of my favorite spots in the city definitely has to be Descanso Gardens. I used to live in a little apartment about a 2 minute drive away from there and any time I felt I needed some nature I would go there to read and relax and be amongst all of their amazing gardens. Their winter event “Enchanted Forest” is one of my favorite things ever!! The combination of the epic lighting, amazing art pieces with nature and walking through each exhibit is something I look forward to every where. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve attended a couple times within one season 😉 Some other favorite spots in the city, I do love downtown Montrose which is a cute little street between quiet neighborhoods. They have mom-and-pop stores along the street, vintage stores, great ice cream shops and restaurants, and even a cute little rock shop that I find to be really fun. There’s also a great Farmers Market on Sundays, and they’ve done an amazing classic car show along the street before too. It all sounds a bit low-key I suppose, between rock shops, vintage stores, and gardens, but this like a rager for an introverted old soul 😉

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The person who deserves the most credit for everything that I am, and everything that I have been or ever will be, is my mother. Ortansa Borcea. A strikingly beautiful, athletic, fiercely intense, “do not mess with me or my children” type of Romanian woman. She had a thick Romanian accent that never really left, which me and my two sisters absolutely loved. I remember as a kid, learning that she even had an accent at all when going into Kindergarten and hearing someone say “Where’s your mom’s accent from?” I remember thinking, “She has an accent? She’s just my mom, that’s what moms sounds like”. I think that was the first symbolic moment of many more to come of revelations as to just what it means to be first generation born in America from parents who had grown up in a more difficult life somewhere else. It made me deeply aware and connected to other parts of the world outside of the US from a young age. And because of that my parents took me and my sisters traveling almost twice a year to experience as much of life as we could. This is something I will always be grateful for, because I think it really opens up your eyes and your mind to all the different forms of life, environments, and people that exist and all inhabit this same place we all live together. It gave me a hunger for learning languages, different concepts and cultures, and a thirst for exploring and adventure. My mother was the most giving and loving human being I think I will ever know within my life. “Sacrifice” is a common notion from that era and from that environment. Sacrificing so much and risking their lives in escaping a communist dictatorship in Romania for the promise of a better future with more freedom within the US for their children and for themselves. Growing up with this understanding of deep sacrifice made every single day feel like a blessing. It wasn’t “just another day”. It was a day where we were free. Like with many mother-daughter relationships we’ve definitely had our fair share of arguments over the things in my life and how it should be. She always wanted the absolute best for me and to succeed and have everything I would ever want in life, because she had gone through so much struggle and sacrifice through hers. This brought both a certain level of pressure as well as drive to my own life. I can’t really just “sit still” ever and I definitely get that from her. It’s one of many attributes I’m so honored to have inherited from her. One thing she used to say she always wanted to be, was a dancer. She put me in dance classes when I was 3 years old and I went on to train in ballet for 14 years following that. Doing 2 annual performances for a number of years and training hard 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, growing up. Because of the level of intensity I had quit dance a number of times, constantly trying to find my way back to it and find my true authentic place within it. I feel like, after many years of efforts in this, I’ve finally found myself alive within my own dance journey. Through all of my own personal struggles, I have only the deepest love, eternal gratitude for every single thing she has done for me. I am in indescribable awe at how much strength a single person can have, and how she carried it around as casually and effortlessly as her hand-bag. She lived her life for her children. For me and my two sisters to have everything we could ever want in our lives. I would say that she succeeded, and in a way I also feel deeply indebted to her. In February of 2020, after struggling with brain and lung cancer, she passed away. It was single-handedly the most devastating experience I have ever been through that, to be honest, still washes over me in different waves as I continue going through life attempting to honor her sacrifice, love, and legacy in the best ways that I can and know how. From that point on I felt as though the rest of my life is dedicated to her. Living it as fully and freely as possible is one small way I can start to honor her sacrifice, her love, her grace, and a small portion of her dream. It’s how I feel most connected to her today too. She deserves the most credit for who I am today, and continues even now, to guide me in ways I cannot fully describe.

Website: jenniferborcea.com
Instagram: jenniferborcea
Facebook: Jennifer Borcea
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChXgJMHiWF4usaOKJhlRDnQ?view_as=subscriber

Image Credits
Jenna Beasley Lindsay Lemez

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.