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

Hi Lani, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Ah risk taking! It’s so scary, and yet I believe it is essential in life. I once heard some advice given when I was still in High School. This was in a performing arts class and we were picking out songs we were to sing and work on in class. The teacher said “if there is a song that you think of and your first thought is ‘oh I couldn’t possibly do that song’ then you should probably pick that song”. It has stuck with me throughout my own personal and professional life. If something is so scary to you, then there is probably something in there that you should face or walk through. It hasn’t steered me wrong once! 

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the co-founder and co-owner of YADA – Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts. We are a children’s theatre school that has been in business for almost 24 years! My business partner, Kimberly Harrigan, met as 20 year olds, we had been hired to work in children’s theatre as a directing team. We were magic together – we taught well and produced really good shows with our students. However, we were paid minimum wage and were offered no budget for production! We thought this was ridiculous….and that was how the idea of YADA was born. You put the money BACK INTO the company (what a concept!) in the form of production budgets and values and in the salaries of the directors and staff. What was born was a cycle of prosperity for artists and magical experiences for the children. We have not looked back since and keep growing and challenging ourselves and the school every production and every year.

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.
Hmmmm this is a challenging question because we are living in the age of Covid right now. While Los Angeles is a wonderful city – there is not much we are able to do safely. SO, that being said it would involve a lot of outdoor activities! Driving up the coastline would be the first one! There is nothing more beautiful than the California Coastline. On one side you have the Pacific Ocean and all it’s grandeur and on the other side you have the sweeping hills often covered in wild flowers. Next would be some very iconic sites of The Hollywood Bowl, The Santa Monica Pier, Doheny Mansion (the actual spot where by business partner and I FIRST worked together) and the newly revived Downtown Los Angeles. Since the pandemic started Drive-In Movies are back!! So we would definitely take in one of those to see real-working Drive Theatres from back in the day!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh this is an easy question: My business partner Kimberly Harrigan. She and I have been working together for 25 years! She is my best friend, a parent just like myself, and the best business partner anyone could ask for. We make a great team!

Website: www.yada.org
Instagram: @yadarocksla
Linkedin: N/A
Twitter: @yadarocks1
Facebook: @yadarocks
Yelp: N/A
Youtube: YADA KIDS https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA4M4FNe4W_GW-uAxdUHghA/featured
Other: We are currently in the middle of a fundraiser to help #saveyada! We have been forced to have our studios and theatre closed since March 12th. Families, friends, graduates and celebrities are helping us keep our business going until the pandemic finally passes! https://fundly.com/saveyada-fundraiser-3

Image Credits
Photography by Elena Seyfar

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.