We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Hunter Drago and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
It is funny that if you’d asked me about this a decade ago, I would have had a completely different answer than I do now. Sometimes truth really does just take time. I think that as artists, we are often predisposed to think that we should have tunnel vision about our careers. That having a “sole focus” proves our dedication or deservedness of success. When in truth, living a well-rounded life is what inspires healthy creativity. An even worse version of this is the idea that creatives need to have chaotic personal lives in order to inspire themselves, which is a destructive and unhappy way to live.
I am so grateful to have learned that having a work/life balance is the key to both happiness and productivity. I juggle a lot of different hats in my professional life and find a lot of meaning for myself there, but also have a lot of friends and family who I value time with more than any career achievement I could ever conceive of.
I think it is about having a strong sense of self and knowing what is important to you, so that you’re able to set boundaries to give time and energy to the people and things that really matter. Especially after the past couple of years with so much going on in the world, I think many of us have gotten more clarity about what will hold true meaning for us when we look back on our lives. Tomorrow is not promised, you need to make room for the important stuff today and every day that you can.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Sure! I think anyone who sticks it out in a creative field for long enough knows that it is a winding journey regardless of how quickly or slowly success comes. For me, I’ve found that the most important part of success in this industry is about taking care of your own happiness outside of your career first, working hard, and eventually things fall into place. You have to be in it because you really love it, and not with a preconceived notion of what success should look like. It is all about perspective. Those of us in entertainment right now are lucky in so many ways, because the outlets for sharing art have expanded into many different venues. You can make things that you’re passionate about now and find an audience without “waiting for permission” from the traditional gatekeepers, and I think that’s really inspiring.
I am the co-owner of New Girl Pictures, a film production company that focuses on creating content for and by women. We just released our first feature film, To the New Girl (available now on Amazon Prime Video, learn more at www.tothenewgirl.com) and are currently developing a handful of new projects so that we can hit the ground running post-vaccine. We have a fun project that centers around bachelorette party traditions that we will be shooting a bit of in the next few months, which I am really excited about.
I am primarily a producer and an actor, though I’m also in the midst of completing my first feature-length screenplay… so I guess I can call myself a writer now as well! I am passionate about creating opportunities for women early in their careers, both in front of and behind the camera, and making content that brings previously underserved narratives and ideas to the forefront.
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.
Can we pretend there’s no traffic to worry about? If so, first thing in the morning we head over to Descanso Gardens for a walk through the tulips and maybe an extremely good cocktail. I know it’s early for drinks, but they have a Hibiscus Lemonade that you’ll never forget. Next, we somehow quickly make it to The Getty where we check out a new photography exhibit because I, a true Aries, beeline for the most recently created art any time I go to a museum. I’m sure you’re hungry by now, so we can head to La Boheme in West Hollywood because it has quite a vibe and we can walk around Santa Monica Boulevard afterwards. Finally, we’ll hit up the Pantages for a show—maybe it’s Hamilton since we’re creating a fantasy day here—because I hope with all my heart that we’re all back at live theatre in the very near future!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to give a shoutout to all the women in film out there, and especially to my dream team cast & crew of ladies who were part of making my first feature film as a producer, To the New Girl. I’ll add a special nod to our writer Samantha Macher who is also my friend of over twenty years, she is so talented and also a genuinely lovely human.
The past handful of years have been such a watershed moment for women and other underrepresented groups in entertainment, and I am just so proud of our community as a whole, for pushing for more equality both in and outside of the entertainment industry. We have a long way to go, but we are willing to go a long way.
Other: To the New Girl: www.tothenewgirl.com
All images *except* for To the New Girl Movie Poster and the group shot with the step and repeat should be credited to Jessica Robles