We had the good fortune of connecting with Ligia Gonzalez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ligia, how do you think about risk?
Weirdly enough, I don’t like to think about risk as risk per se, meaning the fear of the unknown, what could go wrong? and what’s to loose. I often face major life and career events with a cold head instead (at least I try to), and although I enjoy analyzing the different situations a decision can lead me to, and study the factors at risk, I am rarely faced with the sense of fear risks usually come with, and I definitely hate overthinking so I think that’s contributed immensely to diving into some of the most drastic risks I’ve taken regarding my career and even personal life. I constantly tell myself that whatever the outcome is I will figure it out… you know? take it as it comes sort of mentality.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It took me a long time to truly pin down what my “art” and real passion was… I think a lot of creatives can relate, as someone who loves too many crafts and has a wondering mind, it can be difficult to focus on one thing only. For the entire time I went to Film School I kept telling myself and others that I wanted to specialize in Editing…. Well… although I enjoyed doing it for my own projects, it took me almost a year and a few lame editing gigs to realize It actually made me miserable, and it only took one gig found on craigslist for Art Department PA to hit me!! I love – without any doubt – absolutely everything related to the Art Department: Production design, set decoration, prop making, building, painting, designing, basically using your instinct to visualize a space, and then using your hands to build it into reality. That’s how I decided to put aside any side job I was doing at the time, it implied quitting a steady paycheck, and throw myself into the dark world of freelancing, hoping that something would come up, focusing on looking only for Art Department jobs, and build my reputation from there. I told myself I was not going to take any position outside the Art Department, not even as a PA. Everyone tells you that’s how you break into the industry, and although that might be the case for many, I never cared for that idea. I knew that If I took a PA opportunity it will ONLY be as an Art PA, and that’s the attitude that was set on. I was always confident on my talent, my knowledge, my work ethics and my strong will so I did not settle until I got the job I wanted and that best fit my passion. It was January of 2019 when I found the ‘non-paid Art PA needed for Indie Feature’ Ad that changed everything for me. I emailed and got a response, I was there next day with my art tools, mind you, I wasn’t driving at the time and I lived in Culver City, the job was in Northridge… If you’re from LA then you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I didn’t care… Within the first few hours of me working on set, the Art Director told me he would find a way to get me paid, and so they did. This was probably one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever had as a professional; getting acknowledged and taken seriously for the work you’re doing!! What a dream… Anyway, after that job, and after working with the very successful and awesome Production Designer Jhana P. Smith, I never stopped working Art. She believed in me, and brought me on any project she could, and for that I am forever thankful. I kept looking for jobs online, and by March of the same year, I was working Full Time for a Digital Media company as their only Production designer, set decorator and prop master in house. The sad part is that they only they gave me a PA tittle and a PA rate (Sadly, like many big companies, this one too, took advantage of people’s talents and need for a job and underpay them). But that didn’t stop me. I fought and fought, requested many meetings with executives, managers, whoever it took to talk to, to demonstrate with facts that I needed a tittle changed and a raise. Finally, I became the first Prop Master in the company, and the head of the art department. This job ended with Covid last year, but my “brand” and my work didn’t. During the summer last year, I was blessed with a few freelance opportunities, the most exciting one being part of Janelle Monae’s Turntables Emotion Picture. Now, I took another leap in the dark and moved to Dallas to explore a whole new scenery and see what this new year has to offer. I am currently looking into specializing in home decor, and interior design rather than limiting myself to only production design. I’ve gotten the chance to decorate two homes so far, and I am finding a lot more of fun and passion in there, so I am ready to dig deeper into that world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Let me start by saying that the main things I would want to show them is: 1. The best coffee experience: Dayglow, Bar Nine, Bloom and Plum, Alabi Coffee, Installation Coffee, Vanilla Black, G&B, Maru Coffee, Clark Street, Mad Lab coffee, Verve Coffee. Anyway, you can be sure that with me, you’re worth more than a long line at the any Starbucks drive-thru. 2. The most decadent and delicious vegan food: The Grain Cafe (which also has THE BEST vegan tres leches!!), The Vegan Joint, Burgerlords, Azla Ethiopian ( I would make this on a Sunday so we could also hit the street vendors in Leimert Park), My Vegan Gold (wouldn’t mind taking it to go and sitting at Echo Park to eat and relax). Wild Living Foods (most likely would be a DTLA day, get it on the same day we hit Installation Coffee, and The Broad Museum, the Grand Central Market, and probably finish up the day at Modern Times for beer and the best vegan bar food in LA). There’s also Purgatory Pizza, and By CHLOE!, and of course The Vegan Hooligans. And for my sweet tooth friend, I would get Pan Dulce and Conchas from Soy Concha Bakery (Vegan by Victorias). 3. Classic spots: I would prepare a picnic basket that would consist on mostly local or independently owned bussiness goodies. For the best vegan artisan cheese, charcuterie and crackers I would go to Besties Vegan Paradise, and for a good bottle of wine probably hit Silverlake Wines or Vinovore. Then I would take them to the beloved and free, The Getty. And of course, The Museum of Death in Hollywood. And my absolute favorite, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, located in Culver City. Hopefully the weather is the loveliest it can be when they visit so we can have a beach day, probably Ventura beach or Point Dume. But of course, I would ultimately want to ask them what they want to check out the most! everyone has a different idea of what a city and different moods and I am here to please those and make them happy 🙂 Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is a hard one! I feel like there are a large amount of people throughout my life that have had a strong influence on me somehow. And if you’re reading this, and we’ve shared time together, know that I appreciate you! But ok, my parents truly deserve the biggest shout out, their no-bullshit mentality, their OCD combined, and they’re unconditional love and compassion are 100% the foundation I stand on as an adult woman. Another incredibly important shout out I must give, is for my entire Rugby team back home in Merida, Venezuela. The Merida Rugby Club is no doubt the pillar of my philosophy as a person, hint the risk taking nature, being humble, the infinite camaraderie, respect and acceptance of all kinds of people, the discipline when there’s a lot on the line, but also never taking yourself too serious, and alway always having a good time! Lastly and just as importantly, my partner who injected me with a heavy dose of adventure, and the most important mentality of all times, NO STRESS.
Jairo Cruz (@70mm)