We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Sanaye Dring and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I felt a tremendous amount of sadness, fear and shame about the first show I ever wrote. I had been amassing 15-minute pieces of a solo show over years and had performed it to hugely enthusiastic audiences at a solo festival. It got picked up for a 6-week run at a theatre– huzzah!– and we opened to strong reviews. And then the Big Guys came, and two reviewers completely decimated the show. I was so f*cked up. I had to perform half the run to the tiniest of crowds, knowing in my heart that the bad word had spread about my piece. I didn’t know if I could finish it. And then, after it was over, I didn’t know if I could ever write again.
But a calling is a calling. And it kept calling. Strangely enough, every job I’ve gotten as a writer or director over the past 7 years can be traced back to that show, the one I was convinced was a disaster My mind and emotions wanted so desperately to stop but there continued to be a yearning in my soul for the work I do, and I had to let that lead.
That being said– I’m getting to a point in my career where I am acting less and less. I made a living at it for 7 years, something I’m tremendously proud of, and now as I write and direct more, I am working less as a performer. And I am trying to figure out if that’s something that I can let go of gracefully. I hope to be a person who can integrate everything eventually, but right now I’m at a serious hustle point in my career as a writer/director, so I have to let some things lie. And I’m trying to listen to the deepest part of me (if that even exists) to hear what I should do. Five years ago, I would have thought quitting acting would mean abject failure, but now it seems like it may just be the next step.
There are no rules– I left acting for a year in my 20’s and it was the best thing I’d ever done. I would have hated to cling to my passion so hard to have become a martyr for my work. I think one’s art should be an expression of their deep love, curiosity, frustration and commitment to life, and that relationship with life is paramount, whether that means continuing or giving up. We must let the things that are for us come and the things that aren’t for us go.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have a passion for making things and I allow myself to constantly try things I have not yet done. I am devoted to stories and their power to change how we live with one another.
My career has been the easiest and the hardest thing in the world. I’ve gotten so lucky, doors have been flung open with ease, and I also create, love and work to the bone.
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?
We’d go surfing in Venice, eat burritos at La Palma, take a hike in Griffith and nap. In the evening we’d eat at Pine and Crane and see a show at REDCAT, Circle X, UCLA, CTG, Antaeus, Hero Theatre or Rogue Artists Ensemble. Then we’d go dancing in Echo Park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The WarnerMedia Access team — they have championed me as a television writer and director, and I believe wholeheartedly in the work they do and communities they build. https://www.warner-access.com/