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

Hi Maria, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of things – art, children’s books, films, theater, TV shows, people, conversations, nature, videos online. I think it’s very important to continue to find things that are inspiring. For me, it reignites my curiosity and helps me appreciate life. Seeing my dear ones achieve their dreams is very inspiring.

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.
In high school and the first part of college, I was on the pre-med track. I still enjoy learning about health, but I switched my major to business at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and studied abroad at Oxford University. My grade school, in small town Nebraska, did musicals every year with our outstanding teacher, Miss Mauch. That was my introduction to the arts. I was very shy, but had a lot of admiration for the songs and people’s ability to deliver lines confidently.

Shortly after college, I packed up my questionable Buick and drove to LA. It was more that I wanted a change rather than pursuing the arts. When I arrived, I thought, “Well, people model and act out here. Maybe I can try that?”

There have been challenges. Having a good support system is so, so valuable. It took me a while to get comfortable sharing my work and talking with others vulnerably. I’m still learning and that will be a lifelong endeavor. With a love of children’s books, psychology and sing-along songs, I created a TV show called Wuzzaland where a young Wuzza creature named Abigail learns about her feelings with the help of her friends in the magical world of Wuzzaland. It has songs, some cheesy jokes and teaches children how to be curious about their emotions. Mr. Rogers & Dr. Seuss-ish in feel, Wuzzaland has a variety of quirky creatures who are approachable and sweet. They explore lessons that adults could learn from as well, while still being fun with the message. Parents can use the show to spark conversations with their children. Check Wuzzaland out at https://www.instagram.com/wuzzaland/ and https://youtu.be/EIkBFTppOsw

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?
It’s so nice that things are opening back up! I love going to Santa Monica and walking along the beach. Malibu has some wonderful hikes. I like having a coffee in the jungle room at the back of Bourgeois Pig on Franklin. A walk around the Hollywood Reservoir is a tucked away retreat. Seeing a comedy show at The Groundlings or UCB is a fun time. Going to art openings at Bergamot, Fahey Klein, Corey Helford or other galleries are good for inspiration and people watching. LACMA has excellent exhibits. The farmers’ markets are fantastic to stop by and have food trucks with tasty grub. Sara The Wine Bar, Allegra California Cafe and Metro Cafe are favorites around Culver City. Mama Shelter in Hollywood has a great rooftop. Annenberg PetSpace has animals you can stop by and say hi to and possibly adopt.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Grandma is one of the loves of my life. She is so sweet and sassy and fun – a wonderful source of love and encouragement. My best friend, Heather Jeronimo, is a professor and novelist. We’ve known each other since pre-school. We have seen each other through the good times and the tough times. My dear friend, actress and yoga instructor, Alison Rubens, is ever inspiring and a light. I’m lucky to have a wonderful support system that’s been cultivated over the years – my family, Carl, Robert, Marco, Jason, Matt, Randy, Natalie, Briana, Anne, Olivia, Cecilia, Reza, Erik, Anita, Charlie, David, Chelsea, acting teachers, acting peers, filmmaking peers and many more. I love you all.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wuzzaland/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marialeicy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marialeicy

IMDb: imdb.me/marialeicy

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQwD3usY_1vkS-crL32e5Q

Image Credits
Photography by Tim Rush, Jason Thirlaway
Hair & Makeup by Nika Geneva
Illustrations by Maria Leicy

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.