We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Myers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
As I’ve gotten older I realize how important down time is, self-care and fun. I find that when I sit down to work after a walk and fresh air, that I have the best clarity for creative thinking and ideation and that I’m most focused. Some of my best thinking and problem solving happens on my feet.
Both sides of my family were immigrants to the US and I was raised with the philosophy that a bird in hand is better than two in the bush and that you have to go out and hustle to make things happen because nothing is handed to you. This was a great approach for breaking into the business and the first 10 years of my career I ran around full throttle all the time and never turned down projects because I preferred working and meeting more people to collaborate with.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more discerning about these choices and I find that good collaborators are the most important part of the formula because you want to respect, trust, enjoy and be inspired by those you creatively partner with. I’ve also learned the value in listening to your instincts in professional decision making, those spidey senses and your gut can be a great barometer.
For many of us with careers in the arts and entertainment, our passion became our profession, so the line between work -and life is blurred. I’ve never been good at turning off my creative brain, so giving myself space in my life, home and relationships to develop my work and art is best. Sometimes that means taking the afternoon off to go for a bike ride, having dinner with a friend and then spending the evening in the studio.
Balance is tricky, but in the end people are basically like plants (or I am at least) and space, sun, water and rest make for the best growth.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I direct films and also as a production designer for films, television and commercials. I started my company 3 Penny Design that specializes in conceiving, creative direction for performance and brands. With my company we have created content on all scales from experiential events in Times Square to video and stage shows. The bulk of my professional work has for many years been divided between my business and jobs in film. I also love to work in the theatre. My most recent project (unfortunately canceled due to Covid) was the premier of a new opera at the LA Philharmonic. I worked on the opera for a performance at BAM, Brooklyn Academy of Music and it was meant to travel domestically and abroad pre-pandemic. I have maintained my work in theatre because I find that it satisfies a different storytelling muscle.
I have been in the arts for 34 years in total from my first role as a child actor in theatre companies . After completing my MFA at YALE I moved to LA and began work in film. I also taught college as a professor at California State University for 6 years in Entertainment Studies, performance and, design . Since leaving teaching I have designed film and television with projects including Netflix, HULU, Disney Channel, Lionsgate and more. After the success of my first film “Wendy’s Shabbat” at Tribeca and broadcast on TV for PBS, I was emboldened to pursue directing seriously and with the same zeal that I have given to my design career. Wendy’s Shabbat had a theatrical run and qualified for Academy Awards. After the first few films I was hired for my first directing job at the Disney channel.
I think that anyone is capable of success at something that they believe in and work hard at. The business is a hustle but when I see beautiful films I count my blessings for picking work that I love and grateful to collaborate with artists that share the same passion..
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?
Morning matcha at- Cafecito Organico coffee followed by a Naturewell smoothie at Sunset Junction. Then a walk to the farmers market. A bike ride (or metro ride) to downtown. Lunch in little Tokyo on the adorable streets of sushi eats and homemade mochi. An afternoon downtown museum city walking crawl of Moca sculptures followed by the main museum and you get lucky with no line at the broad and a pastry at public market. A sunset drink at the best view in town and coolest architecturally designed restaurant (Otium) followed by the 8pm show at the Mark Taper forum (fingers crossed for August Wilson), a cozy cocktail watching a live band at the Eddison, wild swing dancers and a burlesque show shut the place down and then it’s time for bed!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m grateful to the many mentors, teachers and artists who have believed in me along the way. Fierce female producers like Effie Brown and Zanne Devine who opened doors for me in the industry and operated with a policy of bringing up and supporting other women in the business. These women taught me how to lead and it’s impacted the way that I direct and run departments on set and in my business, trying to pull other women and people of color in along the way.
Mentorship takes many forms and scrolling back I’m so grateful for all those little gestures that supported this journey, professor Sherry Linnell and Suzanne Schultz Reed at Pomona college supporting my work and encouraged me to pursue a professional career in the performing arts, Director Leonard Pronko helped me shape hours of performance and family friends who let me sleep on their couches, fed me or critiqued my work.
One of the most important figures in my creative life, my graduate school professor Ming Cho Lee, who passed away last October. Ming taught at the Yale School of Drama from 1969 to 2017 and educated generations of theatre-makers in the theatre world and he changed my life path. He shaped how I see the world as an artist and also how I’ve considered what I’m capable of in creative work and thinking. Ming believed in and challenged me more than any teacher I’ve known. I feel blessed for every push and for the notion that you can always find another solution, idea or way to consider a problem in politics art and life. Students always remember what they‘ve learned from their teachers. Ming’s passion and commitment influenced my life path as an artist and storyteller.
In 2007 after graduating I sent Ming watercolor painted postcards from a trip to Peru, sketched from the road for my mentor. When I visited him that fall in New York he told me that my watercolor painting had inspired him to paint watercolors again. Ming brought out a stack of paintings and showed me his watercolor sketches from his summer on the dining room table. A few years later when I opened the Ming Cho Lee Life life’s work book, the final pages of the book were those paintings, from the summer of 2007, the watercolors. Rest In Peace Ming. Forever in my heart.
Mensajes- Leobardo Huerta, DP Leslie On Set Desperados (Netflix) Set build Kim Possible- Disney On Set Directing (Actors and Stunt Doubles Directing Kim Hushable Directing On Set- Directing Vella Lovell Load In- Crayola Times Square with Rumiko Ishii