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

Hi Sallie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk is an essential part of being a creative! Most of the best decisions I’ve made, which felt aligned with my curiosity, the person I wanted to become, and the future I wanted as a professional creative, involved an uncomfortable amount of risk. I think listening to and following your gut, whether it’s moving across the country, creating something you’re not 100% sure how to do, taking that vacation to a new country, or wearing the glittery caftan to the party, is coupled with risk, and is part of the joy of being alive.
I’ve also noticed how taking a leap of faith, or a step in a direction I want to explore, can’t stop dreaming about, feel deeply purposeful about, tends to lead me down a path of synchronicity. When I step into the unknown, guided by my curiosity and that inner voice, I often discover treasures, experiences, and collaborators waiting there that I’m not sure I’d have found had I been more safe or calculated.
I’m all for protecting my savings account, making wise business choices, and building something that takes intention and dedication. But I also think those disciplines will serve you best when you’re open to following your intuition into what feels like a wild adventure.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m proud that the last two shorts I created, “Moon Eyes” and “Beret Girls Detective Agency” speak so truthfully about who I am as a filmmaker. Watching “Beret Girls” (a sizzle reel I made for a TV series I’ve written and am looking for a home for), is especially exciting to me because it’s the kind of show I want to binge watch! I laugh because it’s a visual representation of what the inside of my brain often looks like: colorful, full of witty banter, a sense of mystery, a wide range of emotions, old timey movie and TV references, laughs, romance, and a LOT of vintage clothing. I’m so proud of “Beret Girls”, because once I had the idea, I gave it everything I had to write, produce, cast, act, direct, and produce it safely, during a pandemic, with some of my favorite collaborators.

It has not been easy, but it gets better! 15+ years in on my journey in the film industry, I see how I now recognize and stand more firmly in who I am as a business owner, filmmaker, and individual.

I’ve navigated the hurdles of sexism, disappointment, discouragement, grueling on-set jobs, changing departments, changing careers, by: crying in a lot of bathrooms, nurturing my inner artist, taking care of myself, going to therapy, raising my standards, setting boundaries, investing in the stories I want to tell, creating art, traveling and exploring what I feel drawn to and curious about, and investing in the folks who invest in me. I think my biggest takeaway from the past few years is that only I know what’s best for myself and my career, and all the passion I put into my work will come back to me. All the films I write are incredibly personal, and I believe that makes them even more relatable. Not everyone will “get” what you do, but you’ll find your people – kindred spirits, audiences, collaborators, and community. And, because I know how hard it is to be a woman in this industry, I’ve become someone who wants to pull other women up with me, wherever I gain new ground. I want to see diversity and equality behind and in front of the camera!

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.
I’d pick them up from LAX and take them straight to Venice beach, walk up to the ocean, and get excited about the week’s adventure. Then, brunch at Botanica in Silverlake, and some vintage shopping / window-shopping, a little walk to take in all the beautiful plants and flowers in the neighborhood. We’d take the windy road up to a Griffith Park Observatory sunset and then head to Musso & Frank for a fabulous dinner topped off with an old fashioned. (Just one, they’re so strong!)

The following days we’d also: Get takeaway quiche and iced tea from Trails at Griffith Park, where we’d catch up while listening to a local practice their guitar, grab “Rita Hayworth” smoothies at The Punchbowl in Los Feliz before catching a flick at the old-school Los Feliz theatre, then tacos from a truck nearby and a jasmine-scented walk to Jeni’s. We’d take in the Pickwick Vintage fair, meeting fun nostalgia-clad friends, and enjoy Angeleno Spritz Cocktails on my little deck with my cat, who likes to join me out there on a leash. IF this is a friend who loves Gilmore Girls as much as I do, the Warner Bros. studio tour is a must! We’ll visit Stars Hollow with a coffee in hand and and revel in the fun of the practical sets and unlimited creative tools that help create shows there (and dream about my own getting made!)

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is dedicated to Janet Keena, my 94 year old grandmother, an incredible photorealist oil painter who has loved and encouraged me, and is a living example of an artist dedicated to her calling who has traveled all over the world.

Website: www.salliekeena.com

Instagram: @moonlightdetective

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHjzzW5qrhjzZC2lUzldvIQ

Other: @beretgirlsdetectiveagency

Image Credits
Maya Elby, Sallie Keena, Charlie Puritano

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