We had the good fortune of connecting with Shawn Stoner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shawn, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I wanted/want to do my own thing. I’m not satisfied as an actor/performer always giving the reigns to someone else. It’s been incredible to make artistic and creative decisions for myself. To actually do the things I want to do rather than the things I think I’m supposed to do or what others think I should do. As a performer you are your business and I make decisions based on what I love to do now, not what I think will be the best for my perceived trajectory or what others define as a “successful” artist.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It’s hard to just point to one thing that my art is. I’m a clown/actor and I’m writing a feature with my writing partner, Darielle Deigan. I have a one person show that I’d like to revamp and put up again at some point and maybe take it on tour. I’m closer than I’ve ever been to where I’d like to be professionally, but I’m still not quite there. Not sure that’ll ever happen in a perfect tied up package, but I’m ok with that. I want to have the freedom within in myself to allow for my dreams to shift and change and continue to grow and learn. It hasn’t been easy at all to get where I am, but I’ve certainly benefited from certain privileges that others don’t have. My Mom and Stepdad supported my move to Los Angeles and kept me afloat for my first 6 months here. Money has been and continues to be one of the great struggles for me so I’m eternally grateful for their generosity. The thing I’ve perhaps had the greatest challenge overcoming is the perception of what a “successful” artist is and the idea that there’s some timeline to an artistic life…that if I’m not famous and making millions of dollars within some arbitrary time of being in LA and pursuing a career in the arts then its time to pack it in and find a “real job”. I’ve had to fight this so hard from within myself and from the outside. I find it outrageous that a lot of us we’re told our entire lives “we can be anything” and then when we choose a career in the arts or any alternative career, if you will, it’s not acceptable. “You can be anything you want as long as it fits within a certain societal box”…the moment you step out of that people begin to tell that maybe you should choose something different. This comes from other artists as well. We put each other down sometimes because we’re not fitting into the mold of what makes a “successful artist”. I’ve learned that my success (whatever that means) will come and does come from breaking this mold. From making the art I love and truly want to make. As cliche as it is…It’s about the journey, the destination has little to do with how I make decisions regarding art. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I feel like everyone I have a strong connection to deserves credit…my partner, family, friends, and otherwise. This might seem like a cop-out type of an answer, but I genuinely feel that so many people have had some type of influence on me and my path toward the dreams I’d like to see come to fruition and some that have been achieved. Even the people who I wouldn’t necessarily like to thank because they have somehow wronged me have perhaps tipped the scales for me to go one way or the other. My mentor/friend/high school theatre teacher, Bob Blue, is the reason I do any type of performance. He passed away a while back and I’m still learning from him. Every now and then something he said to me years ago will suddenly click in a way it never has before or in a way I couldn’t understand at the time. Two books I’d like to mention that have completely changed my life: Happiness by Matthieu Ricard and Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel.