JENNIFER LIEBERMAN is from Maple, Canada, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from York University in Toronto. She has appeared in over thirty stage productions in Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Europe and Australia; including her Award-Winning solo show ‘Year of the Slut,’ which her Amazon #1 Best Selling novel ‘Year of the What?’ was adapted from. In addition to her performance career, she has penned a number of screen and stage plays; her short films Leash
and Details which both screened at the Festival De Cannes’ Court Métrage among other international film festivals as well as the wacky web-series Dumpwater Divas. Jennifer is also the founder of Make Your Own Break and has helped over 100 creatives bring their own productions to life.
WG: “Make your own break” you said. Could you explain what you mean by that?
JL: In the acting world there’s a lot of waiting around for that ‘big break,’ or to get picked, or discovered. All that waiting around can be frustrating and unfulfilling, so instead of waiting for someone to choose me for a role or choose my script to get made or choose my book to publish, I decided to choose myself and create my own opportunities; write my own scripts, produce my own films/plays and to publish my own books. Sure, I’d love to be working on bigger scale productions and sell my scripts to studios and Nextworks, but until that happens I’m going to continue to create, craft, and fine-tune my skills by putting in the reps every day because it’s simply what I do. There are hundreds of talented people who haven’t ‘made it’ yet, just like you, find them and work with them and maybe one day you will be the studio.
WG: Plays, films, acting, directing, producing, writing…if you had to pick only one, which would it be and why?
JL: My first love is hands down performance, that is definitely my first choice stage or screen, ideally I’ll always have one foot in each. But the reality of being solely an actor/performer is having very little control over your career, coming back to that ‘waiting to get picked’ issue. As a writer and a producer, I get to stay in the game and create opportunities for myself when I’m otherwise in between gigs I’ve been hired for as an actor.
WG: What would be your second choice?
JL: Writing would be number two, getting to create worlds and characters and stories, I really love that. Don’t get me wrong, producing is fun, it’s like one giant puzzle with dozens of moving pieces that you have to figure out, and I find it stimulating, and I am so grateful it’s a skill I have worked hard to develop. However, given the choice, I do prefer to stay on the more creative side of things.
WG: Before any success, just starting out, the level of insecurity must have been enormous. How did you develop the conviction to press forward?
JL: I grew up as a competitive gymnast so I did have a certain amount of confidence and discipline coming into the game. I also think that being young and completely clueless was also helpful, it allowed me to be fearless in a lot of ways. I also had an overwhelming conviction, so nothing was going to deter me.
WG: Is there anything special you do when you feel stressed, or uncomfortable?
JL: Yoga! I have a regular yoga practice and love how the consistent routine brings balance to my day. Especially as a writer, it’s easy to get lost in my head, having something that can ground me in my body and the immediate moment is truly a blessing. It’s also important to me to connect with nature regularly and go on hiking trails often. Cooking is another activity I find enjoyable while de-stressing. I love experimenting with different types of recipes to see what I can recreate as a vegan dish.
WG: You’ve said “Chasing Hollywood” wasn’t for you. How did you find your experience producing, writing, directing for indie films, and did you experience any difficulties there, and if so, how did you deal with that?
JL: First, let me clarify, what I meant by ‘chasing Hollywood’ was that whole notion of running around trying to get picked – trying to get an agent, trying to get an audition, trying to get a role, trying to get a foot in the door, trying to do a million things that are not the one thing you are actually there for – to create.
This is the hustle that so many people get caught up in when they move to LA and yes some of it is necessary, but it can be very overwhelming if you don’t figure out how to pace yourself and what your actual goals and priorities are. So I didn’t leave, I just changed my goals. I started focusing on making my own projects and helping friends and colleagues do the same thing on a small scale, to get into festivals, network, collaborate, and do the things we were there to do.
There are always challenges putting a production together, executing it, completing it, and releasing it. Most scripts don’t make it to production, does that mean they were a waste? Not at all, that script will lead to the next script and the next one, and with each one the writing gets tighter, the dialogue sharper, the plot more intricate. Sometimes there are logistical problems, location issues, personality conflicts, and being a good producer is being able to deal with them all at once, on time, and on budget. Sure it can be stressful, but it’s also thrilling working with dozens of people coming together to create something. It’s pretty cool. And every challenge or disaster averted is like a badge of honor to add to the collection.
WG: Where do you see your future? Any pull in one direction over another?
JL: In the future, I see more of what I’m doing on a bigger scale. I’ll continue to write and perform and produce for film and theater. I also do see a few more books in my future.
WG: Any advice to new writers? Pitfalls, things to avoid. Things you wish you’d known earlier?
JL: 1 – Stick to your guns, only you know the style, the voice, and the story you’re going for. Everyone will have an opinion so you need conviction.
2 – Be patient. Give yourself time to develop your style. It only comes from doing the reps over time. Stick with it.
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