We’ve seen the controversies. We’ve heard about or read the article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” published in The Atlantic in July 2012, and we still have women trying to prove the article, and those that agree with it, wrong.
As an actress and Producer Kirsten Lea is one of many women trying to prove her success as both a businesswoman and an artist in a male-driven world. Since her debut as an actress in The Soloist alongside Robert Downey Jr. in 2008, Kirsten’s career and success has skyrocketed. She was not only nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Walk a Mile in My Prada, but she’s now also Executive Producer for several substantial feature films, such as Fashionistas, Hell Fire Club, and Alex in the Afternoon.
1. How did you get to where you are today? Describe your key milestones.
My father passed away when I was a teenager, which made me to acknowledge how short life can be and how our lives can be taken away at any minute, so it's important to take chances. I believe that fortune favours the brave. My father had always wanted me to succeed as an actress and so I became determined to make that happen. Landing my first feature film role, in 'The Soloist' pushed me to dedicate my career to film making and consequently move to America. I found my niche when I landed the lead female role in the romantic comedy, 'Walk a Mile'
2. One minute you're an actress and the next you're an executive producer. What made you decide to take on all these different projects?
I've chosen a career in film and television and I want to be involved in projects in any way I can. It just so happens that my talents have been recognized within acting and producing. There is a lot of cross over in entertainment. I've been able to be involved in many areas of the film making process from writing to art direction. Ben Affleck is often asked whether he prefers acting or directing, and as he has answered, it's like being asked which one of your children you prefer. I've taken opportunities to be involved in film and television projects and made the most of each opportunity.
3. What are your thoughts on the idea that women can't have it all?
I believe that life is about choices. Work out what your priorities are and immerse yourself in one project at a time.
4. Have you noticed a difference between men and women in the workplace?
Men seem to attract more opportunities and have potential for more roles as they mature, whereas there is still a huge pressure on women to have achieved a certain level of fame before they reach 30. That is a key part of why I am passionate about producing, to work with stories that represent a broad spectrum of women. It is an area which is still largely unexplored and there's a huge amount of potential to reclaim how we perceive women in film - I think 'Bridesmaids' was a huge turning point in that respect. It was a "chick flick" which men found themselves loving and sharing in too. I really feel that as a female actress and producer the future is very, very promising.
5. What advice do you have for young filmmakers in general?
My advice to young filmmakers is to create as much opportunity for themselves as possible, wherever they live. If you don't feel there are any suitable opportunities for you, then write and produce something yourself. Work out the maximum budget you can raise. Commit to writing a certain amount each day and ensure that your script matches your budget. Start off small and once you have one success, then build upon that. Take Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs as an example - most of the script is set in a warehouse, which makes it a reasonably low budget film.
6. What advice do you have for women trying to have a career behind the camera?
Learn from other very successful women. I think the most successful women in the industry are able to compartmentalize. Always look for the positive in every situation, so if life gives you lemons, you can turn it into lemonade.