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Life & Work with Evelyn Lorena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Evelyn Lorena.

Hi Evelyn, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been putting on plays since I can remember and at some point, it just made sense. But, I feel like I’ve known I wanted to do this since I was 12 years old. I’ve always been interested in other people and growing up I felt hyper vigilant to people’s behaviors and mannerisms, especially jumping around social groups, or moving schools. I felt connected to people’s stories and motivations and I enjoyed understanding others. I did grapple with other things, like law, when I was super young, or art history, or even Russian language and Eastern European studies – I have no idea why, I’ve had a weird kinship to Russian culture, and Chekhov is easily one of my favorite playwrights — but somehow there was this sort of … monastic, narrow-focus involved in this thing … a craft behind it, and I just fell in love with that. I both fell into it and was intentional about it. Like, you can literally do anything in this profession; you can be anyone, and explore life itself. Films never stop feeling surreal to me and I felt such a need to express myself in this way – and so I applied last minute to conservatory and the rest is history.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Smooth is relative I suppose. I’m aware of certain privileges I’ve had and I don’t turn a blind eye to those, and I feel incredibly grateful, but I’m also aware there have been things I’ve had to work at far more than others, but every journey is different. I really don’t believe you can compare, we all get handed our personalized share of challenges that will only make sense for each of our journeys. Sometimes I’ve found myself trying on a lot of different things and you settle on one thing that feels right. But struggles? Hmm. Maybe in breaking the mold of what someone who looks like me can play? On screen. Because sometimes people have an idea of what that means. I try not to give it too much attention, but I can certainly see a positive difference in people’s perceptions in the short time from when I graduated school to now. But again, I haven’t let that limit me — that would feel awful — and I feel grateful for the chance at the roles I’ve had in my short time. I really just care about depth. I do tend to get the girlfriend quite a bit, but you can do a lot with that too. It’s all perspective and mindset for me, I think. The industry thankfully keeps evolving, in thanks to the hard-work of so so many people. I feel that “minorities” (I don’t like that word because it implies other-ism, but for the sake of understanding) can sometimes get caught in those niche, and oftentimes dehumanizing roles, especially when you see older films, or because the story is being told from a colonial lens, and so anytime I see something that just portrays brown women in their humanity, I relish in it. But to answer your question? Has it been smooth? I have no concept of it all yet! I’ll feel silly commenting on something I feel so much love for.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m an actress with an interest in filmmaking and writing. I feel everyone now is an entrepreneur/multi-hyphenate because of the internet so I don’t feel very original in that, nor do I want to claim too many titles because then my focus feels everywhere. I feel as an actor I have a tendency to look at the world in a certain kind of way, and I feel really grateful for that and for the training that has sort of helped enhance whatever I decide to do. Sometimes I don’t feel like a filmmaker since I come at it from a different world, but I truly believe an artist is an artist, and like John Lennon said give me a tuba and I’ll figure out something to do with it. (Or something like that.) For me, art is about connection, and empathy, so I hope in anything I do I’m creating more connection and empathy and excitement in the world. I do feel proud of that fact that I’ve been able to translate my acting into something more tangible like films, and have them resonate with the people who have watched them. It feels surreal. I feel like one of the things I’ve considered in my life, and I’m not sure if this sets me apart or not, is this idea that we’re limitless, and because of that I’ve tried not to limit my creativity, and if I feel called to do something, like write a short film or direct my latest film, Gabriela, a LALIFF/Netflix Inclusion short, I try to follow it — even if I am jumping off the deep end. Sometimes I feel like stories are placed within us, and for me, as an actor, if the role doesn’t come along, and I still have this story within me, there has to be an outlet for that somewhere, because somewhere in the cosmos and stratosphere of consciousness that story is yearning to be expressed. I suppose I feel pretty proud of that: having the willingness to express myself.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I was asked this same question back in high school graduation and everyone was putting things as, “I will own X fancy car, and have this much money, and have this kind of house,” and I felt really strange because I couldn’t answer the question. So, I put “feeling happy doing what I love.” I remember feeling really upset because they changed my answer to something more … “tangible” for when I walked up for my diploma. Haha, that’s why I remember the whole experience … because of the disappointment I felt. But, I honestly feel the same way now as I did then. About happiness. I don’t want that to sound pretentious or like I’m altruistically above anyone, because having nice things can be nice, and I have ambitions for myself, but I truly feel, and life has taught me this since I was super little, that the greatest success can be your own validation, and if that’s any kind of happiness, the love that resides in feeling like you’ve done something worthwhile, and creative, and as a plus connected with other beautiful souls, then what more success is there? Feeling it all is so important to me. It’s not ever going to come from anything “out there.” That’s only a reflection of what’s *in here.* If anything, the stuff out there can make you miserable.

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Image Credits
Chase Anderson, Sommer Daniel, Whitney Shumaker, Pat Maus

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