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Rising Stars: Meet Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis.

Hi Elizabeth Jaeleigh, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Amongst the musty aisles of plastic DVD cases, under the electric buzz of the bright neon sign – VIDEO TIME – was child me, bright-eyed and curious, experiencing the highlight of my week. Every weekend, my parents would treat me with a trip to the local video rental store to select the next cinematic adventure. It was like purchasing a ticket to an exotic trip, all for a dollar ninety-nine.

I grew up in a big scary house in Riverside, California – a desert suburbia with that heavy, silent sedating heat that clogs your blood with lethargy. My parents split when I was a toddler, and as my older siblings grew up and moved out, I was left on my lonesome. Movies became the outlet for my curiosity of the outside world… an escape from the banality of my bedroom. I was fascinated with the lives, loves, dramas, and adventures of the characters I saw onscreen.

With that, my desire to make films was cemented, and soon enough I set up shop making camcorder movies around the neighborhood. Tales of romance, dreams, imagination… This penchant for filmmaking fed my soul, and I continued to develop my craft through my college studies. After graduating, I worked assistant jobs to film/tv directors, showrunners, and producers in Los Angeles.  This was an excellent learning experience, and soon I returned to writing, directing, and producing my own projects, and haven’t stopped since. I have committed to a career in film to leave a mark on culture and engage in thought leadership through art.

Some of my projects include:

My debut narrative short, LA PETITE MORT — a subverted fairytale about the messiness of losing your virginity — which played at numerous Oscar-qualifying festivals worldwide and debuted online to an audience of over 175k viewers.

My latest film, BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD, which explores sexual power imbalance in the world of celebrity and is scheduled for the festival circuit in 2021.

A recently wrapped romantic comedy TV pilot, DRAMA HIGH, about a working-class high schooler who uses her knowledge of Asian dramas to gain a favorable social status at her new elite school. We reclaim the beloved Asian drama format on behalf of the AAPI community and use it to open up new conversations on identity and intersectionality.

A pre-production comedy TV pilot, IMPOSTERS, which follows students of color navigating institutional racism in the “woke” culture of an elite university.

Finally, in addition to narrative work, I also do branded content, largely for education and tech brands. In this work, I leverage my narrative competence to craft specific, accessible, and story-driven content that depicts brands and products.

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?
I’ve attended countless networking events, industry professional panels, and the like — the most common refrain is that there is no single path in film. Everyone has a different journey and a different trajectory. The key to every project I’ve been involved in so far has been self-starting and passion. It’s a ton of work and every project comes with its own unique challenges. You’re often putting your time and personal resources into something just for the sake of the experience and the hope that it’ll bring more opportunities. A pursuit of filmmaking is an investment in yourself.

Every film I’ve done has inadvertently led to another opportunity in some shape or another, but it’s still a fight to be heard in a sea of voices. You tap into your humanity — your triggers, identity, and limits — and deeply connect with fellow artists. It is always challenging, enlightening, and fulfilling. You’re putting yourself through the ringer over and over again hopefully transforming who you are and how you are until your skills are sharper and your heart is full. It’s filled with heartbreak and disappointment, but those are tempered by the joy of collaboration and creation. When I am filmmaking, I transcend the normie me, the little girl alone in her bedroom, and become this new Elizabeth, someone that walks the characters from my dreams to the screen.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am drawn to stories that explore female sexuality, power dynamics, and identity. As a pop-culture-obsessed mixed Chinese-American woman, I often consider identity through the lens of representation and how, through the act of filmmaking itself, we can subvert outdated notions of ethnicity and gender. Utilizing the tools of cinema, I believe in compelling content that can enthrall and enlighten audiences, and be a terrifically good time, too.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
A short trek from my house is a sprawling, untamed arroyo that we affectionately nicknamed “The Shire”. My best friend and I set out on a stormy day to explore it — we traversed miles of rolling overgrowth, hopping over rushing water with tree branches to balance us. Over the course of hours, we uncovered a creepy box of discarded, unlabeled VHS tapes, an abandoned, brightly painted shed in the middle of nowhere, and a dead dog that we did our best to bury. It was a deeply weird and chilling day for a couple of 14-year-olds, but when the sun came out and we dried our socks on the giant rocks we sat on, overlooking the expanse, it was nothing short of magical.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis, Derek James Robinson, Daniel Jossman, Will Loo, Heidi Gutman

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