MEET LIZ. AGE 30. NEW YORK, NEW YORK. FOUNDATION DIRECTOR.
You’re from Buffalo, but have had the opportunity to travel worldwide. What is your favorite city to live in and why? What is your favorite thing about coming home?
I’ve had the privilege to live in Toronto, Prague, London and NYC, all of which are special and unique cities in their own way. Though London brings some intense competition, I would have to say New York City takes the cake. I’ve lived here for a total of 7 years (with 3 years of London in between) and there is truly no other city in the world full of so much personality, opportunity, beauty and life. The most talented and driven people in the world live in NYC, and you’re all in such close quarters that you interact with people from all walks of life every day.
That said, New York can kick you in the teeth sometimes. It’s not an easy place to live. So I love visiting Buffalo, which will always be home. Friends and family are what I love most, but I appreciate that Buffalo provides an amazing quality of life at an affordable price. There is a vast array of art, culture, sports, nature activities, universities and colleges, Buffalo is buzzing. And it truly has the most friendly and good-natured people in the world. Buffaloians look out for each other too, and there’s an immediate bond being from the Queen City. I once saw a guy wearing a Bills jacket while riding the subway in Prague and I screamed LET’S GO BUFFALO at the top of my lungs! He chanted right back.
You recently were named the first Screen Actors Guild Foundation Director in New York City. What does a typical day in your job look like?
This is a cliché answer but there is no typical day. One minute I’m drafting a plan for the institutional improvements and expansion I want to implement over the years, and then I’m answering an emails from publicists about photos we’ve taken of their clients. I manage a dynamite team of ten people, so I try and check in with each of them daily, although that’s easier said then done. I also try and read a few industry publications to see what’s happening in “the biz”, and Twitter helps with a lot of entertainment news (@LizFilmNYC…shameless plug!). I’m on IMDBPro all the time, looking up actor representation or future projects their attached to. I usually have anywhere from 2 – 4 meetings or calls per day, either with the staff here in NYC or checking in with our counterparts in our LA office. I am also frequently taking journalists out to lunch to tell them about our mission and what we have planned for 2015, as it’s the 30th anniversary of the SAG Foundation. Evenings are often filled with events themselves, and so I’ll accompany the Programming staff to be backstage with the actors and their publicists or agents. That’s usually where a majority of my business is done, talking to the actors and their teams about our incredible programs and emergency assistance we provide. And sometimes, I have to fill in and moderate a Q & A or direct a PSA, like I did with our “It’s A Wrap! Happy New Year from the Cast of Orange is the New Black”. Everyday is different, but truly enjoyable. I believe strongly in my staff and the work that our organization does. I truly have some of the best people in the world working for the SAG Foundation in NY, so that’s makes my job even more enjoyable.
What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned while building your career?
I was recruited for this job, and wasn’t even looking to leave my previous role (Marketing & Communications for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment,) but the position was recommended to me and I could not pass it up. What was so phenomenal and inspiring was that they thought I would be an excellent fit based on how I had worked with the SAG Foundation in my previous jobs. It really was just a matter of partnering on a few events, working hard and doing a good job, but most importantly being NICE, pleasant and appreciative to everyone involved. I think often times (and in a competitive place like NYC in particular,) there is this misconception that you have to be cutthroat, really divisive and always be tooting your own horn- while simultaneously throwing others under the bus. I find it fortunate and refreshing that I DIDN’T have to operate that way, but I was rewarded for great work and sharing the glory and wins with the entire team of people involved. Be gracious and give credit where credit is due, and to EVERYONE who made it happen. You never know, we could all end up working for the intern one day, so be just as nice to the intern as you would the CEO. If you live your life being kind and supportive of others, the universe will support you right back. I’m proof!
What’s it like to have a twin sister?
It’s awesome frankly. I’ve never known anything different, but it’s great to have a best friend and supportive sibling all rolled into one. Kate is in politics and labor relations, and she and I are incredibly supportive of each other and what we do. Plus, you have the benefit of having double the amount of friends growing up and as a young professional because many people who know Kate feel like they know me too, and vice versa. It is confusing when you first move back to the city where your sister lives, and people you don’t know are waving at you and smiling at you on the subway platform. But it’s great fun.
If you could plan your ideal “free time day,” what would it look like?
Sleep in! (till about 10am.)
Coffee and reading my book or a magazine on my couch.
Run around the outer loop of Central Park, or a nice long weights session at the gym.
Skype date with some of my grad school friends who live in London and Oslo. We try and chat once a month if we can.
Brunch – my current obsession is a restaurant in SoHo called Hundred Acres that serves, wait for it….GOAT CHEESE BREAD PUDDING. With sage. It’s literally one of the tastiest things I have EVER eaten.
Walk along the High Line or along the West Side Highway, to get some nice views and people watching. In summer, it’s a long bike ride up to the GW bridge, also great people watching opportunity!
Dinner with good friends, maybe trivia night at a bar somewhere. We LOVE our bar trivia.
If I REALLY want to make a night of it, then dancing somewhere till the wee hours of the morning. Some of my Buffalo-now-Brooklyn friends discovered this navy / sailor bar that’s out of the 1940’s called Montero’s, and every Friday and Saturday there is free Karaoke. It’s an experience.
But more than likely, in my pajamas and in bed by 10pm. I’m an old lady who loves her sleep.
Who is the most interesting celebrity you’ve met?
Angelina Jolie is up there because she has somehow managed to be incredibly down to earth and grounded whilst being one of the most famous people on the planet. She was so warm and engaging to talk to, and you could tell that all the cast of UNBROKEN idolized her, but also felt completely at ease with her as their director and guiding force on set. That’s not an easy energy to achieve, and she did it flawlessly. I’m always impressed by someone who can command a room without making anyone feel like they don’t deserve to be in that room. Plus her travels, her international development work, her work as a director, and her children speak to how incredible she is. She can do anything.
Louis C.K. is another highlight, as everything out of his mouth is hilarious. Everything. He can make even the most minor and mundane circumstances just hysterically funny and without even trying. I think his brain is just wired that way. His worldview is programmed to see humor and irony in everything. I had to interview him for a teaser video that would be used in an awards ceremony later, and you can hear me trying not to laugh (and failing!) at everything he said. Our filmmaker really had to work with the audio because I am just hopeless after he answers each question!