I was introduced to the world of Joss Whedon from a dear friend at UC Berkeley and through the vessel of “Buffy” and “Angel”. I still remember holing up in my dorm room one weekend as I inhaled two seasons of “Buffy,” only breaking to get food from the cafeteria downstairs. Of course, this was after the show was wrapped so I was actually reliving a show that had ended years before. This was probably my first forte into binge watching… thank you Joss Whedon.
“Dollhouse” was special because it was the first of his shows that I found and fell in love with, all by myself. Miracle Laurie and her memorable performance as Mellie was one of the reasons I connected to the show and it is a true honor to introduce the Ms in the Biz community to Miracle, and her new project “Insane Jane,” based on the comic-book of the same name. This story is about a schizophrenic, deluded, yet well-meaning woman who thinks she has super powers and tries to use them to benefit the world. This project, with Miracle and her dream-team attached, is sure to be a success, and I am sure you will understand why by the end of this interview.
How do you define success and how has it changed throughout your time in the business?
The first thing that comes to mind is that when I was approaching turning 30, I realized I had put a certain amount of pressure on myself, and there were things I thought I should have done or acquired by that deadline. And I hadn’t, so I felt like I failed. Then after I turned 30 I realized that when you are younger your concept of time is a bit different, and you think that things are taking too long but I realized that, especially in our industry, there is no time limit on anything and you have to be in it to win it. I have really come around to my success and become more confident now that I have accepted that this is the thing that I love more than anything in the world, and I am going to continue to do it until I don’t love it anymore: that is success. When you step back to look at your life you realize that you are more successful than you think, you just have to change how you define success.
What is your background?
Grew up in a very artistic family. My father is a sculptor, painter, and performance artist. My mom plays bass and sings and my sisters are also very musical. I think I partly chose acting because I felt like it was the only thing nobody else was doing. I grew up being a Polynesian dancer in the Hawaiian community, and music and art were always a big part of my upbringing. I knew that I wanted to act since I was 5. I did it all through childhood and got my bachelor’s degree in theater. I grew up in Orange County and I would come into LA for casting director workshops, Backstage West auditions, student films, anything I could get my hands on. And then when I graduated I moved to LA, was lucky enough to get Dollhouse and then started working on lots of different indie film projects. This is one of the reasons I am so excited about Insane Jane, because it will bring me back into the world of television.
So let’s delve into Insane Jane! How did you get attached to this project?
One of my managers said that I have a niche audience and I should really get back on television. He also represented Darren Davis, the creator of Insane Jane, so they suggested that I read the graphic novel. Once I read it I had the same feeling I did when I read the breakdown for the character I played on Dollhouse: I knew that this character was 100% mine. And once I was on board we started building a team and now they have a great writer named Tracy Morse who is completely prolific. After our first meeting he went home and emailed me a scene that he wrote because he was already so inspired, and it was everything I had envisioned for the character. He was painting the picture in my head: respecting the comic book while turning it into a story for television. They invited me on to produce it as well and I am just ecstatic.
Have you produced anything before?
This is the first time and it just all came together. At Comic-Con this year I thought it was an amazing platform to start sharing the project so my husband designed buttons based on the comic book logo to give out and I put together a photo-shoot so I could create this visualization of the character. It was amazing to be given free reign but I also know my genre and the audience, and I felt that my community would be excited to see this new project I am developing.
There is this amazing synergy between all of us. Our working relationship is very easy and I know that is something extremely special in this business. We are all supportively moving forward in our own areas, so no one is stepping on anyone else’s toes. It is everything I ever dreamed to be able to collaborate in this way and it is only the beginning.
Producing has been such a learning experience already because everything takes such a long time. As an actor you just show up on set, do your thing, and are only a small part of the timeline. But as a producer you see the whole process from start to finish. The slow start in the beginning was a little hard to get used to, but then it made me realize that everything happens at a certain time for a reason. Now every step that we take feels right.
I love what you said about the four of you working as a team, because that mirrors what is ideal in a business relationship as well. Are there specific characteristics that each of you brings to the table?
Each one of us is a professional with our own experiences and lessons learned to bring to the table. We all know what our part is in this process and we respect each other tremendously, so we are each allowed to do our thing, but also come together beautifully. Everyone is really good at what they do, and that is so important. Everyone is damn good. And we are all genuinely excited to create this piece together because we know it’s special.
After being in this business for over 15 years now, I have an amazing group of friends and a network of ridiculously talented colleagues, all of whom I like and respect and would love to work with. One of the things I am most excited about as a producer is the fact that I am in a position where I might have a say in pulling these people together: that is my dream come true.
It was an absolute dream to talk to kind, enormously talented, Miracle Laurie, and learn all about her incredible new project, “Insane Jane.” To learn more about Insane Jane, please visit this website www.insanejanetv.com and follow Jane herself at @InsaneJaneTV on Twitter.
Additionally, I will be following the production of Insane Jane from conception through production, so be sure to look out for the next piece all about this incredible team bringing the character of Jane to life.