We had the good fortune of connecting with Jayne Amelia Larson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jayne Amelia, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
It’s all about risk. I’ve been a creative all my life and constantly have to reimagine, recreate, and essentially renovate myself as I grow as an entrepreneur. No matter how much due diligence I commit to, I still have to regularly make a leap into unknown waters to move ahead creatively and professionally. It’s always unsettling but very often life affirming. My recent work as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer with foster youth led me to launch a new podcast, BONUS BABIES, featuring the stories of youth with a lived foster care experience and the people who care for them—all through the unique 360 degree lens of a CASA. It has been a tremendous amount of work, crazy work, but very satisfying and it’s getting terrific traction. My guests invariably thank me for the opportunity to tell their stories––for giving them a forum to help others understand what’s going on in the foster care system today.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I trained as an actress at the American Repertory Theater Institute at Harvard University and then performed in regional and New York theater before moving to Lalaland to work as an actor, a voice over artist, then also as a producer. More often than not, I juggled three gigs at once while running from audition to audition and it was hard. After 90 hour weeks working for others, I decided to launch out on my own as an independent producer and then quickly tanked…and ended up working as a chauffeur which was exhausting and sometimes demeaning. But fortuitously, I ended up working for a private family of Saudi royals in Beverly Hills and developed a one woman show about my (eye-opening and often ridiculous) experience, Driving The Saudis, which won Best Solo Show at the NY Fringe Theater Festival, and then sold as a nonfiction book to Simon & Schuster. It went on to become a New York Times and international bestseller… so lemonade from lemons truly. I am now trying to make Driving The Saudis into a tv series but it’s slow going. Lots of smoke but no fire, and strangely enough might end up being an international production instead of American even though the story takes place in Beverly Hills. So I’ve moved or rather chugged from challenge to challenge to challenge (sometimes running and gunning) and trying to stay focussed and keep my eye on the prize. My creative partner, Darrell M. Blocker, and I just started SME Creatives and are creating and developing a slate of espionage-themed tv and film projects. Darrell spent 32 years in the intelligence community and 28 of those years as a CIA operative so he’s the SME (Subject Matter Expert) and I am the Creative, and we are having a blast. Both of us also volunteer with youth in foster care and that is tremendously rewarding and very important to us. He’s also on the board at Peace4kids.org in Los Angeles and I’ve become a CASA volunteer with youth in the system. My BONUS BABIES podcast developed from that volunteer work, and is perhaps the most important project I’ve ever done, and I am inspired and honored to be part of it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live on the west side and I say just always start with the beach cities. It’s so wonderful to stroll about and take in all the SoCal life and varied people sunbathing, exercising, and doing trapeze (yes!) on the sand. But I also lived in Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire, and have performed in theaters in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Silverlake, Atwater, Venice and more, so I appreciate that Lalaland has such diverse neighborhoods and communities. Please do get a cocktail (or two) at Shutters on the Beach, but do get that great cortado cafe at Tropicana on Sunset in Silverlake too. Drive up the coast and hit the famous Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu, it’s worth it. I love the Korean food on Sawtelle (not for the ambiance but for the fantastic food that makes up for the utter lack of ambiance––sometimes it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses there even at night), and then check out the shops there too––they are so much fun. I have found such beautiful Asian pottery and clothing there, and also unusual one-of-a-kind gifts too. I like to buy local so I avoid chains as much as possible and love all the farmers markets that you can find on any given day depending on what neighborhood you’re in. I love the “Urban Light” installation at LACMA at sunset, it’s just magical but I also love out of the way unique spots like The Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Blvd which is just trippy with all the eccentric and fascinating pieces to see, and the Underground Museum on Washington Blvd which has so much exciting and important work seen nowhere else in the world.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to thank the National CASA/GAL Association and CASA of Los Angeles for the terrific work they do with youth in the dependency system. Our children are our future, and that includes kiddos who have been failed by their families and then often failed again by the foster care system. The CASA works with each child on a one to one basis to make sure that child gets the service, education, and attentive care she needs. I am proud to be a CASA and part of this very important organization. The work has profoundly changed my life for the better, and I know it improves the lives of youth all over the country. Please also check out becoming a volunteer at Peace4kids.org which has served Los Angeles youth in foster care for almost 25 years. They are a tremendous organization and are improving the future of our youth in very impactful and lasting ways. Their motto is “community as family” and “provide consistency, stability, and trust” to a marginalized population.
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Twitter: JADAL and BonusBabiesPod
Youtube: Bonus Babies Podcast