Lisa Datz was recently interviewed by TheCelebrity.Online Magazine and below is the Q&A session we had with her.
Lisa Datz As Exclusive Cover Story – August 2023
How do you introduce yourself?
Lisa Datz: Hailing from Highland Park, IL, and now dividing her time between NYC and Los Angeles, Lisa Datz is an accomplished and critically acclaimed actress in film, television, Broadway and voice over, booking her first Broadway show, the original cast of the Tony Winning TITANIC, upon graduation from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and dance, and most recently starred opposite Dylan McDermott on the hit television series FBI MOST WANTED (CBS).
This marks Lisa’s film directorial debut as both director and writer of LIFE OF RILEY. Lisa’s love of culture and language, particularly Spanish culture, is the influence of her English and Spanish speaking mother.
Childhood to Adulthood – How was your transition from childhood to adulthood and what are the bad and good things you remember?
Lisa Datz: I was an accomplished kid a competitive figure skater and equestrian, honors student, MVP volleyball player, and dancer. I also starred in school plays at Highland Park High School, known for its arts programs and prestigious alumni like Gary Sinise and Jeff Perry.
One of my best memories is when I booked the original cast of TITANIC after graduating from The University of Michigan. I was working at the front desk of a gym in NYC at the time when I got the call. It was such a celebration. And then soon after, my beloved grandfather “Pappy” as we called him suddenly passed away from a heart attack. He was one of my heroes, so it was a roller coaster to go from celebration to devastation. It was also an early lesson in never taking my loved ones for granted.
When I first got to New York, I went to Michael Howard Studios to sign up for an acting class. They saw from my college resume that I sang and mentioned that an excellent Broadway music director/conductor, Michael Rafter, was doing a 6-week workshop was I interested? Yes! At the end of that class, Michael came up to me and said his wife, Jeanine Tesori, was about to music direct a workshop of a new Maury Yeston musical called 1-2-3-4-5. Would I be interested in doing it? UM, YES! At the end of that workshop, we did a demo recording for Maury.
In the recording studio, Maury came up to me and said, “Have you auditioned for my new show coming to Broadway, TITANIC?” I had not. Two days later, two auditions and two callbacks later, I was in the original cast of my first Broadway show. And we had to do classical monologues for the auditions, which is highly unusual for a Broadway musical.
The TITANIC story is very cool because it shows how you never know where your next opportunity will come from and to stay open. You just never know how life will unfold, right?
Struggle – What hardships have you gone through in life?
Lisa Datz: I remember being filled with excitement in my college years and eager to get out into the real world. I was SO ready, which was different from a lot of my friends and peers. Upon arriving in New York, I decided I was going to book a Broadway show in my first year, and I did! It seemed that whatever I put my mind to at the time, I accomplished. I had not yet really experienced failures or setbacks. So, I wasn’t prepared when those reversals of fortune arrived later in adulthood. Such challenges are inevitable and I believe necessary to keep growing as an artist and person.
I was very lucky to grow up in a family, have wonderful, diverse friends, and go to schools where I was respected and treated for who I am. When I got into the professional world in my early twenties and got spoken down to or harassed for the first time, that came as a bit of a shock. This is a big reason why I love to work with young artists, so they have mentorship and acquire tools to better handle the ‘failures’ and continue to shine and succeed.
As for specific hardships, I got divorced after a 10-year marriage. Though it was very amicable, I didn’t anticipate how much the rest of my life would change after that. It was a big adjustment, especially because I was young when we met, and we had kind of grown up together.
I had just done the Broadway show THE FULL MONTY and was set to star in a high profile Broadway show with a wonderful director and theatre. I had been having stomach issues which caused me to have bad acid reflux and vomiting, and it caused a blood vessel on my vocal chord to burst. I had to drop out of that show and go on complete vocal rest, silence for a month. I recall seeing a headline online that read, “Datz all folks.” That wasn’t fun. It was all stress related. After the divorce and that career mishap, it felt like a real one-two punch. So, I started a meditation practice and began dancing again just for the joy of it. By living authentically, I’ve not had a vocal issue since. The mind/body connection is REAL.
What do people usually not know about you?
Lisa Datz: I don’t eat olives and peppers. Yuck. I’m fluent (ish) in Spanish, and I’m a bit of a Europhile. My happy place is at the beach and in nature. Also, if you’ve ever played the video game RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2, I contributed the voice and motion capture performance for the role of “Jessica LeClerk.” So, when you watch it, that’s me on your screen!
What sets you apart from your competitors in the industry and in life?
Lisa Datz: I’ve always been a soulful, emotionally intelligent person. Since childhood, people have described me as an “old soul” in a young, energetic body. When I was 14 years old, I did a scene as “Blanche Dubois” in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. I had no business at that age being able to relate to this woman’s experiences, but for some reason, I could. It was cool, but also made me feel a bit alien. I still feel that way sometimes. I’ve only gotten more energized and passionate as I’ve gotten older. I was far less daring when I was younger. I think that all comes with growing confidence that comes with maturity.
I’m good at checking my ego at the door and collaborating with others. I love it! I love the sensation of feeling fear and doing it anyway not recklessly but with courage. And I’ve really grown into a multi-hyphenate with my craft as an actor, director, writer, producer, and voice-over artist.
What are your upcoming major events – Unforgettable Moments or products/services that you want to promote/inform?
Lisa Datz: Last season, I was fortunate to play “Detective Carmen Schmidt” on FBI MOST WANTED opposite Dylan McDermott. What was amazing is that I had just recently written in my journal, “I’d like to play a detective or a superheroine role.” And boom, it happened.
I wrote, directed, and starred in a short film/proof of concept entitled LIFE OF RILEY. I worked alongside a wonderfully talented and truly multicultural cast Silas Weir Mitchell, Sergio Carlo, Akende Munalula, and Dionne Gipson. Making this film has revealed that I have even more to say with this material, so the next step and ultimate goal is to make it a television series. Directing LIFE OF RILEY was, by far, one of the best experiences of my life.
And I’m working on one other thing at the moment, which I’m not at liberty to talk about just yet. How’s that for a tease?
What are your food preferences and physical attributes?
Lisa Datz: Ha, well, you already know I don’t like olives and peppers. I love authentic Neapolitan Margherita, mediu hin crust pizza. One of my favorite places for that is NIZZA in New York City. I love sushi, and also anything that’s farm to table. Two of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had were at La Tagliata on the Amalfi Coast (we didn’t order, they just kept bringing us the freshest meats, vegetables, and pasta from their farm) and at Ristorante Mich’angelo in Capri, which is now a culinary school owned by one of the sweetest couples you’ll ever meet. (Hi Gianluca and Holly!)
Physical attributes well, I’m definitely a dancer, and my body moves and looks that way. I can do the splits on the left side but not the right. Never could. My eyes are blue, and I can only raise my left eyebrow, not my right, even though I’m right-handed. Interesting, huh? (As I lift an eyebrow.)
Your love life, relationships and family?
Lisa Datz: I’ve worked with a wonderful marketing coach named Heidi Dean. She has a fantastic and quite funny rule of thumb called your “NUNYAS.” Which means, “none ya business.” Each person decides what those are for them, and for everyone, it’s different.
For now, I’m keeping my private life private because so much of my life is easily accessible online and public. I will say this my mom is my best friend, my dad is one of the smartest people I know, and my brother Mike and I are super close. He’s a brilliant guitar player and an incredible father, and my sister-in-law is one of the funniest people I know. My friend David is my brother from another mother, and I have so much love and loyalty to my ‘tribe.’
What expert advice would you like to give?
Lisa Datz: Any time I coach or teach a Master Class for actors or artists of any kind I say INVEST, INVEST, INVEST. There’s nothing sexy about being a starving artist. And you can’t do your best work if you’re broke and scared, nor can you create your own work without resources. There are so many apps, like Acorns, where you can literally invest $5, $10 a week. Leave it alone, and it will grow over time. I opened my first investment account when I was 23 and started small.
Do not wait. Create your own work. Your own opportunities. Connect with great people. And by great, I mean not only talented or accomplished but also great human beings who have your back, and you have theirs. Your relationships, both personal and professional, I believe, set the tone for your life and career.
Two of my favorite sayings “Your vibe is your tribe.” and “Your network is your net worth.”
Your social media handles and website links?