Statera Mentorship: Meet the Los Angeles Regional Coordinators

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Statera Mentorship is now in the Los Angeles area and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the Los Angeles Regional Coordinators. Here are some quick stats before we dive in:

Los Angeles Chapter Founded: Winter 2019
Dates: Class I runs from July 1 - December 31, 2019
Application deadline: Class I mentor/mentee applications are due by June 1, 2019
Website: Statera Mentorship Los Angeles Chapter
Facebook: Statera Mentorship

Los Angeles Regional Coordinators (left to right) Amber Friendly, Anatasha Blakely, and Siobhan Doherty.

Los Angeles Regional Coordinators (left to right) Amber Friendly, Anatasha Blakely, and Siobhan Doherty.

STATERA: What do you see as the greatest need and/or the most common need for mentorship relationships?

Amber Friendly: I think the greatest need depends on the individual and where they're at in their journey, but generally, I think it's important to have someone you can connect with who is a little farther along in their career and can act as a supportive figure. Sometimes that support is just having someone with experience to bounce ideas off of, sometimes it can be to provide more of a guiding role. And for the person acting as the mentor, it can be easy to take for granted the knowledge that you've accumulated over the years. Sharing what you know is a great way to deepen your own understanding of a concept as well as gain an appreciation for what you've learned along the way. 

Anatasha Blakely: Growth is hard. We all want to get better and sometimes we don't know how. In Tools of Titans Tim Ferris says "What you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well does not make it important... Being busy is a form of laziness. Being busy is often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions." Every great mentor I've had has kept me from wasting a whole lot of time doing the unimportant things. When you're starting out with a new skill or reaching new peaks it's often hard to know which path to take, which action will really help. They have lived it. The good ones guide you away from time wasters and put you on a path to find your own voice.

Siobhan Doherty: Support, and a willingness to understand that it may mean something different to each person. Some people may want someone to support them by pushing them out of their comfort zone, and challenging them, and other people may feel most supported when they're listened to and gently encouraged along their path.

STATERA: Tell us about your work in the theatre / or in the arts.

Anatasha: I began as an actor and got a degree from SUU. But lately I've found myself improvising, writing and filmmaking! What a world!

Siobhan: I'm an actor, writer, producer, and teacher. 

Amber: I'm an actress and writer based in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. In Chicago, I worked primarily in theatre. Now, my work is focused primarily on television and voiceover. I've been lucky to work on some great projects, but some of my favorites have been How to Get Away With Murder, Children's Hospital, Shameless, and NCIS: LA.

STATERA: Can you share about your journey to the Los Angeles area arts scene?

Siobhan: I never thought I'd end up in LA. I grew up doing musical theater, so I always thought I'd end up in New York, but after going to grad school at UC Irvine, I got into writing and producing for film, so I've been in LA ever since. Nowadays I'm mostly writing and directing my own projects, teaching, and looking to get back into the theater scene in LA.

Amber: I grew up around Chicago and first came to the West Coast to attend the MFA Acting program at the University of California, Irvine. That was the first time I had spent more than a week west of the Mississippi. After I graduated, I moved up to Los Angeles and have been lucky enough to connect with some wonderfully creative artists in my time here. LA is a city that is filled with so much culture and ingenuity; I constantly feel like I'm discovering something new.

Anatasha: This question exhausts me. Ha! All I'll say is that LA is exhausting in the best way. And don't knock it ‘til you try it.

STATERA: What is your own most memorable mentorship experience?

Siobhan: My experience with the first iteration of the Statera Mentorship program - and specifically my mentor, Sylvie Zamora - was instrumental in my current career path. When we started our meeting, I was working a lot of freelance/side-hustle jobs and feeling lost and disconnected from my art, and I'm now on faculty at two colleges in their actor training programs. Meeting with Sylvie and being able to voice what I was looking for in my career and brainstorm ways to move in that direction has changed my life dramatically.

Anatasha: I met the most amazing woman, Jet Eveleth, at the iO West bar. (When iO West was still an improv theatre and not a drug and gun den. She looked me in the eye, made me feel seen and then told me to promise her I would make beautiful art before I died. She then continued to light a fire under my butt for 5 years just by being herself. (If you're ever in Los Angeles you MUST attend her insanely beautiful class: Church Clown.

Amber: I think that mentorship is something that happens at different points in your career because we are always evolving and learning. That said, my most recent show is freshest in my mind. I was in production for about six months and just the collective knowledge on that set was staggering. It really was a group of generous, kind people who were very accomplished. I am truly grateful for every member of the cast and crew who shared their knowledge and vision with me.  

STATERA: How did you become connected to Statera Mentorship? 

Anatasha: Melinda Pfundstein. She's a saint. I could never deny her anything.

Siobhan: I worked with Melinda Pfundstein at Utah Shakespeare Festival back in 2013, before Statera was founded, and heard about the early stages of it through social media. It's been fascinating to watch it grow and connect our theater community across the country, and I knew I wanted to be part of that.

Amber: Siobhan Doherty, who I went to graduate school with and still work with today approached me and let me know about her experience with the program.

STATERA: Talk to us about your leadership style and why you're called to work in this capacity for your community. 

Amber: In terms of my leadership style, I like to break things down into clear goals and strategies. Just about anything can be tackled if you take it piece by piece. And helping other people realize their own talents feeds into my own artistry. It's like watching a light turn on and it helps keep me inspired on my own creative journey.  

Anatasha: I've always thought I had lovely taste in people and I'm not afraid to tell them what's wonderful about them. Not sure if that's a leadership style but my buddies always tell me I'm a collector of "shiny rocks" and I adore getting those "rocks" to love and meet each other. Called to do the work... because there is nothing I love more than seeing someone step into their power. Fuck yeah! Sorry, can I swear on here? Eh. Bleep it if you must.

Siobhan: Lead with humility and imperfection. Each time I step into a leadership role, I am reminded that none of us know for sure what we're doing - yes, we may have navigated something similar before, but it's never exactly the same. We're all here on planet earth trying to figure this life thing out. Not being afraid to say "I don't know the answer" but being willing to go figure it out or find someone who knows, is, I think, one of the most useful qualities in a leader.

STATERA: What recent personal projects or upcoming projects are you excited about?

Anatasha: I am shooting a short film I wrote. My first time directing a film. I'm super stoked and wildly terrified (in the good storm-chaser-wind-in-my-hair kind of way). God bless us, everyone. I'm also headed to the Shakespeare Project in Anniston, Alabama in August to play Macduff. For future updates about said film and possible pictures of me killing Macbeth (I've been promised a dagger fight, y'all) you can check me out on Instagram @anatashablakely.

Siobhan: I'm one of the creators of Dame Sketch Comedy, which I'm super proud of: Dame Sketch Comedy. I'm also directing Sarah Ruhl's Orlando in the Fall at Studio School.

Amber: I recently wrapped on the Morning Show, which will air on the upcoming show Apple plus service. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carrell, and many other amazingly talented people. I can't wait for everyone to see it. You can follow me @AmberFriendly on Twitter and Instagra for updates on everything I have coming down the pipeline. 

Interested in learning more about Statera Mentorship? Visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship. Apply by June 1st to be a mentee or mentor for the next class in the Los Angeles Area at www.stateraarts.org/los-angeles-mentorship. And if you have questions, please visit Statera Mentorship: Frequently Asked Questions.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all.