Creative Artist Spotlight Interview with Leslie Li

by Kim on July 28, 2010

Leslie Li

In and around Hollywood, there is no shortage of open mic nights and live entertainment. I had the pleasure of celebrating a friend’s birthday and watching Leslie perform with an improvisational comedy team called the Bag of Bunnies. If you haven’t attended an improv performance before, I recommend that you do! It involves audience participation and is filled with fun twists and turns. Leslie inspires others with her imagination and wit and reveals that her creativity is multifaceted. I was inspired by her gumption to move to Los Angeles and follow her dream. I hope you enjoy her interview.

Kim: Please tell our readers a little about yourself…

Leslie: I am originally from Tucson, AZ.  I moved to Los Angeles with the dream of acting and/or working in the entertainment industry 7 years ago.  I am currently a Casting Director of background actors and study improv comedy at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood.

Kim: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue your creative talents professionally?

Leslie: A couple of years ago I was just working my 9-5 day job and was feeling rather restless.  I knew I HAD to do something creative.  I thought I would either take a comedy writing course or take an improvisation class, which I had done a lot of in college back in Arizona.  I remembered a friend of mine had taken a class at The Upright Citizens Brigade and I was familiar with the television program from the 90’s, but that was the extent of my knowledge of the theatre.  I decided that since I already spent 40+ hours a week in front of a computer I wanted to do something social and more active.  That is when I decided to try Upright Citizens Brigade and it has been the BEST decision I have ever made.

Kim: Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

Leslie: I started with short-form improv in Tucson.  My friends and I started a group called The Peanut Gallery and we would perform at this little dive bar.  Most of the time we were just performing for our parents and siblings who were kind enough to humor us and laugh at our scenes.  It was a lot of fun.

I have since taken all four levels of long-form improv training at The Upright Citizens Brigade.  After the 4th level you are eligible to take elective classes that focus on specific aspects of improv.  I will be taking my first elective class with Ian Roberts, one of the founding members of the theatre.  I am very excited for that.  I have also taken the first level of comedy sketch writing at UCB.  All of their classes compliment each other well and enforce UCB’s philosophy on comedy.

Kim: What has been your biggest obstacle to success?

Leslie: I would say my biggest obstacle to success has been myself.  In improv you are on stage and people are listening to what you are saying and they are waiting for you to say or do something funny.  You have to have an incredible amount of confidence to do this well.  I’m not there yet, but I am getting there.

Kim: How do you overcome challenges?

Leslie: There are definitely times when I wonder what I’m doing and think that maybe I shouldn’t be pursuing improv at all.  I overcome those challenges by going to see as many good improv and comedy shows as possible.  It is really inspiring to me to see people doing so many great and funny things.  There are no textbooks for improv.  You learn by watching and doing, so when I am feeling like maybe I picked the wrong thing to pursue, all I have to do is go to a good improv show and I am instantly reminded and refocused on my goals.

Kim: Watching those who inspire you and modeling great work are useful tips for others to follow. Do you have any favorite hobbies outside your creative endeavors?

Leslie: I have many hobbies outside of improv including, but not limited to: writing, drawing, painting, collage making, and blogging.  One of my biggest hobbies is photography.  I’m no expert photographer by any means, but I have easily taken over 1,000 pictures of shows I have seen at The Upright Citizens Brigade.  I think it comes mostly from my father who would always be snapping pictures at my birthday parties and various important events that he thought I might want to remember.  I like to take photos of the shows and post them on Facebook and tag the performers because I figure they might want to remember the time they spent on stage with friends.  In a way, I also see improv scenes like shapes in a kaleidoscope in the sense that once they form they will never happen that exact same way again.

Kim: Your creativity extends way beyond your current improv focus! What advice do you have for people just starting out?

Leslie: I would recommend anyone interested in learning improv take classes at UCB.  They are so supportive of their students and their performers.  All of their instructors and coaches know and understand all of the concepts they are teaching so well (and they are funny!), which creates the perfect environment to learn and the community of students and performers surrounding the theatre is unlike any other I have ever encountered in my life.  A lot of times, it feels like family.

Kim: What’s up next for you?

Leslie: Since I have finished taking the 4th level of improv, I will continue to try different electives when they come up.  I also meet with two improv teams regularly, once a week for two hours of practice with a UCB coach.  We perform at smaller shows around town including TNT, Room 101, Crashbar Improv, and The Improv Comedy Backspin at M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theatre.

Kim: Where can our readers find out more about your activities?

Leslie: I have two improv teams with Facebook pages.  One is called Bag of Bunnies and the other is an all-girl team called Shark Week. The next show for Shark Week will be at Room 101 on Wednesday, July 28th.  Check our Facebook page for details!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Therese Miu July 28, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hi Kim & Leslie,

Wonderful Interview! I am starting to look forward to your interview as it opens up to wonderful stories and creative outlets. I love how you pursued your passion Leslie with reckless abandonment and just WENT for it. Some people wait for their whole life for their ship to come in. I have been fascinated with the idea of courage lately. And the idea of blossoming into your highest potential. Thanks for being a true reflection of that.

Cheers to both of you. I truly love improv performances. And I will make sure to make the effort to attend very soon. I’ll sign up over on your fan page,.

Thank You! 🙂
Have a wonderful rest of the summer!
Therese Miu´s last blog post ..Accessing Your Inner Happiness &amp Dispelling The 2 Biggest Myths

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Kim July 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Hi Therese,

I’m happy that you enjoyed Leslie’s interview! Your comment confirms that ‘wonderful stories’ inspire 🙂 I’m sure Leslie and the groups she works with would be thrilled if you were to check them out.

Thank you for stopping by!

Reply

rob white July 29, 2010 at 9:26 am

Hi Leslie & Kim,

What an interesting and unique endeavor. You really got off the sidelines and are fully participating in the game of life. It is so easy to get caught in the drift of life and do what is safe… you chose to listen to that voice inside that encourages you to express yourself fully and authentically… and that is always the right decision.

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Kim July 29, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Hi Rob,

From my heart, your unique stamp of approval intrigues and inspires. Indeed, Leslie’s actions speak to ‘fully participating in the game of life.’ Creativity lends itself to authentic expression.

Be in touch 😉

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