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Lily Shaw: The Rising Star

Mar/07/2022 / by Pratika Yashaswi
lily shaw
Image credits: Stephanie Girard Photography and Joanna DeGeneres Photography

Based in LA, Lily Shaw is an up and coming, explosive new personality on the entertainment and motivational speaking scene. A performer described as a “powerhouse actress” and a “knockout talent,” she has acted on screen with well-known personalities such as Kal Penn, Pooja Batra and Gulshan Grover. She is also a stage actress. Her notable work includes a reprisal of Tim Roth’s role as Ms. Orange in an all-female adaptation of Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.”

A model student with straight-As and active in extra-curricular activities, Shaw was planning to be a journalist while nurturing a strong desire to be an actress. While having the conversation with her parents was hard (hello, Indian immigrant family!), she found herself on the way to LA ready to set upon her dream less than a week after graduating (with honors!).

An enthusiastic and well-loved podcast guest, Shaw is a rising star worth watching.

You can listen to her inspiring live shows on www.instagram.com/iamlilyshaw and read her on https://medium.com/@lilyshaw3

Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up, what was it like?

I was born and raised in India, and emigrated to the US with my family when I was teenager.

I was a straight-A, pretty responsible student who loved to keep herself busy with extracurricular activities. I loved watching movies and copying dance moves of my favorite actresses, and was an avid reader. I read everything from “Pride and Prejudice” to Hardy Boys to Mills & Boon, was a big dreamer, and absolutely an idealist harboring lofty notions about living “happily-ever-after.”

As I grew up, my love for dancing as a child somehow morphed into a love for acting and I decided to become an actress. Only I wasn’t a model, was fat,  didn’t know anybody in the business, nor had any idea on how to go about becoming one. But I was completely captivated by movies, and no matter how hard I tried to live in the real world, I could never shake off the desire to perform, as this was the thing that brought me pure, unadulterated joy.

Was your family supportive of the choices you made to get into a creative career? What was it like telling them? How did it go?

Actually it was something I had wanted to tell my family since I was 14. But every single time, life kept changing and kept getting in the way. It was obviously not an easy conversation, especially to have with a middle-class Indian mother.

But now my family is my rock. They are committed to help me through this, and to stick with me till the end. They really want to be there when I finally make my mark on the world in the way I desire, not in the way others have forced me to.

You’re an actor, writer, as well as a motivational speaker. What got you into these activities?

Well, my path to acting started in childhood… though I wasn’t fully aware of it.

Becoming a writer and a speaker happened completely by accident, during the COVID lockdown. As the world shut down, everybody scrambled to find a way forward in their lives. For me, it became expressing my life’s journey: its trials and tribulations through sharing my own story and hoping to empower people who also had felt thrown-about and left behind by the system.

From your press kit: “…inspires audiences to use their voice, own their gifts, and authentically become who they were born to be..” Why is authenticity and alignment important to you?

Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

When living our lives through the connection of this spark, we can joyously and positively impact the world around us, by elevating ourselves and reaching for the stars, rather than pulling everyone into the gutter.

We get to create our own standard, and what’s more we get to meet it. Authentic living brings out true power, a power that can’t be challenged or questioned, but rather respected, admired, and emulated.

What was it like acting closely with well-known celebrities like Gulshan Grover and Kal Penn?

Actually, I’ve worked very closely with Pooja Batra Shah in my first Punjabi movie, “Killer Punjabi.” She was just a very lovely, very supportive person. She freely helped me and offered me advice, and also helped me dress right! One of my most treasured memories as an actress is the two of us dancing together on the streets of “Las Vegas” for our song “Chak de phatte.” It was just super fun:) I met and talked to Gulshanji, who was just super down to earth and super humble. It was really weird for me, as I had only known from the movies as a “bad guy.” But he was incredibly collaborative and supportive. I hope to work with him again in the future, now that I’m a little more experienced and wouldn’t make a total fool of myself!

When you envision yourself being where you want to be at the peak of your career, where are you? What would you like to be known for?

This is a tough one to answer. As somebody who’s endured a lot of unexpected twists and turns in her life, I have a difficult time defining goals and agendas that are five or ten years away.

What I can confidently say is that I’ll always be a fierce voice for women’s empowerment and for social justice… I want to keep working towards what Dr. King has called “bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice.”

I fully intend on being a force to reckon with, using my creative and entrepreneurial voice, skills, and talents, hoping to reframe and redefine what it means to be successful.

What were the trials and tribulations that set you upon your path to become a motivational speaker focused on alignment and authenticity?

The trials and tribulations really came from the path of becoming an actress.

My first film/TV agent, while appreciating my natural acting talent and skill dismissed my chances of ever succeeding with this succinct observation, “If only you had the right look, you could be Sandra Bullock,” basically saying that if I was ‘white’ I would have had a much better chance of making it as an actress in Hollywood.

I can now say that I was fortunate enough to have the courage and the belief to keep listening to my inner voice. And whenever I faltered, my family stood up right by me and lifted me up.

Dr. Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’ and this is why I’m now a motivational speaker. I hope people can hear my story and feel empowered to first connect with their light, and then shine it bright.

Seema

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