The Beauty of Being True to Your “Self”
“[It’s] really all about the first 30 seconds, no matter what you do afterwards…[if] they don’t like you, no matter how good you are they’re not going to cast you…it’s about coming in and owning the room the second you walk in the door.”
Some people take decades to figure out who they are and what they’re born to do. Not so with American comedian, Lea DeLaria. As a rebellious and very funny child with something to say, she was a force to be reckoned with, disrupting the status quo in her unstoppable need to be who she is. In this episode, DeLaria talks about her lifelong determination to express herself with honesty and integrity, and to speak up and speak out as an openly gay performer.
Lea DeLaria (born May 23, 1958) is an American comedian, actress, and jazz singer. She was the first openly gay comic to appear on American television with her appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1993. She is best known for her role as Carrie “Big Boo” Black on Orange Is the New Black. Born in Illinois, her standup career began in 1982 when she moved to San Francisco. She has an extensive career in numerous films and television shows, and as a powerful singer in musical revues and comedies, and Entertainment Weekly said “a star is born” for her “showstopping” performance in the 1998 Broadway revival of On the Town. As a recipient of the Equality Illinois Freedom Award, DeLaria said, “As an out performer for over 33 years who has made it her life’s work to change people’s perception of butch, queer and LGBT, it is an honor for me to receive such recognition from my home state. I feel I’m doing Belleville proud. Go Maroons!”.
What You’ll Learn from This Episode:
- About DeLaria’s Catholic working-class childhood
- Some of her colourful experiences at school
- Why she was performing original comedy as a teen
- Her experience as a singer/dancer on Mississippi River showboats
- Why she ended up in San Francisco and how this changed her life
- How working in construction was similar to performing standup
- The life-changing interview that landed her on the Arsenio Hall Show
- The three “feeding-frenzy” experiences that have shaped her career
- DeLaria’s special connection with Andy Griffith
- How Orange is the New Black changed her life in 24 hours
- Why she has become less confrontational in recent years