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Concussion Star Sara Lindsey: “We don’t live in a homogenous culture, so why would we create homogenous art?”

I believe art should reflect and expand upon life. Diversity in art is important because life is diverse. It makes the stories we tell as filmmakers more accurate, relatable, and accessible to everyone. And definitely more entertaining. To me there is no other option. We don’t live in a homogenous culture, so why would we […]


I believe art should reflect and expand upon life. Diversity in art is important because life is diverse. It makes the stories we tell as filmmakers more accurate, relatable, and accessible to everyone. And definitely more entertaining. To me there is no other option. We don’t live in a homogenous culture, so why would we create homogenous art?


As a part of my series about the rising stars of pop culture, I had the pleasure to interview Sara Lindsey. Sara is best known for her work opposite Will Smith in the Sony Pictures film Concussion. Other feature films include working opposite Viola Davis in Don’t Back Down, opposite Frances McDormand for director Gus Van Sant in Promised Land and with Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. More recently she co-wrote and starred in the feature film Blue Jay and she can currently be seen starring in Please Come with Me which she also wrote and produced.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Sara! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up outside of Baltimore, MD in a town called Ellicott City. My parents both worked in medicine and my mom was very supportive of my extracurricular activities: theater, music, and dance. I attended public school and then went on to study acting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I feel extremely grateful to have always known that I wanted to act and be a performer. That clarity has been one of the greatest gifts of my life! A story that got me there, however, is when I was six years old and told my mom about my plans. We were at a family gathering, and I remember other people at the party saying how hard it was to be an actor, that it was so competitive, et cetera. And my mom just leaned down and said, “Somebody’s gotta do it!” Those words have served me well.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

That depends on your definition of ‘interesting’! I’ve had a lot of experiences in this business that have felt serendipitous or magical. One of the more interesting discoveries has been the influence of the work I’ve made myself on getting legit jobs in television and film. The projects that I have contributed to the making of — Blue Jay, 5 Pilgrims, liam reeves, and most recently Please Come With Me — have all helped me get other jobs in one way or another. Either producers saw footage from those pieces and decided I would be able to do the job in their project because of it, or doing that role or film gave me the confidence to know that I could act in a big movie or show… The work I’ve made myself has benefitted me in this business in many interesting ways.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Yikes. Not many of the mistakes I’ve made in my life are funny. I always learn from them, though! One funnier experience happened my first day on a film set. I booked a small role in Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, and I knew it was a big deal, but I had no clue what it really meant or what would happen on set. My call time was something very insane, 5am or 5:45am, and I remember getting to the location even earlier because I was so nervous about being late. I didn’t know that movie sets had coffee or food (craft service), so I stopped at the only place that was open and close by for a cup of coffee, which was a 24-hour bar where you could smoke inside and buy lottery tickets. Let’s just say it was visceral. I killed time there for about a half hour until I went to set, at which point people asked me what I would like for breakfast and how I take my coffee. Since I had eaten breakfast when I left the house at 3:30am, I passed, but it was hilarious for me to experience the realities of being on a set in real time with no expectations. All I knew how to do was act, so I figured that’s what we would be doing! And we did… maybe about 5 hours later, after I went through hair and makeup, rehearsal, and a giant dolly move being set up and choreographed. I guess the lessons there were: there’s (usually) coffee on set, and when you arrive there is (usually) still a lot to do before you start shooting.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m working on a short film about two sisters escaping a cult in which they grew up. We shot it last month and are in post now. I’m also pregnant and that project has been both very interesting and very exciting. The kid is due later this summer and my partner and I are gearing up.

I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I believe art should reflect and expand upon life. Diversity in art is important because life is diverse. It makes the stories we tell as filmmakers more accurate, relatable, and accessible to everyone. And definitely more entertaining. To me there is no other option. We don’t live in a homogenous culture, so why would we create homogenous art?

From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

Listen to women and people from minority groups when they speak. Don’t speak over women or people from minority groups. Don’t interrupt women or people from minority groups when they are in the middle of a sentence. And while we’re at it, don’t interrupt anyone when they are in the middle of a sentence. Your time will come!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. No one is thinking about your career as much as you are. If you want to make a change, be it your representation, headshots, or specific skills, you have to find ways to do that yourself. Your manager/mom/best friend isn’t going to think about your career as strategically as you are. MAYBE your therapist… But not as much as you!

2. Try to separate work and life as much as you can. There is inevitable overlap, but I have found a lot of peace in cultivating a separation.

3. On that note, sometimes people are better colleagues than they are lovers/boyfriends/girlfriends. Before you dive in to the latter, think about whether or not it is worth (most-likely) ruining your professional relationship if the romantic one doesn’t work out.

4. Basically keep things as professional as you can at all times. But still be fun and cool. It’s a delicate balance. #metoo

5. Know your strengths and play to them. Know your weaknesses and strengthen them. But, lean into those strengths — the things you have that no one else does.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Burn out is real. I was numb to it in my earlier years. I have an extremely positive outlook (“Somebody’s gotta do it!”), so I find that really helpful. The more you succumb to your negative voices, the harder things will be for you, and the more you will burn out. A good therapist is not to be forgotten. Emphasis on good.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel like this is a question in one of the democratic candidate debates — but for me, the movement is protecting the environment. Greenhouse gases and emissions. Single-Use Plastics. Climate Change is real. Believe the scientists.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mom for sure. She passed away three years ago and her cheerleading and encouragement were so helpful to me as I was just starting out. Also, Donna Belajac, the casting director who cast me in my first major projects. I love her like a second mother!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Talent + Perseverance = Luck” -Steven Soderbergh. It’s an equation that makes sense. It takes both talent and the will to keep going to succeed in life and in work.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Let’s go with Steven Soderbergh. I have a lot of questions for him and would kill to work with him. Both a great breakfast and a good career move. See rule #1 in my list of 5 rules. Is he taggable?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram and Facebook @mssaralindsey

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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