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Cybil Lake: “Rejection has been my greatest teacher”

Rejection has been my greatest teacher. Rejection has compelled me to push harder, get better, be resilient. As an actor, I’ve not gotten the roles that I’ve wanted. So I decided to make my own film; to act, direct, write. So even though my film is tiny I want to dedicate this film to people […]

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Rejection has been my greatest teacher. Rejection has compelled me to push harder, get better, be resilient. As an actor, I’ve not gotten the roles that I’ve wanted. So I decided to make my own film; to act, direct, write. So even though my film is tiny I want to dedicate this film to people who work and work and still feel unseen, unrecognized. I want to say — I see you. Or maybe those people who have a dream but are afraid to follow it — I say go after it.

I love telling stories, embodying them. I love sharing my truths and also my ‘make-believes’! Stories and characters can change your life, or maybe your day, or even just your mood. Entertainment brings joy, light, laughter, and exhilaration to the world. And sometimes, there are secret lessons braided into the stories that maybe inspire us a bit.


As part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cybil Lake, an actor and filmmaker who has significant experience in the TV and film world. Her TV credits include The Black List with James Spader on NBC, The Following with Kevin Bacon on Fox, Show Me a Hero, directed by Academy Award Winner Paul Haggis for HBO. She has written, directed, and acted in numerous shorts, including An Echo Remains, which she screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Jane the Stalker was her first feature film that she starred in and directed. This premiered in New York City at the Anthology Film Archives Theater. She has written eight feature screenplays. Cybil was selected by NBC for a new filmmaker’s program, The Screening Room in 2010. She’s a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she majored in film and acting.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Growing up in Rhode Island, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time at the beach. To me, the beach is super fun and dare I say a super spiritual place to be. In front of the ocean, I feel most alive, connected, exhilarated! I have a loving family and my parents encouraged my creativity. Though they had no idea how long the creative path can be…and how arduous. Early on in school, I was selected for being creative…and dramatic. I was the cliche; the lead in my high school plays, donning a beret, writing poems, reciting them. I went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts and acted in everyone’s films and my own.

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

What brought me? I am tempted to say before I was born, some part of my life path was already predetermined. But, that doesn’t mean it was actualized for a long long time…In fact, I think many folks know what they were meant to do on this earth, but never pursue it. As a little girl, I knew I wanted to be an actor and writer. It almost caused me pain to see young actors on the screen, like Drew Barrymore in E.T. and Firestarter. That’s what I want to be doing, my heart cried. I loved organizing friends to do dance routines and planned ‘shows’ for my parents in the living room. I never had any confusion about what career path I wanted. I’ve always loved acting and writing equally. Writing may come a little easier for me, but acting is more exciting and fulfilling in the moment. I made a feature film in my twenties and got discouraged when it wasn’t received the way that I had hoped and walked away from film and tv for a while. But, it reeled me back in.

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

The most interesting thing is that my body changed so many times while shooting Central Park Dark. I was pregnant during principal photography and was just barely starting to show. Then, when we were doing reshoots, I was super pregnant with a giant belly so I wrote new mythology. Even later in the editing process, when it came time to do a bit more shooting, I was pregnant a second time and again starting to show.

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?

When I was really young, I realized that I am not a singer. Let’s just leave it at that! It was excruciating and the lesson was “I can’t do everything.”

None of us can 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?

I wish I had had a mentor, or a manager, or a producer or agent who did! I am grateful that Tom Sizemore agreed to make this film. He saw my vision and repeated tells folks how talented. He lets everyone know and I appreciate that.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Rejection has been my greatest teacher. Rejection has compelled me to push harder, get better, be resilient. As an actor, I’ve not gotten the roles that I’ve wanted. So I decided to make my own film; to act, direct, write. So even though my film is tiny I want to dedicate this film to people who work and work and still feel unseen, unrecognized. I want to say — I see you. Or maybe those people who have a dream but are afraid to follow it — I say go after it.

What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

I love telling stories, embodying them. I love sharing my truths and also my ‘make-believes’! Stories and characters can change your life, or maybe your day, or even just your mood. Entertainment brings joy, light, laughter, and exhilaration to the world. And sometimes, there are secret lessons braided into the stories that maybe inspire us a bit.

What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

More opportunities for older women. They are the greatest actors.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Hopefully, many more amazing acting roles in film and TV. Also, I’d love a team to help get my work out there.

And what’s next is Central Park Dark is being released on Amazon and iTunes on February 2, 2021, by High Octane Pictures.

Also, I have written a thriller feature film, White Lies and Darker Ones. Nina, a mother who seeks revenge for her daughter’s death, instead uncovers her small town’s darkest secrets including those within her own marriage.

Additionally, I’ve written and shot a sizzle reel for Bicoastal. Bicoastal is a fish out of water dramedy about a New Yorker who moves to LA to become a talent agent while struggling to stay sober, reconnect with her husband, and find forgiveness. Also, I wrote a tv show called Moontown that takes place on the moon.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

3 reasons: Diversity gives us 1. a wider spectrum of stories. 2. makes us looks within. 3. Diversity challenges audiences.

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. Success is an inside job. Only you can help you feel like a success. Nowadays, being a success to me is being kind to others and not only thinking about yourself. This may be because I’m a mother now and it’s no longer about just me. I also have learned that I need to be doing creative work to feel good, to feel like a success. I used to think that success is doing what you love professionally but that made me feel bad because I wasn’t always doing what I loved professionally. So I changed my definition of success entirely. It’s about being kind to others and doing what you love.

2. If you don’t enjoy the process, you are in the wrong game. I ask myself sometimes when I am doing things (and when I remember), is there a way that I can enjoy this process even more? Again, because I have experienced a lot of failures, I had to readjust my perspective and make sure that I’m doing things because I want or love to do them.

3. The process is the reward. The reward of making my most recent film was definitely the process — not the end product of the film itself. Not the distribution deal that I received. My fruits are learning to persevere. To complete. I think that’s where you really discover who you are. Sometimes, you’re an entirely different person at the end of a project than you were when you started it. I know I am.

4. “No means not today.” I just heard this recently. When I was younger, I didn’t know just how to persist you have to be to really move forward with your dreams. Now, when I hear no, I say “Okay, mind if I check back next week?” Or something similar.

5. Choose yourself! Advocate for yourself way more. Change your own luck. “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” — Buddha. Decades ago, I memorized this quote and reciting it made me seem wise, but I think I was still holding out. Holding out, still believing that someone else could and would change my luck. Recently, an interviewer asked me if I ever had a ‘Hail Mary’ sort of moment in reference to my emerging career. I can’t say I ever have. No, first I had to look up what a hail mary was. Ha! Then I realized that sadly I never really had one…YET! It’s coming! What I have experienced are little moments of growth. Inch by inch…Try your best to work on your self, your soul. Meditate. Be alone. Be still. Choose you.

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices, or treatments that you do to help your body, mind, or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

Great question! I meditate at least once a day for a long time. At least twenty minutes. I started meditating when I was 12 which was the same year I became a vegetarian. I’ve written a book partially about meditation it’s one of my biggest passions in the world. Want to change anything in your life? Start meditating. End of story. Want to change your mind? Meditate. You get my point. If I don’t meditate, I become a fearful, bitter, crazy person. I simply can’t be that person. For any extended period of time.

I exercise almost every day. Probably 6 out of 7 days a week from half to an hour.

At this point, I’m so used to exercising that if I don’t do it, I feel like I’m going to crawl out of my skin. Lately. I’ve been experiencing some free-floating anxiety — and the only exercise can rid me of it.

Besides prayers and meditation, I start the day with gratitude. I thank the world for one more day. It’s not guaranteed to everyone. I go through a list of what I’m grateful for at least twice a day.

Being in nature is a must for me. The ocean, the mountains, the woods, but mostly the ocean.

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

I’m a lover and collector of quotes and I have many memorized.

“Being is the vast affirmative.” This is one of my favorite quotes from my absolute favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is such an amazing line. To me, it’s saying — you’re alive — this is it!!!

I’ve harped on rejection a bit today so I will bring this one up again by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Never mind the ridicule, never mind the defeat, up again, old heart! — it seems to say, — there is victory yet for all justice; and the true romance which the world exists to realize, will be the transformation of genius into practical power.” This is his impassioned plea to us through the ages. The genius into practical power can be simply interpreted as your own inspiration into fruition. As an artist, this quote is gold.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

― Paulo Coelho

Also, Buddha of course. “Be a light unto yourself” — Buddha

You are a person of huge 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?

WOW! A movement of love, acceptance, and creative expression. It has to start with self-love, and self-acceptance, of course. Meditation and spiritual practices are the main channels to get there. There’s no easier path. It is the easier path!

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens! Oprah

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

instragram.com/cybillake

https://www.facebook.com/cybillake

twitter.com/cybillake

www.cybillake.com

www.centralparkdark.com

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6481102/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!


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