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Laura Hand: “I don’t give to get. I give so it grows”

I believe that any success that I personally receive is meant to be illuminated back upon the world in which I seek to give hope and light. I feel thankful to have an incredible team in my company, Hand Made Productions. I believe it is not only what we create, but with whom we create […]

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I believe that any success that I personally receive is meant to be illuminated back upon the world in which I seek to give hope and light. I feel thankful to have an incredible team in my company, Hand Made Productions. I believe it is not only what we create, but with whom we create and for that, I am so grateful to be creating with people who believe in making a positive impact in this world. My partner, Tom Sebastian, has been part of this journey every step of the way, believing and having faith in what we create. He is one of the partners in Hand Made Productions along with the rest of the incredible team including Ken Hertz, Chris Kelly, Mark Itkin, Liz Heller, Cari Davine, and Cecilia Marihart. Our first project, The Tent Mender, was created in collaboration with the amazing team at P&G led by Marc Pritchard and Kimberly Doebereiner. The series focuses on shining the light on stories of homeless individuals, specifically those on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. The key part of this series is to illustrate that we all need mending and we are more alike than we are different.


As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Hand, founder and creative development co-lead of Hand Made Productions, a production company dedicated to illustrating stories that move hearts to open minds to create tangible change. Prior to Hand Made Productions, Laura Hand was a professional ballerina having danced with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. Upon retiring, she now uses her voice in writing, acting, directing, and stand-up comedy appearing regularly at The Comedy Store.


Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

Growing up as a classical ballerina, I have been a storyteller from a very young age. I witnessed the power of storytelling as a vehicle to move people emotionally and intellectually. I saw stories as the key to touching our hearts and thus unlocking and opening our minds. When I left the ballet world, I fully invested myself into the written word and the moving picture to convey stories that matter. I think it is the stories we illustrate that shape our culture and thus our future.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

My partner, Tom Sebastian, and I flew up to Peter Coyote’s house for the day. When we showed him the opening scene of The Tent Mender in which the Tent Mender nearly relapses, Peter audibly gasped. Due to the fact that he has done heroin in his past, his reaction was surprising to us. It made Tom and I both look at each other and think, ‘Ah. We’ve got something here’.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Working with Peter Coyote on The Tent Mender has been one of the most deepening experiences for me as a storyteller. Not only is he a brilliant writer, but he is also a brilliant speaker. I remember being at his house the very first time I met him and hearing him read the words that I had written; I felt like I was watching little trumpet players march out of his mouth as he spoke the words from the page. Truly. I felt like I was watching the words come to life and play out into the world right before my very eyes. It was so incredible to witness. It was a chilling moment that I’ll always cherish.

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

We are finishing up The Tent Mender right now. In the meantime, I am developing a new docufiction series surrounding stories of redemption and justice. In a moment of global divisions, I think that forgiveness is so imperative to illustrate.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I am inspired by people who use their gifts to give to others. People like Dorothy Day or Walt Disney or Billie Holiday. They took the unique gift that they had been given and used it to give something to the world.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

I believe that any success that I personally receive is meant to be illuminated back upon the world in which I seek to give hope and light. I feel thankful to have an incredible team in my company, Hand Made Productions. I believe it is not only what we create, but with whom we create and for that, I am so grateful to be creating with people who believe in making a positive impact in this world. My partner, Tom Sebastian, has been part of this journey every step of the way, believing and having faith in what we create. He is one of the partners in Hand Made Productions along with the rest of the incredible team including Ken Hertz, Chris Kelly, Mark Itkin, Liz Heller, Cari Davine, and Cecilia Marihart. Our first project, The Tent Mender, was created in collaboration with the amazing team at P&G led by Marc Pritchard and Kimberly Doebereiner. The series focuses on shining the light on stories of homeless individuals, specifically those on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. The key part of this series is to illustrate that we all need mending and we are more alike than we are different.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

Realizing that we have all been given a very unique gift in this life is actually a gift in it of itself. And I think when we realize what that gift is and how we can use it to give to others, we brink upon manifestation. I learned very early on that I am a storyteller. I do that through many different mediums, whether it is dancing, writing, directing or acting, I am always telling stories. And as I progress, I refine my storytelling abilities while also carefully curating the stories that I believe need to be told.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

The story of The Tent Mender was actually started by my encounter with a woman that I was serving at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row. Her name was Rose and she was about 70 years old. I remember one Saturday morning after serving breakfast, I went and sat with her. And she said to me, ‘This Christmas morning, I will remember this meal and the light in your face and feel full’. I was just so moved. I told her in that moment that I will be forever changed by her. And she said, ‘Don’t give me credit. I don’t give to get. I give so it grows’. And that’s been a mantra for me going forward. ‘I don’t give to get. I give so it grows’

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

I think one of the most important things we individually can do as a society is to treat one another with respect and dignity. I think it does come down to our individual actions that become the collective force to build a movement and thus a body of empathetic and compassionate people. Essentially, we can all be a tent mender within our own communities.

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. Don’t give to get. Give so it grows: This goes back to my encounter with Rose
  2. Trust the process: There are so many moments that we will not be able to control, so we need to be able do our very best within what we can control and then trust in what we cannot control.
  3. Empower the people around you: I think we are at our best when we are helping others to be at their best. I think that comes from helping people around us to reach their full capacity. So, in my pursuit to be my best, I aim to help others do so as well.
  4. Don’t give up: It sounds so cliche, but it’s so true. There are always going to be obstacles, but if we can somehow allow them to move us and propel us forward, then we never have to worry about getting stuck or being stagnant. I believe fluidity, malleability, and agility are essential in our creative pursuits.
  5. Learn from everyone: I love learning, most especially from the unexpected sources. I have a one year old and a five year old nephew and those two little dudes teach me so much about life…patience being a big one!

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Instead of telling someone what to do, I think I would pose this thought. The world is going to keep moving once we are not here. So. How can you make your life matter while you are here so that you can leave the world a little bit better than when you entered it?

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Oprah has been an inspiration to me for so long. Not only is she not bound by one medium through which to express, but she is also not bound by one conversation through which to have. I admire her curiosity and openness to people and the growth in the human story at large.

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

Dorothy Day once said, ‘We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community’. For me, this speaks a huge lesson to my life. I am a very independent person and most often, I will just try to do it on my own. But I have learned that the source of all that matters is love and that can only exist in community. Therefore, without people, what’s the point of what we are doing?

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: lauralizhand

My company: Hand Made Productions

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!


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