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Rising Star Erika Santosuosso: “Being confident in your abilities and not waiting for others to tell you “yes” is extremely empowering; it’s created a positive power shift in my relationships with casting directors, agents, other filmmakers, etc”

This is less of a story and more of a general observation — but since shifting to production I’ve noticed a change in how I’m addressed as a creative. Being confident in your abilities and not waiting for others to tell you “yes” has been extremely empowering, and it’s created a positive power shift in my relationships […]


This is less of a story and more of a general observation — but since shifting to production I’ve noticed a change in how I’m addressed as a creative. Being confident in your abilities and not waiting for others to tell you “yes” has been extremely empowering, and it’s created a positive power shift in my relationships with casting directors, agents, other filmmakers, etc… Ironically enough, becoming a producer is the best thing that’s happened to my acting career!


As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erika Santosuosso, second in command at Shakedown Productions, up-and-coming producer and performer. Erika is known for her passionate approach to producing. She’s a true collaborator and brings an unparalleled energy to her projects whether she’s behind the scenes, in front of the camera, or on stage.


Thank you so much for joining us Erika! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Well, originally I was an actress, and while I still dabble when the role is right, I found that acting wasn’t scratching the collaborative itch the way I needed it to. I became a producer because I love working on a team, and I always do my best work when it’s part of a collaborative effort.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

This is less of a story and more of a general observation — but since shifting to production I’ve noticed a change in how I’m addressed as a creative. Being confident in your abilities and not waiting for others to tell you “yes” has been extremely empowering, and it’s created a positive power shift in my relationships with casting directors, agents, other filmmakers, etc… Ironically enough, becoming a producer is the best thing that’s happened to my acting career!

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?

OH BOY. I feel like most of my mistakes were borderline traumatic, being a perfectionist and all…. All of my early mistakes were caused by one thing: STRESS. So I’ve learned to not panic in a crisis… things will always be solved somehow.

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

Right now I’m executive producing a short film via my production company called “The Edge”. The team is absolutely INCREDIBLE (dir. Laura Moss, producers Alexandra Rose and Desireé Abeyta, and writers JJ Condon and Brendan O’Brien). We begin in a world where an epidemic of strange and unexplained disappearances haunt everyday life. Our protagonist is a young man living in the midst of this terror. Slowly, we begin to question. Can these disappearances be stopped, or is the truth even more dangerous than he realizes? Our aim as a team is to bring audiences into the experience of someone in the throes of untreated mental illness, written and acted by an artist who himself has struggled with with obsessive compulsions & intrusive thoughts. Production will begin late this summer and we are PSYCHED to toss it at the festival circuit next year.

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

I think everyone I’ve worked with has been interesting in their own way… but I don’t have anything particularly interesting to report for this one.

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

1. Literally CARVE TIME out of your schedule for proper recharge and self care.

2. TAKE YOUR TIME. Your project deserves it.

3. Be a collaborator. Give other people credit where credit is due. Don’t be selfish or stand on the shoulders of giants. It won’t serve you in the long run.

4. DO THINGS BECAUSE YOU LOVE TO DO THEM. I sing in two cover bands. Does it directly affect my career? No — but it fills my soul, it makes me feel connected to people, and it makes me happy. It helps me “enjoy the ride” when the road feels bumpy.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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 would love to work on a documentary about Attachment Theory in toxic relationships….
  • I’d also love to do one on intrusive thoughts and mental illness…
  • But as of late, I’d love to work on something centered on saving the planet… because we are murdering our ecosystems and it’s very scary and that literally applies to every living thing on this planet.
  • Basically I want to work more on docs, haha.

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

“It’s a long game”. The second I was able to accept that true success takes time, dedication, and a true love for the work, my life and career blossomed.

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?

I’m grateful to everyone who has ever done anything for me… so this is hard. I’ll pick two though.

1. Heidi Marshall — director/acting coach/former casting director. Heidi is the person who helped give me the courage to dip my toe in filmmaking. She’s my filmmaking equivalent of a “drag mom”. I literally would have nothing I have now without her constant support. She’s an angel.

2. Thora Birch. I’ve always been an enormous fan of hers, and a few years back she and I briefly corresponded via email. She acted as a soundboard for me, offered me advice, and also gave me the courage to take my career into my own hands. It meant the world to have someone I looked up to since I was little be so kind and so reassuring. And how cool is it to have one of your heroes surprise you like that? Blessed!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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 see this. 🙂

Oh my GOD this is a hard question. John Cameron Mitchell is my personal hero. He’s literally everything I strive to be. So I’d have to say him…. But a close second would be Rose McGowan. She’s such a badass and I would die to pick her brain.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Yes please! Instagram @_erikakire_

Or just google me. My name is so specific!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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