Roni Weissman: “Leadership is taking responsibility”

As an immigrant, I bring different colors and perspectives to this industry. I feel like a lot of projects from around the globe are getting more and more recognition BECAUSE they are different. The world has so many different people in it, and they all should be represented. As a part of my series about […]

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As an immigrant, I bring different colors and perspectives to this industry. I feel like a lot of projects from around the globe are getting more and more recognition BECAUSE they are different. The world has so many different people in it, and they all should be represented.

As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Roni Weissman. Roni is an actress, writer, and executive producer who is best known for her work on White Brick Road, Skyrim — The Elder Scrolls Legends and the Last Shepherd.

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

Thank you for having me! I’ve always loved entertaining friends and family. I even remember when I was a child I used to dress up and perform for my family. I had the craziest stories to tell. I’m very happy that my path in life has to lead me to continue telling stories; hopefully, important stories that make an impact on audiences.

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

I’d say the most interesting story is how I discovered my one true passion: acting.

When I first went to a theater class, I wasn’t sure it was for me because all we did was “theater games.”

It was mostly improv with your body and voice, and not much of anything else. But, at the end of the year, we went on stage with a play and, as soon as my feet touched that old wooden stage, I fell in love!

Unfortunately, it was very bad! I was trying too hard; it looked fake. As a matter of fact, I was so bad that the director had to write a role specifically for me — as the cleaner. Seriously, I had four lines as the cleaner of the tavern.

My heart broke when I heard the feedback from the audience, my family and my teacher. They all suggested that I should find another passion. Honestly, I would have given the same feedback to myself as well. In the end, it drove me to work and train harder so that I could become a great actress.

It took me three years and many attempts to get into an acting school, but I finally made it.

Long story short, my passion drove me past my hurting ego. I learned how to really BE, and not how to “act”.

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 gosh. I’ve made so many mistakes starting out. I can tell you what I learned from my mistakes. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! If your gut feeling screams at you to pass on something, or go for something — do it! I can’t stress it enough. I had an experience with someone whom I thought was a friend. I won’t go into details, but I felt something was off, and didn’t listen to my gut feeling. Luckily, no real harm was done, and thanks to that experience — I learned how to avoid it. A lot of people will tell you a lot of things that you want to hear. Some of them may be good; some may have hidden intentions.

Same for acting — you read a scene and immediately you feel something. It’s how you, your body, your brain digest these words, and usually, that’s your truth.

Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

Of course! I’m glad you asked that. I’m developing a TV show that focuses on a woman with Asperger’s syndrome. It’s not only about the Asperger’s; it’s about the difference between people, cultures, and backgrounds. I feel like this show will not only be entertaining, but it will also give audiences a new perspective. For instance, maybe there’s a person in your life that is a bit strange or speaks with a different accent, or they have different views than you, but that person could be an amazing artist, or mathematician, or the inventor of the cure for Alzheimer’s.

My show, White Brick Road is about the hidden potential within all of us.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

I have a friend. I won’t say their name. When I told them about White Brick Road and showed them the proof of concept, they became emotional. Not because the short film was great, but because the subject matter I’m putting out there is important.

I feel like they connected to the part of feeling alienated or misunderstood the most. I feel like all of us can relate to that. My friend is very excited to see this on Netflix. And I promised him I’ll pitch it to them, which is about to happen! Yay!

As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articleaute this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

As an immigrant, I bring different colors and perspectives to this industry. I feel like a lot of projects from around the globe are getting more and more recognition BECAUSE they are different. The world has so many different people in it, and they all should be represented. Why?

  1. Because there might be another perspective for us to consider when dealing with a certain matter/subject.
  2. Because the world has many colors, ideas, beliefs, rules, principles and such.
  3. Because it will be much more fun and interesting, don’t you agree?

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is taking responsibility. I served in the military and was a lieutenant. I was in charge of soldiers and whenever there was an issue — I was the person who had to take responsibility and fix that issue. I don’t consider myself as a natural-born leader, but I do like to create projects and bring them to life — I’m a creator, and I bring people together to create this magical thing we call movies.

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. 🙂

A movement to be kinder. I wish there was at least one day a week, where we had to help a stranger, strike up a conversation without feeling awkward (or creepy), etc. There’s a homeless man near a café I like to go to. I passed by him for a year before building up the courage to say hello. Not too long after that day, we started talking. He is such a kind and intelligent man. Always reading. Always wants to just talk. Never asks for money. And it breaks my heart every time I have to leave him to get back to my business.

If there were more people who just went and talked to him… that’s all he wants. Be kinder.

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

One of my favorite artists is Bruce Lee. He said many powerful things, and one of them was: “The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus”. Another one I really like is: “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

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. 🙂

Meryl Streep. She is such an interesting individual and her path is incredible. She also seems like a very sweet person and she must have plenty of insights about life, films, and acting.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You’re welcome to follow me on Instagram: @roni_weissman

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Thank you for this opportunity!

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