“If you are persistent and have the will to dream big, you have to activate it, you have to get up and do it,” said Elementary star Lucy Liu to eight Reel Works teens who were fortunate to be her guests on set at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.
Actor, director, fine artist – and native New Yorker – Liu took time out from shooting her popular CBS series to meet and share her story with our filmmakers. Growing up poor in an immigrant family in Queens, Liu faced resistance from her parents over her choice to pursue acting as a career. When she came to Hollywood after college, she encountered racism and persistent stereotypes in the roles available to Asian actors.
“We are all survivors,” she said to the teens whom she met in the Police Station set at Silvercup Studio 3. Disappointments and setbacks are guaranteed, she warned them. When she first started auditioning for roles she thought of each audition as a lottery ticket. “Don’t let setbacks get you down.” Eventually, “your lottery ticket will win.”
“Her words were so inspiring,” said Camryn Garrett, who is completing her second film at Reel Works Fall 2015 Lab workshop, “but our conversation was so personal. She was honest and lovely, and her presence left me feeling that, even though things might be hard, they will eventually be alright.”
“It was so nice to hear from someone who’s been through the same things I go through in high school, and how she never lost sight of her dream,” said filmmaker Gabriella Carrera.
Liu reminded the students that hard work is essential to success. “If you have creativity, let yourself be overwhelmed. Let go of the negative, be curious and surround yourself with people you can learn from,” she said.
“As you rise in your career,” she advised, “remember to acknowledge the people around you.”
After Lucy returned to set, students got to speak with Elementary Executive Producer & Director, John Polson, who described how a network television series is produced and the hundreds of professionals who work 12-14 hour days, five days a week from July thru April every year to produce 24 episodes of the hit series.
Polson then lead the group into the Morgue Set, for an eye-opening presentation with the prop department. As a murder mystery show, Elementary’s prop department are experts in rubber knives, severed hands, dead bodies, burning irons, bleeding scalpels and more. Prop Master Eric Cheripka, demonstrated many of the techniques he and his team use to create a gruesome on-screen reality while keeping actors safe.
By opening up the studio doors and sharing their work with our young student filmmakers, Lucy and her team on Elementary helped give shape and focus to our students dreams and aspirations, inviting them to keep dreaming bigger.
Thank you to Lucy Liu and everyone at Elementary for sharing themselves and their work with our teens!