Entrepreneur, Producer, Writer, and Actress of Netflix original Occupation, Izzy Stevens is an awe inspiring, motivational figure we should all look up to. On top of filming Netflix Original Occupation sequel during the pandemic, Izzy also launched her own business ‘Creative Luminaries‘ to help other creatives go from script to screen, giving everyone the opportunity to get their work out there and make a name for themselves BEFORE somebody else has to decide to give them their big break. Izzy talks about her role as Bella in Netflix original movie sequel Occupation, and what is required of her as a producer, actress, writer, and entrepreneur!
You are so many things; an Entrepreneur, Actress, Producer, and a Writer! What was always the dream?
The dream was always acting, and that quickly became acting directing. I had a wacky, non0linear way to where I am now. I grew up dancing and got a scholarship to a performing arts high school which led me to acting which is then where I knew I belonged. I was acting in plays where an agent came and saw me and asked to represent me, then a month later I was booking roles, which was really quick and amazing. When I got on set I looked around and saw the whole picture working and thought “oh my god, THIS is home, this is where I belong.”. I love telling stories, I love being in the driving seat where you’re creating the empathy through acting, but then looking from the outside in and carving that narrative, being the director of the narrative, running the ship is all also very exciting to me. I definitely gravitate towards leadership roles, and I love to rally a team and tell a story with directing, and I feel like i’ll never tire of acting and directing.
Do you have a preference between acting on stage vs. acting in films?
I love stage, it’s so immediate. You get this rush when you’re with the audience, but being on set really makes my soul fly. I love both, but have definitely done more film and television.
On that note, tell us about Bella Bartlett and the films Occupation’ & the upcoming sequel, ‘Occupation: Rainfall’!
Bella is a young woman that is trying to come into her own, and feels misunderstood. Through the first film she really grows into this amazing loyal fighter, and does a whole 180 degrees character development, which was really fun to play. She becomes instrumental in the resistance of fighting the alien occupation. Very loyal, wants to protect her family which I relate to. She’s a special part in my heart. When I portray a character it’s really important to me to be like “How can I challenge expectations?”.
Speaking of challenging expectations, what’s it been like filming and working during COVID?
Really interesting, I was lucky to book a few things through COVID which was wonderful and surprising. It’s been challenging though, the film that I booked we shot the scenes in downtown L.A but the whole production is based in Australia and we had the director coming in by zoom. I obviously have never done that before, and what an amazing challenge. We adapt, the world needs stories and we need to keep going, so we have to figure out how and buckle up.
Please tell us about Creative Luminaries, and your goal with it.
Creative luminaries is very dear to my heart, I began this business last year. It was born sort of out of this realization that I had that a lot of my filmmaker friends, actor friends, and colleagues would come to me for guidance, because I love stories and figuring out the best way to tell a story! For example: if you’re on a budget the cheapest way to create a short film and get it out in the world and make a name for yourself. I love brainstorming ways to develop people and their careers in imaginative ways. Essentially what I do is help actors and filmmakers go from script to screen so they can stop waiting for some illusive big break and just get it out and celebrated already. It’s been amazing!
I think I want to build this into a company that ultimately will e non-for profit. Either fully or have a non for profit branch attached to it so that it can become an educational way of helping people that don’t necessarily realize that if they want to have a successful film career and they’ve never done it before. They CAN do it, it’s possible! I love the excitement when my clients go “Oh my gosh, I made a film and I never thought that I can do that, And people are taking me seriously.”, Or ” I just pitched a show and this production company is interesting in making it.”. It’s just so exciting and fills me with a lot of joy to see these people and creatives tell their stories.
How do you manage to do so much, and do it all well?
It’s a tough one. I don’t always feel like i’m keeping it together, feeling in the dark sometimes and thinking, “Can I actually manage all of this on my plate?”. There is a lot of juggling, there is a lot of scheduling things out and really needing to schedule a FULL day or weekend off. It’s a tough one for me to actually create that space for myself. I am realizing more and more I can’t work all the time. It’s taking it step by step, and my goal honestly is to stop doing so much. I want to say yes to everything and even when people come to me with their ideas and they want me involved in it i’m like “Absolutely, i’m so excited!” then I think “Hold on, if i want to invest my time wisely in the stuff that I have already said yes to, I can’t say yes to everything.”. It’s honestly a journey and I’m always learning, and I still feel like i’m a baby and like i’m constantly learning because that’s how i’m always happy and excited about life. I am taking t step by step, day by day, and learning how to say no.
What are some things you’re discovering being a Writer, Producer, and Director, that you may have not considered before when creating productions?
Initially I started producing out of necessity, I went through some school with some amazing people and we all started making films together, but i knew that if i wanted to make a film that i wrote and I want to direct, and my friends will hop on board when they can because they are all working specialists, I need to produce it. I need to get this rolling on by. It was a lot of guessing. I love to do the creative stuff, and it’s hard to do that and the organization as a director & producer. Juggling all of these hats were a huge learning curve for me, but the ultimate learning experience was realizing, I can out source things, I don’t have to do it EVERYTHING. It’s very empowering to say “oh I trust this person, will you please help me run this ship so I can get in my zone and focus on the story telling.” And they take care of the logistics.
What advice do you have for people working towards Acting, Directing, Writing, or even entrepreneurship?
I am probably going to give you advice i need to take myself; see your self doubt. Look at it plainly without judgement, and forgive yourself for that and move forward anyways. Keep aiming high.