The first time I saw Aliza Pearl was as a guest on Buzzfeed’s Dungeons & Dragons show, Dungeon Club. I was simply blown away at how she took the metaphoric stage and owned the room. She flexed her skills at acting and improv and loved every bit of her performance. I went on to check out her other work and was happily surprised to see her involved with a ton of fantastic projects!
I knew that I had to interview her!
Although I love and adore you and your work, could you introduce yourself and your brand for any readers who are learning about you for the first time?
For sure! I’m an actor, writer, improviser, gamemaster, and Trekkie. In addition to acting in film, tv, commercials, and web content, I also perform in and produce narrative improv shows and tabletop RPG games. I’ve written and hosted for Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, and Pop Culture Hero Coalition. I also recently started making cooking videos as a Klingon!
You have accomplished so much in your career from acting, hosting, writing, and more. I have to ask, what is your origin story when it comes to getting involved in the entertainment industry?
I started doing theater as a kid in Newark, New Jersey– my first play was the Christmas play at my Catholic school. Then I kept doing theater throughout high school and college, and by my junior year of college, I knew I wanted to be a performer as my career. So I moved to New York City, got a day job working behind a desk, and started auditioning. I did a few musical theater jobs (one touring play, and one bi-coastal production between the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey, and the Berkeley Rep Theater in Berkeley, California), before I booked and shot my first feature film back in New York. I realized that I was becoming more drawn to on-camera acting and screenwriting than theater at that time, so I decided to move to LA… and the rest is history.
What do you feel separates your brand from others?
I spent a lot of time not pursuing my own creative interests and passions, like space, science, and Sci Fi. I was like an actor-automaton– what kind of hair would casting like me to have? What kind of expressions? What kind of delivery of lines? I was not my own person until I dove back into my own interests, connected with others who loved the same things, and started outwardly expressing the scifi geek that was inside of me all along. And by letting my inner become my outer, I’ve unlocked what makes me *me*, and really, what makes me castable.
You constantly create or are a part of phenomenal projects that are simply beloved by fans! I am curious, from concept to the final product what was your personal favorite of working on a project?
OOF, how can you make me choose between my babies?? Haha. Of course, they’re all unique, but if I *have* to choose, I’d say that The Improvised Generation, my long-running improv show in the style of Star Trek: TNG, is nearest and dearest to my heart. I built that show from the ground up with my friends Sara Mountjoy-Pepka, Paul Hungerford, and Matthew Pitner, and I’m really proud of the work we do. It’s been a hard yet exciting job to adapt the show from our usual live stage format, to a fully online, remote, digital version– but it’s also been really rewarding. But I also have to mention that the close bond that formed with the group that is now called the Streampunks– the original cast of the Star Trek TTRPG “Shield of Tomorrow” on Geek & Sundry, and the additional cast members that have joined us since then– is a bond like no other. I adore the Streampunks so much, and I hope to work with them for life.
As a person of color, I, and so many others look up to you since you thrive in an industry over-saturated with caucasian influencers. What advice do you have for fellow PoC content creators who want to help our community be more diverse? What do you feel is the most effective way to assist?
I think a key thing is right there in the question– to assist. I sometimes get bogged down with my own projects and ideas and I forget to look up and out and see what other people are up to, and how I can be of assistance to them. We can uplift each other by sharing and celebrating each other’s work, and being consumers of each other’s content, to show that there is a demand for what we are creating.
You just radiate such confidence and the swagger of a champion. However, a lot of geeks often struggle with overwhelming self-doubt, anxiety, and depression. When you have those bad days and get down on yourself, what do you do to remind yourself that you are wonderful?
Well thank you for that. I must admit I have a ton of self-doubt and anxiety, and dip into depression sometimes. I’m an overall positive person, but I’m also a Black and Latinx woman and feel burdened by the stresses of our times. Plus living in a chronically ill body is not easy. But I have alot of tools in my back pocket for the down days– like meditation, gentle movement, and a general foundation of self compassion. I tell myself that tomorrow might be better, that this moment of pain or sadness or both is just a moment, and that it’s okay to live in it. I find it better to explore those difficult emotions and thoughts, rather than ignore or suppress them. I feel so much better after a good cry or a healthy vent session with my journal, therapist, or a trusted friend.
What has been one of your favorite moments over the years of your career? Whether it be something major or even a small victory at the very beginning that you cherished.
I got to walk down my biggest, most official red carpet for a movie I’m in– it’s called Faith Based. We premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this past February, and the red carpet was lined with journalists and photographers from major news outlets… that was kind of awesome and intimidating!
You hustle so hard for your brand and it has shown in so many amazing ways but when you do have a day off, how do you spend it?
I looooove walking around my neighborhood, visiting and admiring the trees. I probably look a little nutty to my neighbors, because I seriously will walk around and pause at certain trees, taking pictures of them, or just silently admiring them and saying “hi.”
How can we best support and find more information on you and your brand?
I post regularly about all the different things I’m up to, so definitely follow me on Twitter and Insta @alizapearl and at twitch.tv/APizaLiza! And you can hire me as a GM by signing up for a one-shot or campaign through Sword & Scroll! Starting sometime in November, I’ll be offering a Star Trek Adventures one shot called Liberated Borg: Reconstruction, where you and your party of Ex-Borg dive into the emotional and political landscape of rebuilding oneself after enslavement. I’ll also be starting up a weekly campaign of the kaleidoscopic dice-rolling fantasy world of Overlight. https://www.swordandscroll.com/
Also check out The Improvised Generation: Onscreen, Saturdays at 2 pm PT on twitch.tv/Outpost13, and my Klingon game Blood of the Void, last Mondays of the month at 6:30 pm PT on twitch.tv/queuetimes. My improv group Ripley Improv also streams improv shows and games at twitch.tv/ripleyimprov.
And you can rent or purchase the indie comedy film Faith Based at https://geni.us/faithbased!