In Mina Shum’s latest feature, Meditation Park, a devoted wife and mother (Cheng Pei Pei) is forced to reassess her reverence for her husband after she finds another woman’s thong in his laundry. Liane Balaban plays the Caucasian daughter-in-law coming into a traditional Chinese family.
Balaban has begun writing for TV (starting when she was pregnant) and her first pilot script was purchased by Temple Street (of Orphan Black fame) while her second was optioned by Marble Media.
We caught up with Liane this week.
SDTC: What’s at the top of your bucket list?
LB: I’ve recently started writing for TV, and it would be a dream (obvi) to have one of my pilots produced. They are all feminist dramas (but funny, too) with complex heroines of different ages. It’s always been my dream to wear the headphones on set. Maybe because I’m so used to interpreting other people’s work. I want the chance to see others interpret mine.
What’s your go-to song for getting stuff done?
Hole – “Rock Star”
What advice would you give to your fourten-year-old self?
You’re smarter and more capable than you think.
Who has made a big impact in your life recently, and how?
My son. He just turned two and reminds me how you can find so much joy in the little things. He always points out animals and flowers. He sniffs flowers on printed fabrics.
What does your ideal Saturday look like?
I’m half Jewish and once tried to do a Shabbat (“day of rest”) by abstaining from electronics and devices for the day. The feeling was profound. I rediscovered all the feelings we drown out by surfing the web: boredom, loneliness, grief and delight.
What’s the best part of being your current age?
In my twenties I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, not realizing that no matter how hard I worked, I didn’t have total control over my destiny. Now I realize that it’s more about showing up, doing your best, and being kind to yourself and others.
What is your favourite quality in your best friend?
Someone who makes me laugh and has a nice face.
What/who is currently inspiring you?
A few things…
I just watched the Oscars. Greta Gerwig is awesome. I loved Lady Bird so much. And her message to aspiring filmmakers: “Take the leap. The world needs your voice.”
Along those lines, my friend Vanessa Matsui just wrote/produced/directed/starred in a rad web series called Ghost BFF that every one should check out.
And finally the teenagers from Florida who are leading a movement to end senseless gun violence.
What art work would you love to have in your space/on your walls, and why?
Anything by Shary Boyle. I can’t explain exactly why. Her work disturbs and delights me. She’s has a direct line to the feminine subconscious.
Fave rainy day comfort food? Or activity?
Ramen & Netflix. Hello!
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A mountie. I was drawn in equal parts to the uniform and the horse. Okay it was more like 1/3 about the uniform, 2/3 about the horse.
What was your favourite game/toy as a child?
I was sort of an only child (I had half siblings but they were either much older or much younger), so I spent a lot of time alone, bouncing a ball, making up stories in my head.
What adult task would you like to get better at?
If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?
Any kind of world cuisine. It would be so cool to have enough culinary knowledge that you could just intuitively create great dishes, like an inspired chef.
Meditation Park comes to theatres March 9th.