Author Interview: “Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It” – Lisann Valentin

Book Synopsis

28186282In the ten years since its electrifying début, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love has become a worldwide phenomenon, empowering millions of readers to set out on paths they never thought possible, in search of their own best selves. Here, in this candid and captivating collection, nearly fifty of those readers—people as diverse in their experiences as they are in age and background—share their stories. The journeys they recount are transformative—sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, but always deeply inspiring.

Eat Pray Love helped one writer to embrace motherhood, another to come to terms with the loss of her mother, and yet another to find peace with not wanting to become a mother at all. One writer, reeling from a difficult divorce, finds new love overseas; another, a lifelong caregiver, is inspired to take an annual road trip, solo. A man leaves seminary, embraces his sexual identity, and forges a new relationship with God. A woman goes to divinity school and grapples with doubt and belief. One writer’s search for the perfect pizza leads her to New Zealand and off-the-grid homesteading; while another, in overcoming an eating disorder, redefines her relationship not only with food but with herself. Some writers face down devastating illness and crippling fears, and others step out of their old lives to fulfill long-held dreams of singing, acting, writing, teaching, and learning.

Entertaining and enlightening, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It is a celebration for fans old and new. What will Eat Pray Love make you do?

[Book synopsis courtesy of Barnes and Noble]

Lisann Valentin

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 4.16.10 PMLisann Valentin hails from Brooklyn, New York, with roots in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. A bilingual film and television actress, she has worked with Sundance-featured filmmakers and Golden Globe winners. A passionate storyteller, Lisann continues to write about her journey as a lawyer-turned-actress, reinforcing the notion that it’s never too late for a second act in your life. Learn more about (pg. 217)


In Conversation with  Lisann Valentin

How did the opportunity to contribute to this anthology come about?

Late one night I was scrolling through Instagram and Liz (Elizabeth Gilbert) posted a notice that her publisher was seeking submissions for the anthology. I thought about it for a day or two, and then I decided to submit my story. Just before I hit send, I felt this surge in my heart that said, “you’ve got a real shot at this,” then click, and it was out there.  The day before I received the congratulatory email from the editor, I sat in my living room and meditated, thankful for the courage to tell my story, no matter the result. I sent light and love to Liz and I went to bed. The next day I was crying tears of happiness. It was going to be published.

How has your life changed since the release of Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It?

Some cool moments happened: I was on Good Morning America. That was fun.  I got to meet Liz in person at the GMA studio.  She was lovely. My story was published in the glossy pages of Red Magazine and my career tips were published on Refinery29. It has been surreal.

But the best moments have been the emails I have received from people who felt inspired by my story and are going out there to chase their own dreams. That is just magic to me. As a storyteller that’s all I really want – to tell meaningful stories.

Since the time you wrote your piece for Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, does Eat Pray Love continue to impact your life?

Yes! If Eat Pray Love hadn’t been a smashing success, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, would not exist.  And the anthology certainly wouldn’t be a New York Times Best Seller.

I’ve since connected with most of the other writers in the anthology.  We’re all so very different and yet our stories are bound together through a common thread — having been moved by Eat Pray Love in some way — which makes it strange and beautiful and a blessing.

So in that way, yes it continues to impact my life because it’s not just a memoir that inspired me to take action. Now it’s a book that I am connected to in a very physical way: in the pages of an anthology that I co-authored with some very beautiful souls. I will be talking about this for the rest of my life.

How would you describe Eat Pray Love for readers who haven’t read it yet?

Like any good book, Eat Pray Love means something different to everyone. For some it’s about the adventures in traveling. For others, it’s the thrill of a new romance. But that’s not what drew me to the book. The courage to change was the key for me. That’s what you’ll find in Eat Pray Love: courage. And it’s contagious.

How has your acting career been going since writing “Playing the Part”?

Thankfully, it’s still going really well. I’ve gotten a lot of press, which certainly helps when it comes to networking. I have a new story to tell when meeting people in the industry:  “I co-authored the anthology Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It.” It’s certainly a conversation starter.

Over the past two years, I’ve been a full-time working actor. I continue to hone my craft, I go out there and audition, and when I book a role, I get to tell stories that matter. Currently you’ll find me playing Claudia, a counselor on Undetectable, a dramatic series on Revry.TV. I’m so thankful that I get to do what I love for a living.

Has your family read your piece since the book has been published?

My parents, my sister and my boyfriend have read it. From the first draft to the published piece, they’ve been very supportive.  As have my closest friends. We’ve shed some tears. We’ve marveled at how surprising life can be.

Have you read any other books that had the same lasting effect on you as Eat Pray Love?

Of course!! There are so many! But I’ll keep it as short a possible.

As far as fiction goes, Life of Pi by Yann Martel is one of my favorite books of all time. All. Time. I was moved to tears. And I always refer to it when speaking about spirituality.

In terms of memoirs, a friend recommended I listen to Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person.  It was amazing!! Year of Yes has established a high bar for me when it comes to audio books. Hands-down, it’s a must-listen.  

Do you reread Eat Pray Love? If so, have you found anything new that has inspired your next adventure?

Every step of this journey – going from practicing law to acting – has been an adventure. And throughout that journey, I’ve reread Eat Pray Love several times. The book is flagged with post-its, so each time I’ve picked it up, it was in search of a fresh reminder to keep moving forward, to have faith, to believe in my higher self.  But I have to admit, I’ve read Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It twice already. There are just so many inspirational stories in there as well.

What advice do you have for people who want to pursue a full-time creative career?

When I’ve been asked this question, I always remember The Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy, you’re going to meet a lot of people along the way to making your dream become a reality. People that will support you and people who will serve as obstacles. Both serve a purpose: to sharpen you into the best version of yourself.  So be thankful for every experience along the way. And while you’re chasing your dreams, remember, the only one who knows what is truly in your heart of hearts, is you. That inner voice has to be the strongest.  Trust it. Then go ahead and follow that yellow brick road. It may take you somewhere far beyond your wildest dreams. And it’s gonna be one heck of a ride.

Camille lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You will most likely find her wandering around local bookstores, going to a concert or enjoying the sights of the city by the bay. This Captain America fangirl enjoys attending book events, re-watching her favorite Disney movies and obsessing over the latest entertainment news. You can find her on Twitter @itscamille_ann.