Lisa Coronado
Celebrity Interviews

BREAKING THROUGH: Lisa Coronado Talks Career, Creative Exploration and ‘Holiday Hell’

Lisa Coronado is much more than a pretty face. Over the past several years, she established herself as an actress on the rise in Hollywood and is poised to become a breakout star in the year to come. Fearless, quick witted, intensely expressive and laser focused, she pours her heart and soul into every role to take them to the next level. Chances are you’ve already encountered some of her work with a captivating roles in groundbreaking genre efforts such as HBO’s “Twin Peaks” and Syfy’s “Z Nation”. Her dedication to her craft is evident as she continues to turn heads of fans and critics alike with each new project.

Her latest project is no exception to the rule. ‘Holiday Hell’ is an an anthology horror film in the vein of the George A. Romero classic, “Creepshow.” The film centers around a woman enters a curiosity shop on Christmas Eve in search of a last-minute gift. There, she meets a mysterious shopkeeper who tells her the horrific stories behind four objects in the shop. As he weaves tales of killer dolls, witches and psycho Santas, the woman senses she might be in danger. She has until midnight to choose her gift, but will she choose wisely?

In addition to Coronado’s considerable talents, the “Holiday Hell” also features horror icon Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), Joel Murray (Hatchet), Jeff Bryan Davis (Killer Pad), and Meagan Karimi-Naser (Dead West), the frighteningly-festive horror anthology features segments directed by Jeff Ferrell (Ghostlight), Jeremy Berg (The Invoking), Jeff Vigil and David Burns. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Lisa Coronado to get a glimpse inside her career, creative process, the making of “Holiday Hell” and more. The highly-anticipated yuletide horror haunt will then be available exclusively on Tubi exclusive 10/15 and Digital and DVD 11/5 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

You’re becoming a familiar face with your roles on television and film. How did you both
get involved with the arts early on in life?

I started in theater when I was in high school. I just loved it. My senior year of high school I booked a lead in a pilot that was shooting in Seattle. Sadly they lost their funding before we could shoot it. But that led me to get an agent and I slowly jumped into the film world.

What went into finding your creative voice early on?

I think I felt like an outcast a lot. I was super ambitious and driven to create, even as a kid. I wrote a lot. I felt that writing, and later acting, fulfilled this burning desire to explore and connect and I felt a certain confidence that had alluded me for a long time.

Lisa Coronado - Photo by Dawndra Budd
Lisa Coronado – Photo by Dawndra Budd

Who are some of the other artists who have played a role in your growth as an artist?

Oh gosh! When I was young it was Kate Winslet and Claire Danes. As I’ve gotten older I’m obsessed with Merritt Weaver and Frances McDormand. Also I think Marion Cotillard has something really authentic to her performances. Oh and lately it’s been all about Phoebe Waller Bridge. She’s just genius in everything she does. I’m such a fan!

I always like to ask about mentors or the people behind the scenes who‘ve impacted an artists’ career trajectory. Who’s had the biggest impact on you and your career or given you the push you might have needed?

My career really started to change when I started taking workshops with Steven Anderson. He opened up my work and helped me get over ego and fear. I can pinpoint any success I’ve had since starting his workshops in 2012. Also, my agent Melissa Baldauf has been my biggest champion. She’s the best and I have some very special lady friends who’ve created with me and directed me and helped me with auditions. It’s a very nurturing supportive environment in my community. My brilliant friend Samara Lerman and I are creating a few shorts and are working on a female Western right now.

Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?

All the time! It’s a constant mind game. It can be so hard. Rejection is so hard. And it’s absolutely part of the job. When you see someone breakthrough and get success, they have dozens (if not hundreds) of rejections that their success is built on, but I just love it enough to endure the hard parts. Maybe I’m a little nuts!

What lessons did you learn early on that continue to resonate with you as you move forward in your career?

To constantly be open to learning. To be kind to everyone on set. To ask questions. To put my health first. That it’s ok to say no if a project doesn’t speak to me. To have a life outside of this business.

One of your latest projects is ‘Holiday Hell’. What was it about this project that made you want to be a part of it?

Director Jeff Ferrell and I have worked on many projects through the years. I will always come on board if he asks me. So at first it was a yes because of that. Then I read the script and I though it was really smart and funny and dark. And it was a totally different kind of mom than I had played before.

I’m really interested in hearing more about your creative process. What goes into bringing a character to life before stepping onto set?

Usually, I start journaling and monologuing out loud in character. Then I will ask a lady/actor friend to come over and we work on character stuff. I like to have a solid base so I don’t have to worry about anything on set but being present and responding truthfully to whatever my scene partner gives me.

Holiday Hell

What do you consider the biggest challenge you faced with this film?

My maternal instincts! [laughs] Leaving my kid on a holiday with a sketchy babysitter and giving him a terrifying doll was tough for me! I had to shoot that part of my brain down and come up with a backstory that justified her actions. Once I did that, it was actually pretty fun.

I’m sure you learn a lot from each project you are a part of. Where there any moments on set that really standout in your mind?

Getting to meet Amber Stonebraker! I was aware of her as an actress but we hadn’t met. She was really lovely. And getting to reunite with Brian Sutherland was great too. We’ve done quite a few projects together. And of course working with Jeff again. It’s always so fun.

You’ve been very busy over the past several years. Which of your past projects has had the biggest impact on you in a creative sense?

I just wrapped a film called “See You On The Other Side.” My dearest friend Wonder Russell wrote it after losing her dad. We’ve been shooting it for a few years and it’s just so beautiful. It hit me pretty hard in the feels. Of course, “Twin Peaks” was just incredible. To get to witness David Lynch and Harry Dean Stanton in action was unbelievably cool. Oh and I just wrapped another Pepper Jones film. I was able to create this character and bring her to life in a project called “Strowlers” and the director Ben Dobyns has let me run with creating a side project with her. We have a lot of fun on those sets.

Everybody has their share of highs and lows over the course of their career. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?

Usually it’s just seeing a really good movie or tv show. I get really amped to work. “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve” has lit a fire. There is so much good tv right now it’s so exciting. And of course being around a lot of creative people, we kind of motivate each other.

While we are still relatively early in your career, how do you feel you have most evolved as an artist?

Oh man, that’s a tough question! Sometimes I feel like I’ve come so far. And then I’ll get on a set and feel like such a newbie. I guess maybe learning that I’ll never master this and that’s ok. That would be my biggest breakthrough. Art is constantly changing and flowing and never knows its outcome. So, just relaxing into that and enjoying the ride.

Lisa Coronado - Photo by Dawndra Budd
Lisa Coronado – Photo by Dawndra Budd

Where do you see yourself headed in the future when it comes to the projects and material you take on?

I think I will be pretty specific with what I chose to do. And I’m hoping to write more of it. Really interesting character work. I love playing moms. I would also like to do something so out of my comfort zone. Something no one has seen from me. I like creating from that uncertainty. It’s terrifying but also so liberating!

Where do you see yourself headed in the future — both short and long term?

Ideally getting a series regular on a tv show is top goal, but I’d be just about as happy
making indie films and writing!

Are there any causes close to your heart that we can help shine a light on?

Yes! I’ve always been a big supporter of Children’s Hospital. They were incredible when we had a scare with our daughter and we’ve always supported them.

We can definitely look to you as an inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Do what you love! Take risks. Be open. Be kind. Continue to learn.

Follow the continuing adventures of Lisa Coronado through social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Twitch. Check out the trailer for ‘Holiday Hell’ below!