When you have a real hunger to win and a real love for putting in work, seeing results seems much more rewarding than it would had you been comfortable with just chillin' in the lost world of idle time. The journey of getting to our goals has the potential to be a long and physically/mentally draining process, but the most driven learn how to embrace all that comes with grind to success. Similar to gold medalists who take no days off in training, the real winners in our field of play find joy in working and won't even let a vacation bypass them without a some kind of productivity happening. Meet Cristina Lizzul — an L.A. based actress, singer, songwriter, and upcoming heavy hitter who lives for days spent grinding and creating in her city. At 21 years old with a seasoned acting career, Cristina has just recently released her debut EP Percipience; a 6-track project about putting everything into perspective. DARLA was able to link up with Cristina via Skype last week to hear the story of why she chose to move from Italy to the US and what it's like to make so many new transitions in both her career and personal life.
The move and transition [from Italy to California] definitely wasn't smooth, cause I moved out there knowing nobody. I definitely did get a feel for L.A. because I studied acting there. I was born in San Diego, but I was raised in Napels, Italy so I still kinda had the West Coast in me. All my friends would say, "Girl you got this! You got that West Coast, rapper thing in you" — probably because I'm always in the studio, haha. But yeah, it was very hard because I moved out there with no friends, no family, etc... I had to kind of build my way up. I had to build everything from nothing.
One thing that many creatives have in common is that we, ironically, often tend to switch our careers with our hobbies. What we love spending our time doing becomes our job and what we have been taught or trained to do becomes a tool to support our new goals. Cristina experienced this, as she started out her career focusing more on acting than music but couldn't ignore her true passion for being an artist and songwriter.
I started singing when I was a kid; around 5 or 6. But that was just in the shower and just for fun... I really started taking it seriously a few years ago. I blossomed late into music because I decided to focus mostly on a professional acting career in my teenage years. I just used to do that and I'd put up the occasional Facebook cover video of me singing... Then I noticed that I was getting more likes and a following through my music and not through my acting. I realized that because of with my music, I can give myself an opportunity; I can create whenever I want and I can write a song whenever I want to record it... But with acting, I have to wait for a casting director or director to approve.
Cristina went from working with movie scripts that were given to her by a director, to writing and developing a direction of her own. When asked about her newly found creative process in the studio she explained,
I write all of my songs. I work in a studio in North Hollywood. My producers are called Sincere and Rue. They help me out a lot in the studio with the water and honey. There's a rapper Rue (he's on my EP) who writes his own verses and I write mine. My writing process has to be intimate. I have to be alone in my house; in a very nonjudgmental place. I have to have my moment; it's kind of like a spiritual experience in a way because it's that moment where I have to create something that's personal. Everything I write about is something that I've been through. It's like writing in a secret diary in a way.
Whenever I'm introduced to a new artist with music that I connect with, I want to learn more about their background. What inspires them to create... What other artists have influenced their sound... And with the lyrical quality of Cristina's Percipience, it came to no-surprise that she was inspired by some of the realest in the game. She creates music you can feel; songs that can cause you to revisit and reflect on your past relationships even long after you've moved on.
The reason why I started working on music so late is because I never knew what my sound was. When I moved to L.A., I fell into the crowd of rappers and singers and I found myself in the studio. For R&B inspirations, SZA is at the top of the list. Her voice is just divine and her lyrics are like poetry to me. It kind of fluctuates though; I listen to everything from classical music, to jazz, to rap, to Italian music. At the moment, what mostly inspires me is the slow R&B. The kind where you lay back and smoke a cigarette with a sigh of relief.
Now that Cristina has found her sound, she says she's ready to start owning it and intertwining every aspect of her creativity within her upcoming projects. I look forward to seeing what she has in store for the future, but until then... I'll be listening to her work that's currently available through Apple Music and other streaming platforms.
Aside from riding the wave of Percipience, I started working on my next project. I still don't know if it's going to be an album or an EP but it's definitely going to be visuals attached to it — something like [Beyoncé's] Lemonade; I was very inspired by that. I wanna mix everything; acting, filmmaking, and singing all in one body of work and present it to the audience.
victoriadrianna: What advice would you give to someone aspiring an acting career or a career in the music industry?
Cristina Lizzul: Don't wait for an opportunity. Do not wait for a casting director or a label to say, "yes," to you... Keep getting content out, keep putting it out so you can build a fan base and a following... And always keep working! That's the best advice I can give. The best lesson I've learned is, "Don't wait for an opportunity, build it yourself. Build your own brand, build your own business." What you'll learn in this business is that it's not about becoming just an actress or a singer, it's about building your brand. And you'll come to find out that you have to sell it yourself. Do not wait for anyone to give you an opportunity... Make your own opportunities!
V: DARLA operates as a weekly publication with new articles on the site every Sunday because it's our favorite day of the week. If you had a Sunday free from all responsibilities and obligations, how would you spend it?
CL: If I had a Sunday free, I would probably be with my girls — my ladies! Or I would probably be with my dog, but I can't because he passed away last week which made me kinda sad... But I'd probably spend it with my homegirls out here because I'm in Italy right now, in Napels.
V: DARLA also has a wanderer column where we feature places around the world from the perspectives of our contributors who love to travel. What's the everyday scene like in Italy; what do you like to do when you spend time there?
CL: In Italy, we're always getting our coffee and cigarette at 5pm in the afternoon; we like to take a lot of breaks. I feel like I'm more American in this way because I'm always working, I'm always like, "We need to start working on the next project!!!" I'm very hyper because I'm always trying to get stuff done... I never take breaks... But when I'm in Italy, everything slows down. Everybody's like, "Chillax, chill, lay down." We don't have that in America though, you know? Every one is always working to accomplish the next thing.
V: Do you find that when you are in Italy in a more relaxed environment that you're still able to get work done?
CL: I tend to enjoy myself a lot. I came here for a month to be with my family and friends and to promote my EP out here. But yeah, definitely because L.A. is like my office. (Yes, the whole city is! Haha.) So when I'm out here in Italy, I don't post as much, I don't work as much. I was writing my next project the first week of August when I just came out here and that fast I was like, "Man I need to get back to L.A. with all my problems and drama! It's hard to write without broken hearts, and ex-boyfriends and stuff."
[these things take time.] the poetry book available on amazon.com.