Lila grew up in New Orleans, graduated from MIT, and studied acting in Los Angeles.
She currently lives in the south of Spain, where she does remote computer programming, practices Ashtanga yoga, and kitesurfs, while developing each next film project.
MORE IN-DEPTH BIO by Lila
I was born in Metairie, Louisiana (a suburb of New Orleans). The summers were hot and sticky, and everyone said "hi" to you in the street. I grew up a few houses from Lake Pontchartrain and used to run around barefoot and play on the levee.
In school, I loved creative activities—art, although we only did it occasionally, writing, and acting. Anytime we'd do an aloud reading of a play or an informal production, I was excited to participate.
However I never thought of acting or art as career choices. I used to say I wanted to be a lawyer.
In high school, I developed an interest in math, which evolved into an obsession. I took graduate-level courses at the local university and read math papers and books on number theory. It was fascinating to me...an entire universe built on natural numbers.
That interest led me to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was exciting and something I didn't take for granted. While there, occasionally while crossing the sidewalk in front of the big dome, I'd look up and feel awestruck to be at the world's best engineering school and proud that my hard work had paid off.
It was challenging (managing the academic load, along with feelings of mediocrity and finding one's place), but I made it through. I graduated with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Computer Science in four years and was an accomplished member of the Women's Track & Field Team, having set school records in the pole vault and heptathlon.
But more importantly, I left MIT with time management skills and bravery in the face of daunting tasks, which have proven invaluable in the both the film industry and life in general. (I also acquired the highly underrated ability to take a deep, refreshing nap in the middle of the day in any number of places.)
After college, I spent several years working as a programmer while continuing to compete as a pole vaulter. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area during the dot-com boom before moving to Jonesboro, Arkansas (a U.S. vaulting mecca) to give training one last serious go.
During my two years there, my fitness level and technique improved, but a breakthrough never materialized. I never surpassed my personal best from before moving. Thus there was a somewhat anticlimactic end to my vaulting career.
It was all for the best, however, because in 2004, I moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in acting classes. The shift returned me to my childhood passion, and it was even more fulfilling than I could have imagined. I discovered joy in taking on different roles and finding the part of me that could connect to people who were so apparently different from me. It awakened an empathy.
I continued with classes, eventually performing in a stage production of Leonard Melfi's "Birdbath", which later became my directorial debut film. But something else unexpected happened in the months leading up to the production.
One evening at a gym, I accidentally locked my keys in my car, and while waiting for the locksmith, I noticed a flyer for a meditation class: "Meditations for a Happy Life". Curious, several days later I went, and I had a life-changing experience.
We started with a breathing meditation, with the simple instruction to focus on the breath, and upon noticing any thoughts, to gently let them go and return to the breath. And during those first few minutes, for the first time, I saw how noisy my brain was, and that my thoughts weren't real. The only thing that was real was that I was there, in that Japanese tea house in Glendale, sitting in a chair, looking at the carpet.
Seemingly instantaneously (perhaps within weeks), I lost interest in many TV shows, movies, and roles that interested me before. I began to study the work of spiritual teachers, I started Ashtanga yoga, and my experience deepened. The passion for storytelling remained, only with a different filter.
After the film adaptation of "Birdbath" premiered in 2013, I spent some time going through the motions of pursuing an acting career in L.A., however my efforts lacked any overwhelming enthusiasm.
In 2015, I took a vacation to Barcelona and felt unusually at home. So, with a growing preference for developing my own projects, and the realization that I didn't need to be in L.A. to do that, I decided to move to where I felt I would enjoy my day-to-day life more.
I now live a mostly quiet life in a beach town in the south of Spain. I do yoga, kitesurf, enjoy siestas, and travel nearby. I support myself doing remote computer programming work, while continuing to develop each next film project.