Meet Chantal Casutt of Spirited Lights Studios
Growing up I always loved theatre, movies and TV shows, however, as I lived in Switzerland it never occurred to me that working in entertainment could be an actual job. Switzerland is a country that while valuing the arts, doesn’t necessarily encourage creativity or creative jobs and so becoming a professional actress never even crossed my mind.
After high school I moved to the UK to pursue a BSc degree in Management and Marketing in one of the country’s top schools. I loved my studies as marketing revolves around storytelling and analysing people (both psychologically and sociologically), which in many ways is exactly what I do now. It also made me realise that telling stories is what I want to do for a living.
In my third year of university I moved to London for twelve months where I worked as a product manager in a large, well-known beauty company. For the first time in my life I was living in a diverse, cosmopolitan city that had everything to offer and so I jumped at the opportunity to take acting classes. Within a couple of weeks I was hooked. I would commute every weekend and sometimes after work to take as many classes as possible as they gave me such creative fulfilment that I couldn’t get from other things in my life. During this year I also started doing lots of research and stumbled across New York Film Academy. I ended up attending their information session and decided to apply to one of their summer acting workshop programs. I figured it would be a great test to see if I liked the school and if I could see myself acting professionally.
The workshop ended up being one of the best experiences of my life and so I auditioned for NYFA’s One-Year Acting for Film program. I got in on a scholarship and in late 2019, after completing my BSc, I flew to L.A. to start my dream.
Since graduating NYFA I’ve been constantly auditioning, acting in numerous short films and web series, and building relationships. I’ve been lucky to have worked with some wonderful, incredibly talented people who have taught me so much. I also enjoy working behind the camera, especially writing and producing. I recently completed my first feature film script “Against The Current” that I hope to produce in the near future and also co-founded my own production company called “Spirited Lights Studios”. We are currently writing and producing several short films and also working on a music video for a well-known actor and musician.
It’s been an incredible journey and I feel like I learn something new every day. That’s probably what inspires me most: the constant movement forward, being proactive, creating your own opportunities and having the privilege to collaborate with such talented people. I cannot wait to see what the future holds!
Absolutely not! But is it ever? I believe the best things come to us by overcoming obstacles. There are no ups without the downs!
One of my biggest personal challenges was transitioning from a life that was so heavily focused on academia and intellect to one more focused on creativity and emotion. Of course, my job absolutely does require intellect, however, when I moved here I realised how difficult it was for me to break out of my little box of right/wrong thinking. I had never been encouraged to use my instincts as a guide and so my friends would often declare me too “rational”. It’s been a learning curve but I certainly feel like I am more self-aware than ever before.
Another big challenge is one that I know all actors can relate to and that is the constant rejection. You put yourself out there, show people the most vulnerable side of you and never hear back. That was tough in the beginning for sure, however, it has since become something that I have started to take in stride and do my best not to dwell on. Being rejected is part of the job and it should have no effect on how you feel about yourself or your ability. I remind myself of that daily and am fortunate enough to have incredibly supportive friends around me who always uplift me. The people you surround yourself with are everything!
Furthermore, I started my career right when COVID hit and that of course was a big challenge by itself. Starting a career during this time has been difficult, yet it also showed me the importance of constant adaptation and learning in order to succeed.
Spirited Lights Studios is a company that was born from a passion for the entertainment industry. It is a new production studio that seeks to bring unique stories to life. Spirited stands for our enthusiasm and determination while also being a nod to one of my favorite films of all time (and one of the reasons I decided to be a storyteller in the first place) – “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki. Lights is a reference to filmmaking itself as well as the stories we seek to create. This company will be producing and funding most of the projects I will be filming and writing in the coming year. Everyone who works with us is incredibly talented and creative, but they are also great people. People who are collaborative, hardworking, hungry to create and not afraid to push boundaries in their storytelling. It’s a place where we can come together and make magic happen. We believe stories change the world and I want to be part of a positive change.
That’s such a good question because success can be defined in so many ways and even for me the meaning of success is constantly changing and evolving as I change and evolve. I think the primary thing I would say is doing something you love and that makes you happy. There are so few things we can control in the world but I believe that the things you can control should be contributing to your wellbeing in some way. It also means to be around and work with people you love. It means being healthy – both mentally and physically. To provide value to others in some way, to give back, to make a positive impact. And most recently I also realized that success means the ability to adapt and transform depending on the situation. This world is unpredictable but we need to keep up!