Way back in the 90s, Julia Wackenheim-Gimple started her acting career at the ripe age of 15, when she landed the role of court clerk in “12 Angry Jurors” (an adaptation of “12 Angry Men”) at Absegami High School ijn Galloway, N.J. She kept at it, earned an acting scholarship, and upon graduating from Emerson College in Boston with a B.F.A., Wackenheim-Gimple hightailed it to Los Angeles and has been hitting the entertainment-industry pavement since 2003.
We catch up with her to find out more about her web series “F’d,” where she doubles as actor and executive producer, her faith and her motto in business.
LIONESS: Why have you chosen to dedicate yourself to this particular industry?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: There is a special connection that I have with performing, I’ve read it described as “flow” – where one gets into an other-worldly mind space while participating in their work. For me, acting is equal parts mental and spiritual stimulation, something I’ve only ever experienced in childbirth. So my reasons for being in the entertainment industry are self-driven. I’ve stayed because I’ve found that good content crosses all demographics, especially comedy. There’s something amazing and hilarious about a monkey riding on a pig, it doesn’t matter if you eat curry or hamburgers, like big trucks or Fiats – unless you have swinophobia – that is a helluva funny video.
Tikkun Olam is the concept that as a Jew, I am responsible not only for my own moral, spiritual and material welfare, but also the welfare and health of the world. I haven’t always been Jewish, I made my conversion in 2009, but I’ve always had a sense of Tikkun Olam within my being. That is what drives me towards advocacy and public education on women’s rights and the current state of caregiving and caregivers in this country. In the 1930s, when federal labor laws were written, domestic workers and farm workers were left out, mainly because the workers were black. States across the country are recognizing the need for domestic worker rights and have started signing them into law.
The Wackenheim “Ultimate Life Goal” is to mix the two together. Every evening, after I put my toddler to bed, I tuck in on the couch with a couple dogs (I have three. And a cat.), a glass of wine, turn on the tube and hope an El Salvadorian woman in a wheelchair will grace the tiny screen as a woman of power, integrity and grit without any mention of her disabled, female or ethnic “stats.”
LIONESS: What makes your business unique?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: Equal parts elbow grease, empathy, humor, coffee and moxie.
LIONESS: You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: Honestly, I was tired of having to tell my boss I when I needed to go the bathroom. I felt like I was back in the ‘Gami High School halls needing to ask Ms. Gunther if I could go pee.
And I got fed up with the patriarchy and blatant sexism in the corporate worlds I worked in. I’ve had bosses push me, use derogatory words, assume they didn’t need to provide health care because I had a domestic partner. I dreamt of this vision of self care, walking my dogs, practicing yoga, volunteering, WHILE working on my own ideas. It just didn’t fit into someone else’s business. Bob sure as ‘eff didn’t care if my chakras were aligned.
The breaking point was in July of ’08. I was on the 24th floor during a 6.5 earthquake, 15 miles away from home and I just couldn’t accept the idea that my boss’ face could possibly have been the last one I would see before my imminent end. And, dude, the aftershocks in a high rise are for the GD birds.
LIONESS: What was your last “why did i go into business for myself” moment?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: When I was pregnant with my son, I had auditions for Weight Watchers and an appetite suppressant. It was so soul crushing that I’d wished I’d continued to my interest in chemistry and become a chemist.
LIONESS: Every female professional should have __________________.
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: Confidence. In the wise words of Beyonce, “There’s no such thing as a weak woman.” Girl, you got this.
LIONESS: If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: Not to bring it back to Beyonce, but Beyonce. She’s created this brand for herself that has empowered millions of women, all the while entertaining the hell out of us all. Queen B has remained true to herself and it shows through her products and blog. #Fempress
LIONESS: What is your business motto?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: “Have fun, try bold things, be kind and drink a shit-ton of coffee.”
LIONESS: If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: 1. Believe in yourself. No one else is gonna. 2. It’s OK to quit. I had a cushy day job but it was killing my soul. I quit and have never been happier. 3. Coffee. Or whatever your “coffee” is, drink that.
LIONESS: Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: The Smartphone. Eight years ago, I had a moment when I was on a walk with my dog, was simultaneously calling my mom and searching google for “closest Scottish kilt rentals.” The future was then, the future is now. I feel that all the technology is magic. To have gone from rotary phones, to payphones, to flip phones to iPhones is incredible.
LIONESS: What is your goal for the next year?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: If we survive this election and aren’t ruled by a dictatorship, I hope to develop a few performance ideas I have stewing, as well as delve deeper into my activism. There are some measures on the Los Angeles November ballot that include affordable housing reform for the city that I’m hoping will pass, I’d like to work on our voter protection laws as well as immigrant rights.
LIONESS: When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say?
WACKENHEIM-GIMPLE: That Julia? Man, she’s working hard to create a hilarious and ethically sound, feminist environment. And she’s funny!