Episode 5: Crossing the First Threshold

Welcome to the sHeroe’s Journey Podcast©, a podcast for sHeroes and the people who love them. I’m Pamela Prather and for over twenty years, I have been empowering actors, executives, and curious humans with tools to unlock their voices and tell their stories.

In this episode, I get to speak with the brilliant Debra De Liso. Debra is a critically acclaimed and award-winning actor, writer, director is the recipient of the Rainbow Award from the LA Women’s Theatre Festival for her decades of work in forgotten communities, including artists with disabilities, institutionalized teens and incarcerated women. Her solo play collaborations have premiered in festivals in NYC, Germany, and Scotland. After receiving three California Arts Council Grants to teach acting and playwriting in a medium security prison, she learned to see the art in the individual. De Liso delights in providing a supportive and nourishing environment to elevate the highest potential in each artist.

Her own writing into performance work includes a solo play about Isadora Duncan, a one-person play about her disabled mom, The Nurse June Show, and Beautiful, Terrifying, Love about the struggle to maintain unconditional love in dealing with family addiction and mental illness.


Segment 1

  • Actor, director, writer, activist
  • Went to grad school and got invited by a friend, Zoot, to come out to teach at a women’s prison
  • Initially she did not want to do it and felt fearful.  It was supposed to be a movement class
  • On her first visit she thought she really messed up and made them angry but she actually really connected and felt the energy within them in the room
  • The bond was made in that first class, then she made it to 9 months, they made a play in that time through a grant from the CA Arts Council
  • Next year, another play “The Buckners”
  • She started having issues with segregation and the women were not working together.  She brought all of the feelings in the room together by screening “American History X”
  • This is what happens when you divide
  • The play was born out of watching the movie and talking about what they all had in common, and the play started to take shape

Segment 2

  • Slumber Party Massacre- made her a cult star.  She took it because she was not finding work. She took the role, had a lot of fun, but it was a movie with T+A and blood and guts
  • Her Catholic guilt nagged her! But she was OK with it and was able to do it
  • This one movie may be the one thing she is remembered for because it has followed her in her whole life.  But she embraces it and loves the fact that it means so much (for whatever reason) to the fans of the movie
  • Got another horror movie part recently after shooting a PSA, the director of the commercial showed off his Slumber Party related tattoos
  • Does this contradict her role as an activist and someone who helps women find their voices?  Only if one is being judgmental
  • Dream big!  Her dreams came true because of her imagination and what she dreamt about.  She truly believes that is how she achieved her goals and visions


Website: debradeliso.com

Instagram: instagram.com/debradeliso

California Arts Council: arts.ca.gov


Website: sheroesjourney.com

Instagram: instagram.com/sheroesjourney

Twitter: twitter.com/sheroesjourney

Facebook: facebook.com/sheroesjourney

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdnuDhn70ROacNQIJz1wfFA?view_as=subscriber

Email: sheroesjourney@gmail.com

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